MANIFESTO OF THE PRINCIPLES & PRACTICE OF SOCIAL CAPITALISM
THE SEVENTY EIGHT THESES OF SOCIAL CAPITALISM
as elaborated in the 4 following recently published books by Robert Corfe –
Egalitarianism of the Free Society and the end of Class Conflict
Social Capitalism in Theory and Practice
Volume I Emergence of the New Majority
Volume II The People’s Capitalism
Volume III Prosperity in a Stable World
(For full bibliographic details of the above titles, go to Publications.)
These books are not only concerned with reversing the membership decline of the established parliamentary parties, but with updating and reinvigorating their ideals.
They are concerned with engaging the mind of that “silent” or “sullen” majority, and transforming an attitude of apathy and cynicism into one of hope and optimism.
But such a transformation is not possible without the creation of Social Capitalism based on objective truths which meet the realities of our time, whilst also appealing to the moral and intellectual sense of modern men and women in the wider community.
How are such objective truths to be reached?: only through positing primary or incontrovertible principles constituting a standard or criterion for investigating the truth of ideas. And such a dialectic for Social Capitalism has to be based on the empowerment of the individual within an egalitarian and free society, and through the pursuit of the best; in conjunction with specific economic mechanisms for the organisation and management of business as described below.
Such an investigation can only be followed through utilising the social sciences, particularly psychology, together with the philosophical ideas of equity and fairness. And great care must be taken to ensure that the latter (especially freedom) is not traded by the powerful in exchange for what are alleged to be eudemonistic principles – more commonly referred to as “bread and circuses.”
The failures of socialism as applied to our own time are many and complex, and whilst fully acknowledging its aptness and benefits in the past, all those on the left must accept the critique of socialism as a positive step towards constructing the desirable society for the future.
The health of political life is to be found in the passionate yet disinterested motives of those driven towards the achievement of desirable ends, and such motives and such ends remain the sole reward of grass roots activists for all their time and energy. Therefore when the latter are confronted by spin and hype, and see the wealthy drawn into reforming politics for self-enrichment rather than for the promotion of desirable principles, it is no wonder they are disillusioned and question the value of their efforts.
It is in such a situation that the inspiration of ideas and beliefs becomes all-important as the springs of action, but without the development of sound theory linked to purpose, there can be no tool to guide and motivate the activist.
Social Capitalism has been formulated as a practical tool for sharpening perceptions of the major ills of our time, whilst also attracting a far greater constituency to its cause than radical movements of an earlier epoch. Whilst throwing a new light on injustice and oppression, it is enabled to arouse the righteous indignation and anger of all men and women of goodwill irrespective of background or status.
Hence Social Capitalism needs to be discussed and promoted for all these reasons, in strengthening the will and proper aims society, if a better world for all is to be achieved as a practical reality.
The following paragraphed summary of principles and practice is intended only as a rough guide and is not deemed to be complete in describing all aspects of Social Capitalism. In offering a critique, reference should be made to the original sources rather than to the abstract offered below. This may be appreciated when it is understood that the following summary is taken from over 1,600 printed pages of critical analysis and constructive proposals. The third and fourth books (as listed above) are most important with regard to economic issues; whilst the first and second concentrate on sociological topics.
1. Radicalism and the left is now in crisis worldwide, and not only in Britain and Europe.
2. Events and progress over the past 60 years have moved at so fast a rate that thought has been unable to keep apace with comprehending their significance.
3. Consequently, socialist doctrines have become dated, discredited, and lost their appeal with majorities in advanced industrial societies.
4. There is apathy with party politics in all industrialised countries, and elections tend to be lost or won through negative voting, and there is a political void to be filled by Social Capitalism as soon as its ideas have been imaginatively presented to the electorate.
5. That men and women remain as much political animals today as at any time in previous history is made evident by the massive support given to single issue causes.
6. Contemporary party politics, generally, fails to address those issues which really concern modern men and women, or at least, fails to address them within a relevant context.
7. Political doctrines are nonsensical if not related to the contemporary situation of hard sociological facts.
8. Political principles based within a sound theoretical framework are essential for democratic politics and in engaging the mass support of political parties.
9. This is because they act as a creative or imaginative base in motivating people towards action in the pursuit of specific and desired policies.
10. “Managerial” or “Pragmatic” politics, which has been gaining ground over the past decades in industrialised countries, is essentially undemocratic, since policies bereft of a theoretical framework are sterile in that they fail to engage the mind of the electorate, and consequently, real power tends to fall into the laps of unelected bureaucratic and/or business elites.
