Rethinking the Global Economy: The Case for Sharing

As the 21st Century unfolds, humanity is faced with a stark reality. Following the world stock market crash in 2008, people everywhere are questioning the unbridled greed, selfishness and competition that has driven the dominant economic model for decades. The old obsession with protecting national interests, the drive to maximise profits at all costs, and the materialistic pursuit of economic growth has failed to benefit the world’s poor and led to catastrophic consequences for planet earth.

The incidence of hunger is more widespread than ever before in human history, surpassing 1 billion people in 2009 despite the record harvests of food being reaped in recent years. At least 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty, a number equivalent to more than four times the population of the United States. One out of every five people does not have access to clean drinking water. More than a billion people lack access to basic health care services, while over a billion people – the majority of them women – lack a basic education. Every week, more than 115,000 people move into a slum somewhere in Africa, Asia or Latin America. Every day, around 50,000 people die needlessly as a result of being denied the essentials of life.

In the face of these immense challenges, international aid has proven largely ineffective, inadequate, and incapable of enabling governments to secure the basic needs of all citizens. Developed countries were cutting back on foreign aid commitments even before the economic downturn, while the agreed aid target of 0.7 percent of rich countries’ GDP has never been met since it was first conceived 40 years ago. The Millennium Development Goals of merely halving the incidence of hunger and extreme poverty, even if reached by 2015, will still leave hundreds of millions of people in a state of undernourishment and deprivation. When several trillion dollars was rapidly summoned to bail out failed banks in late 2008, it became impossible to understand why the governments of rich nations could not afford a fraction of this sum to ‘bail out’ the world’s poor.

The enduring gap between rich and poor, both within and between countries, is a crisis that lies at the heart of our political and economic problems. For decades, 20 percent of the world population have controlled 80 percent of the economy and resources. By 2008, more than half of the world’s assets were owned by the richest 2 percent of adults, while the bottom half of the world adult population owned only 1 percent of wealth. The vast discrepancies in living standards between the Global North and South, which provides no basis for a stable and secure future, can only be redressed through a more equitable distribution of resources at the international level. This will require more inclusive structures of global governance and a new economic framework that goes far beyond existing development efforts to reduce poverty, decrease poor country debt and provide overseas aid.

In both the richest and poorest nations, commercialisation has infiltrated every aspect of life and compromised spiritual, ethical and moral values. The globalised consumer culture holds no higher aspiration than the accumulation of material wealth, even though studies have shown that rising income fails to significantly increase an individual’s well-being once a minimum standard of living is secured. The organisation of society as a competitive struggle for social position through wealth and acquisition has led to rampant individualism and the consequences of crime, disaffection and the disintegration of family and community ties. Yet governments continue to measure success in terms of economic growth, pursuing ever-greater levels of GDP – regardless of the harmful social consequences of a consumption-driven economy.

Although the crises we face are interlinked and multidimensional, the G20 and other rich nations offer no vision of change towards a more sustainable world. The old formula, based on deregulation, privatisation, and the liberalisation of trade and finance, was unmasked by the economic crisis and shown to be incapable of promoting lasting human development. Multilateral institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have failed the world’s poor, and the myth that economic growth will eventually benefit all has long been shattered. As we also know, endless growth is unsustainable on a planet with finite resources. This impasse is further compounded by ecological degradation and climate change – the side-effects of economic ‘progress’ that disproportionately affect the poorest people who are least to blame for causing these multiple crises.

Humanity’s ability to effectively address these interrelated crises requires governments to accept certain fundamental understandings that are instrumental to securing our common future. Firstly, that humankind is part of an extended family that shares the same basic needs and rights, and this must be adequately reflected in the structures and institutions of global governance. And secondly, that many basic assumptions about human nature that inform the thrust of economic decision making – particularly in industrialied nations – are long outdated and fundamentally flawed. The creation of an inclusive economic framework that reflects our global interdependence requires policymakers to move beyond the belief that human beings are competitive and individualistic, and to instead accept humanity’s innate propensity to cooperate and share. This more holistic understanding of our relationship to each other and the planet transcends nations and cultures, and builds on ethics and values common to faith groups around the world. It also reflects the strong sense of solidarity and internationalism which lies at the heart of the global justice movement.

