Martin Wolf, the influential columnist for the Financial Times, says that both left and right are failing us in the present crisis, and that while the Occupy protests have no coherent or effective answers, they’re asking the right questions. More:
If the traditional left offers no answer, can the free market right return to business as usual? No. People who believe in the marriage of democratic politics with market economics need to address what has happened. They need to do so, above all, because there are darker forms of politics waiting in the wings: nationalism, chauvinism and racism. That is what happens when the conventional elites fail and frustration takes over. We do not need to watch this tragedy again.
This is a debate we need. In my view, both perspectives are useful. The Tea Party is wrong on the future of government. Even the US is not going back to the 19th-century state. But its more coherent members are right – and even agree with today’s protesters – that we have promoted an insider form of capitalism which exploits and indeed creates subsidies and tax loopholes on which the insiders prosper. The need to rescue banks was horrifying. The role of money in politics is disturbing. The danger is that we are moving from what the Nobel laureate economic historian, Douglass North, calls an “open-access order” to its opposite, a system in which political influence is decisive.
This is not merely inefficient. It is unjust. … The left does not know how to replace the market. But pro-marketeers still need to take the protests seriously. All is not well.