11. Social Capitalism is relevant to the future in that: a) It seeks to resolve the real underlying problems of contemporary society; and, b) It seeks to appeal to the spirit of the age.
12. Social Capitalism stands by the original definition of radical purpose in that it is, “a political and economic theory of social organisation which advocates that the community as a whole should own and control the means of production, distribution, and exchange,” (The Oxford Encyclopedic Dictionary, OUP, 1991, p. 1377) but the practical realisation of these ends will be achieved in a spirit and social environment quite different from that of the proletarianism associated with socialism.
13. Egalitarianism must be achieved through the maximum dissemination of economic power, through the empowerment of the individual in both the management and ownership of property (the one being meaningless without the other), and whenever possible, direct power should always seek to supplant representative power in the spheres of politics, business, and industrial relations.
14. In the spheres of business and public life (as also with the principle of devolution) whenever viable, smaller scale structures are preferable, not merely in promoting greater competition and freer markets, but in stemming the abuses and plutocratic threat to the commonweal of larger scale or corporate business.
15. Social Capitalism recognises the need for private property as a paramount principle, not merely because the individual only experiences his or her full development and consciousness through the use of property (as argued by Hegel), but because representative as opposed to direct forms of ownership (e.g. “public,” “state,” “nationalisation,” etc.) have so often been unsatisfactory, or deceptive, or outright fraudulent.
16. Social Capitalism recognises three political systems on which property may be based:- 1) Collectivisation; 2) Privatisation; and, 3) Personalisation.
17. Collectivisation, or Nationalisation, or public property entails that controlled by the state, or appointed elites, and fulfils the socio-economic demands, or sentiments to varying degrees, of all those on the left.
18. Its great disadvantage is that it destroys the benefits of free market forces and consumer demands, and discourages innovation in serving the broader needs of an open society.
19. Privatisation entails corporate property, or property in the hands of public share ownership, and is characterised by highly speculative activity within the financial markets, and fulfils the beliefs and demands of all those on the right.
20. Its great disadvantage is that on the macro-economic scale it polarises wealth in society, and bases its rationale on money-creation as opposed to productivity and maximising market share in fulfilling majority needs.
21. Personalisation policies, promoted by Social Capitalism, promote the right of individuals to the ownership and management of property in both the domestic and business spheres of life, wherever possible directly or otherwise through differing share-ownership schemes and co-determination, and such patterns of ownership lead to a free, egalitarian and prosperous society for the majority.
22. Socialism had an exaggerated trust in state power, and an inability to realise that statism could be no less tyrannical than other forms of economic power; and associated with this was the utilitarian principle of allowing majorities to oppress minority interests.
23. Social Capitalism recognises the existing individualism of middle-middle majorities in industrialised societies: an individualism which is not random or by choice, or acquired through selfishness or hedonism, but enforced through the social circumstances of multiple responsibilities, particularly through career choice and personal development, house ownership, and the increased demand for technical skills and the changing sociology of the workplace.
24. The spirit of collectivism, on the contrary, and its value to the labour movement, was in great part assisted not only by inherited work patterns, but by standardised armies of workers engaged in identical or similar tasks, and by the demands of class struggle in a society with a clear division between a bourgeoisie and a proletariat.
25. The new middle-middle majority, on the contrary, is a mixed-class entity in the sense that it comprises in great part those from the first or second generation manual working class; it is upwardly aspiring; but whilst its material living standards are distinctly middle class, it has none of the self-confidence in the future of the middle class (or bourgeoisie) of an earlier era.
26. If those are the perceptions of the middle-middle majority, the reality is that 90%+ of the population, including an under-privileged minority and the very poor, as well as an insecure and financially vulnerable upper middle-class, are confronted by the greatest economic threat to their material welfare, that any sector of society has ever faced: viz., the power of unrepresentative and unaccountable international financial forces which destroy jobs, industries, savings, and prospects for a tolerable future.
27. In this factor lies the immense potential of radicalism for the future, and from a Marxist perspective it may be argued plausibly that society has reached that evolutionary stage when the “proletariat” is on the verge of overthrowing the capitalist system.
28. Existing perceptions and reality, however, contradicts entirely the Marxist viewpoint: firstly, with regard to the idea of class struggle; and secondly, with regard to the failure of socialism to present a realistic business philosophy, and these points must be considered in turn.
