Tag: Ownership

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Violence. Without Which Not. by UnaSpenser

I set out here to write about capitalism and how it shapes our relationships to everything. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. I had planned to write about how competition, individualism, and the insecurity of having to “earn a living” or be denied survival, defines how we approach one another and the way in which we interact with people in our lives. I started by examining the definition of capitalism. I turned to Wikipedia first and got this:

capitalism is “an economic system in which trade, industry, and the means of production are privately owned and operated via profit and loss calculation (price signals) through the price system.”

Most of my prior thinking had been focused on the profit and loss aspect and how the only valuation system capitalism uses is money. I had originally thought that I would want to discuss the lack of any ethics or social values in the definition and how that void gets filled by the profit imperative.

However, what I found myself focusing on first was the phrase “privately owned”. I was immediately writing about the concept of ownership. In the wake of three mass shootings in the US, this week, I found myself reaching the conclusion that any society which embraces the idea of private property is, at it’s core, violent. Violence is the very foundation that society. I found myself unable to focus on anything else. I realized that any system which includes any kind of ownership claim has to be violent. So, this isn’t a strictly anti-capitalist exploration. It’s an ownership exploration.

So, can we talk about how we are a fundamentally violent culture? How that’s a feature and not a bug? Can we talk about whether we want to be that? Whether we can change that?

I’ll walk you through my thoughts which led to “ownership = violence” and my not-yet-fully-formed ideas of alternatives and a vague sense of how to get there. My hope is that we spark the beginning of a growing dialogue.  

So, how difficult is it to own a gun in Japan?

Applicants first must go to their local police station and declare their intent. After a lecture and a written test comes range training, then a background check. Police likely will even talk to the applicant’s neighbors to see if he or she is known to have a temper, financial troubles or an unstable household. A doctor must sign a form saying the applicant has not been institutionalized and is not epileptic, depressed, schizophrenic, alcoholic or addicted to drugs.

Gun owners must tell the police where in the home the gun will be stored. It must be kept under lock and key, must be kept separate from ammunition, and preferably chained down. It’s legal to transport a gun in the trunk of a car to get to one of the country’s few shooting ranges, but if the driver steps away from the vehicle and gets caught, that’s a violation.

There are 120,000 registered gun owners and more than 400,000 registered weapons, yet the most current official statistics from 2011 show that 7 people were killed by guns while 9 were killed by scissors. Obviously Japan needs to enact a Constitutional Amendment outlawing the sale of scissors.

First, anyone who wants to get a gun must demonstrate a valid reason why they should be allowed to do so. Under longstanding Japanese policy, there is no good reason why any civilian should have a handgun, so – aside from a few dozen accomplished competitive shooters – they are completely banned.

Virtually all handgun-related crime is attributable to gangsters, who obtain them on the black market. But such crime is extremely rare and when it does occur, police crack down hard on whatever gang is involved, so even gangsters see it as a last-ditch option.

There is no good reason why a civilian should own a handgun.

Struggle by Indianapolis GM workers raises crucial issues

Original article, Struggle by Indianapolis GM workers raises crucial issues, by Jerry White via World Socialist Web Site:

A year after the United Auto Workers union collaborated with the Obama administration in the restructuring of the auto industry and the assault on auto workers’ wages and living standards, determined workers at the General Motors Indianapolis stamping plant have rebelled against the UAW and taken a stand to defend the right to a job and a decent wage.

A Public Confession

adopted from The Dream Antilles

I have a confession to make.  I know it’s not vogue to discuss our personal finances here, or brag about our personal wealth, but I have to out myself anyway.  I want to confess.  I’ve been keeping a secret from you.  And I owe you an explanation. You didn’t know it, but I am a proud owner of a professional sports franchise.

No, I didn’t get $100 billion dollars in dot com bubble and buy a part of Manchester United.  But I do own a part of an English football (gringos, that means soccer) team, Ebbsfleet United.

As today’s New York Times reported:

[Will] Brooks, a 37-year-old former advertising copywriter, set up a Web site in 2007 called MyFootballClub.co.uk that asked a simple question: how many people would be interested in pooling their money to buy a soccer club, so that ordinary fans could vote on every decision, from uniform design to player selection? More than $400,000 was raised on the first day of public registration.

The Web fantasy became reality when members voted in February to take over Ebbsfleet United, a tiny, unsuccessful club in southeast England, for slightly less than $1 million.

MyFootballClub has about 31,000 members/owners from all over the world (including the author of this article [and the author of this essay]), all of whom pay an annual subscription of about $60 to be a member of the nonprofit trust that owns “the Fleet.”

The club is run on the principle of one person, one vote for every decision, major or minor. Ebbsfleet recently made headlines in the British press when members voted to sell John Akinde, a talented young striker, for about $250,000, the first vote of its kind.

Why would somebody do this, you might ask? Why would somebody spend the princely sum of $60 +/- per year to own a share of a professional sports team, especially an English football team that is four five divisions below the Premier League? And why would somebody proudly wear an owner/manager t-shirt for Ebbsfleet?  And why would I care about, let alone agonize about a team that has lost its last 4 games?

This is the kind of thing that, if you don’t get it instantly, it’s very hard to explain. It might even be impossible to explain if it doesn’t light you up on hearing it.

I love the game. I love the game in its disorganized, pick up form, and in its most star filled, regimented, corporate package. I love the game when the ball is made of rags and duct tape. I love the game when it’s played before 50,000 screaming fans. And I love the game at all the spots in between. I’d rather watch re-runs of Boca Juniors playing River Plate (El Club mas poderoso de Argentina) in the rain in a scoreless tie than most professional US football (pigskin) games.  I’d rather get all muddy, sweaty, and tired playing this game than most other activities.

So the chance to play a new role in the game, as if I were a small scale Sir Alex or George Steinbrenner or Roman Abramovich, is just delicious. It’s fantastically exciting! Let’s face it, I can make some room in the upper arcana of teams I like to follow for Ebbsfleet United, of which I am a proud owner.

And to top it off, I’m delighted to bring this kind of inexpensive, democratic ownership to sport.  To show its promise. After all is said and done, Ebbsfleet United is a great experiment and I want to see it succeed. It’s something great that the Internet has made possible. Its success will inspire other groups of people to own other clubs. We will slowly take ownership of professional sports back from the undeserving, spoiled, greedy billionaires, spread it around, and make it a widespread, public, affordable phenomenon.

Can you imagine what it would be like if people across the world, hundreds of thousands of them, owned the Boston Red Sox or the New York Mets?  Can you imagine how much more intense the games would become?  Can you imagine how it would be if the ownership instead of being imperious were democratic?  If betting increases interest in the games, can you imagine what ownership of the team does?

Further, can you imagine what it must be like for the Ebbsfleet players, playing 5 leagues down from the Premier League?  They go from complete and utter anonymity to having 31,000 people across the globe watching them, following the games, criticizing their form, making suggestions.  The stadium for Ebbsfleet, Stone Bridge Road in Gravesend, Kent, only holds a total of about 5,000 fans (the Rose Bowl, on the other hand, holds about 92,000 people). Can you imagine both the pressure and the joy as a player of having 31,000 owners watch you play?

This is popular, democractic (with a small “d”) professional sports.  It’s new.  It’s brilliant.  It’s an experiment with tremendous possibilities.  I’m completely revved up about it.  Just ponder the possibilities.  Just imagine how this applies to other endeavors.

For more, click this.

Socialism Made Easy

Original article, a republishing of James Connolly’s collection by this name, via marxist.net.