Political Systems: M&S and Public Toilets
Godfrey Bloom, who has recently written for us and who has also recently been announced as one of the speakers to this year’s Traditional Britain conference, has previously used the analogy of shareholders at M&S to describe the difference between a private and a public government as defined by Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Shareholders at M&S get a ‘vote’ on how the company ought to be run because they own a share of it. Consequently, they will tend to prefer company policies that will increase the value of their shares. However, Bloom continues, if you buy your knickers at M&S and you are now able to ‘vote’ then you will vote for free knickers. However, perhaps there is a better analogy.
The following analogy came to me yesterday when using the ‘facilities’ (I’ll continue with these euphemisms for a bit) at my college; they are surprisingly well kept. Now, because I’m not an ordinary person, but instead an incredibly odd person, I then went on to consider why that might be. I decided that it was because the students of a college will almost all of them inevitably use each one of the rest rooms each week. It is simply not in their interest to see the WCs flooded or whatever else might happen through careless use of them. But, the students do not own the lavatories. However, the college does, for all intents and purposes, own them and so does make an effort to maintain them.
Therefore, instead of two, I see three systems illustrated by the analogy of the state of toilets: anarcho-capitalism; private government; and public government.
One’s own bathroom is, usually, in good condition: there’s lavatory paper where there should be and there’s an absence of lavatory paper where it should not be (e.g on the sole of your shoe, on the walls, hanging from the ceiling); there’s no drawing of a male member on the door nor is there an invitation to call someone ‘for a good time’. At least, that is the state I like to think most household bathrooms are in. This is anarcho-capitalism. There is no separation of ownership and control, as Butler Shaffer might put it, and thus the scope for inefficiency or conflict is reduced to a minimum.
The next system after anarcho-capitalism is private government. In a private government, ownership and control are separated, but those in control act as if they are the owners. The toilet situation for this system of government is akin to that of a college toilet or an office toilet: those who use it know they will be doing so for the foreseeable future just as those who are responsible for its upkeep can to some extent be pressured into taking into account the concerns of the toilet users. And so, while you do get the occasional mobile telephone number scribbled on the wall and while users may be a little overenthusiastic with the soap dispenser, the facility remains functional.
However, if governance of the toilets become ‘public’ or socialistic, then, you get a situation like that of a public toilet in Torquay.
From now on, that is the way I want you to think of democracy: a pub toilet in a state-funded pub at closing time in a popular tourist site.