Monday, 2 August 2010
The Why Of Water
-The Why Of Water-
After the collapse of the communist system, Capitalism assumed a preeminent position. It appeared as though Competition had triumphed over the ideology of co-operation, and that the self-interested individual reigned supreme, for the egoistic individual would not be shackled, even by the collective voice of co-operative enterprise.
Appearances can be deceptive. It is certainly true that the stifling atmosphere that surrounded the dark days of Communist rule, were briefly alleviated by the twinkling stars of the capitalist night, and in comparison even starlight appears blinding to a man who has lived his life in a cave.
One thing remains true, Freedom will not be chained. Just as the shackles of the collective chains were thrown off by those who survived the excesses of the communist era, so too the capitalist shackles of the economic servitude will be thrown off, by a spirit that yearns for Freedom.
So the question arises, if not collectivism, and if not rampant individual hedonism, into what can we invest our energies? Certainly the inner yearnings of both these systems have at their core an inner truth that has warranted expression from the very beginning of social conscience. The trick must be not to throw the baby out with the bath-water.
What I am assuming is that people enjoy the fullest exercise of free will, and choice is at the core of any new system of thought that might wish to take the mantle of a global system of economics, politics, and social organization. I think this is born out in the overwhelming drive towards democratization globally. There are however many different forms of democracy, from the most conservative to the more liberal, and it is clear that democracy does not in itself preclude the excesses of human nature. Rather it is the constraints placed upon it through the legislative agenda by those who take up the reigns of power, within the democratic process, that dictates to some extent what shade of democracy one will practice. In this way the excesses of any one ideology can be kept in check by populations who decide upon whom will be there servants for each governmental tenure to the next.
Democracy then works, and has an appeal to free thinking individuals, not just because it empowers the general voting public, but because it mirrors most closely, albeit imperfectly, the internal wishes and drives of its constituents. The most notable of those drives being the drive to express ones free will. A free will that finds a constrained form of choice at least tolerable, when contrasted to the excesses of a totalitarian compulsion achieved through either the extremes of communism or fascism. For this reason the far right and far left inclinations of the human personality are left exposed for what they are, extremist positions out of kilter and imbalanced.
I do not wish however to write here a diatribe extolling the virtues of democracy, for as long as all due diligence is maintained by the voting assembly, the virtue of such a system speaks for Itself. However, it is important to remember that along with Power, comes responsibility, and further, along with responsibility comes accountability. This is another reason democracy triumphs over and above other systems. Because each public servant who assumes the mantle of power is responsible to the electorate and is held accountable by that same electorate come election time. This sits well with our own inner nature, and mirrors at least in part the internal workings of the individual, and what a free thinking individual demands of themselves.
It is at this point I wish to turn my attention to the nature of Capitalism, as it is seen in the modern political climate. Since the demise of the Communist state we have seen the advent of Capitalist democracies. It is often assumed that democracy and capitalism are one and the same thing. This is a fallacy. Democracy is a system Robust enough to encompass many economic agenda's. Lest we forget that it was under a system of proportional representation, in a democratic state that Adolph Hitler came to prominence. The economic agenda's and cultural peculiarities that can be encompassed under a system of Democracy are as wide and varied as there are individuals to put them there. It is for this reason I think it is prudent to realize that democracy and capitalism are not necessarily mutually inclusive. It just happens to be a historical fact that the American economic agenda was married so successfully to the democratic electoral process.
The American proclivity to emphasis all things individual owes more to an economic treatise expounded by one Adam Smith than from a democratic ideal. This said however, the two systems have successfully for the most part cohabited for a good number of years. Yet the cracks have begun to show. These cracks have been highlighted all the more of late, due to the wider understanding Humanity has gleaned from the scientific understanding of humanities part in the greater scheme of things. Adam smith had at heart, a desire to crush the monopolies of the then 'Corporate' businesses owned by the landed aristocracy in Britain, and give the working individual the chance to establish his own small business and small private holding, unfettered to the vested interests of larger Corporations. It is strange and somewhat ironic then that the Current climate within the United States should be such that the Modern Corporations seek to assume an economic power not rivaled since the British enigma from which Adam Smith sought to emancipate the economic working classes during his time. A cyclical economic event that Adam Smith may well have sought to set us free from yet again. At heart the belief that the Individual is his own best judge in matters of economic welfare was central to Smiths dream. The road by which the individuals expression of that freedom, and internal drive, was to be realized, was a capitalist one, and for the most part has worked quite well for a time in concert with the political aspirations of free choice through a democratic process. It is well to remember here though that the American model was unencumbered by any historical baggage. Something that cannot be said for the vast majority of cultural or national communities. Although as an addendum, the capitalist fervor which gripped the American Nation left many casualties in its wake, the demise of the native American Indian, and the free labor force found through the slavery and servitude of the African American community for almost 200 years being but two of those groups who have suffered at the hands of a rapacious economic system which appears to pander and reward the most ruthless and avaricious over and above those of a more community minded spirit.
