Acquisitive Society

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* Book: The Acquisitive Society. R.H. Tawney.

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Pat Conaty:

"In his brilliant book the Acquisitive Society, written about 1920, RH Tawney argues that Democracy is an evolutionary construct emerging to greater fullness over the past 1100 years. The first phase of this evolution is the charter to trade in exchange for taxes, warlords granted this and the guild markets but needed to be bribed. This was a bloody fight in most places just to secure commercial rights at all and even these thank god were regulated and not free market. This town charter and city charter historic phase was a battle of hundreds of years. Freedom of belief then kicks in with the Reformation, then civil rights thereafter with the English Commonwealth a key milestone but also one that increasingly rolls back the commons. Civil rights and the suffrage struggle for middle class men, the working class men with property, then more universally for women but not people of colour struggles as a battle for centuries right up to Mandela.

However a more intensive form of democracy is still denied. Here as Tawney argue it is this final and full stage of economic democracy that we are talking about viz. different types of co-ops as institutional forms. As any co-op single stakeholder or multi-stakeholder enables people to hire capital and govern their economic and daily life, Tawney saw this as full on daily democracy potentially. "