Jim Chalmers, Treasurer of Australia (Getty Images)

‘Australian Capitalism’: Jim’s Philosophising Swells Rivers of Sorrow

February 4, 2023


Jim Chalmers, Treasurer of Australia, has used his summer to produce a paean to statism. Chalmers’ essay, Capitalism after the Crises, offers a new way forward, allegedly one urgently needed if Australia is to navigate the awaiting catastrophe of the 21st Century’s third decade. The new Australian capitalism, he says, will not be like the old one – the one whose chief proponent, Paul Keating, was the subject of Chalmers’ doctoral dissertation.

The Treasurer begins with some philosophy from Heraclitus, who, Chalmers matter-of-factly tells us, once wrote in a book stored in a temple that, ‘No man ever steps in the same river twice.’ What Heraclitus actually said is unknown, because there are no extant copies of his work. Heraclitus’ alleged claims are only those reported by Plato and others. Still, removed from context and regurgitated glibly, it’s enough for the Treasurer to justify his entrance stage left as the great captain of economic reform, called forth by the storms of history to right a listing ship of state.

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The Treasurer appears to believe in a government bestowed with the requisite omnipotent wisdom to direct the river to its will, on the divine inspiration of some opaque ‘value’. They will man the fords, open the floodgates, and build the dams. The rest of us will just be damned.

Jim, forget stepping into Heraclitus’ river. Throw your head under Lake Burley Griffin for a moment instead. It might just wake you up.

Ben Crocker is a research fellow for Common Sense Society, in Washington, D.C. His Substack is Crocker’s Columns.

Originally published in Spectator Australia.

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