OPINION: Defend capitalism or the PR industry dies

After the anti-capitalist riots in Seattle and London’s Euston, have you ever wondered what sort of a PR industry we would have if international capitalism were strangled and free trade ended? Goverments - presumably socialist - would require their propagandists. But public affairs divisions and lobbyists would get short shrift. They didn’t thrive in Soviet Russia and do not flourish in China. And what would be the point of consumer PR if we were told to take or leave the products and services graciously provided by a protectionist state?

After the anti-capitalist riots in Seattle and London’s Euston,

have you ever wondered what sort of a PR industry we would have if

international capitalism were strangled and free trade ended? Goverments

- presumably socialist - would require their propagandists. But public

affairs divisions and lobbyists would get short shrift. They didn’t

thrive in Soviet Russia and do not flourish in China. And what would be

the point of consumer PR if we were told to take or leave the products

and services graciously provided by a protectionist state?



Nobody should get worked up by the failure of the World Trade

Organisation’s latest conference in Seattle. These things notoriously

take years because every nation and bloc in the world sets out to defend

its interests. The prime concern of the world’s largest concentration of

modern industry, the European Union, seemed, God help us, to be to

protect agriculture.



But anyone who is rejoicing because the demonstrators seemingly won an

engagement against a US police force should urgently undergo an

intelligence test.



Like it or not, capitalism, underpinned by free trade, is the engine of

global improvement.



Demonstrators may hate the idea that multi-nationals make ’obscene’

profits.



But without their ’obscenity’, medical advances, for example, would be

slower, our diet worse and our pensions smaller. Protestors may be

revolted that children in developing countries are ’exploited’ sewing,

say, designer footballs or fashion clothing. But stifle their

competitive advantage and we prolong their poverty. The more they

encourage capitalism to open up their potential - for example, Russian

oil, gas, diamonds and minerals - and trade their products freely across

the world, the quicker they will advance.



Demonstrators demanding more effective regulation of capitalism might

have a point. But that is not their objective. They want to kill

capitalism and the free trade which boosts it. And in so doing, they

reveal their intellectual poverty just as much as their so-called

’green’ cousins in claiming that we can power Britain, the fourth

largest economy in the world, on the wind, the waves, the tides and the

sun. I often wonder what sort of PR industry we would have if we relied

on these ’benign and renewable’ sources of energy. There would certainly

be one new job: preparing the nation for a blacked-out Coronation Street

screen at 7.30pm because the wind wasn’t blowing.



Increasingly, in a world which is being hi-jacked by campaigners who

present themselves as saviours of a wholesome and fair planet,

responsible PROs are going to have vigorously to challenge them. I

haven’t seen much evidence of this vigorously realistic PR this week.

Only a largely unchallenged, over-vigorous advocacy of cloud

cuckoo-land.





bernard.ingham@haynet.com.



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