An American looks at Capitalism and the British Labour Party

A reader (I. R., Roxbury, Massachusetts) writes drawing attention to a book recently published in the United States called “Is Capitalism Doomed?” It is by Lawrence Dennis, a former member of the United States diplomatic service and of the well-known Wall Street firm of E. & W. Seligman. Our correspondent says that, in spite of the intellectual bankruptcy of Seligman’s solutions, the book is as intelligent a defence of capitalism as is possible. “Its great merit, however, is that he attempts to portray as objectively and as accurately as his class interests will permit him a picture of modern capitalism as distinct from the capitalism of yesterday.”

Dennis argues that, “in its old age, senile capitalism must be nurtured by the State . . . with an even diet of two per cent. gruel. Capitalism has run down for want of new worlds to conquer. . . . The State must supply the capitalist machine with markets which it is at present powerless to create for itself.”

He regards heavy taxation as a necessity, the important thing to him being the safeguarding of capitalism, even if this means cutting into the largest fortunes. He states (with approval) that “capitalism and nationalism are individualistic, competitive and non-co-operative, and therefore international co-operation is a misleading idea.” Consequently he regards plans for disarmament and international pacts as foredoomed to failure.

On page 300, Dennis complains that British Labour has been swayed for higher wages instead of for Socialism, and continues: —

“Socialism means work for everybody, even if it be creating things that capitalists do not approve of. The British Labour Party lacked the power to apply Socialism. English capitalism might have been saved from its present plight had the British Labour Party taken a few drastic measures against British capital just after the War.”

This last opinion is interesting, coming as it does from a man whose sole interest is to save capitalism from destruction.

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