Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/696/13271

From The Socialist newspaper, 30 November 2011

When bankers were good?

Ian Pattison

Ian Hislop's BBC documentary 'When Bankers Were Good' starts by quoting ex-New Labour minister Peter Mandelson's line "I'm intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich". Hislop contrasts this greed and that of our current bankers with the 'charity' of philanthropic 19th century bankers, like Samuel Gurney and Lord Rothschild.

But greed and crisis are inevitable consequences of an anarchic capitalist system. Similar problems appear again and again. In 1825, a boom was followed by a bust, where 80 banks collapsed. None of these outfits were bailed out - today capitalism believes the banks are 'too big to fail'. A 19th century version of sub-prime debt forced philanthropic banker Samuel Gurney's banks to collapse after his death.

Today's bleak economic crisis was partly fuelled by the replacement of manufacturing by financial services, which produce nothing. Hislop acknowledges that even in the 19th century, many capitalists left manufacturing and other industries to join banking.

Hislop admits not all bankers were 'good', but only briefly mentions the horrendous living conditions ordinary people suffered with no welfare whatsoever.

Merchant banker George Peabody tried to address the terrible housing problem. But 'Peabody' homes were only for the 'industrious poor', those lucky enough to have a job, people who could afford rent, not the destitute or unemployed.

In the 19th century, the average British household was giving away 10% of its income to charity - the second biggest expenditure after food! But it made little difference. Hislop admits that charity was not a progressive engine of social change as the free market was making society more unequal.

In 1909, social and industrial unrest forced a Liberal government to announce its 'People's Budget'. 'Philanthropic' banker Rothschild opposed taxing the rich to redistribute wealth to the poor.

However, when World War One started in 1914, Rothschild said Britain should pay for the war effort by taxing the rich heavily! Hislop claims "that's been the policy ever since." But 120 billion is lost in tax unpaid by the super-rich every year, the banks were bailed out by 1.3 trillion, and the profitable half of Northern Rock was sold back to the private sector at a loss of 400 million to the taxpayer.

Lord Turner, chair of the Financial Services Authority, defended bankers, saying that he couldn't imagine the increased living standard of all sections of society in the last 200 years, without banking.

But the vast wealth existing in society is created on the backs on the working class. At one time capitalism was a productive, efficient system, certainly more so than the previous system, feudalism, but that age has clearly long passed.

Socialists don't rely on paternalistic charity from the rich. We fight for democratic socialism. The banks should be nationalised under democratic workers' control and management, so the vast wealth we've created can be used for the benefit of society as a whole. 'When Bankers Were Good' lacks this final conclusion and paints a far rosier picture than is accurate.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 30 November 2011:


Socialist Party news and analysis

30 November shows... We can win!

Con-Dems' autumn statement: 'pain now, pain tomorrow and more pain for longer'

Fight this bosses' charter!

Who cares about home care?

The Tory solution to pensioner poverty?

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Eurozone: Into the abyss?

Egypt: Millions cast their votes in the first post-Mubarak elections

Kazakhstan: Demand Georgii Epshtein's release!


Socialist Party feature

Jarrow March for Jobs 2011


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Brighton Greens fail to fight the cuts

A message from Tommy Sheridan

'Not guilty' - support for Cardiff activists

Stoke Socialist Party's public meeting success

Leeds Against Cuts: defiant mood to fight 'daylight robbery'

Showing racism the red card

London trade unionists support electoral opposition to cuts


Socialist Party workplace news

Construction workers defend the JIB

Electricians occupy building company HQ

Usdaw: Fighting against the policies of 'social partnership'

Workplace inbrief


The Socialist, reviews & comments

When bankers were good?

Why I joined the Socialist Party


 

Home   |   The Socialist 30 November 2011   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Bankers:

triangleTories torn - bin them now

triangleDefuse the consumer debt time bomb: nationalise the banks!

triangleBarclays finally charged for having hands in till

triangleCampaign launch: "rip-off bosses and greedy bankers - enough is enough!"

triangleTop banks post 67% of profits in tax havens - nationalise the banks!

Rich:

triangleThem & Us

triangleTrump's tax attacks

triangle'Paradise' for billionaires - austerity for us

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

Banks:

triangleRBS to sack 1,000: nationalise the banks

triangleAmber warning lights flash on British economy

triangleHousing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

Capitalism:

triangleTrump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict

triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

13/12/17

The Socialist

The Socialist's 2017 quiz

6/12/17

Fire

The Socialist Inbox

6/12/17

Surrey

Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane

6/12/17

Labour Party

Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

30/11/17

Theatre

Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

22/11/17

Working class

Left comic's take on politics will have you in tears

22/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

15/11/17

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

15/11/17

Abortion

TV review: Abortion on Trial - hard-hitting look at impact of 1967 act

15/11/17

Vietnam war

Comprehensive account of bloody conflict

8/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

8/11/17

Obituary

Obituary: Paul Randall, 1959-2017

8/11/17

Theatre

Welsh update of Chekhov an engrossing tale of 1980s class conflict

1/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

25/10/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

triangle13 Dec Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

EU parliament, Strasbourg

triangle13 Dec Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

triangle12 Dec Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

More ...

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2