International Unity

The first true political expression of our global unity was embodied in the establishment of the United Nations in 1945. Since then, international laws have been devised to help govern relationships between nations and uphold human rights. Cross-border issues such as climate change, global poverty and conflict are uniting world public opinion and compelling governments to cooperate and plan for our collective future. The globalisation of knowledge and cultures, and the ease with which we can communicate and travel around the world, has further served to unite diverse people in distant countries.

But the fact of our global unity is still not sufficiently expressed in our political and economic structures. The international community has yet to ensure that basic human needs, such as access to staple food, clean water and primary healthcare, are universally secured. This cannot be achieved until nations cooperate more effectively, share their natural and economic resources, and ensure that global governance mechanisms reflect and directly support our common needs and rights. At present, the main institutions that govern the global economy are failing to work on behalf of humanity as a whole. In particular, the major bodies that uphold the Bretton Woods mandate (the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation) are all widely criticised for being undemocratic and furthering the interests of large corporations and rich countries.

A more inclusive international framework urgently needs to be established through the United Nations (UN) and its agencies. Although in need of being significantly strengthened and renewed, the UN is the only multilateral governmental agency with the necessary experience and resources to coordinate the process of restructuring the world economy. The UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights have been adopted by all member states and embody some of the highest ideals expressed by humanity. If the UN is rendered more democratic and entrusted with more authority, it would be in a position to foster the growing sense of community between nations and harmonise global economic relationships.

Being Human

Establishing more inclusive structures of global governance will only remedy one aspect of a complex system. Another key transformation that must take place is in our understanding and practice of ‘economics’ so that government policies can become closely aligned with urgent humanitarian and ecological needs.

The economic principles that have fashioned the world’s existing global governance framework – particularly in relation to international trade and finance – can be traced back to the moral philosophy of Enlightenment thinkers during the emergence of industrial society in Britain. Drawing on the ideas of these early theorists, mainstream economists have assumed that human beings are inherently selfish, competitive, acquisitive and individualistic. Such notions about human nature are now firmly established as the principles upon which modern economies are built, and have been used to justify the proliferation of free markets as the best way to organise societies.

Particularly since the 1980’s, these basic economic assumptions have increasingly dominated public policy and pushed aside ethical considerations in the pursuit of efficiency, short-term growth and profit maximisation. But the ‘neoliberal’ ideology that institutionalised greed and self-interest was fundamentally discredited by the collapse of banks and a world stock market crash in 2008. As a consequence, the global financial crisis reinvigorated a long-standing debate about the importance of morality and ethics in relation to the market economy.

At the same time, recent experiments by evolutionary biologists and neuro-cognitive scientists have demonstrated that human beings are biologically predisposed to cooperate and share. Without this evolutionary advantage, we may not have survived as a species. Anthropological findings have long supported this view of human nature with case studies revealing that sharing and gifting often formed the basis of economic life in traditional societies, leading individuals to prioritise their social relationships above all other concerns. As a whole, these findings challenge many of the core assumptions of classical economic theory – in particular the firmly held belief that people in any society will always act competitively to maximise their economic interests.

If humanity is to survive the formidable challenges that define our generation – including climate change, diminishing fossil fuels and global conflict – it is necessary to forge new ethical understandings that embrace our collective values and global interdependence. We urgently need a new paradigm for human advancement, beginning with a fundamental reordering of world priorities: an immediate end to hunger, the securing of universal basic needs, and a rapid safeguarding of the environment and atmosphere. No longer can national self-interest, international competition and excessive commercialisation form the foundation of our global economic framework.

