Swinging between the regulations of government and the excesses of the market has proven flaws, says Michael Thompson. Here he outlines how cultural theory can offer a new economic paradigm
"It’s déja vu all over again," Yogi Berra once declared, and many of those who have now experienced the credit crunch and its subsequent financial and economic turmoil will be inclined to agree with him.
In the 1980s, Arthur Seldon, the founder of Britain’s staunchly (some might say rabidly) pro-market Institute of Economic Affairs, conceded that there was one worthwhile task to which its rival and newly opened think tank - the left-of-centre Institute for Public Policy Research - should address itself. Privatisation, he said (in a letter to The Independent), had been the great and unqualified triumph of the preceding decade but even he had to admit that, when everything that could successfully be privatised had been privatised, a limit would have been reached. If the new think tank could determine where that limit lay, then that, he conceded, would be something well worth knowing.
Arthur Seldon died in 2005 and so did not live to see the enormous wave of collapses and nationalisations that has swept away so much of the privatisation he had championed (and, indeed, the demise of a fair few outfits that were firmly in the ‘private goods’ category before he even set out on his crusade).