Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The fundamental popular notion behind Liberal Capitalism is that it is an exploititaive system which mainly serves the interests of an overprivileged, avaricious elite. However for the decade or so leading up to October 2008, anyone openly expressing this view at polite dinner parties was likely to be dismissed as some sort of tedious, kill-joy Marxosaurus. Fortunately it's now OK again to blame the *ankers for all our problems.

An alternative view - which may itself now be going out of fashion - is that capitalism is a system which rewards the sort of industrious individuals who like to make their living from pumping up the overall levels of vulgarity in society. As I suggested in yesterday's post, this position has been wrapped in taboo, which means (Reality TV, celebrity culture and Americans aside) its advocates have had to disguise their snobbish instincts as something a tad more positive - such as the promotion of organic foods or other kinds of 'environmental' activism.

I was amused by an article in Spiked! recently, which rumbled the claims of Plane Stupid and other protestors who have been targeting Stansted Airport; the UK's home of the cheap flight:

"No amount of fact-twisting can disguise the fact that, again and again, the eco-worthies of the anti-flying lobby are drawn towards attacking and delaying those flights taken by the lowest-income communities; by 'cheap people'...In their rush to mock the supposedly 'privileged' people who take cheap flights from Stansted, Plane Stupid neglects to point out that, according to the CAA's figures, the average household income of £47,000 at Stansted is the lowest for London's major airports...

"When you consider that aviation contributes only five per cent to Britain's total carbon emissions, and that a tiny proportion of that five per cent is caused by Ryanair, easyJet or Stansted itself, it becomes clear that there is something seriously skewed about Plane Stupid's focus on cheap flights. This is not about reining in CO2 per se; it's about reining in the slovenly, destructive behaviour of the lower orders. The shutting down of Stansted and the relentless attacks on Ryanair and easyJet are driven by the most pernicious snobbery, by a view of 'cheap flyers' as ultimately destructive, noxious, wanton and foul. These posh activisits, descended from baronets, lords, inventors and aristocrats, are keeping up a long tradition in which 'mass tourism' has attracted the 'class-contempt of killjoys who conceived themselves superior by reason of intellect, education, curiosity and spirit'.

Now, while I'm no social-relativist (I generally take more easily to the sort of superior people who got that way by reason of intellect, education, curiosity and spirit as opposed to the various other ways one might conceive oneself superior) and while I'd still need to be convinced that the lower orders aren't just a little bit more slovenly than the rest of us, the outing of this sort of cant in public life is always to be applauded!

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