The failure of the markets hasn’t stopped the rise of the gobbledygook-filled Nature Capital Agenda. We can.
This is the transcript of George Monbiot’s SPERI Annual Lecture, hosted by the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Sheffield.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing the death of both the theory and the practice of neoliberal capitalism. This is the doctrine which holds that the market can resolve almost all social, economic and political problems. It holds that people are best served, and their prosperity is best advanced, by the minimum of intervention and spending by the state. It contends that we can maximise the general social interest through the pursuit of self-interest.
To illustrate the spectacular crashing and burning of that doctrine, let me tell you the sad tale of a man called Matt Ridley. He was a columnist on the Daily Telegraph until he became – and I think this tells us something about the meritocratic pretensions of neoliberalism – the hereditary chair of Northern Rock: a building society that became a bank. His father had been chair of Northern Rock before him, which appears to have been his sole qualification.
While he was a columnist on the Telegraph he wrote the following, in 1996:
“[the government] is a self-seeking flea on the backs of the more productive people of this world. … governments do not run countries, they parasitize them.”
He argued that taxes, bail-outs, regulations, subsidies, interventions of any kind are an unwarranted restraint on market freedom. When he became chairman of Northern Rock, Ridley was able to put some of these ideas into practice. You can see the results today on your bank statements.
….(read full transcript).