USEFUL DISCUSSION TOPICS TO STIMULATE THINKING & ENHANCE POLITICAL KNOWLEDGE
15 basic topics for discussion by SCN Circle Study groups
It is suggested that the following topics may be discussed only after a careful study
of 1 of the SCN source books –
1. What is the meaning of the egalitarian society as an achievable ideal?
2. How is a classless society to be defined and how may it be realised?
3. What criteria should be used in balancing the demands of equality against liberty?
4. People power is worthless unless it includes economic power together with managerial or political decision-making.
5. What are the cultural implications of socialism’s desirable purpose to promote the highest standards for all?
6. A competitive society is necessary in eliciting skills and maintaining freedom, but how is this to be matched with the needs of cooperation?
7. A meritocratic society may be no less unjust and tyrannical than a society based on the privilege of inherited wealth or status.
8. The values of a truly classless society are as yet unknown, and will need to be defined by the methodology of Social Capitalism.
9. Social Capitalism will need to repudiate both bourgeois and proletarian values in meeting the cultural and socio-economic demands of the future in serving the majority.
10. The Achilles heel of socialism was the failure to appreciate the business dynamic of wealth creation: the function of Social Capitalism must be to construct a system for Social business values.
11. Whilst socialism was based on the unbridgeable divide between capital and labour; Social Capitalism must integrate the opposites for a radical purpose, in meeting the demands of a free and consumerist society.
12. Radicalism is meaningless unless it returns to addressing the problems of capitalism in a fresh context, and re-defines the struggle of the future in terms of 21st century realities.
13. The advanced industrial countries may be on the verge of achieving the classless society, since the majority are now equally confronted by the same economic threats to their welfare: viz., dispossession and increasing powerlessness in the face of corporate and global capitalism.
14. The battle lines of Social Capitalism, based on a war against unjust financial systems as contrasted with class war, will act as both a humanising influence as well as reflecting a greater political objectivity.
15. The political and moral power of Social Capitalism will be found in its influence in unifying the forces of humanity as opposed to dividing them.
55 advanced topics for discussion by SCN Circle Study groups
It is suggested that the following topics for discussion should only be tackled after a careful study
of all 4 SCN source books –
1. That the problems, efficiency, and differing methods of funding manufacturing industry be discussed, as,
a) Bank funding as amongst our competitors;
b) Equity or stock exchange investment;
c) Other sources of funding.
Compare the above as experience has demonstrated in different countries.
2. Discuss the practical implications of achieving the following –
a) Extending the function of the high street banks as sources for industrial investment:-
i. Nature of the financial assets as compared with those high street banks elsewhere, e.g., in Germany; and,
ii. Training needed, and required extension of commercial departments.
b) The creation of an investment credit bank, as proposed by the Wilson Committee.
c) The empowering of local authorities, through legislation, to establish and operate local authority banks, allied to local authority Enterprise Boards.
d) The empowering of conglomerates, through legislation, such as ICI and GEC, to set up company banks and company financial institutions, to make loans to companies in the group, such banks to eventually mutate into industrial investment credit banks – as we have seen in Japan.
3. Compare the influence of the two following different kinds of financial management on the internal growth and international competitiveness of manufacturing enterprises:-
a) Accountancy decision-making and the conservation of existing stock, as in the UK and,
b) Bank direction of firms and concentration on the productive purpose of an enterprise.
4. Compare the influence of the two following different kinds of financial investment on the success or failure of manufacturing enterprise –
a) Equity or stock exchange funding and the instability, indecision, and wasteful diversification to which this has given rise, as in the UK, and,
b) Bank funding and the stability and rational direction to which this has given rise in overcoming competition in international markets, as in Japan and Germany.
5. The tendency of merger activity in Britain, due to the nature of our financial management, has contributed to a decline in productivity. – Discuss.
6. The new style business activity of the age of “White hot technology,” hailed by Tories and Labourites alike as Britain’s economic hope for the future, proved on the contrary, to be the greatest set-back with which this country was faced in recent times. – Discuss.
