Thursday, February 02, 2006

Capitalism or Cooperativism


*
It's nice, and unfortunately all too rare,

when I see an author or a story that seems to say it

like I see it.

It is clear to me that our present system will not fix our problem.

The control and love of money in our institutions makes them incapable

of seeing our situation clearly

and responding creatively

and courageously.

Here is a nice piece from the Guardian that gets it.

It's capitalism or a habitable planet
- you can't have both
Our economic system is unsustainable by its very nature. The only response to climate chaos and peak oil is major social change

Robert Newman
Thursday February 2, 2006
The Guardian

There is no meaningful response to climate change without massive social change. A cap on this and a quota on the other won't do it. Tinker at the edges as we may, we cannot sustain earth's life-support systems within the present economic system.

Capitalism is not sustainable by its very nature. It is predicated on infinitely expanding markets, faster consumption and bigger production in a finite planet. And yet this ideological model remains the central organising principle of our lives, and as long as it continues to be so it will automatically undo (with its invisible hand) every single green initiative anybody cares to come up with.

Much discussion of energy, with never a word about power, leads to the fallacy of a low-impact, green capitalism somehow put at the service of environmentalism.

In reality, power concentrates around wealth.

Private ownership of trade and industry means that the decisive political force in the world is private power. The corporation will outflank every puny law and regulation that seeks to constrain its profitability.

It therefore stands in the way of the functioning democracy needed to tackle climate change. Only by breaking up corporate power and bringing it under social control will we be able to overcome the global environmental crisis.

(snip)

To get from here to there we must talk about climate chaos in terms of what needs to be done for the survival of the species rather than where the debate is at now or what people are likely to countenance tomorrow morning.

If we are all still in denial about the radical changes coming - and all of us still are - there are sound geological reasons for our denial. We have lived in an era of cheap, abundant energy. There never has and never will again be consumption like we have known.

The petroleum interval, this one-off historical blip, this freakish bonanza, has led us to believe that the impossible is possible, that people in northern industrial cities can have suntans in winter and eat apples in summer.

But much as the petroleum bubble has got us out of the habit of accepting the existence of zero-sum physical realities, it's wise to remember that they never went away.

You can either have capitalism or a habitable planet.

One or the other, not both."

So, in order to survive the change in real climate,

we will need to change our economic climate.

In my view,

We will move from the present dominance of Corporations

to the creation of a new era of Cooperations.

We will see that we are not consumers who exist to feed these leviathons,

but Family members of an Earth that can no longer be ruled by them.

Their domination on earth will, in time,

look like the era of the dinosaurs that they have emulated.

They will look as wierd to our descendents,

as the T Rex looks to us today,

big, powerful, and

extinct.

And yes,

their demise,

may not be pretty.

But at least it will be they

who will have become extinct.

And the Earthfamily will have become alive.


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8 Comments:

Blogger StagirasGhost said...

I respectfully disagree.

There seems to be no way of securing moral agreement in our global culture, not even as members of the earthfamily.

The most striking feature of all my readings over the course of the last year on this fine blog, composed by a person that I consider my friend, is not unlike the most striking feature of most contemporary moral utterances in that so much of it is used to express disagreements; and the most striking feature of the debates in which disagreements are expressed is their interminable character. I do not mean by this just that such debates go on and on and on--although they do--but also that they apparently can find no terminus. The very language of the enclosed piece is interesting insofar as as it begins from the outset with an evaluative statement when employing the word "meaningful," thereby eliminating any opportunity for agreement because the author never really defines "meaningful," but rather elucidates from an unknown value to nowhere.

The way in which the problem is stated is misleading.

The same debates are used widely in editorials, bars, barracks, boardrooms and forensic debates the world-over and it is their typicality that makes them an important point: unfortunately people have become computers [ill] communicating in some antiquated binary language, for or against, without any real evidence for their respective positions, and go on further to poison the proverbial well when not defining terms.

In my estimation, Neuman does not understand the very nature of the economics that he is allegedly expert in writing about. I would go further to say that Oz's statement regarding the relationship of "control/money and creativity/courage" is altogether wrong as the four values are mutually independent of the others.

Oz's day to day production runs contrary to his own language, runs contrary to the language of the piece. And though no one but Oz understand his own motivations, and whether he realizes it or not, Oz's duty is in creating new markets creatively and with great courage in the name of marketshare and money for certain investors. Oz is infact inhibited by the very thing he presumably detests--controlled market principles laid out by the very people he works for and with, quite happily, as opposed to true free market principles.

Human motivation and, consequently, human action are the nexus at the heart of every question, and thus every answer. Any well-layed business is, at its very essence, a cooperative--an established entity that provides a good, service, or both in response to the wants and needs of motivated and active individuals internal to or external to the same business/cooperative, in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. The only difference between the traditional cooperative and the traditional business is that the TC is established to simply sustain, while the TB is designed to flourish or die.

Based on the model, the corruptive element is government involvement by way of subsidy, incentives, red herring conflicts, pork and kickbacks, all enjoined by unjust legislation designed to hedge one entity over another. If the Ultimate Justice were to be dealt, I believe everyone is in agreement that this is where it should begin.

When Neuman pits [his] princilpes of democracy against the principles of free enterprise, corporate or no, he essentially disregards the fact that the same structure he wishes away, is the same structure that publishes his words for nice compensation, fails to recognize that there is a need and a desire for everything under the sun, and there is always some enterprising person/entity thre to meet that want or need. And above and beyond all else, no one on Earth lives in a democracy, whether we like it or not.

