It’s not money that makes the world go round

It’s not money that makes the world go round, by Alexander Boot.

Universal prosperity (otherwise known as ‘happiness’) is the implicit legitimising promise of post-Enlightenment modernity. …

The system best suited to fulfilling the implicit promise of modernity, what Marx called capitalism, comes in conflict with the ideology of egalitarianism begotten by modernity as an accompaniment to prosperity.

Arranging the demography of modern prosperity in any country will produce a pyramid, tapering from economic hoi-polloi up towards the rich. Nevertheless, by any historical standards, Western prosperity is as universal as humanly possible: most of those at the base of the pyramid still enjoy lives that most earlier generations would have regarded as luxurious. …

People’s ability to earn money varies widely, making it inevitable that some will have more than others. But ideologues promised equality, didn’t they? …

Hence it was easy to portray any capitalist system as inherently unjust and hostile to modernity’s cherished ideal of equality. …

As a result, Western governments had to renege on the founding promise of modernity, that of comfort and a steadily improving standard of living. Ideology has begun to rule the roost. …

Modern governments, largely made up of spivocratic nonentities capable of only following, not shaping, popular demands, demonstrate time and again their willingness to throw the economy under the wheels of the ideological juggernaut. …

Everywhere one looks, one can observe a clash between economy and ideology, with the latter running up a huge winning score. For example, ideology demands that all obvious differences between races and sexes be ignored, and the economy docilely complies to its own detriment.

The essence of capitalism, the system that has produced unprecedented, if unequally distributed, prosperity, is competition. And the essence of competition is offering the market the best goods and services at the lowest possible price. That involves each business hiring the best talent it can afford, which in turn leads to competition not only for markets but also for labour.

This is economics at its most basic, but in barges ideology at its most virulent. It demands that, regardless of talent and ability, all races and sexes be represented in the workplace in proportion to their numbers in the population, or in some cases way beyond such numbers. That makes a travesty out of competition for labour and ultimately for markets.

Forced to hire not the best but the most ideologically acceptable, businesses reduce their productivity, with the quality of their offerings going down and the price heading in the opposite direction. That has a knock-on effect on everything: when businesses become less profitable, the tax base shrinks.

The government then has to borrow even more, and the merry-go-round never stops. …

The upshot is that capitalism is taken away from capitalists and placed in the tender care of ideologues. That means capitalism becomes corporatism at best, outright socialism at worst.

“The moment that Government appears at market,” wrote Burke, and I repeat these words of wisdom often, “all the principles of market will be subverted.” Replace ‘Government’ with ‘ideology’, and the statement will ring even truer.

The world does go round, but it’s not money that makes it do so. Those who insist it is ought to know better, and by and large they do. But ideology doesn’t let them tell the truth.

Brilliant. Well said.

And of course the reason that gulags are intrinsic to communism is that equality requires taking stuff from the more industrious and hard-working. That’s unfair, unjust even.

hat-tip David Archibald