7. Britain’s economic failure has been due solely to the emergence of financial systems promoting a Rentier capitalist economy; whilst the success of our competitors has been due to the development of Productive capitalist economies. – Discuss.
8. Whilst Rentier capitalism inevitably promotes social injustice and inequitable rewards for labour; Productive capitalism remains the sole base for a democratic, free and just society. – Discuss.
9. Would the productive economy benefit by the levy of interest-rate charges on slow payers? – Discuss.
10. Must there exist inevitably a conflict between capital and labour in a modern capitalist society? No, not in a Productive capitalist society if realistic schemes of, a) Co-determination, and, b) Employee share-ownership have been established. – Discuss.
11. As the success of the business process is always likely to be dependent on the competitive instinct, will not all business enterprise thereby tend to be divided by the “dominant” and the “oppressed” and will not the latter be emotionally influenced towards an anti-business way of thinking? No, not if resentment is directed by democratic structures towards criticism and self-criticism in the cause of greater efficiency. – Discuss.
12. It has been argued that the anti-business ethos of Western civilisation was finally decided by the outcome following the last Roman victory over Carthage in 146 BC. – Compare occidental attitudes to business with the natural trading instincts of peoples in the Near and Middle East and elsewhere.
13. If America is perceived as the original classless free enterprise culture, to what extent may it be argued that a pro-business ethos is an essential element of a modern democratic society? – Discuss.
14. The anti-industrial ethos, as found in Britain, stems from the outdated, anti-democratic, militaristic values of a feudal past, and as such, should be fought against because of the false perception it perpetuates of the world we live in today. – Discuss.
15. The ethos of society should be based on the dynamic economic factors contributing to the everyday activities of its wealth creation. – True or false?
16. The values of the business ethos of contemporary Britain, as also those of any industrially successful economy, stems from the rationalism of 18th century thinkers. – Illustrate.
17. It is said that what distinguishes the English middle class from their counterparts on the Continent and in North America, is the cherishing of pseudo-aristocratic values entailing a passive attitude to wealth creation. – Illustrate how this has contributed to Britain’s economic decline.
18. Only an effective system of Productive capitalism can hope to generate a universally acceptable work ethic in modern British society. – Discuss.
19. Laissez-faire, in terms of non-intervention, defies the 20th and 21st centuries’ experience of business reality. – Discuss.
20. Illustrate how the state intervention of our competitors, in terms of directing bank-funding; loans; grants; subsidies; invisible import barriers, education, etc., are successfully maintained against the ineffectiveness of British laissez-faire.
21. To what extent may the success of productive industry be said to be the responsibility of the British people in toto, as against the managers and owners of industry? – Discuss.
22. The societies of our industrial competitors are very much more dominated by higher percentages of small firms than is the case in Britain. – Explain how this has led to their greater industrial success.
23. Business should be pursued for its own sake as defined by commercially viable productivity within the constraints of profitability, circumscribed only by those limiting factors in protecting the public well-being. – To what extent could the above be used as a rationale in drawing together the different and conflicting interest groups in the world of work?
24. Do we need to formulate consciously an industrial philosophy as a base for a practical industrial strategy?
25. It has not been possible, either within or outside the state system, for British industry to formulate an integrated industrial strategy in promoting its own interests. Division and even conflict has existed amongst industrialists themselves. Might not the cause for this lack of unity have arisen from a reluctance to develop an acceptable general theory with a dynamic for developing an integrated industrial strategy? The capacity of the Continental countries for utilising abstract thought has undoubtedly been applied to solving problems in the hard world of practical reality – clearly putting the lie to the popular English misconception that the one is not complementary to the other. – Discuss.
26. To what extent does the London Stock Exchange remain a creditable institution in serving the needs of the domestic manufacturing sector?
27. In view of the success of our financial institutions in accumulating capital, e.g., the pension funds and clearing banks, etc., to what extent would legislation be desirable in linking them more to serving the needs of manufacturing industry?
