December 14, 2011
Why do all anrchists drink herbal tea?
Because all proper tea is theft
(Courtesy of Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo)
December 10, 2011
A few weeks ago I went to the Houses of Parliament foran event entitled Co-operative Housing: a way to address the housing crisis? David Rogers President, International Co-operative Alliance Housing Sectorwas particularly interesting.
I’ve also just watched the great little two part show The Great British Property Scandal on Channel 4. Co-op’s aren’t mentioned in the show but it seemed to me that a lot of the problems mentioned in the show could easily be addressed by a co-operative model.
October 29, 2011
The Mutuals Yearbook for 2011 is out. Headline figures:
- over 18,000 mutuals
- over 60 million members
- over 1 million employees of mutuals
- over £111 billion revenue
October 19, 2011
I went along to a very good-natured debate tonight at the LSE between Professor Lord Layard and Professor Lord Skidelsky. Happiness research is something I’m very interested in. In fact it was a chapter on happiness at the back of an introductory economics book that first lead me on the path to mutualism.
I was so cramped in my seat that I didn’t really get a chance to take notes but once the video’s up I’ll have another look. Skidelsky seemed to be playing the contrarian a bit but raised some challenging points which Layard responded to well. Skidelsky’s also threw in a few jokes for the punters, at one point asking whether happiness “was like God having an orgasm in your head”. Hovering behind the debate was clearly a political argument about cuts and levels of public ownership.
As I said before, the debate was good-natured throughout. It seems that you just can’t debate happiness without having a smile on your face.
I’m curious to know whether any of these happiness experts has ever considered mutualism as a solution. I might have to ask them sometime.
October 14, 2011
This week MP Jonathan Reynolds introduced the The Co-operative Housing Tenure Bill in the Commons under the Ten Minute Rule. The Bill essentially aims to change the law so that membership of a co-op will give rise to the right to occupy thus ending the 1,000 year convention that it is only through freehold or tenancy that someone can occupy land. For a better explanation read this piece by co-op housing expert David Rodgers on Left Foot Forward.
Property prices have played a central role in the financial crisis which has been rumbling along the last few years. House price inflation is a phenomenon which is talked about all the time but never seriously questioned. Is it some fundamental law of the universe that house prices must, over time, increase? Or is it just a side-effect of our individual pursuit of profit?
To paraphrase Darryl Kerrigan, the buildings in which we live are not houses, they’re homes, and it’s time we started treating them as such and not just as commodities to trade and fight over.
August 15, 2011
I’m living away from the UK at the moment in a small agricultural community in a controlled European economy and it was from this vantage point that I stayed up for a few nights last week to follow the riots. From afar I have to say that Britain looked grim.
Since I’m away could someone nip by Highgate Cemetery for me and check to see if Marx has a wry smile on his face because above all else these riots were a failure of capitalism. Admittedly one of the main motivations seems to have been fun but what I also saw were hyped-up consumers with no jobs hell-bent on consuming as much as they possibly could because, well, that’s the route to happiness isn’t it?
The great irony is that the solution which has been proposed in the past and will shortly be proposed again in the future is yet more consumption. If only we could consume more, then we could make more and sell more and advertise more and litigate more until we’re consuming so much that everyone will be employed and have that most precious of things: a stake in society. We’ll have to listen to endless, meaningless recitations of growth figures; growth which will make us increasingly unhappy. It’s a mad, mad solution. Completely mad.
The time to abandon growth and profit and, dare I say it, progress, is nigh. Let’s mutualise!