The Tory Housing Secretary Michael Gove has said that Kingspan Insulation in Cavan is “giving capitalism a bad name.” (Irish News, Sat 20th January 2024). Really!
He went on to say that Kingspan is trying to “minimise their involvement” in regards to their insulation materials being used in the cladding on the outside of the Grenfell Tower in the UK, which was implicated in the deadly fire there which killed more than 70 people.
Michael Gove and the British establishment would know a lot about the “bad name” of capitalism and its eternal “minimisation of its involvement” in death and destruction around the world.
Have Gove and the Davos brigade not noticed that the good name of their beloved capitalism is damaged already, which has been damaging the working class around the world for the last centuries? Of course they have, but choose instead to deny, mollify and ignore it.
In fact, it is a bit odd to see his likes even mentioning the word capitalism. It has always appeared that there is an understanding in all the official discussion or information fora to refrain from mentioning words like capitalism and neo-liberalism. It’s almost like if they don’t exist, then no blame can be attributed to them.
This comes into focus in discussions, in any mainstream media outlets, around economics, housing, health, education, climate destruction and human rights. Everything can be blamed or put forward as a “solution” without mentioning the C word or the NL word. And it has worked well for them.
Wars, colonialism, imperialism and the unnecessary deaths of millions, are dressed up in all sorts of wild and wonderful stories, but never the real one, and never the truth. Extraction of wealth, exploitation of cheap labour and the predatory acquisition of markets at the point of a gun, are dressed up as “trade” and even “democracy”. Rising costs of food, fuel and all price increases, are blamed on everything except capitalism or greed. Lack of basic services are a result of “no funding available”. Neither greed nor neo-liberal privatisation are ever offered as an explanation by the political and economic elites or their followers. Poverty, for example, is simply poverty, never inequality or exploitation. And none of the above would ever be said by Gove and his likes, as “damaging” to capitalism; quite the opposite.
All this minimising of the damaging effects of capitalism in people’s lives, alongside dishonest, evasive presentations of capitalism, has had a numbing effect on the wider population and their ability to organise against their oppression. The system of capitalism is sold as “common sense”. There is no alternative, and no consideration of “good sense” is allowed.
The eschewing of properly informative language has fooled people, and taught them to see the world in a certain way and act accordingly, even when it is clearly against the interests of their class.
However, Kingspan and indeed Michael Gove, may well have inadvertently shone an unwanted spotlight on capitalism: both by trying to avoid damage to capitalism and by their crude attempts at minimising their involvement in the damaging effects of the very system they are trying to protect.
As Connolly famously said: “Governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class.” That’s clear, Gove’s “loose talk” notwithstanding.