I do not wish though to partake in a form of American bashing. This does no one any good at all. Rather I wish only to highlight that the marriage of democracy with capitalism is one of historical and cultural accident rather than any deep underlying philosophical necessity. What the American model did bring to the table however was the free market, and if for no other reason we should Thank God for the success of the western Ideals over the compulsive attributes of the communist era. The free market is indeed the crux of the capitalist agenda.
It has been wrongly assumed that the free market is the exclusive domain of individuals and companies whose only drive is that of capital gain, or personal profit. This is not the case.
Lest we forget that the advent of the communist system stemmed from as much a human drive for solidarity and brotherhood as it did for a need for collective systematization. The form of this human Drive, which for all intents and purposes is one of Co-operation as opposed to the competitive drive embodied within the body politic of capitalism, unfortunately could not survive a competitive exchange, given for the most part because it has at its heart a wholly non-competitive instinct. It was doomed to fall from its very inception, and the compulsion with which the totalitarians of the eastern block maintained there grip only speeded its demise, and undercut the moral standing with which it sought to ground itself. It was however a drive nonetheless. As much a human characteristic as competition itself . It was the art to the capitalist sport. Both are important characteristics of the human condition.
The free market then has up to this day been the province, almost exclusively, of the Rapacious individual, and has been hijacked by groups of individuals who have embraced the capitalist Credo, at the expense of a co-operative one. This is not the fault of the Individuals at all. They are merely operating within a system, the free market, along competitive lines. It cannot be the fault of those who embraced a system that mirrors a belief structure within the human character. Far from it, all that has happened to the free market is that it has been operating in an imbalanced manner for too long. Community minded individuals and groups often decry the fall of the Communist state, this is a mistake of monumental proportions. Rather than looking back longingly at a failed system of economics, whose despicable aspects of compulsion sickened even the saddest of free thinking and freedom loving individuals amongst us, they should be enjoining the free market, and entering into a spirit with which the moral high ground of co-operation and community based initiatives can once again come to the fore. The left should be taking the hand of the right here, and thanking them for saving them from committing the social atrocity of economic compulsion over and above the exercise of free will. Had Compulsion been such an attractive proposition to begin with then the collapse of the communist state would never have happened. This of course is not the case, for people want the freedom to exercise choice, a God given choice that no man or system should take away.
Of course there are some exceptions to this, namely in the case of those with diminished mental faculties, like children and the aged, who are more adequately cared for by a society in a collective manner, so as to ensure no child or old person falls through the cracks of a careless society. Yet for the most part the freest exercise of personal choice should be welcomed not mourned, as is so often the case with those of left political leanings.
I wonder aloud here whether it isn't the excesses of the current economic climate that has led to many of the conflicts we see beginning to arise in the world, through such horrific specters as terrorist organizations. If a state verses state ideology fails to find a middle ground then the opposition tends to come from within, which is exactly what the new forms of terrorism are really about. Being as they are, Ideologically driven over reactions to an imbalanced economic and social global system. The left is as much to blame for this situation as is the right. For it is the excesses of a rapacious individualistic system that is too the fore in contrast to the equally extreme positions of a terrorist network, hell bent on its destruction. Yet it is the inability of the left to grasp the transition and redress the imbalance, that has directly led to the advent of such groups, as much as it is the rights one-eyed fixation on personal gain at the expense of community based initiatives and concerns.
So now the question arises, what do we do about this imbalance and how do we under cut the impending disaster that looms large before us?
The answer has been with us all along. And takes the guise of none other than the free exercises of personal choice, in a Peaceful, non-combative manner. The construction of businesses set up not as agencies for personal profit, but as redistributive networks constructed so as to compete within the Free market for the consumer dollar, in the same manner as private businesses do. What has been the lefts, or the co-operatives stumbling block has been their mistrust of the consumer to decide for themselves where they wish to place their economic emphasis. It has been ceded almost exclusively to the Individualistic avarice of vested interests whose soul aim has been capital gain. This has been a failing that can longer continue. The imbalance must be redressed, before the situation of global market collapse of internal terrorist led destruction drives humanity to the brink of extinction.
