uients, like the socialist majority in thernEuropean parliament, keep no capitalistrnawake at night. It is the name that sur-rnies, not the thing. It is all right to callrnyourself a socialist, apparently. But it isrnnot all right—plainly impossible, if yournwant investment—to be one. The bannersrnmay still be red, but the uniforms arernbright blue.rnThat makes the European electoraternsound hypocritical, though I suspect arnbetter word is canny. They waited till thernleft decaffeinated, and it was a long wait.rnOne certainty- that emerges here is thatrnsocialism is not a popular idea and thatrnsocialists, at long last, know it. Thernrefugee flow across the Iron Curtain wasrnoverwhelmingly westward, and it was thernpoor, above all, who fled. When TonyrnBlair became part)’ leader, he bluntly toldrnBritish Labour that if they ever wanted tornwin an election, after four humiliatingrndefeats, they would have to give up whatrnthev had always believed in. You changernor you die. “I have spent my life advocatingrnsocialism,” I remember the Oxfordrnhistorian A.J.P. Taylor remarking sadlvrntowards the end of his life, “and now I realizernthat nobody wants it.” So Europeanrnsocialists decided to jimk their convictions.rn”What are we going to do if we givernup everything we believe in and thenrnlose?” one delegate was heard to wail inrnthe tearoom at a Labour conference.rnThat was candid. It may be all right tornsell your soul, as Eaust did. But you hadrnbetter get a return on it.rnThe remarkable thing is that Europeanrnelectorates are prepared to playrnalong with this, which is where the canninessrncomes in. They are not cynical,rnjust coolK’ appraising. They do not wantrnsocialism, and are prepared to vote forrnthose who have repented of it. No pointrnin an elective constitution if the samernpeople are always in power, after all, evenrnif you think they are getting it more or lessrnright. A consumer society, in any case,rnhas no loyalties. It will tr)’ a new brand inrnthe polling booth much as it does in a supermarket.rnBesides, there is said to be rejoicingrnin heaven for the sinner that repenteth,rnand repentant socialists are notrnseen as turncoats. If there was once eggrnon their faces, in the days of Clause Four,rnthey have taken good care to wipe it off.rnThey wear business suits, lunch and dinernwith businessmen, accept a widening gaprnbetween rich and poor, and talk the languagernof the boardroom as if makingrnmoney were the only game in town.rnWhich of course it is, though yournsometimes wonder why it took them arncentury and more to notice it. Wiping offrnthe egg was a good idea, but it is shll arnquestion why they were content to wear itrnfor so long. There were convincing reasons,rnafter all, why socialism was alwaysrnunlikely to favor the poor. It wasrnhighly monopolistic, for one thing, andrnmonopoly traditionally favors the wealthyrnand the privileged. You would expect thernrich (or those keen to be rich) to want na-rnHonalization and the poor to want competition.rnThat is a familiar pattern in thernIhiited States, where, since the time ofrnTheodore Roosevelt, antitrust laws haernbeen designed to keep robber barons underrncontrol. But state monopoly is a perfectrnterritory for a robber baron; the richrncan exploit socialism, and did. In Witnessrnto History, Armand Hammer hasrntold how Lenin gave him a free handrnwith certain commodities in the infantrnSoviet Union and guaranteed him somethingrnno free economy can offer—an immunityrnfrom strikes. Like Hitler afterrnhim, Lenin nationalized the laborrnimions. Capitalists can make big moneyrnout of socialism if they play it right, andrnthe young Hammer, whose father Juliusrnhad helped to found the American CommunistrnParty, had no intention of being arnpoor man.rnState monopoly has a histor)-, one farrnolder than socialism. Older, too, thanrnthe free market, which is barely two centuriesrnold as an idea and even younger asrna fiict. Elizabeth I of England, who hasrnnever been a heroine of the left, sold monopoliesrnto her courtiers to fill her exchequer.rnThe Pharaohs in ancient Egyptrnhad state monopolies, and not just forrnbuilding pyramids. For most of humanrnhistory, monopoly has been natiuallyrnseen as right-wing. It existed to favor thernprivileged.rnThere is more egg to come, or (to putrnit another way) we are still under the yolk.rnAnother great myth of socialism, in itsrnda’, was that economic planning favoredrnthe poor. It was never quite explainedrnwhy, and those who believed it vyerc neverrngood at offering convincing answers.rnPlanning means planners, after all, andrnplanners make for comfortable bureaucraciesrnwith tenured, pensionable posts,rnthe pensions being eozily indexed againstrninflation. It is not usually the poor or uneducatedrnwho get such jobs. Power favorsrnthe powerful, and tiie most certainrneffect of economic planning is that it ensuresrnthe creahire comforts of those whornplan. The hefty privileges of the Sovietrnnomenklatura—town houses and countryrnhouses, opera boxes and chauffeurdrivenrncars staffed by ser ants paid out ofrnstate funds—are a memorv that will notrnquickly die. Socialist privilege wasrnpatent. As an old New York Trotskyiternsadly remarked years ago after a visit tornthe Soviet Union: “I’ll take my chance inrnthe capitalist jungle.”rnSocialism, at least in its democraticrnform, could be good news for even thernstock market. In the quarter-centurv afterrn1966, the London stock market performedrnover twice as well under Labourrnas under the Conservatives (31 percent arnyear as against 12 percent); and inrnNovember 1991, the Daily Telegraph, arnI .ondon newspaper of impeccably Conservativerncredentials, reminded investorsrnthat the market had more than tripled inrn1974-9, when Labour was last in power.rn1 he reasons are likely many, but some ofrnthem, though predictable, were not widelyrnpredicted. It is not just fear of inflation;rnin fact, inflation averaged only two percentrnhigher per year under socialist governments.rnBut when you nationalize andrnpay compensation, as Labour did, yournpour millions into flie market, if there isrnreinvestment; when you privatize, asrnConservatives did, you drain existingrnshares of support in favor of a new flotation.rnSo nationalization tends to drivernthe market up, privatization to drag itrndown. Investment managers were wellrnaware of all this, but it was seldom mentionedrnin public debate, and it is doubtfulrnif any socialist, in his worst nightmare, everrndreamed of it. Difficult to go on beingrna socialist if yon did.rnAnother truth seldom mentioned isrnthat socialism was bad news for state welfare.rnMany European governments, socialistrnor not, are now busily looking forrnways to curb the inexorable rise of welfarernspending —usually by raising charges,rntargeting payments to the needy, and enforcingrnjob-seeking as a condition of benefits.rnThere is usually a cr}- of protestrnfrom the left when they do, and if the governmentrncalls itself socialist, it is oftenrnsuggested that it is betrav ing its traditions.rnThat shows how little the left knowsrnabout its traditions. State welfare wasrnborn in 1883, the year of Marx’s death,rnwhen Count Bismarck, a conservativernmonarchist, introduced workers’ healthrnprovisions in Prussia. Wlien Asquith becamernBritish prime minister a quartercenturyrnlater, in 1908, he founded thernBritish welfare state with pensions for thernaged, and members of his governmentrnOCTOBER 1999/45rnrnrn