lundi 16 août 2010

Is "small business" revolutionary?

TFP: Ten Reasons to Reject Socialism

[Reason] 7. Socialism promotes radical equality
A supposed absolute equality among men is the fundamental assumption of socialism. Therefore, it sees any inequality as unjust in itself. Private employers are quickly portrayed as “exploiters” whose profits really belong to their employees. As a consequence, they rule out the system of wage earning.

I agree on the other issues, but is this serious?

When it comes to people knowing how to do their business, is it desirable they should earn wages rather than own the company? When it comes to people who have as yet not learned it, obviously they cannot be directing and therefore not owning the companies, so wages is quite alright for them. Others may find perfection in the trade hard to acquire and so have a need for wages rather than doing their own thing. Others have the perfection, but lack the means to start, obviously earning wages is a way for them.


a) Socialism has not at all suppressed the Capitalist system in which workers are very typically wage earners in most lines of business. It has perpetuated it, it has perfected it by stamping out independent small business.

b) When owning and running a company is attainable, on one's own, with one's family, in a cooperative, it is preferrable to earning wages.

c) This issue has been very much confused by capitalist friendly debaters with the distinct one of private productive property, private enterprise paying off in a commercial way. No distributist has ever doubted that whatever the man was who gave a stable to the Holy Family, he was not an paid offical of Herod. Fortunately. The point is: neither was he exactly in the IBIS line of Hotels or in the Monsanto line of contracted farmers. He was not earning wages from private big companies either.

d) The injunction to be content with ones wages was directed to: soldiers, for whom the alternative was augmenting it by plunder; or, people who were hired workers anyway, as opposed to complaining about the other one's wages being equal. It was never and can never be a universal injunction to abstain from trying a business of one's own. Cfr. Rerum novarum: "More people should be owners of property".

I am perfectly aware there are other encyclicals, and they condemn socialism. What they do not condemn is the preferrence for gain from own production over wages from serving other producers.

Yugoslavian small companies are an interesting case bordering revolution and distributism. In Serbian villages, land distribution was even before Socialism, under the SHS Kraljevina, and is thus not impeachable. In the North, cooperatives were typically on land stolen from killed or driven away land owners. As such, the moral problem is not at all the fact of them being cooperatives, but the fact of them being stolen by revolution. But much of what went on in towns was quite as small business before, when Slovenia was part of Austrian Empire and Croatia of Hungarian Kingdom.

One way of keeping it small, as well as of reducing tensions in larger companies, between owners and wage earners, is corporativism. It was a means recommended by Quadragesimo Anno, on a voluntary basis. Mussolini made them mandatory, and Pius XI was dry but not condemning about that. Dollfuß and Schuschnigg had them as voluntary, only forbidding alternative syndical and class egoistic organisations.

In Middle Ages, membership of a corporation was only relatively mandatory. Each independent town could give members of a corporation the exclusive right to a trade, but also withdraw that exclusivity if the corporation was not serving community as in the clientèle well enough. In cases when a community was better served by a totally independent producer of any merchandise or provider of any service, the townsfolk absolutely free to observe that to the mayor, who then had to take this up, whether the independent was a real boon or just trying to undercut in order to take over and later raise prices or lower quality.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
G. Pompidou, Paris IV
16 August 2010

PS: In the other message by TFP I contradicted, industrialism was being praised and the Greens were being attacked as "more dangerous than communists". Is it a mere coincidence that green or eco-conscious tradesmen are typically small tradesmen or cooperatives? Could it be that Tradition, Family, Property means in this connection of economics "Tradition (excluding restoration of mediæval corporative tradition), Family (in the bourgeois class), Property (but only big property)"?

That would be a pity. Not that I have not seen doctrinal problems with greens, but their love for small business without genetically modified crops is not one of them.

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