It's not something that demands any physical weapons, but rather the weapon of choice is choice itself.
Businesses constructed to compete for the consumer dollar, in such a way that the profits taken are then; dispersed to the employees of the said businesses in a competitive wage structure, Including the management who also work for fair and competitive wages; along with the creation of a progressive profit share scheme [ net profit: 1% to owner, 9% distributed evenly to employee's, 90% net profit re-invested into community works, charities, et al], whilst adequately funding the growth of the company so that they can compete on equal footing in a free market setting. It is in this way that the free market, and the individuals that make up that free market can actively fund ethically based programs, and use those same programs as the basis of their marketing and sales drive. What is required is Trust in the consumer to make ethically based choices, something that has up to this moment been seriously lacking in the capitalist Free market agenda. It is no longer acceptable for the left to whine about the lack of compulsion, and the right to act as though they have exclusive rights to a protected market place. The time is ripe for the Consumer to be offered the choice between competing products that have at their core divergent ideological emphasis.
In this way the economic reality will begin to mirror, albeit imperfectly, the personal reality each individual recognizes as their God given right, namely the exercise of free will in the use of their hard earned dollar. No compulsion is required, no armed struggle, no terrorist activity, no restrictions on the exercise of competitive industry beyond of course the already good legislation in place that's limits monopolies, businesses with ecologically unsound practices, and allows for a level playing field in the competitive FREE market place.
I ask you simply, if you are faced with two competing products, one of which you know beforehand the profits are going into the hands of a vested few, and into the pockets of an individual whose possible only thought is for the design of his next super yacht, and another product, competitively priced and of equal quality and quantity, but you know before hand that the excess profits are going into some community based project, which will lead to the greater well being of the community as a whole, which product would you buy? Whatever your answer here it is obvious that you should be given the choice!, a choice that at present does not exist.
That is not to say that taxation should be abolished, for it is not my intention here to propose such a thing. There are certainly situations that demand collective action, and although taxation is a form of compulsion, it is a compulsion that is of necessity required. Social security, however you wish to coin that (police, fire services, etc) all being part of a social security, health, education, care of the old and infirmed, mentally and physically disabled, ecological upkeep, etc, all fall under the auspices of a possible universal taxation policy. Yet in order to maintain a system and community in a manner that one would wish to present to any future generation, and one that promotes flourishing and that one can be proud of, either an ever increasing tax burden must be shouldered or some other form of economic contribution must be found to offset the ever increasing expense a modern society demands in bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.
I have said much here about community based initiatives, with which the excess profits from companies set up with a community-based agenda might contribute. I take it as obvious here that the entire earth is of one economic community, and it is for this reason that many community based initiatives will be put in place to fund projects that up until now have relied solely upon the charitable inclinations of good hearted individuals. This is not to decry the actions of such individuals, for they have been the lifeblood of many charities and third world projects. Is it not time though that the economic burden be lifted from the shoulders of a generous moneyed few, and be placed in the domain of the average consumer? This spreads the burden of funding across an entire community, freely. In a manner that does not tax the regular person of good intention unduly. With the advent of ethically and community based companies we see that even the person or family that struggles from day to day to meet there consumer needs can be spending wisely the dollar that feeds them. It incorporates a sense of community and invests the consumer with a power that hitherto has eluded them. The empowerment of the economic electorate, in the choices that they make mirrors in no small way the empowerment of the voting electorate within the advent of democracy. It is a natural extension of such an internal drive that is an intrinsic faculty of human nature.
Charities for too long have shouldered the burden for global initiatives, grossly under funded for the most part. With the advent of community based companies this funding of often excellent projects will begin to quite quickly bridge the gap between the richer and poorer communities. The spin offs are likely to be numerous, for instance, a decrease of mass emigration from areas thrust into poverty and immigration to higher socio economic areas, in favour of staying put and investing ones energies into projects that seek to help ones own community. Not to mention a decrease in the dissatisfaction with the global economic agenda generally, thus undercutting the incentives felt by disenfranchised individuals and groups of individuals who feel their only form of protest is to take up arms in violent struggle within terrorist organizations. The lack of sanitation, drinking water, arable land, education, and health can all be addressed through a redistributive network. An economic feed back loop the like of which the world has hitherto been lacking. A hand up rather than a hand out, is what I envisage, although it must be said from the outset that in order to get to a situation where one can grasp the hand that is offered one needs to be strong enough to lift the hand in the first place. It is for this reason that a feed back loop of this nature is required to fund projects that set up the infrastructure in which individuals within these struggling and impoverished communities can then begin to contribute themselves. No person desires to be beholden to another for the necessities of life, most wanting to contribute to the community of which they are a part, especially if that community mirrors externally what they feel internally. Free will is a universal, isn't it better that we create a situation where bye the disenfranchised sector of the global community is re-incorporated back within a system that both works for them and for others? Here is a way in which this can happen, let no one be left behind.
