Will Hutton writes in the Observer that Capitalism is bust for most of us. He highlights a recent IMF paper on the dynamics of growing inequality and how it drives the depression. All this is old hat to anyone who has followed the arguments of Gar Alperovitz, (America Beyond Capitalism), Richard Wolff (Democracy at Work), and David Schweickart ( (After Capitalism), all in the USA. They all point out in slightly varying ways the dynamics of the growing inequality and consequential disempowerment of a large sector of our people, here and abroad. Their solutions advocate the democratization of wealth as capital which then can to be put to work in service of labour and the community by means of democratic enterprises . They also are working on self -emergent solutions in the USA. ( See links to Gar Alperovitz and Democracy at Work) Their ideas might be an inspiration for solutions compatible with principle of economic democracy in the UK. Hutton hopes for “good” capitalism but then perhaps a next step is possible.
Will Hutton is mistaken to imply that there was a blanket rejection by trade unions to what he calls co-determination; JacK Jones was a supporter of the Bullock Report (1977) on industrial democracy. Jack Jones was General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union now Unite. Unite has a sister union in the USA the United Steel Workers and they are developing the Union Cooperative Model in partnership with the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation. See links
A modest element of economic democracy has been factored into the NHS with the election of representatives of stakeholders (citizens, workers and other categories) to the governing body of NHS trusts. Will Hutton is a supporter of this development. On Jan 17 Th a bit of economic Democracy became alive in regards Bath Royal United Hospital NHS Trust (pending) when the Bath constituency elected governor Dominic Tristram attended a meeting of the Bath People’s Assembly having just attended a governors’ meeting and was able to give an account of developments, a first step perhaps. Are these stirrings in the undergrowth prompting further exploration and development?
It is too early to know if this will in any way be effective. Further more there is a political drive to dismantle the NHS as a meaningful entity so that there might not be much to govern. This process is masked by the use of the NHS as a brand so these governors might end up supervising an empty husk, a dispenser of contracts for profit, feeding the corporate fat cat world, as in the USA. Costs of health there are 17.8% of GDP, in Britain they are 9.8%. The health outcomes between US and UK are roughly equivalent except in the UK there is universal cover while in the US 10% of the US population will still not have health care cover even with Obama care.