The Telegraph recently approached some of Westminster’s biggest names to find out what was on their summer reading list. Their most alarming find – somewhat unsurprisingly – came from Alex Salmond, who opted for Paul Mason’s PostCapitalism. Salmond will be joining Mason at the Edinburgh Festival later this month to map out the alternatives to capitalism.
Mason’s book argues that capitalism has “reached its limits” and is now “being replaced with something better”, an argument which was described by the Telegraph’s review as ‘utopian folly’.
The crux of Mason’s argument is that we can only solve the problem of inequality by “moving beyond capitalism”. But this is a wholly misguided conclusion. Capitalism has its faults, but it has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
This reminds me of a famous response made by our Founding President, Lady Margaret Thatcher, to Simon Hughes. She had just returned from a historic meeting in Paris, which had celebrated the achievements of the end of the cold war and the spread of democracy through eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Her argument was that wealth was not created by making the rich “less rich”, especially if the result was making “the poor poorer”, even if this meant a reduction in inequality.
That is why capitalism is one of our nine principles: it is the most effective system of wealth creation.
The financial crisis in 2008 did not show that “capitalism had reached its limits”. In fact, it showed that there was not enough capitalism. Capitalism is certainly not “finished”, and its opponents continue to revel “in their own incoherence”.
Theodora Dickinson is a member of the Conservative Way Forward Organising Committee.
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