In your editorial on inflation (18 May), you call for “a reckoning for a free market ideology that has come to dominate our political life”. I agree, except that there is no such thing as a free market. All markets are structured to serve the interests of particular interest groups, and rarely for the common wealth.
Nor should ideologues such as Boris Johnson be allowed to blame these crises on global systems. The systems didn’t just pop into existence; they have been constructed from a particular vision of global capitalism. Johnson and his ilk created the conditions from which low productivity, increasing inequality, and inflation have emerged. Further, there are plausible arguments that the global capitalist system is a good breeding ground for international pandemics, xenophobic nationalism and economic and military imperialism.
The domestic contribution to inflation has the same ideological roots. Because the private sector is seen as omniscient, quantitative easing meant that the state created fiat money, but allowed the financial sector to allocate it. The financial sector did, but not to the growth of productivity. Their best profits lay in subsidising asset prices, notably housing; and what do you expect from static productivity and loose cash? Couldn’t be inflation, could it?
Underlying all this is the old lie: that the sum of self-interested economic decisions is the common good. Johnson et al are not the victims of circumstances. They are apologists for and advocates of the global economic systems that are now wreaking widespread havoc. Chickens may be coming home to roost, but they’re not going to the right address.
Dr Tony Brauer