John Lanchester · Marx at 193 · LRB 5 April 2012
Most of us are wage slaves, beneficiaries of the welfare state, funders of that state, at the same time as being current or future pensioners who, in that capacity if in no other, are textbook bourgeois owners of the means of production. It’s complicated; and the intense ethical pressures which can intermittently be brought to bear on companies are a symptom of that complexity and multiplicity of interests. It’s very striking how seldom companies defend themselves using the simplest – and under classic capitalism most truthful – answer to criticism of their behaviour: our ethical role is to make a profit for our shareholders, provide employment and pay our taxes. That’s it. The other stuff is for government.