Thursday, September 20, 2018

No "Hidden Revolution"

Is capitalism immoral? Bill Gates, the second-richest man in the world, doesn’t believe that it has to be. In a recent interview, Gates argued that anyone with money has an ethical responsibility to do something positive with it. “Once you’ve taken care of yourself and your children, the best use of extra wealth is to give it back to society.”  According to Gates, ethical consumption and philanthropy were the best means to address inequality. Gates thinks we can invest in charities the same way we invest in any other business: using financial tools to maximize the profitability of philanthropic ventures that reduce inequality. Some call it philanthrocapitalism.” How to make capitalism moral has become central to liberal intellectuals, and policymakers. Anti-globalisation movements and NGOs endeavour to pressure corporations to adopt more ethical forms of capitalism.
Britain's 100,000 social enterprises employ  2 million people who have jobs with firms that claim to seek to do good while also earning a profit. Social enterprises also contribute 60 billion pounds ($79 billion) to the world's fifth largest economy - 150 percent higher than the previous estimate of 24 billion pounds, said Social Enterprise UK (SEUK).
"There are ... socially driven businesses operating in every community and they're not always little community cafes," Dan Gregory, co-author of SEUK's report, called "The Hidden Revolution", told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. It defined social enterprises as organisations with an enshrined social or environmental aim, which principally use their profits to achieve those goals.  The report said. "Reforming capitalism to ensure that our economy works for all is at the top of the political agenda, and we believe the social enterprise sector holds the key."
"They are sometimes massive businesses making a difference to millions of people ... The contribution is much bigger than the government has been estimating." Examples of those larger companies, include the Nationwide Building Society, Britain's second largest mortgage provider, and the mutually-owned supermarkets-to-funerals Co-Operative Group.
 Can such a thing as a humane capitalist system succeed? The gravest threat that life on Earth faces today, for instance, is climate change. This threat cannot be adequately confronted in the framework of capitalism, which indeed is responsible for it. The fact that so-called ethical businesses and charitable foundations are entering the “free” market implies that they accept the rules of competition (low prices...) set by the other companies in their sector of the globalised economy. This situation forces them to adopt capitalist forms of exploitation of the workforce. We do not accept that the capitalist system can be gradually changed by the multiplication of these social enterprises. They equally become entangled in the web of exchanges and contracts and when they find that commercial rivals are offering the same goods or services they offer, but at lower prices, like any enterprise, it finds that if it is to stay in business, it must compete by lowering its prices or cutting services in order to win customers. Even the most idealistically motivated business will have to out-sell its competitors or close down. That is, it will have to seek profits at the expense of humane values. Any economic unit, as long as capitalism exists, competition will always require the enterprise to look for lower costs (including the cost of labour), greater markets, and advantages over their rivals, in order to maximise their profits. They will tend ever more to value human beings by their levels of productivity and consumption rather than by any other criteria. It cannot decide to pay much more nor to greatly change conditions of work to implement more humane ones, without putting itself out of business. Cutting costs and maximising output are the keys to any enterprise's survival. Social enterprises cannot break the laws of capitalist production and its most important law compels an enterprise is to minimise costs in order to remain competitive, and therefore to lay off inefficient or unnecessary workers, speed up production and operate with unhealthy working conditions,
What is required is a systemic socio-politico-economic revolution, a social revolution that elevates human needs above capital’s needs. The very dynamics of the political economy of capitalism has to be altered, a revolutionary change on such a scale never before witnessed. There is no other option other than a socialist revolution. If history has taught us anything, it’s that the reformists are an effective barrier against revolution. Millions of people are out there waiting to organise. Society is polarised between a tiny minority of ultra-rich and a huge majority of unprotected, insecure, vulnerable, desperate people whose discontent propels the “revolution” forward. 

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