The crucial first step towards creating an inclusive world system requires overhauling our outdated assumptions about human nature, reconnecting our public life with fundamental values, and rethinking the role of markets in achieving the common good. In line with what we now know about human behaviour and psychology, integrating the principle of sharing into our economic system would reflect our global unity and have far-reaching implications for how we distribute and consume the planet’s wealth and resources. Sharing the world’s resources more equitably can allow us to build a more sustainable, cooperative and inclusive global economy – one that reflects and supports what it really means to be human.

Rajesh Makwana is the director of Share The World's Resources and can be contacted at rajesh@stwr.org. Adam Parsons is Editor of Share the World's Resources and can be contacted at adam@stwr.org. Read other articles by Rajesh Makwana and Adam Parsons, or visit Rajesh Makwana and Adam Parsons's website.

60 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. bozh said on November 26th, 2010 at 8:55am #

    the greatest criminal act ever done to humans had been the division of people into a servant-slave group and the master group.
    which over centuries rendered each one of us in different degrees less human than if we remained interdependent and human as nature intended.

    in ancient times, the master class, clergy-nobles, may have comprised about one/ per mille of people, in u.s today, the master class may comprise as much as 5-30% of total pop.

    rendering us less and less human, starting ca. 12 k yrs ago, it had also negative effect on biota and plants.

    it is the master class which controls utterly wmd, army-cia-fbi-police echelons, ‘private’ army-spies, constitution, ‘laws’, what is said, etc.

    so, support the party or people who are fighting like humans to make us more and more human and eventually as we once were pre-priestly rule.
    let’s not give up this dream, tnx

  2. bozh said on November 26th, 2010 at 9:25am #

    “Yet governments continue to measure success in terms of economic growth, pursuing ever-greater levels of GDP – regardless of the harmful social consequences of a consumption-driven economy”.

    this, to me, appears misleading. possibly authors not onto that. whatever.
    govts=equal people! which people? and not guided or commanded by laws or constitution???

    “In both the richest and poorest nations, commercialisation has infiltrated every aspect of life and compromised spiritual, ethical and moral values. The globalised consumer culture holds no higher aspiration than the accumulation of material wealth, even though studies have shown that rising income fails to significantly increase an individual’s well-being once a minimum standard of living…”

    about globalization? it started with Ur, Lagash godkings who were known as the rulers of four quarters of the earth. before that these mesopotamian cities were ruled by priests.
    aspiring to accumulate wealth by cruel means also started by priests-nobles and continues now by same people.
    recall, please, that bible says; ye shall always have poor amongst u; those that have little, even that wld be taken from them!
    now, all one needs is to put this to music; so as to not going stark crazy just reading it!
    ok! authors appear sincere! are the willing to learn more? tnx

  3. Don Hawkins said on November 26th, 2010 at 11:38am #

    Just saw Reverend Billy and stop shopping ride a bike must have been all of a hundred people and when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will……………………….

  4. Don Hawkins said on November 26th, 2010 at 11:44am #

    The Home Builders’ Federation is, of course, delighted because its members will now be able to foist any old rubbish onto a captive market. But the deregulation is unlikely to do anything to unlock the moribund industry, which is failing to build the homes we need for reasons which have nothing (that means 0%) to do with energy regulations.

    In the next roll-back, Shapps will doubtless announce that a cardboard box represents the latest in zero-carbon home technology. That seems to be the way government housing policy is going, and the only option that increasing numbers of people ill-served by both government and industry are likely to have.

    http://www.monbiot.com

  5. hayate said on November 26th, 2010 at 11:50am #

    “The Case for Sharing”

    Sharing is antizionist, helps the terrorists and is verbotten. You know that.

    Now stop it.

    ;D

  6. Don Hawkins said on November 26th, 2010 at 12:38pm #

    Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler. So far it’s everything is made as complex as possible and more complex. All done of course to stay one step ahead of the truth and knowledge much easer to keep the illusion going.

