Why do we have to wait until a company is on its knees before handing it over to the workers? I am sure that there must be many small or medium-sized companies that would be given a new lease of life now if they were turned into co-operatives while they are still breathing. Mondraon has shown that even the largest organisation can work successfully in this way.
But the British Labour Party finds itself saddled with the idea of heavy-handed state ownership that will do little to improve the workings of the organisations themselves. Perhaps they should be less concerned about the ‘commanding heights of the economy' and more about how real companies could work as co-operative ventures.
Indeed if more people realised that strikes are usually the product of incompetent management we would stand a better chance of avoiding them.
The heart of Brandt
What is the point of my paying more for my bananas or coffee if the money is only going to swell the pockets of plantation owners or industrialists? Raising the incomes of the poorest could be achieved much more rapidly and effectively by fairer political systems in the countries concerned.
These unfortunately are issues which no-one wishes to address in international forums - precisely because they represent the heart of the problem.
To say that there is no quarrel with Iriri and that Unilever has by-passed Iriri is true but misleading. The truth is that Unilever’s decision to by-pass Iriri was the outcome of a long history of arrogant stand-over tactics by Unilever on the one hand and extraordinary resistance, including a resort to the law-courts, by Iriri villagers on the other. This history is well documented.
The people who resisted Unilever in New Georgia were not members of some weird religious cult but the inhabitants of what someone described as ‘one of the most attractive and best-kept villages in the Solomons’ — people whose only ‘crime’ is that they, like the Iriri villagers, have learned how to become self-reliant and how to survive and progress without the ’help’ of the transnationals.
As to Unilever’s generosity to the New Georgians this has recently been described by a visitor as follows: ‘They have recently negotiated logging rights with less "recalcitrant" owners of customary land for the princely sum of 6% of the profits, to be paid into a trust fund for local development.
We gathered that this was regarded as a major concession!’
Archaeology is now proving that the Ozab Aborigines had lived in the vast southern world undisturbed by the insanity of the rest of the world for at least 50,000 years. This ‘Dreamtime’ was shattered by the coming of the whites as elsewhere. But they did not get driven anywhere for there is no otherwhere for an Aborigine. An Ozab Aborigine removed from her land would cease to see any meaning in life or any possibility of happiness. She and her kin simply died.
This is certainly a minor point as concerns your article, but a major one for the country in question. For if Tanganyika had remained German until 1945, it would probably have been much more ‘developed’, i.e. unequally transformed, made dependent and even more exploited. With the British as rulers who were not really interested in that territory (since they had richer Kenya and Uganda as the core of their activities in East Africa), Tanganyika was more or less left alone and this, in turn, helped her to become — despite her vastness and ethnical diversity — the fairly homogenous and comparatively autonomous nation the is now.
It is products and services which give a high standard of living for those who provide them. If rural peasants are to grow more food to feed the town dwellers then the latter must provide goods and services which the peasants want. The urban unemployed clearly cannot do this.
Steelworkers for example could be used to make better blades for hoes and cutlasses used by peasants who now have to make do with used motorcar parts. Better tools would allow less work to produce more food in the available time. The cycle is then broken and the unemployed can be employed imaginatively.
Professor T.A. Preston
Amnesty International is denied such status, and other well-known charities are chivvied around and made to register as limited companies. But every public school in Great Britain is automatically registered as a charity, to its great advantage financially, and this piece of legerdemain is held to be legally valid on the grounds that in the time of Elizabeth I, schools for poor scholars qualified as charities. It is no surprise to find the General Secretary of War on Want describing this as just plain barmy.
A real shake-up in the affairs of the Charity Commissioners, in Parliament, is long overdue.
A taxing issue
In issue 104 there was an accidental omission from the list of Australian organisations active in fields covered by the Brandt Report:
Australian Council of Churches
A Council of 12 member churches with a major programme in emergency aid, development assistance, refugee settlement and development education. Also active on Aboriginal matters, international affairs and social issues in Australia.
P0 Box C199