The state and the people
I tweeted these ideas a few minutes ago:
Now in this post, for a change maybe, I’m not going to be slagging off the Tories, neo-liberals various or the huge consumerist corporations for doing their biz as they must. Not much anyhow.
That’s not the initial purpose of today’s trains of thought in any way.
Instead, I’d like to briefly point out the following: if it’s rightly the job of a democratically-elected state to fashion, forge and re-engineer societies they represent, where is the sense and sensibility we surely have a right to continue to expect, whatever the political colouring of our government, of a state which, on the one hand, does everything to convince us we should walk our own paths of independence – and yet, on the other hand, is extremely wary of the kind of self-contained and private people many of us would like to remain?
The issue of privacy
Privacy has become the clarion call of those who would split society into two quite simplistic extremes: people allegedly in favour of terrorism’s apologias on the one side, and people against all intents to change society outwith a parliamentary radius on the other. In truth, it’s probably more likely we’re talking about privacy specialists and interested parties who are interested in ensuring minimal interventions by the state versus people who’d prefer parliamentary democracy to be up to the job of doing everything.
In either case, if you want your privacy, want to be those self-contained, independent bodies the state has allegedly been striving to convert us into (as per its multiple exhortations on scroungers, benefit dependency etc), it seems you are committing the even worse crime of wanting to be truly independent.
In this sense, it would seem clear the independence Tories want us to acquire is intellectually half-baked: it really, actually, favours an independence of government from the people, not an independence of people from the government.
There’s a difference.
And it’s big.
And it’s morally indefensible.
Corporations vs benefit corporations
Whilst government, all governments, not just Tory governments, are in the pockets of corporations whose moral obligation remains uniquely to their shareholders, we cannot argue fairly that it is right for government to say the above: we must push the argument much further and more coherently than this. We must change not the concentrations of wealth but, instead, the focusses which they accustomed to operating through:
In the United States, a benefit corporation or B-corporation is a type of for-profit corporate entity, legislated in 28 U.S. states, that includes positive impact on society and the environment in addition to profit as its legally defined goals. B corps differ from traditional corporations in purpose, accountability, and transparency, but not in taxation.
The purpose of a benefit corporation includes creating general public benefit, which is defined as a material positive impact on society and the environment. A benefit corporation’s directors and officers operate the business with the same authority as in a traditional corporation but are required to consider the impact of their decisions not only on shareholders but also on society and the environment.
Wikipedia goes on to tell us:
In a traditional corporation, shareholders judge the company’s financial performance; with a B-corporation, shareholders judge performance based on how a corporation’s goals benefit society and the environment. Shareholders determine whether the corporation has made a material positive impact.
Transparency provisions require benefit corporations to publish annual benefit reports of their social and environmental performance using a comprehensive, credible, independent, and transparent third-party standard. In some states, the corporation must also submit the reports to the Secretary of State, although the Secretary of State has no governance over the report’s content. Shareholders have a private right of action, called a benefit enforcement proceeding, to enforce the company’s mission when the business has failed to pursue or create general public benefit. Disputes about the material positive impact are decided by the courts.
The importance of humanity and its independence
If we truly believe in independence as humanity’s defining concept, and we truly wish for society to continue to use the corporation as its main organisational tool, we not only must introduce more democracy into the corporation but, also, make it plain that people who choose to be more alone are choosing a contemplative life of love and affection; are choosing, by their actions, to avoid a life of networked disagreements.
In another sense are choosing to recover the figure of constructive isolation.
Not beings to be feared by an evermore paranoid state. Just people coherent with the body politic’s memes as they currently stand: look after yourself, don’t be a burden, live your life in quiet self-assertion wherever possible.
Something far worse to be finishing off with
Or is there something else operating here?
Surely we won’t simply be saying:
- Be independent of us – even as society can play no part in your life
- Accept we can still control you – even as you can control us less and less
- Be evermore independent of – more importantly isolated from – all those around you
- In the absence of real affection, be evermore dependent on consumerism to fill the void
- More manifestly, fill your empty lives with unsustainable gadgetry
- Struggle towards an old age where your investments pay for the costs of ill-health
- Die, and through dying, pass on your accumulated wealth way outwith your family, to those very corporations and institutions whose societal benefit is zero
No. Of course not.
It can’t be that.
It shouldn’t be, anyhow.
A conclusion of sorts …
So what’s the alternative anyone? Two lines of attack proposed today. One, intellectually sound. The second, intellectually fraudulent. Which shall we follow?