  7. bozh said on November 26th, 2010 at 1:24pm #

    i am counting my pennies– obama or lieberman are counting their c-notes. now, isn’t that also sharing?
    i see i do have a few pennies saved but with only poisoned food available to buy, i can’t even spend it. that’s sharing, too! tnx

  8. Max Shields said on November 26th, 2010 at 3:20pm #

    Rajesh Makwana and Adam Parsons,

    Good article reflecting the work of the New Economic Institute and some of its key thinkers (and doers): Peter Victor, Tim Jackson, Herman Daly, Gus Speth and many others.

    On the issue of GDP; a speech for Robert F. Kennedy in 1968
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlxlWruZOV0&feature=related

  9. Don Hawkins said on November 26th, 2010 at 3:41pm #

    Imagine;
    you are a member of the highest developed civilization you know – your own. You are space borne in one of this state-of-the-art starships traveling through this newly discovered galaxy. As most of the time nothing really interesting happens. You are surrounded by a myriad of sparkling, diamond-like luminous spots, the lights of far away stars that are embedded in the deepest, infinite black you can imagine.

    You’ve entered this solar system about a quarter of a megasecond ago, your relative position is approximately 8 parsecs (26 000 ly) from the center of this spiral galaxy, about halfway towards its edge (see image below). As you’ll learn later, the galaxy is known here as Milky Way. You turn on your favorite music and start to dance, looking at the stars, the alternating bass of the music lets vibrate your cells and makes you feel floating.

    Glaring Light!

    In an instant your spaceship shades the windows. On your journey you’ve passed a star, a large sphere of really hot plasma. The data display shows that it is a ‘yellow dwarf’ of spectral type G2 – nothing special, one of more than 252 billion stars in this galaxy.
    The stars age is about 4.5 billion years, it is a relative young star in the midst of its hydrogen burning.
    This happens in the usual way suns do it – they convert hydrogen into helium in their core by means of nuclear fusion — elementary for suns.

    Your travel leads you deeper into the star’s planetary system.

    You’ve reprogrammed your spacecraft to approach one of the promising planets in the system –
    it’s the third planet counted outward from its star.
    Minutes later you see a crystal blue sphere, a shining, sparkling oasis in the desert of frozen matter.

    It’s a planet, covered with liquid water, one of the most precious elements in the known universe – and basic prerequisite for live as you know it.
    In this moment you realize, this is all in all the most beautiful place within the next several
    thousand light years. Closing your mouth you look at the ships main data terminal.

    The data display shows, the celestial globe is a relatively middle sized rocky planet in just the right distance
    of its sun, that water can exist in its liquid form, the best condition for live.

    You will learn that the planet’s inhabitants (who are able to verbalize in English) call the planet EARTH.

    Earth Government:
    There is no global government for Earth.
    The organization of sovereign nations, the United Nations – UN with its humanitarian, peacekeeping and development tasks, might once play this role.
    Meanwhile the political power is more or less divided among the USA and the other 193 Independent States, multinational companies, international bank consortiums, political as well as religious interest groups, and if you believe some conspiracy theories, an Enlightenment-era secret society called the Illuminati controls them all. Nations on line project

    Fundamental changes in society are sometimes labeled impractical or contrary to human nature: as if nuclear war were practical or as if there were only one human nature. But fundamental changes can clearly be made. We are surrounded by them. In the last two centuries abject slavery, which was with us for thousands of years, has almost entirely been eliminated in a stirring world wide revolution. Women, systematically mistreated for millennia, are gradually gaining the political and economic power traditionally denied to them. And some wars of aggression have recently been stopped or curtailed because of a revulsion felt by the people in the aggressor nations. The old appeals to racial, sexual and religious chauvinism and to rabid nationalism are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet. Sagan

