BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
It was no surprise last week to see the “journalist” Sam Kriss ditched by VICE and then suspended by the Labour Party after claims of sexual harassment. Labour hijacked by Momentum placers seems to attract such charmers. It was diverting to see that Kriss describes himself as an intellectual. Then again, these false promisers of Labour – he purportedly bragged to some poor girl that he wanted to take her back to his huge house, which turned out to be owned by his parents.
Let’s face it, there are few if any genuine intellectuals surrounding Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell. Most of the Corbyn entourage are intellectual pygmies. Short-cutting, mindless, angry, flat-track bullies like Angela Rayner and Chris Williamson intent on class war, surrounded by the 3C sociology crew from “universities” like Bath and Strathclyde. “Edmund Burke must be a berk”. The porch light’s on, but no one’s home. No surprise that these third-raters plump for socialism’s heroine without adequate rational consideration. Dressed up as do-gooders, they are mere poison sellers – covetous losers who find it easy to hate “rich people” and lie.
The truth is that Venezuela is a textbook example of the Corbyn/McDonnell version of socialism. Bullying Chavistas also carefully intermingled the false promises of socialism with truth (income inequality and huge, successful farms owned by the few) to con enough of the Venezuelan public into voting for a brand of socialism that involved price controls, radical land/wealth distribution and covetous hate (with a large dose of antisemitism), culminating in empty coffers and famishment. Corbynistas similarly hijack the truth (unaffordable housing, overpriced higher education for the young and the harsh effects of austerity) to con the gullible and vulnerable amongst the British public into believing that socialism, nationalisation, taxing the rich, property seizure where necessary and miraculously printing IOUs (creating markedly increased debt levels) are a magic remedy for all of Britain’s post-crash ills.
The truth is that the parallels between Corbynism and the Chavista model of socialism are manifold and, as a patriotic Brit with deep personal experience of Venezuela, I survey these likenesses with genuine dread. Those thinking of voting for Corbyn really ought to get on a plane (it’s a plane and bus these days) to the barrios of Caracas or visit the starving, violent people of Monagas who I have been forced to drive past at speed just so they do not shoot out my tyres. These poor suckers for socialism hope I am transporting food, not money, which has no value anymore in Venezuela where bolivares are in effect valueless.
“Ah, but Corbyn’s Britain will be a different form of socialism to Venezuela’s,” cry the Corbyn intellectuals. Even the androgynous sophisticates of Islington have learnt to parrot an alternative democratic socialism in response to the Venezuelan smear. “It’s the environmentally-friendly Nordic Model that Corbyn will follow, not the Venezuelan one,” they mantra hypocritically while quaffing on their cinnamon dolce lattes courtesy of “rapacious and exploitative capitalism”.
“[beware that] “many of what are called social problems are differences between the theories of intellectuals and the realities of the world—differences which many intellectuals interpret to mean that it is the real world that is wrong and needs changing.”
― Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society
Any fool – let alone an intellectual one – can see that the Nordic countries’ economies are completely different to Britain’s and that the Nordic socialist model is another Corbynite con. Scandinavian Socialism is a myth. The Corbynistas’ argument that the Scandinavian countries became rich by relying on socialism is false – as every decent economic historian knows, between 1970 and 1991 when social democrats actually tried to introduce a form of planned economy in the country, Sweden’s growth rate fell to the second lowest among western European countries. The centre-right government that was elected in 1991, and consequent governments on both the right and left, have moved the country towards free-markets again. As a result, Sweden has experienced the second highest growth rate in Western Europe during its new free-market era, between 1991 and 2014. The facts of economic history are brass tacks, not fancies dreamt up in Paul Krugman’s beard or spouted by one of Paul Mason’s head voices. These myopic Britain-haters should ditch their economic theory books and immerse themselves in some actual economic history (but then, of course, they would no longer be able to perpetuate their political con).
