Home > General Politics, Laughable Lib Dems, Socialism, Terrible Tories > Vince Cable: Capitalism’s poster boy

Vince Cable: Capitalism’s poster boy

I have tried very hard to find an online source for the wryly comic quote, supposedly from Che Guevara, saying that all he and Fidel were striving for, in the Latin American countries they fought in, was to recreate the same state monopoly model as was practiced in the United States.

The crucial meaning to this comment is that on principle they were not opposed to state monopolies, but they were quite open about that. The US, they would’ve contended, had been doing just that, only they were not honest about it, and operated their monopoly under the guise of free markets and open competition.

But nonetheless, the US was, and still is, a capitalist country, despite the stranglehold on free competition and the secret sanctioning of monopolies.

It is hardly surprising that capitalists, particularly small ones, are annoyed at this type of operation. After all, if competition is suppressed from the top, by greedy corporations not wishing to play the game, then the spirit of Adam Smith is being crushed.

More and more, friendly capitalism is winning the argument. And the variants of capitalism in today’s economic landscape testify to this; you have green capitalism, philanthrocapitalism, compassionate capitalism. Capitalism can be against sweatshops, capitalism can be pro-aid to third world countries, capitalism can provide your community with a new civic centre, capitalism can be against bonuses, capitalism can be against city greed, capitalism can be against corporate ‘short termism’ and so on and so forth.

This, in short, though perhaps for one day only, can go by the name of Cable-nomics.

The Left Foot Forward blog says today:

This summer, Anatole Kaletsky published ‘Capitalism 4.0‘ in which he argues that after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, capitalism will reinvent itself and emerge stronger than before

This is the one true thing about capitalism, it will make timid changes to change perceptions of itself, and why wouldn’t it do that today, particularly when it is popular to bash the bankers. 

In political jargon, bashing the banker might be called ‘populism’. And this, as Dave Osler points out, is exactly what Vince Cable is playing at today.

As they have their annual conference, the Lib Dem popularity rating is sinking quicker than a dead dog tied to a brick in a lake, and needs a boost – and who better to administer such a boost than their cross-party hero Mr Cable.

He threatened to tax banks away from bonusing, he criticised city murk, he has attacked corporate short-termism, and has managed to be called a ‘left-wing socialist’ and even a ‘Marxist‘ as a consequence. In fact, what the capitalists at work blog have said about him is particularly amusing:

The thorn in the coalition’s side is Vince Cable. A left-wing socialist is never going to co-exist easily with a Conservative Government.

It’s so black and white to them – but to serious political thinkers it is quite simple to see how a person, who is avowedly pro-market and pro-business, is able to take the view that bankers are “Scargills in pin-stripes” while not being socialist, but a liberal, a free trader and a fan of open markets.

Bloggers have gone to great lengths today to show that if Cable is really “Red Vince” then he has many unsuspecting allies. Left Outside contributes Adam Smith, while Sunder Katwala throws out a myriad of characters including Red Ted Heath and Red Angela Merkel.

Of course what Cable does want, which Richard Seymour has rightly picked up on, is a better regulated capitalism. But, as Seymour elaborates:

he knows he can’t even deliver that while he’s a helpmeet to George Osborne, the trust fund chancellor who is one of the many millionaires in the Tory front bench, and who is committed to defending a robust, liberated financial sector.

There is a massive difference in opposing how the markets work, and opposing how capital operates. As postmodernism triumphs, and ideology as a term is discarded like last night’s leftover casserole, even those naturally on the “anti-capitalist” left seem to be content with the hot air of Cable-nomics 

Those unhappy with capitalism’s green credentials can be rest assured that the green market is obliging companies to head this direction. Those unhappy that capitalism is not fairly trading will be happy to learn that ethical capitalism has won its battle, and companies like Nestle, in order to remain market players in today’s sensitive consumer age, source their ingredients from sound places.

What passes for anti-capitalism today is just speeding up the process where capitalism itself takes a makeover, and ensures the market is filled with big companies committing to the bourgeois politics of the day.

Capitalism, fear not. Vince Cable is your poster boy.

  1. September 22, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    One of your best posts in a long time.

    I can’t work out if the centre ground has shifted so far in modern Britain that Vince really is considered left wing, or if internet rightists and the Daily Mail are politically illiterate. Actually I can work that out.

    • September 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm

      haha the answer is right in front of you – though I think both diagnoses are correct. Btw thanks very much. When are you in London?

      • September 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm

        Oh Carl! Moving to London is such a nightmare. haha.

        Basically, September is Student Moving In Time, and it is essential impossible to find a four bedroom house that isn’t in the middle of nowhere or with shit stained walls (or in one case, a fourth bedroom which was a walk in wardrobe).

        So, I’m not going to be living in London for a little while. Probably a month. Which leaves me with a lot of commuting to work and lectures over the next four weeks.

        I’m in London tomorrow though registering for my course, if I’m free I’ll drop you a line if you like.

      • September 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm

        You’re very welcome to stay if ever you’re stuck or have an early start.

  2. September 22, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    You are making the mistake of putting some good insight (which you have in this good post) into mind of Cable.

    He has been wrong about most things forever and is able to hold contradictory statements in his head in a nicely Orwellian fashion. Just watch Andrew Neil pick him to pieces in the pre-election chancellors debate.

    Vince ‘believes’ in free markets about as much as I belive in socialism. He worked for Shell and is a corporatist through and through as are most of the current and previous Government members.

    • September 22, 2010 at 11:52 pm

      well there is nothing at all in me that desires to put good insight into the mind of Cable – after all, he is a god minister of destruction, not creation – but didn’t your blog call him a left wing socialist? Did you author that?

      Many thanks for the kind words

      (note to self: in the last two days I’ve made fans of a former BNP London organiser and now an avowed capitalist; to misquote Vince Cable, perhaps I’m doing something wrong).

  1. September 29, 2010 at 3:27 pm

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