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Labour could borrow from the rhetoric of Thatcher and make "a right to own" part of its offer to the electorate:
Toggle Commented Dec 20, 2010 on the problem with Tory mutualism at potlatch
Will, that you had to make reference to "eminently non-Marxist observers" suggests we have no way of expressing succinctly a perspective which does not require a beard... (Paul mentions Smith, a Marxian sans Marxism.) Harry Shutt deserves a mention here as his critique echoes Harvey but is much more helpful on recommending reforms, unlike Harvey who is a little vague on what particular reforms it might help us to champion - company law and other arcane subjects. Given Freeman's point about the doubling of the global labour-force available to capital, we are likely to hear a lot more "squeezed middle" - and this squeeze is likely to be violent.
Toggle Commented Dec 12, 2010 on from economics to violence at potlatch
I like that the conflict within the debate itself mirrors the conflicts within New Labour - is the revival of cooperativism a rebranding of "public service reform" or the return of the "third way"? On the intellectuals formerly known as the RCP - I once spoke to a former member who told me that the Spiked / IoI stuff wasn't a break in political terms, but about adjusting to changed circumstances...
Toggle Commented Sep 19, 2010 on Battle of Ideas at potlatch
Is it not a quadrilemma: the fourth being the party's orientation towards the ruling capitalist class? Does the potential for community organising and new social media end the need for trickle-down politics (prawn cocktail offensives, meetings with Murdoch, etc.)
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2010 on Labour's trilemma at Stumbling and Mumbling
I'm interested that you didn't link this with ownership and democratic participation - because what is striking is that men like Cameron and Clegg, priviledged backgrounds, both multimillionaires, have surely enjoyed lives with high levels of empowerment. At PMQs, Cameron was prompted to revive that Tory slogan of the 80s privatisations - "popular capitalism" - when asked how long it would be before the banks were sold back to his City mates. As an ideological construct to legitimise redistribution from the many to the few (to coin a phrase) it no longer works, particularly as share ownership in the main implies little commitment beyond a dividend. Perhaps the battle of ideas concerning neoliberal orthodoxy will be between Tory attempts to contain fairness proposals (pay ratios, living wage, subsidised co-ops in public services) within the domain of public expenditure and Labour attempts to generalise these proposals.
Toggle Commented Jun 4, 2010 on the era of 'fairness' at potlatch
Alex, a publicly-owned banking sector does not imply an absence of the profit motive - rather that maximisation of profit is likely to be undermined by democratic pressures for the accounting of costs (social, environmental, etc.) that private banks externalise.
Perhaps the external measurement of economic performance matters less here than what is supposed to drive firms within a capitalist economy - profit maximisation, as you point out in Reclaiming the Firm - because the firms collectively must produce profits, it's not hard to see how easily General Motors could switch from producing cars to producing complex financial products. (And sadly, Credit Ratings Agencies were not delusional but collusional for exactly the same reason.) So the crisis is not of valuation as a process but of the legitimacy of that valuation. Governments being fearful of the judgements of ratings agencies is a form of legitimation without legitimacy.
Toggle Commented May 22, 2010 on the crisis of valuation - new article at potlatch
And here's Alan Budd - the man who will head the ORB - commenting on his role in advising the Tories during the 80s in a 1992 documentary: "The nightmare I sometimes have, about this whole experience, runs as follows. I was involved in making a number of proposals which were partly at least adopted by the government and put in play by the government. Now, my worry is . . . that there may have been people making the actual policy decisions . . . who never believed for a moment that this was the correct way to bring down inflation. "They did, however, see that it would be a very, very good way to raise unemployment, and raising unemployment was an extremely desirable way of reducing the strength of the working classes -- if you like, that what was engineered there in Marxist terms was a crisis of capitalism which re-created a reserve army of labour and has allowed the capitalists to make high profits ever since. "Now again, I would not say I believe that story, but when I really worry about all this I worry whether that indeed was really what was going on." Who can doubt this time round the clear class implications of reducing a deficit acquired through bailing out banks?
Toggle Commented May 22, 2010 on Osborne against politics at potlatch
I'd like to back up Stephen's point, it was *skilled* manual workers who swung away from Labour.
Toggle Commented May 18, 2010 on "Our values" vs the voters at Stumbling and Mumbling
Or, a bad example, perhaps - 1951. Labour won the public vote, lost on number of seats...
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A lot of MPs are practising or former lawyers. Go figure.
Toggle Commented Mar 21, 2010 on The law-makers' fallacy at Stumbling and Mumbling
"Jedwood" - I love it! By the title of this blogpost I had assumed it refered to Christopher Hitchens' revalations that he's slept with two Tory ex-ministers... That says more about my mind than anything else, lest Mr Redwood and his lawyers be reading this!
Toggle Commented Mar 8, 2010 on Redwood's confusion at Stumbling and Mumbling
A friend of mine recently referred to the fact that the CEO of Pepsico had conceded "shareholder value" was dead as a focus and there needed to be more of a shareholder approach. I joked that I was now going to sell my shares in Pepsico before they tanked... It is an interesting point you make about liquidizing the firm as a way of maximising shareholder value. This was something that the 'corporate raiders' did, and it was interesting - and is interesting - how this activity is viewed as being rather ungentlemanly. The first recognisable wave of corporate raiders rather startled those family firms which were incorporated as PLCs, as Adam Curtis' documentary on the subject showed. It strikes me that time is a crucial factor in maximisation. Watching news reports of the Toyota scandal last night, I was struck by how much the reason d'etre of the corporation was divorced from its avowed morality. Just as pharmaceutical companies stop safety-testing once a product has launched, the approach of the automotive industry has been similarly lax. But in the long term, such damaging revalations as dodgy medicine and cars that don't stop can wipe out the good standing of a company in the eyes of consumers. What appears to be efficient in the short term is deadly, not only for consumers, in the long term. Which gives us the second factor, competition. The perception is, if we go further than the competition - on safety, etc. - then the company will be less competitive and less likely to survive.
Toggle Commented Feb 24, 2010 on what the hell is 'maximisation'? at potlatch
There's a danger that mutualism becomes a way of stifling or misdirecting opposition to the unpopular involvement of the private sector in provision of healthcare and education, etc. - and holding up the model of public sector reform which sees a hollowed-out state contracting in services from the private sector, which is costly but profitable - and ultimately is a way of subsidising corporate profits.
Toggle Commented Feb 14, 2010 on mutualism, but where? at potlatch
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Feb 14, 2010