‘Who stands to gain?’ The Means Agency, Marx and some good advice from… Vladimir Lenin?!

The Means Agency explicitly takes its name from the work of Marx and Engels: Our agency only exists because we have seized the means of production in the most basic way. But the influence of that radical thought goes further…

Cut loose from a traditional business with a CEO who owns the majority of shares, we have explicitly decided to create a partnership where our votes on the board are equal, regardless of our levels of personal investment. There are 7 board members, each with one vote.

Obviously, The Means is not a Communist collective. True Communism requires, in the words of Marx, the eradication of private property. All of us are too tied to our stuff to make that one fly. But, the principles of collective action, collective ownership and collective responsibility are being woven into the very essence of this company.

In 1913, Lenin wrote an article called ‘Who stands to gain?’ for the Soviet newspaper Pravda. Here’s how he opened it:

“There is a Latin tag cui prodest? meaning “who stands to gain?” When it is not immediately apparent which political or social groups, forces or alignments advocate certain proposals, measures, etc., one should always ask: ‘Who stands to gain?’

It is not important who directly advocates a particular policy, since under the present noble system of capitalism any money-bag can always “hire”, buy or enlist any number of lawyers, writers and even parliamentary deputies, professors, parsons and the like to defend any views.

We live in an age of commerce, when the bourgeoisie have no scruples about trading in honour or conscience. There are also simpletons who out of stupidity or by force of habit defend views prevalent in certain bourgeois circles. Yes, indeed! In politics it is not so important who directly advocates particular views. What is important is who stands to gain from these views, proposals, measures.”

That question and the implications that spring from it is even more relevant today. In the year 2018, irony is currency, bitcoin – a block chain Ponzi scheme – is in the news, ‘gig’ economy has destroyed the concept of labour and a blatant, unrepentant and demagogical serial fraudster and sex offender is President of the United States.

When the media minimises these horrifying circumstances ask “Who stands to gain?”

When lying, scumbag politicians push Brexit despite overwhelming evidence that the vote to leave the EU will cripple the country, ask “Who stands to gain?”

When your bosses argue against unionisation or a basic benefits package in your workplace, ask ‘Who stands to gain?’

At The Means Agency, that’s a question we’re going to be asking every day: Who stands to gain?

You can gain from our expertise by emailing us to work together today: hello@themeans.rocks

Inhouse is out. Outsource is in.

The Rolling Stones or REM: What kind of business are you running?

Starting a business, your question should not be – are we The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? – but ‘Do we want to be The Rolling Stones or REM?’

The Stones, with Mick and Keith taking the lion’s share of the attention and the rest of the band keeping fairly quiet (okay, Ronnie Wood is NEVER quiet but the point still stands), is one model of forming a business. But you don’t want it.

You can have some rockstar leaders who write the tunes and make most of the money. And that will work for a while but, eventually, other people with songs to sing will start to feel aggrieved.

Build your company like REM – sharing the royalties evenly, allowing the personalities of the whole team to have space to breathe, not assuming that just a couple of people have the hit songs in them.

At The Means, we don’t actually want to be the Stones, REM or even The Beatles. We want to be Public Enemy. But more on that another time…

If your business has creative work that needs doing and you don’t want the cost or commitment of hiring an in-house team or expensive agency, The Means can help you.

We’ll lend you some brilliant brains in a package that suits your budget – whether it’s the equivalent of a delicious Lidl meat selection or a full-on buffet from Marks & Spencer. Get in touch: @ReadTheMeans