Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 8 October 2008


Responsibility for the 'age of irresponsibility'

For years opinion-formers have been mobilised in defence of capitalism. They have argued that it is not fatally flawed, that it is only the criminally reckless elements ripping off the system that created the disaster.

Tony Mulhearn

The Observer's Will Hutton wrote: "This is not the end of capitalism...there is no intellectual, social or political challenge to a system based on respect for private property rights...Rather it is a crisis of a particular capitalism that has set aside respect for trust, integrity and fairness as fuddy-duddy obstacles to 'wealth generation'."

Similar arguments have been deployed in the past. Roosevelt's administration, after the 1929-31 Wall Street crash, for example, outlawed insider trading, the alleged cause of the crash.

The Daily Telegraph's Charles Moore writes that what is revealed in the crisis of the banks "is the corruption of the market, not its natural expression."

This argument recalls the celebrated clip from the Godfather when mafia chief Don Corleone instructs his capo regime to carry out an act of violent retribution, short of murder, on two thugs who have violated the daughter of a friend. "I want responsible people," he insists, "people who are not going to be carried away; after all", he says, sniffing the rose in his lapel, "we are not murderers." The mafia, not murderers?

Most of the political class and the financial world are now demanding regulation and transparency, even demanding action against the profiteers.

Even Hank Paulson, the United States treasury secretary, has belatedly joined calls for regulatory limits on the bonus culture on Wall Street as a condition of his $700 billion bailout programme. But his credentials as a pay reformer have been quickly called into question. His initial position was for 'no strings' and that the deal should be 'non-reviewable.' But congress people, reflecting pressure from their impoverished constituents, greeted this with howls of outrage.

Unadulterated greed

The Guardian revealed that before joining the treasury two years ago Paulson was arguably Wall Street's most influential banker, with bonuses to match. As Goldman Sachs' chief executive, he received $18.7 million half-year bonus in cash before moving into government. The previous year he had been Wall Street's highest paid chief executive, receiving $38.3 million in salary, stock and options.

His move into government was sweetened with a huge tax break. Faced with a conflict of interest that would have made his job at the treasury impossible, he sold about $500 million of Goldman shares built up during his time at the bank. In return, the US tax authorities waived a requirement for him to pay capital gains tax on the sale - handing him a $200 million tax break, according to some estimates.

Gordon Brown has branded the past few years an "age of irresponsibility", a volte face on his fawning encouragement of precisely this irresponsibility. After New Labour's conference, many trade union leaders queued up to praise Brown as the man to 'lead the country through the crisis.'

That means that for the millions of workers who have long seen through this, there is no mass vehicle for protest. The question continually raised by workers, aghast at the prospect of a looming and long recession, growing unemployment and a Tory victory, is 'whom do we vote for at the next election?' This is a question that must be answered by building the Campaign for a New Workers' Party.

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

In The Socialist 8 October 2008:

Credit crunch

Where is the bailout for us?

Editorial: Casino capitalism's crisis continues

Lessons of the 1990s recession in Japan

House building hits new low

Responsibility for the 'age of irresponsibility'

Tories grasp at popularity

Socialist Students

Campaign to defeat fees!

Students look for socialist ideas


University workers fight pension attacks

NUT strike ballot: Action on pay can win

Socialist Party campaigns

A day in the life of a care worker

The sacking of Blair, London's police chief

Socialist meeting blocked by councillor

No to incinerators, give us a real say!

Keep the Metro public!

International socialist news and analysis

Mbeki dismissed by ANC as South Africa's president

Socialist Party workplace news

"Telling the boss: You can't do that"

Fight against the Unison witch-hunt

Frustration with union leadership

Another victory in Greenwich

Workplace news in brief


Home   |   The Socialist 8 October 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Women - fighting sexism, violence and capitalism

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleDebate: should tower blocks form part of socialist housing policy?

triangleWidening wealth gap, increase in poverty...make the fat cats pay

triangle2018: more upheavals loom


triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: How the Poll Tax was beaten

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleTrump's tax plan: Robin Hood in reverse

triangleThem & us

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments



Carillion and the construction industry



Theatre: 'Young Marx' shows growth in great platform for his ideas



Opinion: British imperialism can take no credit in fight against Isis



Opinion: foster care is work - carers deserve workers' rights



Debate: should tower blocks form part of socialist housing policy?



Art can help expose sexual harassment


The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox



The Socialist inbox


Work Capability Assessment

Tory prescription for mental illness: stress and bureaucracy


The Socialist

The Socialist's 2017 quiz



The Socialist Inbox



Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane


Labour Party

Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed



Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike


Working class

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

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...

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

triangle22 Jan Women rally defiantly

triangle22 Jan Red Mary - a Force of Nature

triangle17 Jan Corbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangle17 Jan NHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

triangle17 Jan We must fight all council cuts!

triangle16 Jan Home care workers to strike

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

More ...

triangle23 Jan Bristol North Socialist Party: 'You can't have capitalism without racism' - was Malcolm X correct?

triangle23 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: How the Poll Tax was beaten

triangle24 Jan Caerphilly Socialist Party: The Carillion scandal

triangle24 Jan Cardiff Central Socialist Party: Carillion collapse - Watershed moment for public services

More ...

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



January 2018






















Platform setting: = No platform choice