Charles Moore’s Epiphany 12


I am posting, very late, about one of the most discussed mainstream comment pieces of all time. Charles Moore’s excellent comment piece in the Daily Telegraph, “I am starting to think that the left may actually be right” has attracted over 12,000 facebook recommendations and over 4,000 tweets in four days since it was published.

Moore is not, of course, actually saying he has converted to socialism. He is however making for him a gut-wrenching admission that our capitalist democracy is deeply flawed, and rather than a beneficient free market, we have a society in which institutions skew society horribly in the interests of a wealthy elite.

The revelations of the Murdoch affair have caused Moore’s epiphany, but I think his argument is precisely the same as the one I put forward on November 5 last year in my post “The Stew of Corruption.” On a much smaller scale than Moore, that posting remains the most visited of any archive post on this blog, being read around the world every day. The much greater reaction to Moore saying the same things makes it plain that this is an analysis that people believe captures something very important about what has gone wrong in our society. In fairness, I would say that the right wing commentator Peter Oborne has been doing tremendous work across these themes for years.

I have never met Charles Moore, but his parents Richard and Ann Moore had a fundamental and lasting influence on my political thought, and particularly my views on international relations. They also bought me my first ever pint in a pub, when I was 15, and introduced me to the joys of real ale! I was delighted to speak to Richard again in Birmingham last year, in his eighties but sharp and feisty as ever.

I fear there have not been a huge number of Charles’ articles with which Richard would be wholly in sympathy, but I am sure this is one.


12 thoughts on “Charles Moore’s Epiphany

  • evgueni

    I have just read Moore’s piece. Err.. drivel. This guy is a simpleton. He can only imagine one or the other ideology being “right”. The possibility that neither could be right, or that neither could be entirely wrong, appears to elude him. Thirty years to ask the question? This confirms one thing – an ideology is exactly like a religion.

  • Nextus

    Moore’s article doesn’t seem very sophisticated or well versed in economic theory; it’s more like the murmurings of someone awakening from a dogmatic slumber. It’s historical materialism for absolute beginners. The comments below it are rather more informative and representative of the ideological debate.
    .
    Moore has realised that corporations are sucking financial resources from the masses to enrich the elites. This is the natural consequence of self-interest when wealthy groups take control of, or exert undemocratic influence on, political management of the macro-economy. Intense competition encourages corruption, and the Murdoch scandal is just the tip of an small iceberg which could have grown much bigger. The phenomenon is most extreme in Russia and the former Soviet states, where the wealthy oligarchs have openly drained the public purses to fund their yachts and football teams, while the general populace wallows in desperate poverty.
    .
    Here in the West, the wealthy corporate bureaucrats have leached so much money out of the public economy that local councils and communities can no longer afford to fund their public services, at least without delving into further unmanageable debt. The economic system is on the verge of breakdown; most people haven’t quite realised that yet.
    .
    Obama is trying to engineer a way to reinject money into the lower levels to keep the system flowing, but the Republicans refuse to undergo the necessary economic surgery: they spurn the knife because they can’t face losing any of their own financial blood. They don’t seem to understand that the system which made them wealthy is in the early stages of terminal decline.
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    Here in the UK, David Cameron’s Big Idea is to reduce the strain on the public economy by asking the public to provide their own services on a voluntary basis. That way, the wealthy elites won’t have to pay for it, or in fact contribute in any way at all (they are exempted from social responsibilities because they have run the macro-economy.) Make no mistake: the Big Society is the corporate wolf in a philanthropic fleece.
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    Economic analysts warned that the cracks were appearing years ago and the corporate social responsibility ethos was supposed to be a remedy. It was a mere sticking plaster on a cancerous tumour. The movement lacked a true philanthropic conscience – corporations tended to view it as a marketing cloak to continue their plundering – and it was ultimately undermined by competitive deregulation, which encouraged a shameless free-for-all.
    .
    The ideal antidote to corporate corruption is not to enforce socialist state control or pursue revolutionary vendettas: it is to resuscitate and develop the culture of philanthropy culture. But that’s like trying to persuade a psychopath to develop a conscience: they will only co-operate if there is something in it for them. (There is, but the rewards are invisible to accountants.)

