Saturday, 19 August 2017

Papal endorsement of Social Economy...?!

Revolutionaries  of the past must be rolling in their graves. We live in extraordinary times when it takes a pope to say what most politicians, schooled in neo-liberal orthodoxy refuse to, which is that the liquid modernity of transient engagements and mobile, consumer motivated attachments is bad for our social health. Progressive sociologist Zygmunt Bauman coined the "liquid" descriptor to capture the essence of consumer society. By comparison, a social economy as advocated by Pope Francis, where human values are built in throughout the economy, appears the best economic option available to us.

A mixed, private/public economy where the state is used to deal with problems such as sickness, unemployment and inequality left by the a-social, and anti-social character of private industry, had been an evolving  compromise option since the Great Depression of the 1930's. Whittled away by 30 years of neo-liberalism we now find ourselves with reduced caretaker states and increasing privatization. The only way towards a more solid, "social" economy, as advocated by Bauman (and the Pope and other "postcapitalist" voices like Paul Mason) is to "socialize" industry, by building social values into industrial norms instead of taking short-term gains at the expense of long term pain, which has been the norm in mixed economies. TorontotheBetter encourages a strong state along with an increasingly commercial enterprise sector, by championing those enterprises that make the leap from pure profit-making. A comprehensive social economy requires an engaged state to address basic needs such as health and education in addition to a social enterprise sector that will prevent problems such as unhealthy workplaces and unemployment before they occur.

There need be no contradiction between private and public sectors provided the private sector embraces  social as well as financial goals. We are not there yet. Until we are we must, and will, work for ecnomic socialization. Geting there is something TorontotheBetter will continue to identify ideas for, by championing those in  Toronto that have made the jump. All economies are social, it's just that some are anti-social...