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Alan Moore on capitalism… July 25, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, The Left.
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Always had quite some time for the rather grouchy Moore who has produced [or is it co-produced] some remarkable cultural artifacts… but never more so than reading the following in the Guardian in an interview with him

I saw footage of you recently campaigning against the closure of your local library. What are your thoughts on the cuts and the situation we’re in?

AM: I think it’s completely indefensible. I think I understand what has been happening economically, pretty much since the collapse of the Berlin Wall. It’s the bankers and financial institutions who have knowingly got us into this mess. Either they did knowingly or they were unbelievably stupid and incompetent. This is not even capitalism any more. Capitalism employs a rough and ready Darwinian survival of the fittest. The banks have become like monarchies. They are too big to fail, too big to punish. They are above parliament. Banks are treating themselves as if they were a new class of fiscal royalty. The kind of royalty they most resemble is Charles I. He was above parliament and not accountable for his lavishness. He put the pinch upon the country to the point where the poor people simply starved.

No, this cannot be tolerated. You cannot have libraries, schools and things that people need for a basic standard of living taken away while George Osborne is making deals with companies to allow them to make better use of tax havens because they are threatening to take their business elsewhere. There are alternatives. We are not all in this together.

I’m all in favour of anti-cuts demonstrations. And it’s always very pleasing to see so many V for Vendetta masks in the crowd. I’m very proud of those boys and girls.

His point about the banks and capitalism is spot on and an argument that is can be found made by both the left and libertarians of the right. It’s quite some place we find ourselves in.

Comments»

1. EWI - July 25, 2011

Ah, Mr. Moore, the eternal (and valued) iconclast. More like him, please.

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WorldbyStorm - July 25, 2011

+1

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2. sonofstan - July 25, 2011

There’s a nice, funny piece by Alan Bennett about libraries in the LRB, with a barb in the tail.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n15/alan-bennett/baffled-at-a-bookcase?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=3315&hq_e=el&hq_m=1003856&hq_l=4&hq_v=dc86cdd09e

(it’s long – make a cup of tea/ pour yourself a drink)

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3. Alan - July 25, 2011

I’ve noticed the “This is not even capitalism any more.” argument cropping up a few places. Noam Chomsky has a party piece where he makes this argument using direct quotes from Adam Smith.

Not sure how I feel about it. Jim Power, Gurdiev, McWilliams et al use the same argument. In the desert of the “real” the reaction you get is as if you’ve ten heads and are obviously a crypto communist that wants to intern people in concentration camps. Much different reaction than the aforementioned men of course (almost always men!).

The argument may be correct – I tend to refer to my dictionary’s definition of capitalism as a form of society/system where “private capital and wealth is used in the production of goods” as well as domination of private owners and “production for profit”. I think it could be broadened out in a critique of capitalism to make the point about the need for the “return of the public” and also point out how for private capital to prosper it is almost always reliant on the public and society as a whole. Is it capitalism when public funds are invested in things like schools, hospitals and libraries? Ventures typically devoid of a profit motive (unless of course they’re under the guise of a PPP scam). But then with McCarthyism rife in Ireland you’re bound to get blacklisted at the mere mention of the C word unless of course you’re a trenchant advocate of the Jim Power variety.*

I think Michael Taft has been doing a good job at defending the public/public sector vis-a-vis it creating jobs (wrt arguing in debates) as well as a critique of capitalism even if he doesn’t explicitly use the term.

Ultimately I don’t know when it has ever been any different? Haven’t western states always supported business and corporate interests through tax breaks, seed money for startups, bailouts (AIB here in the 80s for one, in the USA the car industry has had more bailouts than I have fingers) and so on. If we accept that the state can and does interfere in the market and choose the winners then it’s not a great stretch to then increase taxation and improve and increase public services. However, witness as yet another “we can’t tax our way out of this” goes unchecked.

This is of course the big point highlighted in McCabe’s Sins of the Father. That the private/corporate/business interests have always rode on the back of the public and ultimately to the public detriment.

As an aside one of the little snotbags from Fianna Fail claimed that questions like the state’s “relationship” to the market is “old communism”.