  10. bozh said on November 26th, 2010 at 4:26pm #

    don,
    let’s call it zemya. it is a better label than earth because the first u can pronounce three or more ways ways: ‘zeh mya, ze ‘mya or ‘zehmya. no, zeh is not a diphtong.
    please don’t roll ur eyes!
    as u can see, this way we have more than one earth. and my great-in-thought great-grand-greatson thinks so.
    and label zemya is also musical, but add to it novaya [new, in ruski] and u get opera.
    ya ponyimayem ein bischen po ruski. how about u? i think u know at least 5 languages! tnx

  11. ajohnstone said on November 27th, 2010 at 2:11am #

    Once more on this site , i find the contributers , regardless of their occasional insights and their good intentions , totally lacking in vision and simply repeating the same old wishful thinking …ahhh, if only we could re-organise, re-structure, reform capitalism to work in the interests of the majority.

    By definition capitalism can only function in the interest of the capitalists, no palliatives can (nor ever will be able to) subordinate capitalist private property to the general interest.

    All that effort, skill, energy, all those tools that the writers wish to evoke could be turned against class society, to create a society of common interest where we can make changes for our common mutual benefit. So long as class exists, any gains will be partial and fleeting, subject to the on-going struggle. What we should be opposed to is the whole culture of reformism, the idea that capitalism can be tamed and made palatable with the right reforms.

    Reformism is the graveyard for hope. Reformism requires a pact with the devil.

    Over decades, millions of workers have invested their hopes in so-called ‘practical’, ‘possibilist’ organisations and policies, hoping against hope that they would be able to neuter the market economy when, in reality, the market economy has successfully neutered them. They turned out to be the real ‘impossibilists’. Demanding the unattainable humanised capitalism is one of the greatest tragedies of the last centuryand it is made all the greater because it was all so predictable. Many held and still hold such as the authors the idea that capitalism could be reformed into something kindly and user-friendly. It couldn’t and it can’t.

    Socialists understand well the urge to do something now, to make a change. That makes us all the more determined, however, to get the message across, to clear away the barrier of the wages system, so that we can begin to build a truly human society. Why waste time fighting for half measures? We would better spend our time, energies, and resources educating people to establish socialism rather than waste time in the false belief that our present system can be made to work in everyone’s interest.

    Only the threat of a socialist movement setting down as the only realistic and immediate aim the establishment of social property of society’s means of existence so as to ensure their management by and in the interest of the whole community, would be able to force the capitalists to concede reforms favourable to the workers for fear of losing the whole cake. Yet more reason to advance the maximum programme of socialism.

  12. Max Shields said on November 27th, 2010 at 5:40am #

    ajohnstone said on November 27th, 2010 at 2:11am #

    Could you please point out where Capitalism is mentioned in this article? Your posts is the only mention of it.

  13. Max Shields said on November 27th, 2010 at 9:38am #

    “Socialists understand well the urge to do something now, to make a change.”

    There are a number (and growing) who see the urgent need to transform the world’s economic system. They may believe that markets have a role as long as these are under control, rather than the other way around (unless you want to hand the entire commerce sector over to the government regardless of the appropriateness of doing such). They are fervently against corporate capitalism…think that Costa Rica is a shining example of what could be…but are not delusional…and so think this will be extremely difficult to accomplish. They see human health and well-being as well as the well-being of the planet and all living creatures as the guide post to a sane and healthy environment. They see the Earth as maintaining a fragile balance to sustain life and that humans in developed nations have done much to destablize that balance.

    An economy that realizes that human systems, specifically the economic system, is a subsystem of this ecological balance is what these thinkers and doers are working toward. They are not naive. Change is easy to say; but hard to achieve given the powers of those who believe that growth and the GDP are god-like mantras that must be obeyed (I’m not convinced that those on DV that spout Socialism are ready for real change given what I’ve read of their comments that seem to glorify in endless consumerism).

