Success stories! Groups recognising importance of reducing inequality now include (for example):- UNICEF, Children’s Society, Environmentalists & Green Party, Howard League for Penal Reform, UK Drugs Policy Commission, Health promotion etc.. Fairness Commissions Living Wage commission Invitations to lecture: c.700 lectures, including at: UN, EU, WHO, ILO, CSJ, LibDems Policy Committee, ETUI, various European Social Democratic parties annual conferences, TU Annual conferences, US Civil Rights, Increasing media attention internationally to inequality and issues like pay ratios
Political pendulum: public opinion has now started to move in a more progressive direction
Failure of 1960s radicalism Why Thatcher put the clocks back
Transforming society • What is the potential? • Social deficit • Intellectual vacuum
Social deficit • Material life no longer critical – GNPpc, LE, GPI • But social life has become critical • Social Status, Friendship, Early life150 studies of friendship, community life. • Babies’ weight gain, like death rates and adult social needs • Dickerson & Kemeny: social evaluative threat • Social contact: an ordeal for some? • Use of drink and drugs to socialise • Loss of settled communities and great inequality increases vulnerability to status seeking – restaurants, VIPs, ‘fast track’, 1st class • Less inequality strengthens community life etc.. • 10% on antidepresents, 23% some mental illness • Consumerism and status seeking about self-worth – 1/3%
Popular mix of resentment, cynicism, anger, apathy & disgust towards politicians and many social institutions Russell Brand & Paxman: 9.3 million hits in one month - “…don’t vote, stop pretending. …shouldn’t destroy the planet, shouldn’t create massive economic disparities, shouldn’t ignore the needs of the people” But, like Occupy, short on solutions – intellectual vacuum? Danger of repeat of 1960s Spirit Level partly popular because of psychosocial and status interpretations, society better for all?
Extending democracy into economic life A key to next stage of human emancipation
TUC pamphlet, Workers on Board, on employee representation. In 1960s most shares were owned by individuals with a longer term interest in a few companies. But… Introduction from TUC Gen Sec Frances O’Grady: “UK institutional investors… spread their investments across hundreds, if not thousands of companies, increasingly relying on short-term share trading to generated gains.” Pamphlet author Janet Williamson: “the shareholders of a large listed company will number in the thousands (or) tens of thousands. …it can be difficult for a company even to get full information on who owns their shares.”
To prevent a repeat of 1960s failure to make real change, democratising economic life has to be our central objective. • Companies make goods and services but must cease to be systems for creating huge undemocratic concentrations of wealth and power. Those are independent functions! • Economic democracy turns companies from being pieces of property into communities • More democratic companies have much smaller pay differences • They transform the experience of work – sense of purpose, self-worth, valued contribution • Employee buyouts redistribute wealth and reduce unearned income • Boards can include community and consumer representative as well as employees • Partnership increases productivity
Sustainability • Failures to reach international agreement - partly because sustainability is seen as about belt tightening • It is, instead, about improving the real quality of life by improving social relations • Diminishing returns to economic growth • Tackle the social deficit • Rescue from status competition (& consumerism) • More democratic companies do better ethically
Summary • The rich world has reached the end of the real benefits of economic growth. • Greater equality is now the best way to improve QoL. • Sustainability is not a belt tightening sacrifice but involves raising the real QoL. • Increase equality by extending democracy into economic sphere.
Transformation • We can:- • Transform social relations, • Transform experience of work • Raise real QoL by meeting social needs, • Exchange consumerism for more time with friends, family, community • Achieve Sustainability