Craftsmanship as fair economy
A dialogue between Emilies the blue berries and Socrates the stick. The Emilies believe that life in society introduces value judgments that are often harmful to the simple and natural aspirations of human beings and that happiness is nevertheless dependent on others. Socrates knows he does not know anything and this leads him to ask many questions. He then carefully examines the answers.
Emilies: Socrates, we want to thank you for planting a few of us. We will thus colonize new places and realize our destiny.
Socrates: if you had asked me yourselves, I would have done it sooner!
Emilies: yes but it is not in our nature.
Socrates: you’ll have to thank Baruch then, he’s the one who gave me the idea.
Emilies: we will, but in the meantime, do you remember having an idea for us when you brought us here?
Socrates: yes, I was thinking of getting you involved in a business I wanted to develop but it was not financially feasible so I gave up.
Emilies: we thought about this on our side and we came up with something because it seems to us that everyone has to participate in the production of social wealth through work.
Socrates: if it is an activity where income rewards a tangible result, I will listen to you.
Emilies: we’d like to run a business and as you know the types of wood well, we were wondering if you could craft calls.
Socrates: calls? What for? To help hunters?
Emilies: no, not at all, we don’t mean any harm to our friends of the domain. We would sell them to humans who love birds and we would only make calls to attract small birds, not game.
Socrates: do you still want to attract those birds that have ignored you?
Emilies: not just them but as far as they are concerned, it will be our revenge. They will only land for photos because they no longer interest us.
Socrates: but how do you plan to sell these calls, we have no relationship with humans.
Emilies: we thought Niccolò would have an idea.
Socrates: Niccolò, he’s going to take a huge percentage!
Emilies: it’s not so sure. We know berries that he would probably like … We would barter.
Socrates: he, you have planned everything and you got it right, I would like to be a craftsman, it’s an honorable activity, yet I want to talk to Baguette about it. We would have to use wood and that could be ethically wrong if we exploit our congeners.
Emilies: don’t you think that some would be delighted to become decoys? It is a noble occupation.
Socrates: I can already see that you’ll be excellent traders because you know the art of persuasion! Have you thought of anything else?
Emilies: yes, as a matter of fact. Gottfried could advise us on the choice of species and their songs. It would be a kind of community business… Each of us would keep our place while contributing to the common economy. As long as we occupy ourselves with activities which depend only on us, the society remains fair and egalitarian.
Socrates: I like that because we would not be like those sophists who ask exorbitant prices to teach an art of rhetoric which is not concerned with truth and morals.
Emilies: we even thought we could redistribute part of our profits to help beautify the domain. In this way, we would avoid the accumulation that creates inequalities.
Socrates: I knew your beauty did not stop with your appearance and you confirm it.
What to do to maintain a free and egalitarian society?
For Socrates, craftsmanship is the solution because it brings a tangible benefit which justifies its remuneration unlike other occupations which play on appearances and do not worry about truth.
For Emilies, craftsmanship is also the activity of choice because it allows everyone to remain independent. Furthermore, to avoid situations of domination that appear when there is an accumulation of wealth, surpluses can be redistributed to the community.
Is equality compatible with trade?
What are the limits of barter?
Want to think a little more? See, for example, The Wealth of Nations where Smith sets out the principles of the liberal economic system, far from the ideas shared by Socrates and Emilies.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of Socrates and Emilies? Their favorite books are in the domain library.