  • larry Levin

    I am not too sure we have a capitalist democracy, for example Hong Kong is the closest thing to true free market capitalism and it works fine and creates wealth and opportunity,

  • JimmyGiro

    I agree with Evgueni. There is also a common oversight that many make, regarding the notion that the free-market of the ‘right’ is equal and opposite to the state control of the ‘left’.
    .
    The free-market and Marxism, maybe orthogonal, and not poles on the same dimension. If so, then they are capable of forming a symbiosis. That is, they can work together in an unholy alliance by redistributing their functions within a common environment.
    .
    Marxism controls the bureaucracy, therefore the laws and us; whilst main league corporate capitalism supplies the regime with the funding, on the proviso that it has the exclusive market to itself; guaranteed by the stifling business laws, that kill new businesses at birth, and leave old small businesses withering under penurious legislation, that only the giant monopolies can afford.
    .
    The free market is not to blame, because there really isn’t a free market when you have the monkey of Marxist-Feminism riding on its back.

  • Richard Robinson

    “One must always pray that conservatism will be saved, as has so often been the case in the past, by the stupidity of the Left”
    .
    Well, NO. Quite precisely, NO. Let’s hope rather that the directions we move in do NOT come from stupidity.
    .
    If we like praying, let’s pray that we can find ways out of this idea that the world is a game of football, where the most important thing is to have the other team lose.

  • Tom Welsh

    As one gets older and is inescapably confronted by more of the seamy side of life, disillusionment is probably inevitable. The strange thing about human psychology is that disillusionment with capitalism so often leads to a sudden enthusiasm for socialism. (And possibly vice versa).

    Why can’t they both be bad? There is no earthly reason why there should be a perfect solution just waiting for us to find it. Not unless you still believe that Someone made the Earth (and possibly the entire universe) as a moral gymnasium for “homo spaiens”.

  • Jaded.

    The best solution to all our problems is to progress to a situation where we have genuinely representative government. Forget this right/left, capitalism/communism garbage. What will be will be! The majority will decide and there will no doubt be a mix of ideologies in the policies adopted. This isn’t actually as hard as some people may imagine. The problem is we have sunk so deep into the mire of the corruption that there would be ‘determined efforts’ from the scrotes who really hold power to prevent it.
    The first stage is what is happening as we speak. Namely, the spreading of awareness. This has accelerated rapidly in the last 5 years or so and they are really worried. Hence, their obsession to clamp down on the internet which has been central to this happening. I expect them to make serious moves on internet freedoms in the next few years.
    Secondly, there needs to be more efforts to link up with, only loosely, other democratic groups and people. The more cohesive and organised the power structure the easier it is for them to attack it. Let us, for now, unite on what we are aginst, rather than what we stand for exactly. The point here is to associate with peaceful groups that wish to work through a genuine democratic process. We must all recognise that, though everyone won’t be happy, an enlightened majority is definitely the way to go. How any idiot could be happy with this minority tyranny we currently live under I have no idea.
    Thirdly, we need to exercise our power at the ballot box. We need to recognise that the party political system is too flawed to serve us. The mantra has to be to only vote for independent candidates. Independent candidates of high calibre need to be encouraged to stand at all elections. It would be impossible for them to derail this. There would then need to be a set period, after an election, where the independent candidates form parties for the life of their parliament. The previous government would be in charge until this process was completed.
    Fourthly, everything rotten has to be brought into the light and exposed. Absolutely everything. This could take a long time! I would think some sort of amnesty for lesser crimes would be in order. Those that are guilty of more heinous crimes do need to do time though.
    Finally, once all this has been achieved there needs to be a major overhaul of the infrastructure of our democracy at all levels. The focus has to be on getting more citizens understanding the system, participating in the system and changing the system. Nothing can be more important than that. Perfection no, but everything could be so much more representative and meritocratic.
    Most of the serious problems we would face would come from the minority tyranny. I will air my thoughts on these issues later. Does anyone think my ideas have any credence?

  • Clark

    Someone did some research into which moral values are important to people on the “left” and people on the “right”. If anyone can find a report of this research, I would be grateful. I think I saw the report in New Scientist.
    .
    Anyway, reading about the results, I was struck that both “sides” were honorably motivated.
    .
    The problems seem to arise from lack of respect of each side for the other, and a tendency to assign motivations rather than really considering and respecting their proclaimed motivations.

