ON Tuesday the world’s major investors, plus celebrities such as ex-President Clinton, confirmed admirers, and even relics of feudal society such as Prince Charles, met at an exclusive ‘Inclusive Capitalism Initiative’, from which of course the working class was barred!
The source of the meeting was the banking and industrial collapse that began in 2008, the state bailouts of the banks that took place on a vast scale, plunging nation states into even greater debt, creating the need for massive austerity programmes, and the fact that the world is heading for a new and even bigger crash, which the ruling classes of the world have been unable and unwilling to avoid.
The great fear of the aristos of capitalism is that this time the working classes will not bail them out, but will overthrow them!
The event was like a seance asking if there was still anything there as far as capitalism is concerned, with the conclusion being that one had to pray very hard for the capitalists to change their ways.
The IMF managing director Lagarde set the tone for the gathering, acknowledging her betters. She said: ‘What a great privilege to be here among such illustrious guests to discuss such an important topic. Let me thank Lady Lynn de Rothschild and the Inclusive Capitalism Initiative for convening today’s event. I would also like to recognise the great civic leaders here today—His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales; President Clinton, and Fiona Woolf, Lord Mayor of the City of London.’
Absent, but very much present, was one Karl Marx, with Lagarde remarking: ‘With the industrial revolution came Karl Marx who focused on the appropriation of the means of production – and who predicted that capitalism, in its excesses, carried the seeds of its own destruction, the accumulation of capital in the hands of a few, mostly focused on the accumulation of profits, leading to major conflicts, and cyclical crises.’
She asked, ‘So is “inclusive capitalism” an oxymoron? Or is it the response to Marx’s dire prediction that will lead to capitalism’s survival and regeneration – to make it truly the engine for shared prosperity?’
She was unable to supply an answer, but asked sceptically: ‘If so, what would the attributes of inclusive capitalism be? Trust, opportunity, rewards for all within a market economy – allowing everyone’s talents to flourish. Certainly, that is the vision.’
She observed, ‘Most recently, however, capitalism has been characterised by “excess”—in risk-taking, leverage, opacity, complexity, and compensation. It led to massive destruction of value.
It has also been associated with high unemployment, rising social tensions, and growing political disillusion – all of this happening in the wake of the Great Recession.’
Confidence, that is ‘trust’, had gone out of the window, declared Lagarde, citing a recent poll that showed ‘that less than a fifth of those surveyed believed that governments or business leaders would tell the truth on an important issue’.
She had to conclude cynically that inclusive capitalism is ‘more of a constant quest than a definitive destination’. Lagarde has reduced the deepening capitalist crisis to the level of praying for a sin-free world, while admitting that, ‘In the US, the share of income taken home by the top one per cent more than doubled since the 1980s, returning to where it was on the eve of the Great Depression.
In the UK, France, and Germany, the share of private capital in national income is now back to levels last seen almost a century ago.’
She added that, ‘A greater concentration of wealth could – if unchecked – even undermine the principles of meritocracy and democracy. It could undermine the principle of equal rights proclaimed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.’
The lady fears revolution with the deepening of the crisis. She observed: ‘We are all familiar with the factors behind the crisis – a financial sector that nearly collapsed because of excess. A sector that, like Icarus, in its hubris flew too close to the sun, and then fell back to earth – taking the global economy down with it.’
She adds, ‘The bad news is that progress is still too slow, and the finish line is still too far off … A big gap is that the too-big-to-fail problem has not yet been solved. A recent study by IMF staff shows that these banks are still major sources of systemic risk. Their implicit subsidy is still going strongly – amounting to about $70 billion in the US, and up to $300 billion in the Euro Area.’
It is clear that even the capitalists have a feeling that capitalism has lasted too long. It is time for them to be put out of their misery by the victory of the world socialist revolution.