Sunday, 17 April 2016
A socialist case for the British business sector
The concept of business is an everyday subject for all of us. You may not be a dedicated follower of it, but I’m sure most of us realize that it is a key part of the capitalist society in which we live in. As a result, we probably each have a stereotypical view towards business and the kind of people that are involved in it. Day in, day out we are subject to stories of large, multi-national companies such as Google and Starbucks, causing fury amongst the working public for not paying their fair share in tax. We hear about government deals with ‘important clients’ such as China or Saudi Arabia’s oil market. It all seems a little bit distant and precarious to the majority of us who are working in and around our local communities to provide for our families. And rightly so. Since the catalyst of modern business- the industrial revolution- the British public have become ever more so aware of a ‘top 1%’, ‘an elite’, whatever you may like to label it as, who we presume are the front-runners of the capitalist world, exploiting the free market for the benefit of a few and to gain political influence. However, I would argue over the past 5 decades or so, British business has been exposing a secret up its sleeve, a revolutionary element of positive business, through the new found concept of entrepreneurship and social business. What do I mean by ‘social business? I mean exploring ways in which we can use business as a force for good across society, through small step by step solutions to social problems, both nationwide and globally.
In the 21st century we live at the peaking point of capitalist society; capitalist society enables a free market to exist with the supposed objective of enabling the individual to make their own way in life be it through employment by a company that grants them civil rights and a ‘fair’ wage, or through setting up their own business with limited red tape and government intervention. Now let’s be realistic, it’s probably a far off dream for socialists that their image of a perfect society is going to be politically established any time soon. We live in a very well established society run on enterprise and individuals rights. But that does not mean we cannot use the concept of socialism to influence capitalism for the better. This first occurred to me last summer, when I started to read about a small but influential group of entrepreneurs who are saying no to the normal way of doing things, and are consequentially doing a huge amount for social inclusion and awareness in society. Such examples include: Reel Gardening founder, Claire Reid who established a water saving solution to growing vegetables in some of the continent’s most water-deprived areas at the age of just 16 (http://www.reelgardening.co.za/), Innocent Drinks founder, Richard Reed who in 2004 set up the Innocent foundation (http://www.innocentfoundation.org/) that has given over £3m worth of profits to sustainable farming projects across 3rd world countries and Sam Branson and Johnny Webb, founders of Sundog Pictures (http://sundogpictures.co.uk/), who produce documentaries and films by using the accessibility of the digital world to tell important social stories around the globe to those who may otherwise not be educated on the matter. These individuals are perfect examples of how socialism in business can result in an increase in awareness of global problems and the ways in which we can use established business methods to improve them.
Specific to Britain, there are many sectors of society where business could act as a force for good over making profits for their shareholders; with continuously competitive household costs, the housing market should attract the exploration of 21st century green methods of daily living, such as renewable energy production and water saving; with continuous logistical problems in our health service, entrepreneurs could work a long side relevant professionals to look for small but mighty solutions to over-crowding and data accessibility. These are just a couple of examples of where social awareness combined with innovative thinking could begin to lead to a more socially inclusive society though the positive integration of the business sector and other sectors affecting our daily lives. In 2014, a record-breaking 581,000 businesses were set up in the UK alone; I believe that our generation should take maximum advantage of the ever increasing accessibility to start-up funding and research, to say no to business as usual and instead begin to investigate how we can use this advantage to look for socially sustainable and inclusive solutions to problems that often lead to an unfair disadvantage felt by certain areas in a country or certain individuals who may have, over time, been manipulated for the benefit of the few.
It’s about time countries such as the UK started to recognize business’ primary aim as that of improving the quality of our lives through looking for innovative solutions, instead of manipulating problems for the benefit of the individual. If we are to act as an influential democratic force in the world, I believe it is up to Generation Y to work towards a socialist attitude towards business, by embracing its past mistakes as learning points and putting into action a more diverse range of business methodology that will enable us to look for these solutions. To quote one of the greatest entrepreneurial minds of our time, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, “Entrepreneurship is not about looking for a problem, it’s about finding a solution and enacting it”…”so let’s work together and screw business as usual”. By embracing this attitude, I believe there is a strong case for a socialist business environment in Britain and that we shouldn’t be afraid of exploiting it.
#sbau #Yforchange @jalbryson98