THE BLOG

Garden Capitalism

07/07/2014 16:05 BST | Updated 05/09/2014 10:59 BST

It seems that studying Plato, master of the philosophical analogy has rubbed off on me. In a system in which the interlinking of government and capitalism has created a politically endorsed economy, the original foundations have been oft neglected and I wanted to get back to how, at least in theory, our public and private sectors interlink. I've been chucking around and reading ideas for a long while on this much discussed topic and my eureka moment finally came to me, luckily not in a bath but while I was pottering round my garden.

Nature, in its raw form, is possibly the purest expression of free market capitalism available for study. Each plant in nature is ultimately selfish, seeking to maximise the potential for growth by actively seeking out as much sunlight as physically possible. Left unbridled it creates a tumultous existence in which competition causes many smaller plants to wither to make way for new ones, the stronger and more richly nutrient fed do better and any gap in the canopy is quickly filled by a rush of new, agile species looking to take its place. In fencing in nature and tending it to within our boundaries, man takes on the role of that supremely powerful disembodient, the state.

It could be posited that the relationship between garden and gardener is analogous to that of the market and the government which regulates it. The state is represented by the gardener, governing his domain and chooses whether he will let nature take its course or regulate it in accordance with his particular vision, which we can equate with ideology. The economy is made up of all the various plants within this domain and will grow as much as the conditions allow them to. The gardener can provide various incentives through extra water, better soil and prime positioning of new species but also trims and tries to remove elements he finds undesirable.

What all these plants seek, beyond all else is the sunlight that allows them to photosynthesize and grow, it is this light which represents capital within my scenario. I may be no biologist but even I understand the use of light in this growth, which needs very little explanation into its parallel in the economy, also growth. And just as the state needs to extract taxes in order to keep itself running or find alternative sources of income, the gardener can draw directly from the oxygen and fruits of his garden to sustain themself. Beyond mere parallels however, what I feel gives this analogy merit is the concepts and actions of both the garden and gardener that lend them self to this relationship.

The competition present in the natural world is not unfair but a consequence of many entities seeking maximise access to light, at the expense of others. Where certain industries have a collaborative nature (the rubber and automative businesses spring to mind), lianas and vines rely on larger oaks for their continued success. In sectors where the state needs quick and easy access, they have the legal power to outlaw certain business activities, paving over them as it were. Even when growth is prohibited however, just as weeds spring between cracks, a black market often springs up around it and the government reaches into the cracks to pluck them out. Where boundaries are larger, the gardener often needs subsidiaries who carry out his wishes within an assigned area.

This sketch works only in the broad strokes of macro-economic theory and even then needs development. The notions of an international economy have not been examined at all in this model, it outlines a theory which itself is notoriously simplistic. Yet the governing role and ultimate power of the gardener is one that deserves recognition and reflection when considering the state. No sensible gardener wants to see their garden destroyed, but they have that potential, should the image and rewards of the garden bore them. But a scorched earth policy leaves them with nothing left to govern at all.

It is perhaps pertinent to remember as well that within capitalist society, ever member of the state apparatus is still a consumer, just as man is a part of the nature of the garden. The monopoly on government force only stands so long as those within the government believe in the actions they are carrying out. To torch your own garden and the individual plants within it in the short term is to leave you far poorer in the long run.