BNP support NOT linked to immigration

baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
Ah OK, gotcha. But I think there's a massive difference between people who are self-employed only to make more money (i.e. buy into capitalism in a big way, your so-called entrepreneurs', though what value most of them actually create is highly open to debate), and those who are self-employed because they (a) want to free themselves of the employer's shackles, and not reproduce that dynamic with them in the role of boss; and/or (b) do something of genuine worth to others that they don't see anyone else/many other people doing effectively, rather than to accumulate cash/capital, while of course earning a reasonable living doing it.

I think the very genuine problem is that the second type of person might over time turn into the first type of person, if they weren't careful. But I think that's a typical problem under capitalism, that a sick kind of Randian self-interest (!) can pervert people if they have not sorted out their own issues with self-esteem/fear etc etc. Which is, incidentally, where I see a large part of the problem coming from in regimes that set out to be socialist - so, for example, while Castro may have had lofty ideals in a lot of ways, he still thought it was OK to send gay people to camps, presumably because he hadn't bothered to interrogate his own prejudices. Which is to say, real political change is impossible without real psychological change - the oppressed simply adopt the roles of oppressors after a time, which is pretty heartbreaking.

Five-day week - definitely lots of alternatives. Of course these are pie in the sky as long as most people stay locked in the idea that: (a) all jobs are genuinely productive, rather than a great many of them being more about enriching already rich people; (b) five days a week/20-25 days annual leave (though in the US is it still closer to 10?) is somehow an arrangement ordained from above, rather than the best compromise that labour reformers could get from capitalists way back when; and (c) somewhere, deep down, they don't deserve any better than this arrangement. Also, it would help if even supposedly left-wing media stopped bowing to the god of constant growth, as being an inanimate arbiter of how successful a society is.

Agree totally that work still needs to be done - did you read Dan Hancox's book on Marinaleda btw? - but certainly not the levels/types of work we are 'told' are necessary.

http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/2010/02/15/21-hours-a-new-norm-for-the-working-week - as said, fanciful until there are other changes in the way people think, but something to aim for. Obv one of the main things preventing this is the artificial inflation of the housing market, at least in the UK, coupled with rental laws that make everyone feel insecure. Not sure how this compares to the Netherlands? I've heard Belgium is significantly better.

I always find it amazing the number of people who claim they would be 'bored' if they didn't work five days a week! Chilling.
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Even 'entrepreneur' is a highly ambiguous word, at least in terms of scale - I mean, it could mean Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or whoever, or it could mean some guy who runs a little café or a minicab firm. Someone who employs three people and has a turnover of a few hundred grand a year.

But I'm not really talking about people who set up enormous companies, since they can end up forming monopolies, influencing government policy and doing all sorts of other things that are generally detrimental to most people's freedom - I think someone who has a business idea, takes some risks, invests their own (literal and figurative) capital and works hard to make it happen deserves to enjoy the fruit of their labours. Although not everyone thinks that, I mean 'entrepreneur' may be a French word but the current French government doesn't like entrepreneurs very much. Did you know that every time a business changes hands in France the government helps itself to over 60% of the value in tax? That's absolutely outrageous! And it's clearly not even 'real' socialism, if we define socialism very loosely as a system whereby people work together to help each other - it's pretty much state kleptocracy, a system whereby a vastly bloated state is parasitic on those who actually create wealth.

In analogous way, the system operating in the UK isn't in any meaningful sense a 'free market', since big business constantly influences (you might say 'dictates', in fact) government policy, and at the same time relies on public money to operate, both by taxpayer subsidies for expensive PPP initiatives and, more recently, huge cash bailouts for appallingly mismanaged and overexposed banks. Hence that line about "socialism for bankers, the free market for everyone else" line that I remember you liked.

I dunno, I do genuinely hope there is a viable alternative to shitty pseudo-free-market capitalism and shitty pseudo-socialism.

Edit: yeah, I read Dan's book, very inspiring I thought. There just seems to be such a huge conceptual as well as practical gap between that kind of system working for a small township and for a whole country with however many tens of millions of people.
 
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baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
re entrepreneurs, I'd tend to be interested in what way what they've done makes the world a better place, rather than simply creating more things for people to consume/creating new desire without bettering quality of life. Part of the issue must be getting people to recognise alternative forms of remuneration/satisfaction for what they do other than cold, hard cash, but that applies across the board. I think that change needs to be at the centre of everything, but it's hard to see such a real change happening when the system, such as it is, encourages people to feel incredibly fearful about falling through the cracks, esp through housing policy. So change for me needs to begin with the reversal of the dismantling of the welfare state, more social housing etc. All the usual stuff. Then more interesting things can happen - but as long as people are kept in a constant state of fear/jealousy/oneupmanship/consumerism to fill the void, then....

re the issues of scale - i'm always intrigued to see how smaller countries manage their societies. it's easier to see relatively radical alternatives working in a country of 6 million (or less) rather than 60 million.
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Is it the moral duty of someone who starts a business to "make the world a better place"? If you sell food that people like or, I dunno, paint people's houses and do a good job of it, or run a pub that locals enjoy coming to, then you're making at least one very small corner of the world a better place, aren't you?

And what's wrong with creating things for other people to consume? In a world where no-one did that, we'd all either be subsistence farmers or starve to death. Doesn't sound too great to me.
 
