As a reader and subscriber to PN since the 1930s, and as one of the founders of the Scott Bader Commonwealth – totally engaged since the end of the Second World War in working to demonstrate a living, economic way of working life beyond capitalism, I found Lucy Lant’s letter and the editor’s reply (PN 2542) deeply challenging and enormously relevant.
[The Scott Bader Commonwealth was established in 1951, when Ernest Bader gave the company to its workforce. Today, Scott Bader is an £180m chemical firm, employing 560 people worldwide, with no external shareholders. – Eds]
In our Commonwealth, we have both ‘crucified the covenant’ on the way and practised ‘modified capitalism’ to keep it alive. But we did not give up and accept capitalism like 98% of Quaker initiated companies have done, go half-way like the John Lewis Partnership, or sell out and fund a research association on the problem! – we took ‘practical action’ (and were fortunate to have had Fritz Schumacher as a trustee).
We have been recognised recently by a forward-looking academic for creating less ‘moral debt’ than capitalism. Yet Lucy is absolutely right and even Time printed a comment: ‘Don’t blow it – good planets are hard to find.’ But who or what is going to stop it? Only sufficient worldwide understanding of the crisis. We know simply electing managers is not enough.