Preston’s Extremely Capitalist Experiment In Socialism


It’s a pity that the senior economic correspondent of The Guardian doesn’t quite understand the socialism and capitalism he speaks of. Here he’s praising Preston’s attempt to set up a series of workers’ co-ops. Entirely fine to do so by the way, nothing wrong with people deciding that they’ll do the business rather than inviting in outside capital and thus capitalists.

But the thing is that’s the only useful definition of capitalism there is – the use of outside the organisation capital. If people wish to pool resources to get something going then good luck to them and if the people working in the organisation are the people providing that capital then sure, we can indeed call that socialism not capitalism. But as soon as we’re gaining that outside capital we’re in that world of capitalism. Outsiders, not working in the organisation, are providing the capital, d’ye see?

So, which is this? Socialism or capitalism?

Think of it as a socialist Dragons’ Den. Using cash largely provided by George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the city will fund and provide rent-free premises to 10 new firms owned and run by their workers. The scheme, worth up to £1m in cash and kind (compare that with the council’s annual budget of about £20m), will be run independently; and after their kickstart, the co-ops will be required to stand on their own two feet. Although given advice and expected to work together, none of the new enterprises will be told what to do.

George Soros sticking the capital in is not capitalism in what sense? Sure, it might be patriarchal capitalism, Lady Bountiful capitalism, charitable capitalism, but it’s still capitalism.

All of which rather exposes the problem with proper socialism. It finds it exceedingly difficult to produce the capital needed to fund an organisation. That’s why people do turn to outsiders to provide that capital. As soon as that happens then we’re in a capitalist world again, aren’t we?

Unlike many news organisations, we chose an approach that means all our reporting is free and available for everyone. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable.
For as little as £1 (£10 if you were at OxBridge) you can support us – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

Click Here To Make A Contribution - Tim & The Team