There are several other reasons to dismiss the Nordic model as ever being Corbynite:
First, the Nordic countries are rather dirty capitalists. The means of production are predominantly owned by private individuals, certainly not by the community or the state, and resources are allocated to their respective uses by the market, not government or community planning. Corbyn imagines a green Nordic future for the UK with AI playing a dominant role (even though AI is decades away from being ready to). The Scandinavian nations (except for Denmark) have based their economic success on extractive industries – whether it’s Norway’s oil, Sweden’s iron ore or Finland’s forests, creating gigantic carbon footprints.
Second, the Scandinavians are ruthless free-marketeers. Corbynista “intellectuals” mistake the generous Nordic welfare states for democratic socialism when the Scandinavians are huge free market fans and happily sit back like radical free-capitalists while companies go to the wall – even iconic ones like Saab – rather than succumbing to big-state intervention. Denmark, Norway, and Sweden rank among the most globalized countries in the entire world and rank in the top 10 easiest countries to do business in. Swedish economists Jesper Roine and Daniel Waldenström explain that “Most of the decrease [in income equality in Sweden] takes place before the expansion of the welfare state and by 1950 Swedish top income shares were already lower than in other countries.” A recent paper by economists Anthony Barnes Atkinson and Jakob Egholt Søgaard reach the similar conclusion for Denmark and Norway. Free markets – the antithesis of Corbyn’s Marxism – made Nordic countries relatively well-off.
Third, there is heavy promotion of private school education, particularly in Sweden where a Friedmanesque universal school choice system was adopted in the 1990s, which allows for free choice of schools and education systems. Nordic educators are frankly repulsed by the socialist idealistic comprehensive model that has failed pupils so desperately in Britain. The Swedish system involves local governments allowing families to optimally use public funds for the specific needs of their children, in the form of vouchers, often to finance their child’s education at a private school, including schools run by Corbyn-dreaded for-profit corporations.
Fourth, horses for courses. Norway has a massive oil fund it can fall back on to support the weight of its bulky welfare state – in fact its top marginal tax rate is just 39 percent. Sweden’s engineering sector (unlike Britain’s) accounts for 50% of output and exports. Denmark is not much to write home about – the average wage in America is $45,000, the average one in Denmark is $27,000 while the squeezed Danes’ top marginal effective income tax rate is 60.4 percent. Sweden has a population of 9 million, Denmark 5.7 million and Norway 5.3 million – all tiny compared to Britain’s 65.6 million. Scandinavia is still among the less populated regions of Europe, certainly compared to Britain.
Fifth, large welfare states are simply not that great. Iceland — the Nordic country which historically has had the smallest welfare state — is the one with the highest life span and lowest child mortality. Denmark — the Nordic country with the largest public sector — lags significantly behind its Nordic neighbours.
Sixth, Scandinavian companies would never accept Corbyn’s Government-centred diktats regarding labour law as they are well aware, as are British companies, that the policies Corbyn espouse would harm low-wage workers. Instead Scandinavians tend to decentralise labour rights and let individual industries decide on key criteria. Take the minimum wage which is not subject to government-imposed totals in Sweden, Norway, or Denmark. Instead, minimum wages are decided by collective-bargaining agreements between industry-specific, supportive unions and employers.
Finally, self-identification. What happens when you ask the Nordic countries if they are doyens of democratic socialism? No good news for the Corbynista myth-peddlers there either. In response to Americans frequently referring to his country as socialist, in 2015 the prime minister of Denmark Lars Løkke Rasmussen remarked in a lecture at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, “I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism. Therefore, I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.” And Norway? Norway this year continued to reject socialism, re-electing conservative prime minister Erna Solberg last month. If you extend the term Nordic to five countries, only Sweden is headed by social democrats, who are certainly not Corbynites, and even there, they no longer command widespread support.
There’s no escaping this fact: the reality is that Corbyn’s socialism is most akin to Venezuela’s. The worrying thing for Britain is that Venezuela was the perfectly placed and sized country – with its oil wealth and 31 million inhabitants – to try the Corbyn social experiment. And it failed – bigly. In Britain – without such oil wealth and with millions more inhabitants – the money will dry up much faster and faith in the fiat pound will evaporate even more quickly than it has in the bolivar.