‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Capitalism or Socialism: a false dichotomy? Open thread

"So much of our history since the mid nineteenth century has been about the people with money and power doing their best to push socialism into extremes so as to make themselves the only possible choice."

Right or wrong?


Sackerson said...

JD comments:

We have been here before, have we not? http://theylaughedatnoah.blogspot.com/2017/06/two-socialisms-two-capitalisms.html

In that post you wrote about a 'more modern type' of capitalism: "This one is like Blu-Tack: a big ball of money that is rubbed onto smaller bits, not to stick up the poster but simply to make the ball bigger and then to put it away in a drawer. The poster can flop to the ground after that; who cares?"

Your example was the banking failures of 2008 and the famous 'bailout.' But there is another, related example which has been growing. Recently Trump tweeted about the California wildfires blaming the lack of or incompetence of Forest Management. He is partly correct but doesn't say why. It is all about cost cutting. Forest management via coppicing and other techniques to clear away dead and/or choked undergrowth is a long term project and, because there is no obvious immediate financial return on the investment, it doesn't happen. The result is that nature does the job it has always done, it destroys in order for renewal to occur: death and rebirth, the natural cycle. The same problem happened here with the flooding of Somerset a few years ago.

That cost cutting trend is the one that has been growing. It is now evident in our shops which I have noticed have cut back on staff; more and more unmanned tills. I was in M&S yesterday and said to the girl on the information desk "Do you know why the high street is dying? It is not just online shopping, it is having to stand for ages in a long queue in order to pay for things." That was in their food hall but I have noticed that there is one solitary till point for the whole of the remainder of their ground floor which is not always fully staffed.

The cost cutting trend is to package operations into smaller and smaller units and each unit must be 'profitable' in order to survive as identifiable units. I have seen it happen in the construction industry; clearing rubbish and sweeping up is not an identifiable profitable activity and so it is neglected until it is absolutely necessary and even then it will be done hurriedly and carelessly.

It was so different in times past. You mention the Bridgewater Canal and Cherie recently posted on Lord Armstrong's gift of the gardens of Jesmond Dene to the City of Newcastle for the benefit of the citizens with the entrance fee going to the local hospitals.


There are many other examples; Port Sunlight, Saltaire, Bournville etc. What do successful businessmen do now with their money? They indulge themselves with giant yachts and other toys.

In Ian Macdonald's book "Revolution in the head" in his introductory essay he wrote that with the decline in church attendance since the 1950s, the only thing remaining to bind society together was money.

And now that we have had austerity for a long time the cracks and divisions are evident for all to see.

Sackerson said...

A comment far better than the post!

Paddington said...

Well said, both of you.