Saturday, November 28, 2009

Quid pro quo: Time to remove restrictions on industrial action.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post elsewhere on, among other things, the social contract and the automatic assumption that we are all included in it - the alternative being Hobbes' notion of the state of nature. Because the alternative to living according to the rule of law is nasty and brutal, we are all deemed to have accepted it - something that should temper any resentment that we may have towards the general concept of law.

A few of the arguments that came out in the threads were that the notion that an action of a state is 'not in my name' is not a sustainable one.

This is the reason why we are right to take an instinctive liberal suspicion with us whenever we encounter the state. If we don't engage fully in elections, our right to moan about governments diminishes - as Steve Earle put it, 'if you don't vote, don't bitch.'

This stood out from yesterday's letters page in The Guardian:
"It is now impossible to live without a bank account, so we have no choice but to put our money in their hands. The fact that they can decide for themselves how much to charge and then to help themselves to it is a scandal. The law must be changed to stop this: not allowing them to take money from our accounts and forcing them to send us a bill first are just two of the changes necessary."
How have we allowed commercial organisations to have the same purchase over us as the organisations that we elect? 'Too big to fail / our grandchildren will be paying for their thieving' isn't the only charge to hold against the banks.

Larry Elliott was right:
“But there is a motley band of discontents for whom business as usual, in whatever form, means that another crisis will erupt before too long. They argue that the exiguous nature of current reform proposals is explained by the institutional capture of governments by the investment banks, the world’s most powerful lobbying groups.”
More than ever, the cornerstone of any liberal concerns we may have must be a determination to neutralise the lobbying power any organisation that is capable of raising a louder voice than any individual. Until that happens, there is no reason that I think of that the right to collectively withdraw labour should be restricted in any way.

I understand the argument that industrial action can often be self interested blackmail. So let's abolish self-interested blackmail across the board? We can start with the most active culprits. By the time we work down to the minor transgressors in the unions, I doubt if organised labour will have any objections?

Updated 17:23, 28/11/09 - redrafted for clarity (!)

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