  • mary

    This short Wikipedia entry says much.
    .
    Early life
    He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge where he was awarded a BA in History and was a friend of Oliver Letwin.
    .
    Career
    A former editor of The Spectator (1984-90), the Sunday Telegraph (1992-5) and The Daily Telegraph (1995-2003); he resigned from the last post to spend more time writing Margaret Thatcher’s authorised biography, which will be published after her death.
    .
    Due to falling circulation, there had been speculation [1]about Mr Moore’s future prior to his resignation, and the paper had been defeated in an important libel action[2] by George Galloway.
    .
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Moore_(journalist)

  • deepgreenpuddock

    The way business is done.

    A long time ago i worked for an electronics firm that was subcontracted to produce some very early microprocessors
    ( so long ago they were then called ‘integrated circuits’ and ‘field effect transistors’). The contract was for the Clansman military comms. project for Racal, an electronics military contractor set up originally by a couple of ex-military communications engineers (RAF I think) . Racal set up a tiny offshoot of this technology n the early seventies to provide some very limited commercial car phone service around London. Presumably this was very exclusively available t te highest echelons of industry and government Basically, the technology was worked out with the money provided by the development of the Military equipment.

    Last year I was researching a paper and came across a reference to the rise of Vodaphone.
    Apparently the two guys from Racal secured a meeting with Thatcher, in the early 80’s. From that meeting the two people emerged with the promise of the government’s support in acquiring the licences for the emerging mobile phone systems and markets.

    I have no idea if the detail of what was discussed between Mrs Thatcher ( and probably some other’s in government).
    But I could not but reflect on the possibility that perhaps a few nods and winks about buying certain shares went rippling through the most ‘connected’ within the Tory party.
    I also wonder what the Tory party register of donations might show, if it was available. around that period of time?

    Essentially, however, regardless of the low life larceny and corrupt dealing that goes on within government and the military system, I think the important point is that the capitalist system plunders the ‘commons’-in this case the commons is made up of the investemnt by all (for our protection), but where individuals are permitted to skim off commercial benefits, which are then diverted by ‘insiders’. The commons also consists of the brain work and support that came from al the people who contributed to the achievement that the technology represents.
    It is indeed, at its heart, deep corruption.

    We might also contemplate the degree to which we are terrorized by the promotion of fear, in order to sustain the steady flow of money and effort in the direction of the wider military system.

    I think the scales are falling from people’s eyes. We have been repeatedly told that there is no other way (except rampant capitalism) for us to maintain our position in an unstable technological race for ‘survival’. This running mythology has to be tackled head on so that we can approach some kind of human development other than that defined and held to by the greediest, and most devious people among us.
    it must be becoming clear to many that there is a better way to do business.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    “Early life
    He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge where he was awarded a BA in History and was a friend of Oliver Letwin.
    .
    Career
    A former editor of The Spectator (1984-90), the Sunday Telegraph (1992-5) and The Daily Telegraph (1995-2003); he resigned from the last post to spend more time writing Margaret Thatcher’s authorised biography, which will be published after her death.” Mary.
    .
    Ha!
    .
    Well, I know someone who spends most his life drinking Buckfast. One question: Who is further from the truth, Charles Moore, or the Buckfast drinker?
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    Answers on a tin lid, please.
    .
    How wonderfully amusing these toads! Instead of resigning ‘to spend more time with his family’, he resigned to spend more time with Margaret Thatcher (!) But the real question is, is he constitutionally unable to see the elephant in the sitting-room?
    .
    Answer: No, not really, because he and those of his ilk spend most of their lives riding on it.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Now somehow he’s fallen off the elephant. Well, well, well. And yes, the ground is hard, Charles. It’s hard, like stone, and oh so cold. Then, having got stone(d), they get ‘an epiphany’ – shoooop! – and we’re all supposed to sit up and take notice. Sing! “Praise him, Praise, him, Praise him, Praise him, Praise the everlasting newspaper editor-cum-courtier-to-the-Blue Meanie Queen!”
    .
    Nah. Away with thee, Charles Moore, sit upon thy sudden discontent and drown thyself in a butt of Buckfast!

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