By Andrew White
In a modern society there are very few opportunities to fundamentally re-draw how we live and interact with each other. Change is gradual far more often than dramatic. Dramatic changes usually arrive at periods of great, unendurable, stress for the status quo.
In Tsarist Russia, the Great War created the conditions for the revolution, predicted for 70 years as a near certainty by Marx, to finally occur. In Germany, Italy, and Spain, it led to the rise of Fascism in the depression that followed. In the UK the deflation and mass unemployment of the 1920s led to the first real change in economic structures in 100 years, when demand management and the Keynesian consensus began.
The reason the UK went down a different path was because it was at this point that one of the greatest feats of politics anyone ever achieved was pulled off by a Conservative Prime Minister.
When every other country in Europe was becoming Communist, Fascist, or an ungovernable basket case, Stanley Baldwin strove for consensus, fairness, and began the rebuilding of the British economy in a way that recognised its achievements as well as its manifest failures.
He left office lauded from every side of the house, the Labour leadership crediting him with drawing them in to the democratic process, and by extension, the maintenance of democracy itself.
The structures of capitalism in the first decade of the 21st century have also manifestly failed to deliver on their promise. There are a great many people from every part of the political spectrum who see this as their one chance to overthrow them.
Great Britain is not about to turn Communist or Fascist, but it could turn to old school state socialism, vehement anti-business environmentalism, or small minded nationalism. It is up to us, as the only generation who will live through this particular point of stress to make the argument for the right kind of capitalism.
We must win the argument to reject the tearing down of the structures on which we all rely. The argument, not just power, must be won for a settlement which will endure. The next stage of capitalism must be built on a majority that sees it as both effective, and fair. To win the argument capitalism must be defended, it must be defended loudly, and it must be defended now.