Home Class Politics The Glory Of Self-Solving Problems

The Glory Of Self-Solving Problems



Zoe Williams tells us that there’s just no point to private education any more. For the thing being bought – that network of similarly gormless but connected upper middle class types – isn’t going to be of any use in the future that awaits us:

Soon there’ll be no reason for any parent to send their children to private school
Zoe Williams

That from one of the alarmingly large number of Guardian writers who herself gained a private education. Truly, there’s no need:

It’s not distinguishing or future-proofing children to separate them from the masses by means of segregated education – it is keeping them apart from the allegiances they will need. School fees, indeed, are a stranded asset – dues to a club that in 20 years time may no longer exist.

This being a good example of the self-solving problem. If something is going to happen anyway then we’ve no need to find a solution to it. We don’t have to fight, tax, legislate, campaign or struggle – it’s going to happen anyway.

Fiona Whassername, Alistair Campbell’s lassie, can put down the heavy burden of her life’s work against anything other than state education. For that private version is soon to disappear anyway, driven by that change in technology which does so determine social relations. The Labour Party no longer has to have the privately educated stand up before conference and insist they’ll tax the sector out of existence. It’s on the way out and there’s nowt anyone can do about it.

This is also true of this report about how wimmins make a company more profitable:

A survey of FTSE 350 companies by gender diversity firm The Pipeline found that companies with no women on their executive committees recorded a net profit margin of 1.5 per cent, while those with at least a third of female executives recorded reached an average margin of 15.2 per cent.
Pipeline said that if the companies with no women on their executive committees matched the performance of those with at least a third on their boards, an additional £47 billion could have been made in pre-tax profits.

OK, that’s pretty dodgy logic about total profits there. What they’re saying is that consumers would be £50 billion worse off if more businesses hired women which might not be quite what they’re trying to say. But then it’s all a PR exercise for the company anyway, they’re peeps that find women to work for companies so why not splash the nonsense about in the pursuit of column inches?

But imagine that it’s true? Then we need do nothing about getting women employed in the C suite, do we? For we all agree that capitalists are both lazy and greedy. They’ll do anything to make higher profits, quite unconstrained by any social or moral sense. So, they’ll make more cash by hiring women? So they’ll hire more women then. The companies that don’t will be surpassed and there we go, job done.

This also applies more broadly. Capitalism is fated to inevitable doom. Great, so, we’ve not got to fight it then, to the disappointment of teenage Marxists everywhere. That victory of the proletariat is gonna happen whatever so there’s no need to be flogging newspapers outside Tube stations. It’s gonna happen. Everyone can get on with that other great teenage preoccupation, not getting sex and whingeing about it, and cease the long march through the institutions.

The only reason this might not be true is that they’re all not self-solving problems. If private education is not destined for the rocks then continuing to campaign against it might be necessary. But if it’s going to persist it’s necessary to work out why people might still want it – even, to consider whether the state provision is so terrible that people are willing to pay twice to gain something better. Perhaps women don’t in fact increase profits by their mere presence so capitalist greed won’t be enough. But if women don’t increase profits by their presence then why insist on having more of them in business positions of power? And if capitalism isn’t going to fall over then haven’t we just disproved the entire theory which leads to the fight against it?

That is, either self-solving problems really are self-solving or we’ve got to have a good hard look at the claims that they’re problems….



  1. How many times do we need to state the facts that show these “urban legends” aren’t true. The “Pipeline” site doesn’t allow you to read the data for their ridiculous claim that male-only executive committees had a net profit margin of only 1.5% – why aren’t they in liquidation? Reported profit margins are not adjusted for inflation so if inflation is at the BoE target level of 2% then stocks and WiP are recorded at 2% higher so with a stockturn of 4x (a typical level) the part-adjusted level drops to 0.7% before one adjust stated profit for depreciation on the current, rather than nominal historic cost of fixed assets. If any such company paid dividends it would be heading down the drain, if it wan’t paying dividends it wouldn’t stay in the FTSE-350.

    So I call “Bullshit”


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in British English
expunct (ɪkˈspʌŋkt)
VERB (transitive)
1. to delete or erase; blot out; obliterate
2. to wipe out or destroy

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