No, Lord Sugar: It Is Capitalism Stifling Industry and Creativity

Ho ho! Some pre-festive fun yesterday, when Mike put up a piece describing how Alan Sugar, the former head of Amstrad and the host of the British version of The Apprentice, threw a strop when left-wingers on the net were rude to him about his promise to emigrate if Jeremy Corbyn became PM. Instead of being horrified at the potential loss to our great nation, Red Labour instead posted a tweet in reply applauding it and saying it was a good reason to vote Labour. They said

Another good reason to #VoteLabour: @Lord_Sugar confirming he’ll leave the country if @jeremycorbyn becomes PM. All without any argument, of course: just personalised nonsense. What a relief that people like Sugar aren’t given gongs or made ‘Enterprise Tsars’ by @UKLabour anymore.

Unable to countenance the idea that the he wasn’t the idol of millions, whose every word was listened to by the masses in rapt attention, Sugar got angry and started insulting them. He tweeted back

Sour grapes you bunch of jealous anti enterprise anarchist losers. You have not achieved anything in life but like to criticize those who have. I paid a personal tax bill last year of over £50m enough to build a hospital. You find the taxes in future I’m off #corbynout

This ill-tempered comment provoked a wave of criticism from others in its turn. It also revealed Sugar to be a snob as defined by Thackeray: ‘a person who meanly admires mean things.’ He also fits another character type identified by Oscar Wilde – someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. As for his boasting about how much he makes from the size of his tax bill, once upon a time this would have been considered a very poor comment by the long-established rich. Bragging about your wealth marked you out as being nouveau, a parvenu. Which Sugar is. He’s a self-made millionaire, who clearly believes his millions and his celebrity status excuse his poor manners.

The peeps on Twitter therefore lined up and told the brusque TV host that it was the ordinary people of this country – cleaners, bus drivers, firemen and women, carers, factory workers, teachers, nurses and so on, that actually kept this country running, rather than obscenely rich oligarchs like Sugar himself. They also pointed out that they too paid tax, and were determined to stay in this country, and they had also achieved things that could not be assessed in simple monetary turns. Like family and friends. As for the size of his tax bill, one person told Sugar to look at the size of his employees’ tax bills as opposed to the income of his lowest paid employees. They also wished him off on his planned departure from Britain, with comments like ‘Off you pop, send us a postcard, and so forth.

Several of the people tweeting denied being anarchists, with Darkest Angel also adding that he didn’t know what anarchism is. He clearly doesn’t. He obviously thinks that anarchists are just rabble-rousing hooligans, who go around attacking the rich without appreciating that there are genuine reasons for their anger and their criticisms of capitalism.

One of the tweeters, Jon Goulding, made it very clear that it was due to ordinary people that Sugar had made his money. He said

Don’t you dare claim that teachers and nurses and road builders and factory workers and farm labourers haven’t achieved anything in life just because they haven’t made skip loads of money. You wouldn’t have made jack shit if it weren’t for them, you selfish, shallow charlatan.

See https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/12/15/lord-sugar-got-precious-about-his-pledge-to-immigrate-if-corbyn-becomes-pm-and-got-what-he-deserved/

The great anarchist intellectual, Peter Kropotkin, made the same point in his article, Anarchist Communism, first published in The Nineteenth Century, and republished in Anarchist and Anarchist Communism: Its Basis and Principles, ed. by Nicolas Walter (London: Freedom Press 1987). Kropotkin argued that all property should be held in common, as every innovation built upon the work of millions of others, and depended on society for its effectiveness and value.

