George Walford: Criticise the Critics

Freedom, the anarchist journal, quotes David Ricardo: ‘The interest of the landlords is always opposed to the interest of every other class in the community.’ [1] Back in the days of raging inflation a Wilson government declared a moratorium on increases in office rents. They had to abandon it in the face of desperate pleas from the insurance companies who had invested pension funds in ownership of the office-blocks. The grasping landlords, their interest opposed to that of every other class in the community, were the poor old pensioners.

Another issue of the same journal included this in its editorial: ‘capitalism is now an international mafia which can only be destroyed by its victims and those of us who, while enjoying the material comforts of a civilised existence, cannot accept the extremes of poverty and wealth which such a system fosters.’ [2]

If capitalism can indeed be destroyed only by its victims and others finding it unacceptable, then it survives because they refrain from using their power. The responsibility for its continuation lies with them, not with the capitalists.

Capitalism (like the state) is a symptom rather than a cause. It survives because the great body of the people accept it rather than the alternatives offered them, and it will continue so long as they retain this preference. A century and more of experience indicates that attacking capitalism and the state in the hope that this will bring the freedom desired by anarchists is about as useful as tightening your belt to overcome hunger-pains.

[1] May 28.
[2] April 16.

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CONDEMNING the use of ‘he’ and ‘his’ as generic prounouns, political correctness seems to find ‘she,’ ‘her’ and ‘hers’ acceptable.

from Ideological Commentary 64, June 1994.