In the case of renewable fuel sources, it is the next great market because it is the current want/need that is motivating "the people." The fossil fuel game is the most entangling in town and everyone recognizes that it causes unnecessary problems. On a positive note, transition from one game to another breeds innovation and is the best dissolve of past monopolies, thereby spreading wealth justly and fairly.

>R. Branson is raising 400 million to start ethynol production on three continents, in multiple micro-economies, to not only resucitate those antiquated market systems, but capitalize on his own innovation in response to global motivation.

>The President's speech writers were motivated to invoke the unholiest of unholies, because it is evident that the tide has turned--people recognize the problems dependency causes, people recognize that the entangling alliances forged by fossil fuel production and trade hurts far more than it helps, people recognize that innovation and the next market frontier is the only momentum that can possibly push us out of the quagmire. And despite the fact that some pundits will argue that POTUS' words are empty, the argument is ontological--he invoked the problem and alluded "solutions," and that is all the evidence anyone needs that said problem is clear and present.

(And in the name of brevity, these are just two examples.)

This evidence is a clear indication to heroes like Oz to get on his alternatively-fueled horse to move ahead towards greener markets; and if we happen to make a living doing it, and save the world, this is not a bad thing.

We do not need an enemey to move forward, so stop creating enemies.

We do not need to polarize on political fronts to be righteous, so stop polarizing.

We do not need to mix metaphors and create unnecessary debates in order to bolster our own position on what we believe is right and good, but as of now, the need is not a matter of right and good...this is the very nature of need.

We do need to harness the power and motivation of the people even if said people are motivated by cheaper transport from their home to Disneyland.

The objective is right in front of us... so let's get working on it for own creative fidelity and simply because we can. Then and only then can we sit under the sun, margaritas is tow, passing out laurels, one to another, only to argue that Oz's laurel is bigger than the rest.

10:09 AM  
Blogger head lem said...

Like Stag-ghost, I too am going to respectfully disagree, --not for the same reason and hopefully not with as many words:

People are funny. They want to see the world as all or nothing; black or white.

There are some areas of endeavor where capitalism has been a phenominal success. There are other areas where it is an abysmal failure.

Our job should not be to throw out the capitalism baby with the polluted bathtub waters that eminate from some parts of our baby's anatomy. We need to be more selective.

We need to identify specifc endeavors in which capitalism is a failure and come to understand why. Take health care (please).

Why does capitalism fail in this area? Simple.

Capitalism relies on negotiations between supplying and demanding parties, where each has relatively equal negotiating power. When it comes to health care though, ill and suffering patients have almost no negotiating power. Once your appendix has burst and you are at emergency room A, there is no realistic opportunity to negotiate price/qulity & try out emergency room B.

The health delivery system (and I include the middlemen insurance companies in this definition) basically have a take-it-or-else monopoly. That is why many countries have switched to nationalized health care. They already figured out that capitalism is a failure in this area of endeavor. It is mostly the USA that is too dumb and stuck in their ways to realize this yet. Going national would be an admission that capitalism does not work in every area of human endeavor. And heaven forbid that "we" ever admit we were wrong.

I see the progressive future as embracing an intelligent mix of capitalism and cooperativeness.

10:39 AM  
Blogger OZ said...

good comments SG and HL.

The hegemony of the present corporate system should be balanced by other institutions.

At present labor is dead, and so is the fourth estate. Likewise, Government no longer responds to the weak, but only the economically powerful.

The cooperate model I suggest is only a finger pointing in the wild wind that rises.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Capitalist always go crazy when their god is attacked.

I agree with your views and can actually see that the coming and obvious failure of the corporate sphere to deal meaningfully with our species threatening problems will sow the seeds of their undoing.

12:51 PM  
Blogger StagirasGhost said...

The hegemony of the corporate system would be closer to balanced if governments and nation-state unions on the Western front played a less prominent role in global economics, only to reestablish themselves as defenders of truth, justice and liberty. History has proven history true, especially in the American Political Tradition: anywhere you find governments you find inflation, devaluation, a lack of innovation and absolute corruption. Last time I checked, governments were the largest corporations on Earth. The ol' USA is incorporated, even, to better raise monies when offering up American labor as collateral for trade deficits, IMF and world bank loans, etc. This has been the case since the 1850's, stateside. The set-up is a bit different in Latin America, Europe and Asia.

Regarding anonymous' remarks: thanks for the pointless non sequitur--the very language that alienates thought-provocation, team building, and honest dialogue by way of attacking the interlocutor as opposed to actually pushing the conversation along. It wasn't even funny, and why should humor be excommunicated? In making a gross generalization that all "capitalists always go crazy when their god is attacked," is not only untrue and fallacious, it smells of dogma. To go further to say that the "failure of the corporate sphere to deal meaningfully with our species," is ridiculous because it insinuates that the corporate sphere is composed of something or someone other than our species. Last time I checked, neither aliens nor monkeys (atleast technically) are running our corporations, and neither aliens nor monkeys are trading or buying from them. Do your homework and stop looking for easy excuses to pan off your responsibility as a team member aboard the vessel. Otherwise...jump off.

6:53 PM  
Blogger StagirasGhost said...

At first blush, I think the operative word is harness, but harness insinuates submission, some superior/inferior relationship.

All in all, regardless of social or political structure in moving forward, everything past, present and future is about human motivation.

Human motivation is as broad and diverse as the individuals that compose the universe.

Bringing everything full circle, how do we "harness" human motivation with the perfect balance of equity, justice and liberty?

2:47 PM  
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9:04 PM  
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5:10 AM  

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