Jeremy Hardy thinks… about greed

'In a market-driven society, it is a tribute to human decency that anyone behaves with any morals at all'

August 20, 2012 · 2 min read

Judging the rich is like judging the poor: if you’ve never been in their situation, you don’t know what you’d do if you were. But we like to think that the reason people have too much money is that they are morally flawed, and that the world of finance is so morally flawed that it’s almost impossible to understand. You’d have to be incredibly greedy or have a personality disorder even to find it interesting.

And we all like to hear of a big pot of unpaid tax that could be put to good use. All we have to do is lever it out of the hidden hands of the morally repugnant. Just as the left pretends that every penny of dodged tax would otherwise have been spent on hospitals (by George Osborne?), the right, I presume, has it earmarked for weapons and the bankrolling of the private sector.

Because conservatives especially bemoan immorality. They would have us believe that a creeping and recent venality is blighting capitalism’s good name. Greed and sharp practice have replaced philanthropy and propriety, goes the narrative.

In fairness to conservatives, they have a long tradition of economic intervention that stands in contrast to the economic‑liberal theory that everything sort of sorts itself out somehow. Tories are close enough to capitalism to know that it doesn’t actually work – not without a lot of help. They also know it has nothing to do with morals. In a market-driven society, it is a tribute to human decency that anyone behaves with any morals at all.

Furthermore, while it’s fun to point out that the worst tax-dodgers are always Tories, when Conservatives put financial gain before everything else, they are being entirely true to their principles.


What key work really means

While economic activity slowed down during the Covid-19 crisis, accumulation of wealth continues for capitalists at the cost of key workers’ health and wellbeing, writes Notes From Below

Authoritarianism is creeping into classrooms

New curriculum guidance will limit critical thinking and cement a neoliberal capitalist consensus. It should be setting off alarm bells, says Remi Joseph-Salisbury

In and against, and outside, the party

Following major defeats, the left on both sides of the Atlantic must urgently get stuck into community organising, movement building and political education, argues Joe Guinan


Keir Hardie Trafalgar Square

What’s wrong with the Labour Party?

The role Labour plays in maintaining the capitalist state makes it a crucial site for socialists to organise within, argues Luke Evans

No solutions, no justice: Covid-19 and BAME communities

Apsana Begum MP asks why no action has been taken to protect BAME communities from Covid-19, despite the Government report revealing disproportionate impact

Brazilian oligarchs sacrifice people for profit

Business leaders are using social media and political influence to spread coronavirus disinformation – and endangering thousands of lives. Raphael Tsavkko Garcia reports

Only fearless, independent journalism
can hold power to account

Your support keeps Red Pepper alive