    Any form of muscular democracy has been eradicated in the USA. We have only plutocrats, oligarchies, corporatist, and their lacky politicians. In a word we have a decaying empire with powerful elites who will fight to the end using mostly the media to keep the dying system going. They will not succeed in the end. Nature as this article concludes is non-negotiable…it won’t respond to a bailout and it could care less about our cheap talk regarding which ism to subscribe to.

  14. bozh said on November 27th, 2010 at 10:09am #

    johnstone,
    “Once more on this site , i find the contributers , regardless of their occasional insights and their good intentions , totally lacking in vision and simply repeating the same old wishful thinking …ahhh, if only we could re-organise, re-structure, reform capitalism to work in the interests of the majority”.

    yes, few people have noticed what above quote asserts. not all contributors appear well-meaning. most just want the greatness of america restored.
    so fundamental changes appear undesirable.
    i educe this conclusion [ok,it's only a conclusion] from the fact that nearly all avoid even postulating let alone affirming the FIRST CAUSE for what ails us let alone a single solution.
    they simply lament. on and on and on; as if mafia wld take that to heart and give back to us our life back????

  15. bozh said on November 27th, 2010 at 10:13am #

    max,
    “Any form of muscular democracy has been eradicated in the USA. We have only plutocrats, oligarchies, corporatist, and their lacky politicians. In a word we have a decaying empire with powerful elites who will fight to the end using mostly the media to keep the dying system going. They will not succeed in the end. Nature as this article concludes is non-negotiable…it won’t respond to a bailout and it could care less about our cheap talk regarding which ism to subscribe to”

    except that the ‘democratic’ rule is by far the best supremacist rule ever invented, i agree with rest of the quote! tnx

  16. Deadbeat said on November 27th, 2010 at 12:20pm #

    Max Shields writes …

    There are a number (and growing) who see the urgent need to transform the world’s economic system. They may believe that markets have a role as long as these are under control, rather than the other way around (unless you want to hand the entire commerce sector over to the government regardless of the appropriateness of doing such).

    This is in contradiction with this statement …

    Change is easy to say; but hard to achieve given the powers of those who believe that growth and the GDP are god-like mantras that must be obeyed (I’m not convinced that those on DV that spout Socialism are ready for real change given what I’ve read of their comments that seem to glorify in endless consumerism).

    Markets are INHERENTLY unfair and tends towards inequality. Trying to “control” the market is exactly what the Liberals advocated for the past 70 years and it has failed miserably. You have to choose one or the other. Based on your advocacy you place the market above the rest of your rhetoric which makes it contradictory and a shining example of what ajohnstone is talking about. Market tends towards “consumerism” because the more market activity you have the more the tendency is for
    corruption.

    In other word this Capitalist crisis is merely just Capitalism moseying along its proper tendencies. The market tendencies is toward accumulation and profit meaning hording, exploitation and organizing into classes. This is what you fail to recognize Max and why your ideas are reformist and will only “kick the can down the road” rather than truly transform the political economy.

    Again Max your knock on “consumerism” is misplaced as the “consumer” items that has been the most burdensome to working people are NEEDS based. The word “consumerism” alludes to mere waste and frivolity of the commodity and has “blame the victim” connotations. Again I refer you to Elizabeth Warren’s excellent RESEARCH which shows that most burdensome items are as follows:

    [1] Housing
    [2] Health Care
    [3] Transportation
    [4] Child Care
    [5] Education
    [6] Regressive Taxes

    People cannot escape these needs yet they unfairly labeled under your rubric of “consumerism”.

    Your contradictions, Max is the main reason you oppose “isms”.

  17. Max Shields said on November 27th, 2010 at 1:22pm #

    Deadbeat says: “Markets are INHERENTLY unfair and tends towards inequality.”

    First, I see no contration between the two quotes of mine you posted.

    Secondly, let’s not personify “markets”. Markets in the most basic understanding is a community of exchange. There is NOTHING inherently unfair about markets. There is something unfair about “free trade” and extreme market fundamentalism…but then fundamentalism by its fanatical nature is always pathological when ever applied to ANYTHING.