28. Rent on the business assets of land and property (operated by the private sector) has been a greater burden on productive industry in Britain than amongst any of our leading industrial competitors. – What radical measures could be taken to reduce this burden?
29. To what extent have the rentier activities of speculation in land and property been responsible for stimulating inflation?
30. The annual growth rate of an enterprise or industry is in itself a meaningless indicator of future success. Relative growth rates, being comparisons with the international competition, alone are meaningful as a long-term indicator. – Discuss.
31. Illustrate how the pursuit of short-term profits is a Rentier capitalist activity, predominantly profitable to shareholders to the detriment of long-term commercial viability.
32. Illustrate how the pursuit of long-term profits is a Productive capitalist activity, maintaining greater international competitiveness and fuller employment policies.
33. The aim of post-War manufacturers to concentrate on an elitist (or niche) consumer market for their products has spelt the doom of the British manufacturing sector. – Discuss.
34. Trace the widening divide which has occurred in Britain since the 1880s between those controlling the resources for financial investment and those managing and owning UK based manufacturing concerns.
35. To what extent may the above factors (topic 34) be linked to the North South cultural divide?
36. To what extent would the achievement of a classless society (as seen in Germany, Scandinavia and elsewhere) contribute towards a better understanding in the world of work?
37. What steps need to be taken by our educational institutions in removing the distinctions between pure and applied sciences, which distinctions are unique to this country, and reflect an anti-industrial bias in elevating the theoretical over the practical?
38. Trace the percentage decline since 1900 of investments in UK-based manufacturing by the London Stock Exchange, and suggest proposals to reverse this trend.
39. To what extent do foreign international conglomerates appropriate from or contribute to the national economy?
40. Trace the growth of British companies with overseas manufacturing subsidiaries, and evaluate the pros and cons of this activity, and as to what extent it is inevitable.
41. How does the status of the pound sterling as an international currency adversely affect the British economy?
42. A fluctuating or artificially bolstered currency is disadvantageous to long-term export planning. – Discuss.
43. How could the buying forward of currency be made more viable for the smaller firm in promoting its export activities?
44. What radical steps could be taken to ensure that lower interest rates are maintained in the future?
45. Should longer accountancy periods be instituted as experienced in Japan?
46. To what extent can and ought the profit motive be linked to the concept of public service?
47. The call for promoting business ethics is the appeal of the weak to the strong. – Up to what point might such an argument be valid?
48. Define the business dynamic (creativity through profit) and describe how this might be maintained and encouraged amongst a greater percentage of the population.
49. Illustrate how the bureaucratisation of business undermines the business dynamic.
50. Is there a case for arguing that the earnings of an excessively high income may exceed what justice demands, and if so, how can such an imbalance be altered?
51. Is the question of the just wage (or income) the ultimate or overriding factor in settling good industrial relations?
52. Is there a case for a democratically elected body for instituting a national scale of wages covering all spheres of employment, and if so, what principles acceptable to the majority, should be utilised for settling the just wage for different occupations and levels of work?
53. The British press projects a false perception of the success of the industrial economy, due to the fact that an uncritical or broadly based definition of profit is the sole criteria used in judging success or failure. – Discuss.
54. In achieving a correct assessment of the socially desirable wealth-creating business economy, a clear differentiation needs to be made between the economic concepts of Rentier profitability and Productive profitability. – Discuss.
55. Whilst laissez-faire and nationalisation represent the opposing poles of industrial political practice; dirigiste policies, i.e. Creative Intervention into the private sector, represents the golden mean and the key to thriving productivity. – Discuss.
56. Neo-liberal enemies of Productive Capitalism (the latter demonstrated as so successful over so long a period in the aftermath of the Second World War in both Continental Europe and the Far East) allege falsely that the system is failing on inherently economic grounds; when the real truth is that it has merely encountered political hostility through the dominating weight of the unaccountable American corporations through the medium of a plutocratic state. – Discuss.