I hope that this blog will cover a fair bit of territory. The main interests I hope to expose here are politics (no rants, I promise), the environment, corporate and personal ethics and perhaps a little personal stuff. This probably sounds a bit serious and dull, but I have to say that the more life one puts behind one, the funnier it gets (in a wry kind of way, of course).
Here is one idea for starters. What was it that Karl Marx got so wrong ? He did a remarkably good analysis of the capitalist system as it existed in the 19th century, then he teamed up with Engels to try and put together a political system that would correct the ills spawned (so he thought) by that system. Somehow, it simply did not work. I think that his solution was wrong because it assumed that the fault lay with the kind of institutions (business and government) that comprised the economic environment of his day and that the answer lay in substituting differently engineered institutions.
I would like to suggest that the problem is much more fundamental. Individual persons come together to form a community. No matter what the anarchists say, most people believe that we need institutions of one sort or another to perform various tasks (e.g. keep the peace) or provide various services (e.g. make and sell goods). So, the community gets together and sets up a government. Individuals set up shops. Other individuals see economies if a lot of shops are owned and operated by one company. And so forth.
The problem is that any institution gains a certain amount of power when it is created. Some of this is delegated by the community, as in governments. Private institutions, such as corporations, gain power informally from the resources they attract (money, powerful friends). The exercise of this power can have good or bad consequences, either by deliberate intent or simply as a collateral effect. In a sane and healthy community, I believe that there must be implicit and explicit contracts between the individual (singly or en masse) and the institution, determining what is appropriate behaviour and what is not. From this there will flow rewards or penalties, depending upon the way in which these contracts are honoured or not.
Sadly, many of these contractual responsibilities are honoured more in the breach than in the observance and hopefully, some specific instances will become topics of conversation in this blog.
Typically, I got this screed back to front, talking about where I was going to first. Well, here is a quick note about where I am coming from. I was born into a community where a lot of money was made from coal mines and shipbuilding and there was a lot of trade union activity to secure reasonable (or unreasonable, depending upon where you stood) wages for the workers. My family owned a wholesale plumber’s merchant’s business and I went to a public school (quaintly, the British call schools that one pays fees for public and not private), but our home was close to a working class housing estate owned by the local Council and many of my out-of-school friends lived there. I am, I suppose, a left-winger, but only in the very traditional sense that the left-wing sees all the faults and wants to correct them, while the right-wing sees all the benefits and wants to retain them. I believe in the value of elites, to some extent, because somebody has to spend the time thinking and putting forward good ideas for the betterment of the world (provided that these ideas are acceptable to the population at large, of course). Is that enough, or would you like more ?