29. The promotion of class war as a tool for the achievement of socialism has now become not merely non-viable but counter-productive to the cause for the following reasons:-
a) Class struggle is dependent on significant sector divides in society which are not only economic but cultural, and a distinctive Proletariat confronting a distinctive Bourgeoisie no longer exists as it did in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th;
b) The 90%+ majority facing economic threats to its interests is too heterogeneous to be defined or manipulated for class war purposes;
c) The 10% minority, also, cannot be identified clearly as usefully possessing cultural characteristics for the pursuit of class war;
d) The middle-middle majority, comprising the greater part of that 90%+, tends towards “classlessness,” and is repelled by the very suggestion of class struggle as a political instrument;
e) This classlessness is due to:-
i) The recent mixed class origins of that middle-middle majority, predominantly through the rising emergence of an older working class;
ii) The desire of those to forget or repudiate their “working” class origins through the accession to their new status, e.g., Essex man or woman;
iii) The greater spirit of openness and tolerance amongst all sectors of society, especially with regard to race, nationality, or other cultural differences, and this has led to an attitude which is antipathetic to the idea of class struggle;
iv) To a narrowing of the margin of skills levels between different sectors in the workplace, and the consequent compression of hierarchies, within most industrial plants; and, v) To a socio-economic structure of society which is far too complex to accept the idea of class struggle as a relevant or useful political weapon.
30. The repudiation of class war for the promotion of socialism should not imply (in the words of George Orwell) that Britain is not still the most class-based country in the world, but regrettable as this is, it is a snob-based Mitfordian class consciousness of “U” and “Non-U” values in a constant state of flux, adopted by social climbers amongst all sectors of society, and reflects a sociological situation of little political significance or use, beyond the need to satirise and put-down all pretensions of snobbery – tasks which have been accomplished with dexterity by great literary figures throughout the ages, and unfortunately, may need to continue into the future.
31. This is because all individuals (and all living things) are inherently unequal, and in the struggle for life in a free community, false pretensions will always be made alongside those which are legitimate.
32. If class-based snobbery or pretentiousness has been more predominant in Britain than elsewhere this is not necessarily because the British are inherently more snobbish than other peoples, but because social change has been faster and more widespread than elsewhere, and it is such change within itself and the need to keep abreast with changing standards which promotes attitudes of assumed superiority.
33. Egalitarianism is only achievable through legislation for a fair society enabling the full development of the individual, and needs always to be balanced against the needs of liberty.
34. The criterion for a viable egalitarian society is that it allows for the downward mobility of the less successful without the occurrence of resentment or friction, and this is facilitated primarily by the maintenance of decent material standards for all within a culturally homogeneous environment, and a moral consensus on fairness and equity.
35. Socialism, because of its absorption with destroying an enemy class and the capitalist system, and the uncompromising divide which existed for so long between capital and labour, never gave serious thought to constructing a practical business system and culture for the future of society.
36. Social Capitalism sets out to amend this omission of the missing “gene” of socialism.
37. Social Capitalism recognises fully the ills which have arisen through Rentier, Corporate, or Global capitalism, and especially the accumulation of greater wealth into fewer hands, and a process of gradual dispossession of both the ownership and control of assets by the majority.
38. In repudiating class war, Social Capitalism calls for a struggle against undesirable economic systems as the only viable basis in the struggle for justice and equity.
39. This is made necessary by the following situations as we find them today:-
a) The involvement of great numbers working for or investing in these undesirable economic systems, as either reluctant participants or against their will or better judgement;
b) The classless environment in which economic activities are pursued in the contemporary world;
c) The coaster-rolling process and outcome of international global capitalism is directed to a great extent by random or accidental circumstances, beyond the control of human direction, e.g., with regard to the actions of the money markets; and,
d) Consequently, the interests of the rich and powerful may be damaged by the sheer irrationality of such a capitalist system (not to mention the millions who fall victims to the fall-out), and hence an appeal may be made to those rich and powerful, for the benefit of their heirs and descendants, to support the more rational and stable economic system of Social Capitalism.
40. The strategy of Social Capitalism should therefore appeal to the better nature, judgement, and objectivity of all people, irrespective of class or status.
41. By this means the skills of all may be called upon in building successfully the Social Capitalist society – bearing in mind that bankers and financiers would need to be amongst those in the forefront in constructing successfully such a society.
42. Such an appeal to reason or the better nature of the electorate is, of course, in sharp contrast to the self-interested appeal of socialism based on class struggle.
43. Social Capitalist struggle would be based on the more disinterested criterion as to what best serves the interests of the majority (and under-privileged minorities), irrespective of class affiliations; and forces opposing such interests would be deemed opposing the best interests of the community rather than any sector thereof.
44. The identification of political forces as either for or against the interests of the community, as contrasted with those linked to class interests, would be a far more powerful tool in arousing political consciousness in that:-
a) The idea of class interests posits prejudicial assumptions as to political attitudes according to birth and status, and such a political stance repels the modern man or woman;
b) The idea of community interests offers the individual an opportunity for free choice and conscience in the formulation of attitudes irrespective of present or past socio-economic circumstances;
c) Through an objective as opposed to a subjective approach in problem solving;
d) As the idea of the community may generate a higher priority and loyalty than the idea of class; and,
e) The identification and blame for ills against the community may be more direct and honest in their sharp-edged presentation when freed from the intervening or distracting media of class associations.
45. The construction of a Social Capitalist business philosophy, or the formulation of Social business values, must be based on the empirical evidence of what is practicable, and not based merely upon intellectual constructs or ideas plucked out of the air, for the latter has too often in the past been allowed to influence radical thinking, with consequences which have led to failure if not to major social catastrophe.
46. Therefore, a disinterested analysis must be made of differing capitalist systems, together with a sympathetic identification of their benign and malign characteristics, in seeking a solution for the successful economic community based on justice and equity.
47. The demands of consumerism and for a socially desirable free market economy within the framework of a democratic community, does not allow for the economic remedies of socialism.
48. Over the past hundred years, and particularly in the post-War period, two main systems of capitalism have emerged: Productive capitalism (termed the Rhine mode of capitalism by the French economist Michel Albert) as found in Western Continental Europe and amongst the Tiger economies; and Rentier capitalism (termed Neo-American capitalism by Albert) as found throughout the Anglo-Saxon economies and the Third World.
49. Whilst Rentier capitalism is laissez-faire and leads to the polarisation of personal wealth, and is so termed because of the excessive interest it generates on profits, i.e. the unsocial creation of money out of money; Productive capitalism lays emphasis on reinvestment for productivity and the maximisation of market share in better serving majority needs.
50. Capitalist systems in most countries differ in detail, and such systems are in a constant state of flux, and no one system may be regarded as near perfect in all respects, but the Productive capitalist systems in Continental Europe and South and Far East Asia, typical of the post-War period, offer many instructive lessons for the establishment of a successful Social Capitalist economy and a free and egalitarian society.
51. An eclectic approach to these systems in conjunction with facilitating legislation for the stability of markets and full employment is the road to developing Social Capitalist business values, and a business philosophy integral to a beneficent purpose.
52. The promotion of Productive Profitability lies at the core of the Social Capitalist dialectic for the successful economy, an accountancy concept first presented in a series of 5 major articles by Robert Corfe published in, Management Accounting (the leading UK journal of its kind) in the March, April, May, June, and July/August issues of 1993.
53. Productive profitability ensures that the commercial enterprise is managed as a thing-in-itself for its own intrinsic purpose, as opposed to serving the vested interests of directors, stockholders, employees, or other narrow departmental interests internal to the company.
54. The outcome of such a disinterested purpose (which calls virtually for a perfect balance of business interests) is the maximisation of market share (or the greater dissemination of benefits) linked to the long-termism of the enterprise.
55. The promotion of a company for its own intrinsic purpose safeguards it from asset-stripping by greedy proprietors or shareholders, whilst also encouraging its free development in best promoting its productive purpose: i.e. innovation through research and development, etc.
56. A company managed for its own intrinsic purpose means ultimately a company managed for the best long-term interests of all its stakeholders, as well as for the community.
57. Productive profitability stems from a perfect balance in the utilisation of financial and human capital and profits.
58. The full implementation of Productive profitability as a business or political policy within the enterprise can only be pursued effectively when accounts and financial resources are open to inspection for consideration and discussion by all stakeholders, but especially employees from senior management down to junior staff.
59. Whilst the principle of Productive profitability is clear in theory and purpose, its practice may differ according to the type and structure of a business or organisation, and consequently, open discussion amongst all levels of employees may be necessary in refining and implementing desired policies.
60. As Productive profitability has a disinterested purpose transcending the subjective vested interests of specific groups, it is not only proper that all levels of staff should discuss and participate in its implementation, but it may be safely predicted that those different sectors reach unanimity on proposals made.