In this way, those who have suffered the excesses of a rampantly individualistic economic order can be brought back into the fold of a global community that desperately needs them in order for the globe entire to survive. They can then be active contributors to the global economy rather than as is the case at present an economic burden that appears to be unassailable. We need them, and that must be the message we send, they are not a burden, they are our family.
Corruption is of course a major problem in the third world, as it is in the first. The first world corruption is institutionalized through a corrupt mindset that believes that the free market is the exclusive property of the avaricious individualist. This is easily repaired and banished by the construction of community-based companies. The corruption in the third world however, has more to do with the mind set engendered through the corruption in the first than it would at first appear. Often corrupt regimes are kept in place so as to ensure the safe transit of raw resources by first world companies set on maintaining a monopoly position in the market place. I do not wish to broach this here, but suffice it to say that this corrupt practice can also be overcome by way of the execution of true FREE choice by way of the informed consumer, in tandem with global legislative process that seeks to create an equitable environment for those people/consumers to exercise there free will in making free choice. It is beholden upon the consumer to stay informed and abreast of the choices that they make in a free market economy, in the same way as it is for an electoral voter to stay abreast of the choices they make in a democratic election. This is so because the power base is spread across the entire electorate, and thus the ultimate responsibility is the voters as it is the consumers. Accountability is no different within a democratic process or a proper functioning free market. In democracy, the accountability for the decision making process falls to each and every voter. Economically, within a free market the abdication of this responsibility to businesses without ethical grounding in no way separates the consumer from the Accountability for their choices. In fact the consumer is directly accountable for the choices they exercise. In this way companies must be made responsible for the actions they undertake. It is the consumer that ultimately holds them accountable. With their purchasing power. This must never be forgotten. For it is the fact that the consumer exercises their purchasing power in a Responsible manner that ultimately leads to the accountability with which companies must be held.
I have already mentioned the choice with which the consumer is given; ultimately this decides the fate of the free market. In a climate where there is only one type of choice, namely that for the private individual or group of individuals, the consumer is left with a Hobson's choice, or no choice at all. Even though they may have a plethora of product choices, the ethical grounding for each of these competing products is in fact all of the same type, with the exception of course of ethically sound and run businesses run by rare philanthropic individuals. It is this situation that has led to the false belief that product diversity equals true market choice. This is incorrect, for only when there are numerous ethically grounded choices, can there be any real choice exercised within the free market.
The philosophy espoused here lends itself to any marketable product. It could work as much for baked beans as it could for water, the example I have decided to use. All that is required is that an Honest open approach is created before hand, that is at once open and transparent to external scrutiny. The marketing tool with which such a company enters the market place IS the ethical framework with which it is established. For instance a rival baked bean company might set itself up as a redistributor to the aged in a particular area or country. The product should be of comparable quality to those already on the marketplace, and should be competitively priced so as to ensure an equitable footing in the sales arena. The only Marked difference being that the consumer is aware, through advertising and the like, that this particular brand of baked beans re-distributes its profits so as to maintain the upkeep of the company, and fund directly a public scheme that benefits the elderly in a particular region. The profits do not go into some fat cats wallet. Thus when faced with two products of similar kind the consumer can actively choose where they wish there dollar to be spent. By this means the consumer is then given a REAL choice in the exercise of there ethical dollar, and the free market finally takes on an ethical dimension, hitherto unseen in a private profit arena, except in cases of ethical businesses with philanthropic owners or executives.
I mention that the ethically based public company should be open booked. This is to ensure that Trust is maintained with the purchasing public. Trust is an essential ingredient in any process where the individual abdicates their responsibility in favour of an organization, which takes it upon themselves to exercise the wishes of that individual. This is certainly true within the parameters of a Democracy and should equally be true in an ethically based Free Market economy. Transparency is something that is easy to maintain within an organization whose main aim is no longer personal greed but public profit. It is the very transparency itself, which helps to market the company in the market place, for a company designed to help the elderly in a region, by selling baked beans for instance, has nothing to hide. In fact the free dissemination of the facts and successes of the projects with which they are involved, and with which by way of proxy the consumer is indirectly involved, through funding, can and should be used as a marketing and sales tool. As the company grows and the projects with which they have become associated lengthens, the consumers trust for the company grows, and the credibility of the company is made all the more apparent. So far from hiding the avenues down which the company profits disappear, an open book policy seeks to strengthen the connection and trust between the consumer, company and community in which they operate.