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baboon2004

Darned cockwombles.
Is it the moral duty of someone who starts a business to "make the world a better place"? If you sell food that people like or, I dunno, paint people's houses and do a good job of it, or run a pub that locals enjoy coming to, then you're making at least one very small corner of the world a better place, aren't you?

And what's wrong with creating things for other people to consume? In a world where no-one did that, we'd all either be subsistence farmers or starve to death. Doesn't sound too great to me.

And I'd agree that the things you've mentioned are making the world a better place. But there are lots of things being produced which are aimed mainly at the conspicuous consumer, or more widely at filling a supposed void which consumerism (or its evil branch, advertising) has itself created in order to sell things to people to fill that void - I don't think they add very much to the world tbh. Also, the things you've mentioned are unlikely to earn someone a fortune, and they're not profitting majorly off the labour of other people (assuming the pub owner treats his staff well, pays well etc, ). The 'entrepreneurs' who earn a fortune are almost invariably doing so by exploiting the labour of others (often through conditions of slavery in order to maximise profits), which is the crux of this - they haven't 'earned' their money just because they came up with an idea for a gadget or whatever.

Re consumption, the problem, as I see it, is not that people consume stuff per se, obviously not, but that we live in a world where people value their own consumption above anything else, including (and especially) the well-being of other humans, and also their own betterment as people (using what you have as a substitute for what you could be, blah blah). That's fucked and makes all of us accomplices to oppression. Much of the world has come to revolve around people's lust for things; the more money people have, the more many of them waste it on absolute shit they don't need in any conceivable way, as you can see from the - booming during a recession for the rest of the world - market for luxury goods (though obviously it is instructive as to how empty this approach is, that many rich people end up giving a lot of money away to 'good causes'. Pity they couldn't have realised this beforehand, though, and they might have been less keen to exploit other people in order to earn a fortune).

And to answer your initial question, it is the moral duty of anyone who starts a business not to exploit others. After that, making the world a better place would be nice, don't you think?

And to bring it back to freedom: the reason many people want to be rich is that they realise that the alternative involves always living in a state where there is little freedom from others instructing you what to do, because of fear of destitution. How much better if they devoted their energies not to solipsistically freeing themselves while enslaving others (as above), but to helping to free everyone (by altering this system in some way)?
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Well yeah, this is why I was keen to differentiate between the 'entrepreneur' who just wants to make a decent living, support his/her family and save a bit for a comfortable retirement vs. the mad(wo)man hell-bent on Taking Over The World, Pinky-&-The-Brain style. So we'd both agree that someone of the latter persuasion is quite likely, directly or indirectly, to be contributing to exploitative labour practices that may effectively amount to slavery. But the thing is, a really hardcore Marxist-Leninist would consider even our humble pub owner to be 'exploiting' his staff if, at the end of the day, he owns the pub as a private business rather than a workers' cooperative, regardless of how well he treats them or whether he pays them above the going rate for bar staff of whatever. So the only way to safeguard people's freedom from this 'exploitation' is to have draconian laws that make it difficult or completely impossible to actually run a private business at all (hence my comment about Soviet-style tyranny).

Then consumerism is a whole other thing, and I agree that it does drive people to do incredibly irrational things but again you can end up on a slippery slope of bringing in authoritarian, paternalistic laws ostensibly to ensure the 'freedom' of the general public. If you think aspirational advertising is a bad thing, and I'd have to agree that I can't really see it as a force for good in the world, what can you do to try and curtail its influence that doesn't end up infantilizing the public, just as we currently do with drug laws that are predicated on the idea that people have to be protected from themselves? Of course the Right tends to fetishize choice and self-determination as if everyone were operating in a vacuum, unaffected by external social and cultural conditions and their own personal circumstances, but I think the Left can end up at the opposite extreme, treating everyone like they're deterministic automata entirely at the mercy of these external forces, with no choice in anything they do.

Eventually you just have to accept that a fundamental level, measures intended to safeguard certain sorts of freedom will inevitably curtail other sorts of freedom. There's an irreducible bottom line.
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Also, about the gaping chasm between big business and small business. My brother is I guess you would say a web entrepreneur of sorts - he makes a good living but has no interest in Trying To Take Over The World, in fact he's extremely active (via parliamentary advisory panels, that sort of thing) in attempting to prevent the people who control the movement of digital information from taking over the world, or at least in trying to slow them down a bit. Anyway. A couple of years ago, he received a tax bill from HMRC, paid it and them promptly got a threatening second demand. He rang them up and explained that there'd been a mistake, and their response was "Oh sorry, right you are, our mistake. BTW you still have to pay the second bill, we'll give it back to you as a discount on next year's bill". I mean seriously, what the fuck? Of course he'd have had every moral right to tell them to go fuck themselves but if he'd done that, he could have ended up in prison for evading a tax bill he'd already paid! So of course he had no choice but to pay again, for which he had to take out a loan, which isn't free - and if his circumstances had been precarious anyway, it might have meant bankruptcy.

Now compare that to the UK operations of Google, Facebook and so on, which don't even have to worry about paying their corporation tax once, let alone twice. All of which just goes to show how ludicrous it is that the Tories try and pose as the party of the small businessman, the shopkeeper, the publican. Bullshit. I mean Labour never pretended to be the friend of small or big business until Blair's leadership, since the whole point of the party was originally to protect employees from exploitation by employers.
 

sufi

lala
State_of_the_Nation_4-300x255.jpg

slightly baffling chart from slightly baffling thinktank
from IRR on BF, which is worth a read - no comments from BF as yet?
 
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