OpenCoop: Labour’s New Economy
“How can the Labour Party enable a new democratic economy” asks John McDonnell. This month there’s a conference at Goldmith’s College to discuss the issue:
In the first of his presentations to the international Economics for Ecology conference in Sumy, Terry Hallman concluded:
‘What is not guesswork is that the broken — again — capitalist system, be it traditional economics theories in the West or hybrid communism/capitalism in China, is sitting in a world where the existence of human beings is at grave risk, and it’s no longer alarmist to say so.
‘The question at hand is what to do next, and how to do it. We all get to invent whatever new economics system that comes next, because we must.’
In 2014, at the other end of the wealth spectrum a group of business leaders had also convened in London to discuss the concept of Inclusive Capitalism.
I wrote an open letter to the City of London Mayor who’d suggested that inequality might lead to civil unrest. It was what New Labour had been warned of in 2004:
‘While the vast majority of people in poverty suffer quietly and with little protest, it is not safe to assume that everyone will react the same way. When in defence of family and friends, it is completely predictable that it should be only a matter of time until uprisings become sufficient to imperil an entire nation or region of the world. People with nothing have nothing to lose. Poverty was therefore deemed not only a moral catastrophe but also a time bomb waiting to explode.’
By the end of the year our founder was in Ukraine warning again of the risk of violent unrest:
‘Elimination of graft and corruption, and raising the overall standard of living for ALL Ukrainians rather than a few insanely greedy oligarch clans, was the main underlying and implied reason for the Orange Revolution — at least from hundreds of people, activists and otherwise, I talked with on the ground during and after the Revolution. Further, as director for any sort of peace institute, Mr. Aslund is obliged to review the connection between poverty and peace. Peace does not and cannot exist for people in poverty, unless they are harshly suppressed by government or other forces. Poverty is a horrible existence and lifestyle, and is bound to breed violence, not peace.’
Doing business where people come before shareholder return, people-centered business, has been in practice for many years. It was the Long Term Capitalism challenge that gave me the opportunity to consolidate this work as ‘The New Bottom Line’
‘This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for “people-centered” economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority — as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine’s poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a “top-down” approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first — not secondarily, along the way or by the way. ‘
In 2013, Cooperatives Europe and Fair Trade International would apply their influence at the EU to promote people-centered business as their own brand
‘Both Cooperatives Europe and Fair Trade have been actively engaged in promoting enterprises that place people and not profit at the heart of business.’
In 2008, people-centered business was introduced to the EU Citizens Consultation, with our proposal for a ‘Marshall Plan’ as described above in the McKinsey article.
In 2012 I gained the support of an MEP who’d agreed that another EU consultation plagiarised what the ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine had placed in the public domain.
When Sir Graham Watson wrote to EU commissioner Michel Barnier, he claimed ignorance, promising future collaboration. We didn’t get it, but were soon aware that his own European People’s Party were promoting a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine as was an oligarch pending extradition to the US on charges of corruption. The Firtash Octopus described the willingness of European politicians to help with this whitewash.
‘Dirty money from the East has become a resource for dozens of European structures and politicians. Sergii Leshchenko reports on some of those that are only too happy to open their doors to a Ukrainian oligarch willing to invest millions in cleaning up his image.’
Where had New Labour been? With the oligarchs of course. Reading back our argument for a new economy as if none of this had happened: