Two right-wing myths about the state – and one left-wing one

The state isn’t a threat to capitalism: it enables the free market, and always has. If we look to the state to save us from capitalism, we’re fooling ourselves.

The visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping is already providing a masterclass in the hypocrisy of the British establishment. Only hours before the president’s plane was due to arrive on Monday evening, Theresa May was promoting the government’s latest counter-terrorism strategy on the Today programme, where she explained that British values include democracy and tolerance of those with different faiths. Meanwhile, the Chinese government routinely uses torture, including torture of thousands of members of the religious sect Falun Gong – and not just against them, claims Human Rights Watch, but against their lawyers. Mind you, with Prince William scheduled to lecture the Chinese people about the ivory trade on television and British and Chinese flags fluttering side by side in front of Buckingham Palace, we have here one unelected head of state meeting another unelected head of state, so the moral high ground isn’t really ours to occupy.

The most striking thing about Xi’s visit, however, is what it tell us about the role that the state plays in modern capitalism.

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Pope Francis – radical or reactionary?

What do we think of the Pope? It all seems a bit complicated. One minute he’s telling the US Congress that “we, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners,” and that they have to take climate change seriously. Speaking in Bolivia in July, he called unfettered capitalism “the dung of the devil.” Since he arrived in America, right-wingers have described him as “anti-capitalist Pope”. On the other hand, the Catholic church still continues to oppose marriage equality at every opportunity. Back in February, Francis compared any account of gender which “does not recognise the order of creation” – such as those which validate the lives of trans people – to the use of nuclear weapons. On Thursday, the Pope canonised the missionary Junípero Serra, who oversaw a regime of horrific brutality against Native Americans in California, where colonisation and conversion went, as so often, hand in hand.

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