You Can’t Have A Society Inside A Company But In A Way You Can: The Creativity Around Micro Businesses and SMEs: Making A Great Future For Everyone

In a small company you can see your product, feel responsible for your service, keep track on its development.

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You know your customer and are really engaged in growing and building. You know you shouldn’t have to socially segregate society to create your market, make and sell things and although that thought isn’t particularly revolutionary it makes your customers feel there’s something genuine about you.

You realise, even if you don’t have the time or the resources that products and people need to grow and develop through understanding the customer.

In a way you’re saying business needs to scale down and make beautiful answers.

Otherwise at the simplest end, if we look at the stereotypes, we become obese and bored and at the other aggressively healthy and angry, raging, ready for more and more experiences or a fight.

This is because of the introduction of a market into the collection of people’s data introduced with the Thatcher era, which has continued until today.

Although Margaret Thatcher had been horrified at the thought of the privatisation of the welfare state in 1982, the process which used census data to create future markets in social care with the use of a new category called Long Term Limiting Illness in the 1991 census did just that.

With council houses, like water, sewage and the transport infrastructure, the census is to me part of the Crown Jewels of our National Assets. And when you switch from that democratic and citizen just ideal of a National Good, to allowing financial interest groups without public scrutiny to lobby for a new census category which becomes  a social ghetto, then there’s a problem.

The notion and category of ‘limiting long term illness’ hiding in the 1991 census was really a strange and paradoxical tool that removed any sense of concern for the previous awareness that lack of social, geographical, mobility and access to work, secure housing was a social problem that we are all responsible for.  It’s a weapon against the people who are underprivileged.

The world that has been created by allowing cradle to cradle determination of groups of people by private enterprise in services that should really always have been social enterprises, excludes people that can’t or won’t fit its template and more worryingly, prevents the development of normal human relations at work. We need a real mix of ways of thinking and to scale down to an idea of local manufacture and production that’s rich and detailed and different.

Cooperatives are a very old fashioned way that improves the balance of work and community that’s been ignored for forty years. Cooperatives can be used in housing and all kinds of new production whether in bioscience  of thinking and working but the power of the (business lobbied state) to stop the development of care and health co-operatives in their tracks also needs investigation. Compliance is a tool and should never be a weapon against innovation and community initiatives.

The system of over and under privilege that we’ve been taken back into has been fostered by a kind of King Kong approach, masquerading as ‘modernity’ ( and hiding behind sporting metaphors and structures). This is an approach which lives in the present is really the idea of inertia capital at work: workers are bullied till the end of their working lives.

Although the system helps people to live and work creatively, we need more security and longevity in everything we do and to move away from the crushing notion of peripheral and precarious workers who can’t meet their own needs being charged with caring for other people.

When they fail (and they have consistently failed), the institutions are allowed to continue the drive to privatisation as noone in parliament until last year, was really battling for the quality of life of everyone involved in care. The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has continued the ‘divided society’ morality by talking about the common sense (and superiority) of the educated in the use of health services while there’s a kind of underclass that uses the NHS for social exclusion reasons.

I think the socially excluded use the NHS for social reasons because their needs for education, homes and jobs have been ignored for generations while they’ve been over served by charity shops, poor transport, takeaways, crumbling schools, places to gamble and be humiliated. Cut out of the new social contract that used (but buried the aggressive assumptions of race and class) social advances and privilege that are masking exploitation and abuse.

So many people that can’t fit in because of the removal of access to social mobility based on behaviours that are over privileged and credited while others lead only to homelessness and exploitation.

John Bird who set up the Big Issue is part of a backlash against the privilege/underprivilege market society model is putting a  Creditworthiness Bill through the Lords where prompt rental payments can be considered as part of a mortgage application. This is a step to creating access to social mobility lost when Margaret Thatcher’s conservative party banned the use of council house sale money to be used to rebuild the lost stock.

Most people who own homes assume would be considered for people who rent as a way up but in fact aren’t. This makes everyone frustrated. Most people don’t want to ‘game’ others at home, at work or away but the ‘gaming culture’ of very young people in society is being used as a mask by exploitative interests to undermine relationships between people from different backgrounds.

Because we need better despatches from all parts of society in the news we consume we only think about the small person against the King Kong or Goliath  we think of the celebrity who’s had a problem. Think Noel Edmonds fighting the injustice of HBOS (now LLoyds) aggressively putting his production company into special measures, or the story of the homeless man who died outside parliament. We sit up.

If you see people begging and sleeping on the street, if it’s your local area, even if you’re a Director, you’ll get involved to make social progress and change. You know it’s not enough, it’s something but nowhere near enough of a change of heart and mind.

I think that SMEs need great public services that they and their employees can see, feel and use as they work, have children, mature whether they’re provided by social enterprises or local authorities.

We all want to see great home care for very old people and that increasingly, the quality of family life is really dependant on how everyone in the locality negotiates communication: how we need to nurture and encourage many different lives. We are consumers and we are also full of potential as humans and citizens.

To have a more energetic world that allows us at every stage and age to see the detail of our own lives and that of others we need ‘presence’ and ‘heart’.

Presence and heart

To be mindful you need to realise the value of your life: presence and heart are the ways Chinese culture understands enfranchisement and the responsibilities of citizens.  To have ‘presence’ you need a living and working environment where you’re included into a sense of hope and the future because you’re more than a consumer. You have a heart.

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Great image by designer Elisa Riva

To have presence and heart you need to feel more than a consumer. You need to feel that being a worker, mother, father, sister, brother has a point. That society is improving, problems are being solved creatively, humanely and we’re all benefitting. I think that’s why artists and art are helping us to find new ways to include more people, more of the time. Art helps us make more connections, gives us the confidence to change the world we’re given.

We all need routes, paths, opportunities, beyond a segmented marketplace that profits for no real social gain.

Above: The Projective Drawing Exhibition in New York: above the I’m-Migra-Gination by Lionel Favre and The Big Noise by Judith Saupper…. where taking a line for a walk allows us to begin to rethink the solidity of the world we call normal. (Thanks to John Hill of Archidose!)

A place to live and work is part of a democracy that’s evolved over centuries. It’s why  citizenship as well as hopes and aspirations across class, background and connects everyone with the world, with discussions, questions and the idea of citizenship: where the seriousness of human rights and responsibilities become integral to the detail of the way we live.