- Geof Cox's Blog
- The dark side of the social enterprise boom...
- What would a social enterprise economy look like?
- Social Enterprise Law in South Eastern Europe
- Where does social enterprise fit in postcapitalism?
- Can social enterprise save public services?
- Greece, France - making enterprise more social...
- Small is the new big!
- Social impact is no longer an option for big brands
- What on earth is Social Enterprise UK doing?
- Asset Based Strategy Matrix
- Copyright infringement is NOT theft
- Impact2 Social Enterprise Conference
- Not So Grim Up North
- CASE's 30th Birthday
- Guardian Blog
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- The Performance of Socially Responsible Investment
- Social Investment – or the Emperor's New Clothes
- Such a definitions mess that NOBODY can now clear it up?
- Social Enterprise Mark... or Social Enterprise Brand?
- Why social enterprise needs its own approach to intellectual property rights
- Does the social enterprise movement lack leadership?
- Business models based on greed and exploitation
- Not many jokes...
- NHS Social Enterprise Spin-outs - the real story
- Will tendering ever work for social enterprise?
- Learning from the Open Source Movement
- The Guardian & Social Enterprise
- The focus on a few kinds of social enterprise is blinding us to a bigger picture
- What do social enterprise and chocolate have in common?
- From Albania Again
- Guardian Social Enterprise Summit
- A conflict common to many co-operatives...
- Social Enterprise in Albania
- 2010 social enterprise visit to Russia - 1
- Day 2 in Rybinsk: -18°c
- Post 3 from Russia - Back to Moscow
- A typical question...
- Sounding like David Cameron...
- Do structures stymie social enterprise?
- 'Right to Request' tender collapses
- The number of 'social enterprises' just doesn't add up
- Social Firms Conference
- What is it, exactly, we’re doing with Social Firms?
- Social Firms UK Annual Conference
- Social Firms and the CIC Consultation
- What is social enterprise?
- Social Enterprise in Russia – Week 1 - Moscow, Schekino and Kaluga
- Social Enterprise in Russia – Week 2 - Rybinsk
- Social Enterprise in Russia – Week 2 - Vyshniy Volochek & Ostashkov
- Social Enterprise in Russia – Week 3 - Moscow & Aleksin
- Ostashkov Conference, October 2008
- Selected old blog entries
- Public Service Transformation
- Organisational structures - and restructuring
- Doing social enterprise
- Knowledge should be free
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- Джеф Кокс, информация на русском языке
Trump, Poppy Day – and the dark side of the social enterprise boom...
I asked recently why politicians aren’t clamouring to use social enterprise as a template for a new economy – especially in the light of the shortcomings of planned economy models exposed by the soviet collapse in the 90s, and those of contemporary capitalism exposed by the world financial crisis from 2008 to date.
Part of the answer, I’m now persuaded, is that the very same social forces driving the growth of social enterprise are also driving many people the other way, and most politicians are paralysed by the divide.
Oddly, it was the controversy over the wearing of poppies by footballers that really convinced me of this. As many have pointed out, before the 2008 world financial system collapse there was no such controversy. It is only over the very recent years of economic uncertainty that red poppies have become virtually obligatory for anyone in the public eye. Before 2008 nobody worried about footballers wearing poppies; the reason FIFA – or for that matter wikipedia – see the red poppy as a political symbol is of course that it has always unfortunately been associated not just with remembrance, but with militarism and nationalism. That is precisely why the alternative white poppy was adopted as a symbol of remembrance explicitly linked with ideals of peace and internationalism. The red poppy controversy, like 'brexit', is an aspect of a coercive nationalism that is ultimately driven by economic insecurity.
We are living, now, the social breakdown that follows economic collapse. The circumstances are alarmingly similar to those that led to fascism in the 1930s. Even new factors like ‘globalisation’ - destroying working-class communities around traditional industries in developed countries – have their parallels in the way the First World War undermined the old continental empires that, for all their horrors, had maintained some level of social cohesion and stability, especially for minorities like the Jews in central Europe. I have heard people in May’s Tory Party start to conflate ‘community’ with ‘nation’, quite unconscious that they are within a hair’s breadth of an idea at the heart of fascism.
Even without the 2008 collapse, environmental crisis would have precipitated the same social breakdown - and will still probably lead to mass migrations even more challenging than those coming out of the instability and war in the Middle East and Africa. Politicians of the ‘centre’ - whether conservative or social-democrat – do not have any answers in this situation because they were, and still are, wedded to the idea that ‘capitalism’ produces wealth, and their job is to enable it to do that – albeit with a little less or a little more mitigation of its worst abuses. So the vacuum is filled by more radical alternatives – by Podemos and Syriza in southern Europe, the Pirate Party in Iceland, the incredible spectacle of an avowed socialist almost winning the American Democrat presidential nomination – and of course, on the other side, Trump in the actual election, and UKIP, et le Front National...
One aspect of this new world of extremes is seen in the way young people especially are working for social enterprise, the sharing economy, the environmental movement, and so on - building a new society in the shell of the old. But the same realisation that the status quo - ‘the establishment’ - has failed, and moreover the economic insecurity this brings, also leads many towards intolerance and hate. Oddly, the impulses behind these very different paths are not always so different: to dream of a way of organising human affairs that instead of extracting private wealth and power really serves your community – a community that is open and inclusive and welcoming to all kinds of different people – is not so very far away from wanting to protect a community conceived as people just like you - your nation, your race, your religion, your sexuality.
Of course, most people are not on the extremes – yet; but the lesson of history is clearly that they could be. What has to be understood – and this is precisely the failure of ‘the establishment’ that is being rejected by voters across the developed world - is that capitalism and liberalism ended in 2008, and that ‘the political centre ground’ actually went with them. There are only 2 paths to the future now – hope or fear. We have to find a politics to back the social innovators - the young people full of hope working for social enterprise, the sharing economy, the environmental movement, and so on. The alternative? – well, Europe tried that once before...