Thursday, 30 July 2015

What's the point of a stronger economy?

I've seen some Lib Dems pointing out that if Jeremy Corbyn wins the Labour Party leadership contest, then Labour progressives (chuckles) may well jump ship for our Party. I've also seen the point raised that said progressives will not be Social Liberals, though they may well be Economic Liberals. I've also seen it mooted that Corbyn is in no way a Liberal, and that he lacks in the area of creating a Stronger Economy.

When Tim Farron was elected leader, I had the possibly naive view that the Party might be swinging back towards me, but perhaps there's further to go than I thought. It may well be true that Corbyn is not a Liberal by nature, that he doesn't approach the world from a mindset of "do what you like, if you don't hurt anybody else". The thing is though, being a Liberal seems for a lot of people to be about policy rather than mindset.

If Corbyn doesn't want to keep the economic status quo, and carry on regardless with austerity, I salute him. As a Liberal, I have come to the view that concentrations of wealth and power are inherently harmful to large swathes of society, and that the free market in its current form fails to address that issue. If Corbyn can't be a Liberal because he is anti-austerity, or is not focused on the economic arms race, then neither can I.

For me, the fairer society is infinitely more important than the stronger economy. For me the stronger economy is a myth. I don't exist to benefit the economy, and the economy doesn't exist to benefit me. The economy for me is as much a product of natural selection as is the size of the human brain. It's sufficient to ensure that large numbers of people survive to breed, but beyond that has absolutely no moral or practical efficacy.

For too long we've bought into a myth that natural selection and market economics create merit, be that merit in organisms, or merit in organisations. But just as knocking someone over the head and dragging them off to a cave served for procreation in the distant past, so did allowing small numbers of individuals to accrue enormous power and wealth serve when we were hunter gatherers, dragging ourselves towards industrialisation.

We made it. We can grow enough food to feed the entire world. We can produce enough green energy to power the world, if we have the will to do so. We can create a society where everyone can experience greatness, where there are no true barriers to experience as well as making a contribution to human wellbeing and knowledge. All we really need to do is free ourselves of the assumption that the status quo has any inherent merit.

So I say, forget the stronger economy. Let's educate people about the myths surrounding the supposed merit of the free market, and concentrate on building a fairer society. We have, no... we are, the resources, we are the tools, and we are the drivers of change. How we divide up the tasks, and the rewards, of improving the human experience should be as fair as our society, and as equal as all human beings are. 


No comments: