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July 26, 2013



Yoghurt Knitting!? Its Yoghurt Weaving you fool!

What kind of idiot would try to knit yoghurt?


I do feel a certain unease that our capitalistic model is creaking and that very very slowly a more socialistic model may be stirring itself.

'The growth of non-capitalistic organisations'. Herein lies a difficulty, capitalism seems to have a self-organising and self-funding capability - someone gets paid to do it, either by profits or by cross payment. So why do socialistic coops not spring up in the same way? Perhaps because those with energy, drive and ability are still shackled to a damn great mortgage and others cannot be arsed. Which is where Archbish Welby comes in, loans today, social housing next year, he could if he is very smart make a difference. But a note of caution, fine sermons butter no parsnips and who is Welby's boss (not God silly) but the UK establishment.

Ralph Musgrave


You assume that capitalism is inherently undesirable. Why? Perhaps you could do an article on that.

Of course capitalism has given rise to numerous evils. But then communism as practiced in Russia from 1917 onwards gave rise to about as many evils. But I wouldn’t advocate the abolition of all forms of communist type entities because of that (e.g. co-ops, if that’s an example).

Rather than assume that either capitalism or socialism or communism have innate characteristics which make them superior to the alternatives, I suggest take each case on its merits. E.g. it’s pretty clear that socialised health care (the NHS in the UK) works better than the US private, or more privatised system, so let’s stick with the NHS and be wary of privatising any of it.


You seem to be describing capitalism where some of the payments to some entrepreneurs, capital-holders and asset-owners are not in the form of money.

I don't see that as a failure of capitalism, or a transition to socialism.

I do like the idea of a universal basic income, but unless you have very secure borders and a watertight id system and other things that remove individuals freedoms, dont see it working.


I love the profound, hereto unconsidered thought that strikes you (me) as obvious, and your piece absolutely did that for me. Deep, simple, and quite possible.

It is normally incredibly hard to change large institutions, but that's no detraction from the idea.

Thanks for sharing the thought.

Lauren Taylor

We hope small individual actions do not culminate in fewer incentives producing less wealth for society as a hope. Fundamentally there is great need for society to have incentives and price signals so that people can allocate human can physical resources adequately. Global macroeconomics require that the US takes the lead in this issue.


The problem with a transition to socialism is that Feudalism became capitalism as Feudal Lords prefered becoming capitalists. Capitalism gave the former Lords more opportunities with fewer obligations. Do todays capitalist itch to embrace socialism? They would like even more capitalism it would seem. But may be a different transition is possible!


"The transition from feudalism to capitalism did not generally happen because peasants protested in the streets......"

It also took a very very long time and even then it simply change the form of exploitation and enslavement and often the same people were involved! Socialism is a complete break from all that. socialism requires a totally different mindset, anyone who thinks the socialist transition will be quick does not know what socialism is.

To respond to Lauren, of course socialism is the move to allocate resources based on need and not profit. In socialism you will not have people working for KPMG in order that the filthy rich can get even more loot, these people will be put to better use. It will be signaled to people and incentives will be in place to ensure they don't become lackeys of the elite, rest assured. We will also stop companies like Glaxo bribing doctors to sell their quack remedies, and other such abuses of the price signalling system.


I was a bit confused by Lauren above as I was wondering how the enormously expensive and ineffective privatised health system in the USA constituted allocative efficiency from which we could learn? Or the ever more costly education system or the profiteering of the arms industry?


Why are co-ops such a great idea relative to PLC's?
Of course we all think of John Lewis and then...erm, well the Co-op Bank hasn't been a rip-roaring success.
And what happens when they fail, as many inevitably will?
The partners lose their jobs and their equity.


SteveH will you also "recondition" people who develop Capitalist tendencies?

Can't wait to see what "better use" I am put to in the glorious socialist commonwealth.


"The transition from feudalism to capitalism did not generally happen because peasants protested in the streets, nor because they found a government with the 'political will' to overthrow feudalism."

That's a good point.

What you propose could be better than the hell we are in. Would that last? Would that lead to something better?

Frankly, I don't know the answer, if there's one.

But I do think of the conclave at Pandemonium (John Milton's Paradise Lost) and everyday that goes by I feel more and more sympathy for Moloch.


"... farmers' markets... the internet is undermining the media and music industries... These are examples of everyday decommodification."

Are they? Suppose markets like food or media are sewn up by a small number of large, top-down organisations. Yes, they may face external competition against other such corporate entities, but internally they do everything they can to avoid market relations between their employees. In such an economy most people experience it as feudal. The boss does his annual potato harvest report via Powerpoint, people are promoted or fired on the whim of managers in a strict power hierarchy, etc.

Conversely when new technology emerges and provides a way for individuals (or small groups thereof) to bypass the intrenched corporations and sell direct to their customers, then the economy becomes more dynamic, more entrepreneurial, more like the Hayekian ideal, more like a buzzing hive of bourgeoisie expansion, and so therefore less feudal.

So your examples are more likely signs of a new flourishing of capitalism from the bottom up, overthrowing examples of temporarily re-emergent feudalism. These things happen in waves - new technology is unlikely to emerge perfectly smoothly, there will be fallow periods during which relations settle down, interspersed with bursts of rapid, chaotic revolution, in which all fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.


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"For example, some reasonably small tweaks could change universal credit into a citizens' basic income. This would give people the real freedom to choose to work or not."

As we socialists say: He who does not work, neither shall he eat.


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