Wednesday 24 January 2018

Janet Daley: Lessons from the fall of communism have still not been learnt

The events of 1989 are crucial to any understanding of the present world, writes Janet Daley

The demise of Soviet communism became inevitable after the Berlin Wall collapsed
The demise of Soviet communism became inevitable after the Berlin Wall collapsed

THE air is filled with noisy outrage about the moral emergency of the day. We are, according to the leaders of every major political party, in the midst of a crisis of capitalism. However bountiful the free market system may have been at its best, it is now in such deep disrepute that any politician who wishes to remain credible must join in the general vilification.

Even in this storm of condemnation, everyone has to admit that there is actually no alternative to free market economics or to the private banking system. But in spite of the official agreement that there is no other way to organise the economic life of a free society than the present one (with a few tweaks), there are an awful lot of people implicitly behaving as if there were. Several political armies seem to be running on the assumption that there is still a viable contest between capitalism and something else.

If this were just the hard left within a few trade unions and a fringe collection of socialist headbangers, it would not much matter. But the truth is that a good proportion of the population harbours a vague notion that there exists a whole other way of doing things that is inherently more benign and "fair" -- in which nobody is hurt or disadvantaged -- available for the choosing, if only politicians had the will or the generosity to embrace it.

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