God, I really can't be doing with this smarmy fucker.
Capitalism was supposed to destroy the middle class, leaving a tiny clique of oligarchs ruling over a vast proletariat. In fact, capitalism has enlarged the bourgeoisie wherever it has been practised. Capitalism was supposed to lower living standards for the majority. In fact, the world is wealthier than would have been conceivable 150 years ago.
What's interesting is this process seems to have gone into reverse across much of the west in the neoliberal era - employment has become more insecure, jobs for life and trades are for most a thing of the past. It's reproletarianisation, in effect.
The whole market system was supposed to be on its last legs when Marx and Engels were writing. In fact, it was entering a golden age, hugely benefiting the poorest.
Says a lot about Hannan's worldview, this. Life in the mid-1800s really was nasty, brutish and short for most - which was why it was a period of such intense social unrest. It wasn't until the end of small-state laissez-faire that living standards for the majority started to pick up. Even Marx admired the productive capacity of capitalism, but he also observed that left to its own devices, it tended towards plutocracy and as a system is dependent on coercion and exploitation. Which, er, it does and is.
You’d have thought – I did think – that the collapse of the Warsaw Pact regimes in 1989 would have definitively refuted revolutionary socialism. Yet successive generations continue to fall for it.
I thought the same thing about neoliberalism in 2008, but I underestimated governments' religious faith in it. I note that Hannan doesn't discuss what happened in the former Eastern Bloc regimes in the post-communism years. Russia, of course, was subjected to a catastrophic dose of neoliberal shock therapy, with its healthcare system collapsing and both mortality rates and substance abuse going through the roof. It now takes a deeply authoritarian and repressive regime to prop it up. But it's a capitalist regime, so that's alright.
The more I read of behavioural psychology, the more I think that ideologies are as much a product of people’s nature as of observed experience.
You said it.