See here from last year’s guest presenter series of Tonight with Vincent Browne: http://politicotv.ie/index.php?Itemid=60&option=com_hwdvideoshare&task=viewvideo&video_id=19927

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WorldbyStorm - July 25, 2011

I sort of agree with your point. Though I guess one could slightly rework the Moore approach to one where this demonstrates the utter hypocrisy of certain tranches of capitalism that despite all the rhetoric of sturdy individualism etc [a la Sean FitzPatrick] when the chips are down they’re willing to strip the state and citizens to support themselves. In other words this is the most naked example of this in modern times.

But you’re right, the parasitic relationship long predates 2009.

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Doloras LaPicho - July 26, 2011

Well, it goes all the way back to the days of Lenin, doesn’t it? The unity of financial and industrial capital and all that; the state ends up taking on responsibility for the survival of the huge capitalist concerns which are “too big to fail”. We’re still in the Highest Stage of Capitalism, folks.

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FergusD - July 27, 2011

Of course it is still capitalism. Even way back Marx predicted the rise of the monopoly/oligopoly capitalism, that dominates today. He even noted the rise of finance capital. Capitalism adapts and changes, as we all know. We are just in a different phase of it but its essential problems remain. This is what the left needs to get out in its message. There is a danger in just blaming greedy bankers as the “obvious” answer to that is just some kind of regulation (although that will fail in the end) rather than a critical look at capitalism itself.

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4. Alan - July 25, 2011

Sorry for the rant.
Here’s something a bit more readable and applicable to the thread subject:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/feb/07/nicky-wires-library-closures-manics

‘If you tolerate this …’: Nicky Wire on library closures

I thought it was pretty impressive that even a cross-dressing rock star who’s gradually been losing it can come up with a bonkers policy like “increase taxes to pay for the services. Some would have you think you need to perform acrobatics to come up with alternatives to cuts.

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Starkadder - July 25, 2011

Well, his band did sing “Libraries gave us power…” 😉

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Alan - July 25, 2011

Indeed. I visited the library in Cardiff they opened. It was very nice, very impressive. I loved the layout and everything. Bizarrely it was built with a food chain and coffee shop attached to the building.

Has anyone come across anything about Irish libraries? Under the guise of “public sector reform” it’s hard to pick stuff out since the public sector don’t seem to be complaining much – I’ve been privvy to a few conversations in education institutions and hospitals with workers speaking about reform as if it was a regular task to be carried out like filling the coffee machine.

The libraries in SDCC seem to have gotten a few quid over the years with a big re-development in Tallaght. Don’t know much else about the other ones though.

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sonofstan - July 25, 2011

@Alan,

I know Rathmines is closed at the moment for a refurb.

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EWI - July 25, 2011

Has anyone come across anything about Irish libraries? Under the guise of “public sector reform” it’s hard to pick stuff out since the public sector don’t seem to be complaining much

The libraries in Dublin city itself have a number of staff who would be associated with the ULA. Rest assured that there’s activity there.

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5. Alan Moore And The League In 1969 « An Sionnach Fionn - July 25, 2011

[…] Alan Moore on capitalism… (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]

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6. Doloras LaPicho - July 26, 2011

The irony is that the V mask wouldn’t be such a huge symbol of revolt these days if it wasn’t for the Wachowski siblings’ movie, which Alan Moore wanted nothing to do with (and which bastardised the book’s narrative anyway).

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7. Cormac - July 26, 2011

I thought the movie was pretty damn good. Different to the comic, but good in its own right

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Dr. X - July 26, 2011

The film was an utter travesty of its source material.

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WorldbyStorm - July 26, 2011

It was a bit flat alright, though not awful on its own terms. I’m never keen on the translation of graphic novels to film. Doesn’t tend to work too well.

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ejh - July 26, 2011

Then again, the book itself is not a patch on Watchmen.

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8. Starkadder - July 27, 2011

I remember in “Writers and Politics” Conor Cruise O’Brien
taking issue with Leslie Fiedler’s defense of children’s comic
books, calling them “sadistic trash for the semi-literate”.

Of course during the Herrema affair, the Cruiser was quite
intimate with the “sadistic trash” element of the Irish police…

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9. O-M - July 27, 2011

Enjoyed Alan Bennett and Nicky Wire links. As a library staff member myself, it’s good to hear that the ULA has fans in the city libraries.

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10. Stagnation Nation? « azizonomics - September 5, 2011

[…] course, we are being held back by vested interests. From Alan Moore: This is not even capitalism any more. Capitalism employs a rough and ready Darwinian survival of […]

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