Whatever they are, they're not capitalists.
Conventional theory has it that capitalism arose in England in the 16th century but I long ago found it thriving in the 13th century. Rowland Parker's 'Men of Dunwich', a treasure of my bookshelves for many decades, uses ancient pipe rolls and mediaeval manuscripts in our historic archives as the author turns detective. Why did Ada Ringulf, with a cottage by St Peter's, pay only ¼d rent a year when neighbours paid 1½d?* Parker thinks he knows. Anyway, Dunwich merchants, shipowners with vessels we know as 'cogs', would speculatively take cargoes of wool, barley, cloth to Europe and the Baltic and return with iron, wine, silk and spices. Profits could be handsome - but the loss of a cog to a hostile port, pirates, minor warlords or official blackmail could ruin a man and his family overnight. So merchants offset their risk by investing in eachother's cogs and cargoes, risking only a fifth or a sixth on each voyage. Parker has the evidence. That's capitalism. And it was happening three hundred years earlier than thought. Capitalism means risk, even if it's managed risk. What the global corporates do is risk free; monopolistic, monopsonistic or oligopolistic, they have a licence to make money with virtually no risk, by virtue of their size and power.
|12th Century seal of Dunwich showing square-rigged cog with furled sail.
And so the Telegraph carries two stories today that depress even my usual optimism. The first is Jeremy Warner's belief (£) that the markets - read global corporates - have decided how Brexit is to turn out, and it won't mean change or threat, so the £ has bounced back. The second is that the EU (no doubt with the ERT members' hands up their arses) have decided that the UK cannot escape the Customs Union (£), and must remain subservient to the Brussels empire for ever more.
The threat to Brexit isn't from weak lunatics and purblind fools in the Lords, or the little pungent dags swinging with the stride of George Soros and his chums. If push comes to shove we can always resurrect the scaffold and lop-off their noggins. The real threat is from these big corporates - and I really don't know what we can do about them.
These rule us now. Democracy has surely died.
Some ERT members - full list at https://www.ert.eu/members