Our cities, connected by roads and brought into easy communication with all peopled parts of the globe, are the growth of centuries; and each house in these cities, each factory, each shop, derives its value, its very raison d’etre, from the fact that it is situated on a spot of the globe where thousands or millions have gather together. Every smallest part of the immense whole which we call the wealth of civilized nations derives its value precisely from being a part of this whole. What would be the value of an immense London shop or warehouse were it not situated precisely in London, which has become the gathering spot for five millions of human beings? And what the value of our coal-pits, our manufactures, our shipbuilding yards, were it not for the immense traffic which goes on across the seas, for the railways which transport mountains of merchandise, for the cities which number their inhabitants by millions? Who is, then,m the individual who has the right to step forward and, laying his hand on the smallest part of this immense whole, to say, ‘I have produced this; it belongs to me’? And how can we discriminate, in this immense interwoven whole, the part which the isolated individual may appropriate to himself with the slightest approach to justice? Houses and streets, canals and railways, machines and works of art, all these have been created by the combined efforts of generations past and present, of men living on these islands and men living thousands of miles away. (p. 37).

Moreover, Kropotkin also describes how capitalism actively prevents people from producing, in order to keep the prices of their products high. And this system creates monstrous inequalities in which the masses live in poverty, while the labour that could have been used alleviating poverty is spent on creating luxuries for the rich. He writes

But the figures just mentioned, while showing the real increase of production, give only a faint idea of what our production might be under a more reasonable economical organization. We know well that the owners of capital, while trying to produce more wares with fewer ‘hands’, are continually endeavouring at the same time to limit the production, in order to sell at higher prices. When the profits of a concern are going down, the owner of the capital limits the production, or totally suspends it, and prefers to engage his capital in foreign loans or Patagonian gold-mines. Just now there are plenty of pitmen in England who ask for nothing better than to be permitted to extract coal and supply with cheap fuel the households where children are shivering before empty chimneys. There are thousands of weavers who ask for nothing better than to weave stuffs in order to replace the ragged dress of the poor with decent clothing. And so in all branches of industry. How can we talk about a want of means of subsistence when thousands of factories lie idle in Great Britain alone; and when there are, just now, thousands and thousands of unemployed in London alone; thousands of men who would consider themselves happy7 if they were permitted to transform (under the guidance of experienced agriculturists) the clay of Middlesex into a rich soil, and to cover with cornfields and orchards the acres of meadow-land which now yields only a few pounds’ worth of hay? But they are prevented from doing so by the owners of the land, of the weaving factory, and of the coal-mine, because capital finds it more advantageous to supply the Khedive with harems and the Russian Government with ‘strategic railways’ and Krupp guns. Of course the maintenance of harems pays: it gives 10 or 15 per cent on the capital, while the extraction of coal does not pay-that is, it brings 3 or 5 per cent – and that is a sufficient reason for limiting the production and permitting would-be economists to indulge in reproaches to the working classes as to their too rapid multiplication!

Here we have instances of a direct and conscious limitation of production, due to the circumstance that the requisites for production belong to the few, and that these few have the right of disposing of them at their will, without caring about the interests of the community. But there is also the indirect and unconscious limiting of production – that which results from squandering the produce of human labour in luxury, instead of applying it to a further increase of production.

This last cannot even be estimated in figures, but a walk through the rich shops of any city and a glance at the manner in which money is squandered now, can give an approximate idea of this indirect limitation. When a rich man spends a thousand pounds for his stables, he squanders five to six thousand days of human labour, which might be used, under a better social organization, for supplying with comfortable homes those who are compelled to live now in dens. And when a lady spends a hundred pounds for her dress, we cannot but say that she squanders, at least, two years of human labour, which, again under a better organization, might have supplied a hundred women with decent dresses, and much more if applied to a further improvement of the instruments of production. Preachers thunder against luxury, because it is shameful to squander money for feeding and sheltering hounds and horses, when thousands live in the East End on sixpence a day, and other thousands have not even their miserable sixpence every day. But the economist sees more than that in our modern luxury: when millions of days of labour are spent every year for the satisfaction of the stupid vanity of the rich, he says that so many millions of workers have been diverted from the manufacture of those useful instruments which would permit us to decuple and centuple our present production of means of subsistence and of requisites for comfort. (pp. 34-5).

