Once upon a time (around about the turn of the millenium) I indulged in a bit of world building and created a minor power for the fictional universe where Ground Zero Games’ wargames Full Thrust, Dirtside and Stargrunt. This was the Interstellar Democratic Republic – an attempt at creating a left wing power that went beyond “commies in space”.
One thing I wanted to do with the IDR was create a socialist inspired economic system that wasn’t simply a copy of sytems that had existed historically. What I came up with was a simple mechanism: the state is a partner in all businesses, the size of their partnership is in direct proportion to the size of the business.
So, small businesses basically have a mostly silent partner who takes a small cut of the profits and who can be turned to for advice (not much different to tax and small business advisors in the real world) but as the business graws this partner starts to have more and more influence, until the really big organisations end up being state run.
It sounds great, small businesses get to operate more or less as they do under neo-liberalism but big businesses are all nationalised.
The devil is in the detail, for starters how do you define the “size” of a business – turnover, profits, employees? And there would be the same scope for corruption that there is in the neo-liberal system – just as businesses in the real world fiddle the numbers to lower their taxes so would businesses in this system fiddle the numbers to lower the state’s control.
Watching the news over the past few weeks, I have to wonder, was I on to something? Is putting big corporations under partial (or total) state control the only way to stop them running out of control?