The word commensal means "eating at the same table". The term is used in biology when an organism benefits from another without damaging it. Under capitalism, the business owners profit from the work of the employees. As the owners largely seize the surplus-value of the employee's labour, the resources of society are relentlessly transferred from the people to the hands of the owners. Their relation to the employees can be described as parasitic. This is a proposal on how to disassemble capitalism and create a better and more equitable society for all, based on a straightforward principle. In a commensal community, the idea of all people's equal value is radicalised. If everyone is equal, everyone's time is of equal value. Thus everyone should be compensated equally for their work, regardless of their different abilities and prerequisites. It is expressed by:
- One universal salary rate -
No matter what work is being done, and whether you are employed, or managing your own business.
Thus all profit can be transferred to the people.
The surplus-value of all labour is distributed equally to all.
The commensal society's task is to create freedom from oppression and injustice for all, first and foremost by creating equality in economic opportunities. This makes it possible for people to live by a principle more significant than just fulfilment of their own needs, namely the equal value of all people. Being part of a society based on real and substantial equality, and contributing to it with work and effort, adds an essential and crucial sense of meaning to our individual lives.
In a commensal society, economic differences are limited to what's possible through personal prioritisation regarding working hours and consumption. Instead of appropriating the means of production, Commensalism limits the destructive forces of capitalism by seizing only the companies profit, utilising it for the common good. Ownership responsibility for the workplace, isn't in everyone's interest, thus building a society solely after collective principles are difficult. Man is social but as an individual. Individuality comes first. Many find satisfaction in the social security of employment. Even more, perhaps most, just want a place where they can live in peace. A context they may be a part of. Family, friends, colleagues.
But some want to create something of their own and needs to be in control of their circumstances. The entrepreneurs differ by creating their own workplaces instead of taking employment. For the business owners to be able to eat at the same table as the employees, to live off their work, it can not be at the expense of them. A private business can only be ethically sustainable if it has a commensal relationship towards its employees. Some will argue equal economic distribution would leave no reason to start a business. Commensalism believes this not to be true. There are other motives for initiating and pursuing an enterprise, then enrichment. Creating something in your own name is one of them. Bringing an idea into reality, making it grow and develop, is a primordial driving force. Having power and ownership is crucial to this.
Society is organic. Its development and future needs will always be impossible to predict. A variety of resource developers who work independently are required to respond individually to the changing demands of society. A market is necessary. But when expropriation of profits from the employees' work is removed - and with it, the opportunity to accumulate personal wealth - other reasons for owning and operating companies appear. Creativity and sustainability become more important. This will create new mechanisms for competition and pricing. When profit from businesses accrues to the commons, exploitation of the employees ends. Employers can live off their labour without being damaging to them.
Nature may be unfair. The individual can act in self-interest. The ideology of society should be founded on ethics that the individual can only strive for, and be a protection against the unmerciful nature and the individual's own weakness. Commensalism is about the relationship between employer and employees, the value of work, and sharing the fruits and burdens equally. It can start within the workplace and expand through unions and into the whole of society through legislation. It is compatible with democracy. It doesn't dictate any other politics besides the priority of equal economic compensation.
This proposal may come across as utopian, but existence is more fluid than it seems. The current order always appears as self-evident and supreme until it falls. Then something new occurs, which in retrospect appears just as natural and inevitable.
What's utterly impossible today, might be the solely possible tomorrow.
<< Join the movement! >>