“The State has a terrible potency to kill the thing it loves…”

I like and admire Matthew Parris. He writes wonderfully, is genuinely self-deprecating and modest, and has a marvellous broadcasting voice. It’s a shame he’s a Tory, really.

Anyway, he has a very interesting piece in the Times Online about Cameron’s declaration for voluntary action and social enterprise as alternatives to the ‘big state’.

In just a few hundred words Parris manages to set this new philosophy in its wider context of Conservatism, Darwinism, social philanthropy, and Christianity.

It presents some practical difficulties, Parris acknowledges, “not least [that] of delivering state-sponsored help via non-state agencies” and goes on to warn: “The State has a terrible potency to kill the thing it loves: just look at the arts.”

I disagree with virtually everything else in the piece but he’s dead right on that point about the arts.

  1. Jeff Mowatt Reply

    I might well agree with Matthew Parris, in that where we began was with a critique of Western capitalism. What he’s saying may have been said before:

    I offer this point about conscience and capitalism from an interview with our founder, Terry Hallman.

    “The problem is that profit and money still tend to accumulate in the hands of comparatively few people. Money, symbolically representing wealth and ownership of material assets, is not an infinite resource. When it accumulates in enormous quantities in the hands of a few people, that means other people are going to be denied. If everyone in the world has enough to live a decent life and not in poverty, then there is no great problem with some people having far more than they need. But, that’s not the case, and there are no rules in the previous capitalist system to fix that. Profit and numbers have no conscience, and anything done in their name has been accepted as an unavoidable aspect of capitalism.”

    His white paper was for an alternate paradigm which would exist in parallel with predominant free market ideology and serve as a replacement for the non-profit approach.

    They “psycho-philosophical twaddle” that Parris suggests was core to the reasoning, with a conclusion that “Economics, and indeed human civilization, can only be measured and calibrated in terms of human beings. Everything in economics has to be adjusted for people, first, and abandoning the illusory numerical analyses that inevitably put numbers ahead of people, capitalism ahead of democracy, and degradation ahead of compassion.”

    It drew on reasoning from Plato, Descartes, Maslow, Fritjof Capra, Peter Drucker, Alvin Toffler and Carl R Rogers to derive an ethical manifesto for capitalism.


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