61. Productive profitability is only viable when there is goodwill towards the enterprise, linked to a sense of commitment and responsibility amongst all sectors of staff, and such qualities may be anticipated in advanced industrial societies employing highly-skilled labour within capital-intensive economies.
62. The participation of all levels of staff in promoting productive profitability is justified not principally because junior staff have a right to such participation, but primarily for ensuring a nice (or successful) balance of interests in maintaining such policies.
63. Such participation would naturally fall within the realm of co-determination (Mitbestimmung) whilst also being complementary with employee share-ownership of the enterprise.
64. Productive profitability (and enterprises managed on such principles) promote Social Wealth Creation, i.e. wealth which is disseminated with relative equality throughout the community.
65. The purpose and policies of productive profitability are incompatible with those of Conglomerates, or the pattern of Corporate business, whose sole purpose is the maximisation of shareholders’ profits and short-termist policies with regard to productivity or marketing.
66. The Rentier Profitability of the great corporations, national or international, as well as many smaller businesses in Anglo-Saxon and Third World economies, are often against the purpose of the enterprise as a thing-in-itself, as witnessed by short-termism, asset-stripping and de-industrialisation policies.
67. Rentier profitability (as with Rentier capitalism) promotes Unsocial Wealth Creation, i.e. wealth accumulated by the few, in conjunction with an economic process which de facto if not through the intention of the operators of the system, dispossesses great numbers of business proprietors prior to a process of general dispossession of all property and capital throughout society.
68. Hence the criterion or dialectic of Productive profitability entails that employees and all other stakeholders of the enterprise should be on their watch against Rentier profitability and all other aspects of Rentier capitalism in safeguarding the integrity of the company and business in general.
69. The trades unions, therefore, in best promoting the interests of their own members, but in raising that cause to the disinterested ends of the community, would be in the forefront of promoting productive profitability.
70. Those betraying the interests of Productive profitability would be held not to be “class enemies” but enemies of the community and Social Wealth Creation.
71. The implementation of Social Capitalist business values and productive profitability is naturally dependent on awakening a new political and business consciousness within the business community, and all levels of staff from plant chief executives down to junior employees, in conjunction with the trades unions, must be active in the pursuit and practice of such policies.
72. Such a political-business consciousness is already latent throughout the business community, and has existed for over twenty years, as reflected, for example, in the hatred of Thatcherism in manufacturing circles, and the inevitable conflict of interest in most departments of an enterprise between the short-termism and financial greed of holding corporations versus the true and social purpose of an enterprise (or subsidiary) which is stability and the maximisation of market share and reinvestment for long-term prosperity.
73. The theory and practice of Productive profitability is the key and sole instrument for working people and the Social Capitalist movement to be empowered as a constructive force for the promotion of business and commercial activity in all its desirable activities.
74. It is the only effective tool by which the people may own and control the means of production, distribution and exchange.
75. Linked to this is the enabling technical necessity for responsible worldwide monetary reform in, a) Lessening the burden on all sectors of taxpayers; b) In facilitating the greater stability of currencies; c) In encouraging and empowering savings by individuals and enterprises; d) In stimulating socially desirable productivity in fulfilling consumer and market demands; and, e) In eliminating the usury of the financial and money markets which destroys national economies and the socio-economic interests of majorities everywhere.
76. Such reforms are to be achieved through, a) Ending the fractional reserve system of central banks under the private control of financiers and collective banking institutions; b) Putting central banks under public control whereby money creation only occurs through interest-free expenditure into the community; and d) Through implementing other tested and practicable schemes for either interest-free or low-interest investment in both the private and public sectors, as advocated by such prominent statesmen as the US Congressman, Dennis Kucinich, or leading thinkers as Rodney Shakespeare, founder of Binary Economics; Stephen Zarlenga, director of the American Monetary Institute; Chris Cook of Open Capital Partnership; Mohammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank; and Ferndando de Soto, founder and President of the Institute of Liberty and Democracy.
77. It is contended that the above doctrines of Social Capitalism are the logical or inevitable outcome for the natural development of radicalism in best serving humanity within the framework of a democratic community.
78. The potential socio-economic political unity of an otherwise heterogeneous society may only be advanced through Social Capitalism which appeals to the moral sensibility of modern men and women, in conjunction with the moral evolution of the attitude of European society over the past 400 years.