Che Guevara Tree Poster Revolution

I keep going back in my mind to one of the points Andy Beckett made in his ‘long read’ in Tuesday’s Guardian. My initial reaction to the idea that Conservatism developed as a way to preserve the power of the elites, was one of, ‘huh, typical paranoid leftie rationalising things too complex and coming up with random conclusions.’

But the more I think about it, the more I think he has a point, one that can more than likely be backed up by simple historical proof, should you need it.

Now, before you think I’m veering off to the left somewhere in my thinking, I’m not. I’m no fan of egalitarianism in its purist form. Forcing everyone to be equal would destroy the economy, stagnate design and development and generally make the world a worse place to be. I cannot in any way see this as positive, even if it feels on the surface like a nice thing to do.

On the other hand, it does feel to me like the Conservatives are in a bit of existential pickle. As I argued on Tuesday, if, since Thatcher, the Conservatives have taken Libertarian values to their core, when it fundamentally can’t work with them, then a party that is set up to maintain some kind of status quo where the ‘elites’ keep their power base, won’t help the situation, as these elites are the ones who wish to maintain society in their favour and keep those from the ‘lower classes’ in their place.

This might have worked well enough in the pre-digital age, but it’s not sustainable today. In a fast moving world where people can make large sums of money with their digital products, the whole power base is shifting.

So, the question is, if we should have ‘elites’, who should they be? I have no great truck with the class system, despite the British obsession with them. Perhaps it might be the entrepreneurs, the risk takers prepared to put their soul on the line to bring the next great products? If we were to let evolution take its course, various options may present themselves over time.

I suspect such a social revolution is probably already happening – and has been for some time. What Andy Beckett identifies merely as conservatism failing and a societal swing to the left might actually be something much, much bigger.

Capitalism vs. Greed

Dollar Exchange Rate World Economy

The newspapers love to make a splash about greedy capitalists, who have overstepped the mark, got carried away with their wealth and abused their ‘power’.

Many, particularly on the left, like to pick on the immoral capitalists, lumping most business people into this rather broad brushstroke.

I do think that they are, as ever, labouring under false assumptions. There seems to be an almost puritanical basis the idea that anyone who tries to make a living as an entrepreneur is somehow evil and not to be trusted. Another message that falls neatly into the emotional argument camp.

Yet, I would argue that while socialism is an ideal that can, should you wish, be sought after, the assumption that capitalism too is an ideal, is patently wrong.

For me, capitalism – the desire to make enough money to provide for your family and, if possible, work within the wider community to share your talents to bring growth and prosperity to all – is nothing more than the result of humans simply doing what humans need to do to survive and, if left alone, would just do anyway without any zeal or guidance to pursue it. It evolves over time, always flexible enough to cope with the changes the arise in life.

Left-wing thinking is fundamentally the attempt to control that process. The intellectual observes many facts (but never all) and concludes that the extended order of our society must have a some kind go guiding hand. It would be illogical to think otherwise. If you reject God from the equation then, rationally, it must be humans controlling things.

And so the intellectuals look for the underlying structures, find some that look promising, and start to tinker, without the means or the full understanding to really appreciate what they are doing. When they see people actively chasing money or power as a cause in itself, they assume that this activity must be an underlying principle of capitalism, when it is nothing more than misguided fools abusing their success and authority.

These fools may be motivated by greed or selfishness, yet they are really no different to those more socially minded types who try to control society. These greedy fools often use the authority of their wealth and status to coerce people to do their bidding, much as the power invested in the structures of socialism is rife with abuse. These are not the motives of the average person, who simply wants to get by, live their life and see their family and friends prosper, the main driving force behind the extended order.