As for The Apprentice, Cassetteboy put up a couple of videos spoofing the show on YouTube a few years ago. They’re a couple of blokes, who edit footage of celebrities and politicians to make them appear ridiculous. And the results can be very, very funny indeed. Here’s what they did to Sugar and his team. Enjoy!

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9 Responses to “No, Lord Sugar: It Is Capitalism Stifling Industry and Creativity”

  1. No, Lord Sugar: It Is Capitalism Stifling Industry and Creativity — Beastrabban’s Weblog | Indiĝenaj Inteligenteco Says:

    […] via No, Lord Sugar: It Is Capitalism Stifling Industry and Creativity — Beastrabban’s Weblog […]

  2. joanna Says:

    What I would like to ask him, Who is going to be there if your house burns down, and who is going to pay the Fire-people who Will be rescuing you and yours??!!
    As for all things in life you use them, you pay for them!!! Also where is the hospital you have had built and is it for use by poorer people than yourself?!!

    Hi Beastie, didn’t I read correctly that he got his knighthood because of Labour?

    He reminds a little of Trump, he only tried for the presidency because he thought it would allow him access to the most Exclusive clubs in America, yet he is still ostrasized from them, even more now than before 2016.

    • Ctesias 62 Says:

      Hi Joanna. One person who DID get an honour ex Blair was “Sir” Philip Green. Says it all.

      • joanna Says:

        Hi Ctesias Indeed it does, doesn’t surprise me though the corrupt always support each other!
        Because of the last eight years I have stopped believing that good can ever overcome evil!! Corrupt people can always move the goalposts to stop anything that doesn’t add to their profit from happening!!! E.g what Tweezer is doing!!!

    • beastrabban Says:

      I think Sugar was given a knighthood by New Labour, who were pushing neoliberal policies. Peter Mandelson said that they were extremely relaxed about people becoming rich, and Blair liked to be seen with the rich and powerful.

      All good points about Sugar, Jo. It’s been shown that the middle classes use public services more than ordinary people, and so it’s right that they bear the tax burden for supporting them. I don’t think Sugar has built a hospital, though. He just said that he paid enough tax to build one, which is a bit different.

      • joanna Says:

        I was being sarcastic towards sugar, people like him really make me sick!

      • beastrabban Says:

        Ah, sorry, Jo – I didn’t pick that up. You’re not alone in disliking him. Another friend of mine, when he comes on the box, says, ‘He’s a horrible man’, and pulls a face. He is very definitely not the favourite person of a lot of people.

  3. Blissex Says:

    The usual grand discussion about great systems like capitalism, when it is clear that instead Lord Sugar, like many of his class is a rentier and probably terrified that the Labour wing of Labour might be on the side of renters and first time buyers:

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/enterprise/11929491/Lord-Sugar-tells-his-Apprentice-to-invest-in-property-if-he-wants-to-be-wealthy-in-business.html

    «Speaking about his first year in business with Lord Sugar, Mark Wright, the winner of last year’s Apprentice, said the Amstrad founder had given him tips on creating long-term wealth. “Lord Sugar said you make money from property and do business for fun. Many of our customers make money from property and I’d love to go into property development one day,” said Mr Wright.»

    Another article mentioned that Lord Sugar is worth £1,400m, of which only £125m from the sale of Amstrad, the rest almost entirely from London property speculation, which is both entirely redistributive and government supported. That is not capitalism or enteprise, it is crony rentierism.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks, Blissex. Somebody told me that most of his money now came from property, not Amstrad, and this confirms it and adds the details. And I think you’re right that he is afraid that Labour will do something for renters and first-time buyers. One of Mike’s commenters put in a link to a piece where Sugar had earlier attacked Corbyn as an anti-Semite, but at the end he was moaning about how Labour was returning to Old Labour attitudes against enterprise. Which means he’s really worried about Labour actually doing something for the poor.

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