With the exception of a few anarchists and some old-fashioned communists, the protesters don’t have a coherent alternative. But if they’re not sure what they’re in favour of, they know very well what they’re against: bankers and their bonuses, and the system that hands them billions in bail-outs, while cutting the services relied on by ordinary folk.
It would be a mistake to dismiss them. For their grievances against the form of capitalism currently operating in most of the developed world are increasingly widely held – and they can’t be disposed of simply by pointing out that the banks, and the finance industry, are necessary to economic growth…
It does not stop with the finance industry – for if the state can run banks better than bankers can, surely it can also run other industries in a fairer, better way? That’s how the policy pendulum swings against the free market and towards much greater state intervention in the economy.
We have just had 30 years in which the ideology of the free market has been dominant. And yet, during that time, what has happened to the percentage of the British economy controlled by the Government? It has remained static, at around 45 per cent – or, by some calculations, increased slightly. The state, that is, has been able to increase its control even when there has been almost unanimous agreement that it would be far better if it were to control a much smaller slice of our collective wealth.