One of the abiding problems with relying solely upon companies whose owners and executives are philanthropic and ethically based, is not to do with the intent with which they are founded and run, for that intent is meritable in the extreme, and entrepreneurs of the like are to be applauded for their incredible efforts in bridging the gap that has unfortunately widened between the rich and poor. However, no one person or small group of people, no matter how beneficent their resolve and intent, should be expected to shoulder the burden and responsibility that is by right each individuals. Although these organizations have shown the way in some respects, it is time for the wider community to take on the responsibility that they have abdicated to these ethically based companies. The problem has been that although some individuals have been empowered to a certain degree, in some cases enormously, this has not always translated to the empowerment of the wider populous. Too many people who would like to contribute but for a multiplicity of reasons find it impossible to do so, due in part to budgetary constraints, or lack of real ethically based consumer options, are left dis-empowered within the capitalist market system in which they find themselves. If however a situation arose, which I advocate here, whereby the everyday items and goods which people buy anyway, soap, mustard, baked beans, water, etc in order to live normally within their communities were targeted by the afore mentioned ethically based public project companies, then the private everyday consumer would then be incorporated within the structure of free choice, and a greater sense of empowerment would be spread across the entire community. Even children could participate in making ethical choices with their dollar when they decide between sweets at the local store. In this way the burden shouldered by beneficent individuals with philanthropic concerns could be eased and spread across the entire market place. So rather than one person or company being all things to everybody, ethically. Everybody could make Free choices with their buck, to both gain their daily bread, and at the same time support worthwhile community projects with which they agree before they spend their dollar. What I envisage is a multiplicity of companies, each servicing a specific need, rather than one company doing it all, which is empowering to just a few. Empowering the entire consumer base must in the end be beneficial, both in raising awareness of the divide that exists, and in allowing every individual the ability to actively contribute in the closure of this gap, without having to bust there budgets to do so. Spreading the load across the entire community in a Free and transparent manner, allows for everyone to shoulder the burden collectively, and thus each individual has only to shoulder an incrementally small weight, rather than is the case at present with philanthropists and ethical companies being asked to take the full burden of the ever widening gap.
This of course in no way precludes those companies that wish to practice private industry for personal profit; it merely creates a situation in which ACTUAL ethical choice is created. Private companies will and indeed should still practice their own form of business, after all, small businesses often make little more than a livable wage for the owners and staff. They will be protected by virtue of the choices made by the consumer in the Free exercise of their consumer dollar. In small communities for instance many small companies will still be able to compete on an equal footing due to community based market share, where those consumers that keep them afloat know the workers and owners personally. However large corporations are going to find it difficult to justify gross profit greed in the face of competition from ethically based public project companies. They will be forced to compete finally with ideologically driven companies in the free market in a way that has only existed in a minority of cases. If their product and profit structures stand the test of public scrutiny they will succeed, if however as I suspect is the case in many instances they do not compare well, they will be forced to either change their profit re-distribution process or suffer at the hands of a newly empowered consumer base. Like the Dinosaurs they will be forced to evolve or become extinct. The empowerment of the average consumer is exactly the leverage with which this will come about, that empowerment will come about by the construction and operation of ethical public project companies. In this way every member of the community will have a say as to how the society as a whole begins to evolve. This public empowerment through the free exercise of personal choice in a free market, can only benefit the society as a whole, and is a force that has up until now been the province of only the vested few, and an increasingly divided few at that.
So to recap, it is the free market that offers the wider public the chance to herald a new form of economics, one in which their God Given right to free choice is actualized and the choice to use ones personal ethical concerns as a yard stick in the acquisition of basic consumer products empowers not only the individual but the community as a whole, and strengthens the co-operative qualities intrinsic to each human being whilst at the same time functioning within the parameters of a competitive free market environment. In this way funding for public works is ensured, and the truth of the competitive and co-operative drives within each of us is no longer denied or set against the other, but rather accepted and incorporated within an economic system that no longer excludes, but includes, and throws out the mucky water but not at the expense of the Baby.
© Richard Michael Parker 2001
Posted by RMP at 05:21