    I think Deadbeat that you think that today’s toxic blend of Corporatism and market fundamentalism (with neoliberal trade agreements as a chaser) represents the nature of markets. Perhaps you think all Christians are fundamental fanatics as well.

    I’ll post again on your narrow view of consumerism.

  18. Max Shields said on November 27th, 2010 at 1:28pm #

    Within the context of consumerism are need fulfillment. However, here again Deadbeat, you generalize from consumption of food, water, shelter, and clothing to IPods and Nike $400 snikers. I’m talking about conspicuous consumption which describes the latter, not the former.

    A consumer based economy exploits through rabid advertising, products which do NOT fulfill basic human needs, but invents and promotes needless goods to boost a pathological system of production/sales/consumption cycles. Black Friday is a case in point. Those people were not camped out in front of Walmart to buy food, and water or other basic needs, but generally frivilous goods with short product life cycles so they can toss them and buy again. Most of this works well for the credit card/debt institutions…putting milllions in needless debt.

  19. Deadbeat said on November 27th, 2010 at 1:37pm #

    Max Shields writes …

    Markets in the most basic understanding is a community of exchange. There is NOTHING inherently unfair about markets.

    Let’s see, you define Markets as a “community of exchange”. However Max that definition tells us NOTHING of the NATURE of the “community”. Wall Street is a “community of exchange” so is the local Farmer’s Market. However MONEY is required to participation in both Wall Street and the Farmer’s markets. Thus money (commodities) creates the imbalances. Since money or the “means of exchange” is DETACHED from human necessities then the commodity itself vital to market participation becomes a mechanism of POWER that gets horded and requires protection (the state).

    This is what you fail to understand about the INHERENT UNFAIRNESS of markets.

  20. Max Shields said on November 27th, 2010 at 1:38pm #

    That you, Deadbeat, take this position as a spokesperson for the downtrodden is disingenuous because it is the poor who suffer the most from this needless consumerism.

  21. Max Shields said on November 27th, 2010 at 1:42pm #

    That’s right Deadbeat not all communities are necessarily good. Not all people are necessary innocent. Not all trees are red woods. Not all computer makers are billionaires….

    Such arguments deadbeat that you pose are designed to derail not further the conversation. They’re trite and quite beside the point.

  22. Deadbeat said on November 27th, 2010 at 1:52pm #

    Max Shields writes…

    That you, Deadbeat, take this position as a spokesperson for the downtrodden is disingenuous because it is the poor who suffer the most from this needless consumerism.

    “consumerism” is a misplaced “label” (I thought you dislike “isms” :-D). It a label used to blame the victims of Capitalism. The problems of the poor is UNDERCONSUMPTION. They don’t have the money to buy necessities. Liberal go around piously asking the question why the poor don’t have any money rather than asking why are the poor not allowed to obtain the necessities. Especially when BILLIONS are living on less than $2.00/day the issue is NOT “consumerism”. What Elizabeth Warren’s research puts a stake through the heart of this rhetoric.

  23. Deadbeat said on November 27th, 2010 at 1:55pm #

    Such arguments deadbeat that you pose are designed to derail not further the conversation. They’re trite and quite beside the point.

    Just because you declare that Max doesn’t make it so and when it comes to derailing and shifting the focus of the discussion you and Mr. Longer are aces in that department.

  24. Max Shields said on November 27th, 2010 at 1:57pm #

    “Consumerism is a term used to describe the effects of equating personal happiness with purchasing material possessions and consumption. It is often associated with criticisms of consumption starting with Karl Marx and Thorstein Veblen.”
    http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Consumerism

    Hope this clarifies it for you deadbeat…though I doubt this or anything else will.

  25. Max Shields said on November 27th, 2010 at 1:59pm #

    Btw, I would use Veblan (as I have) rather than Marx…but since you profess to be a Marxist (of some sort), you’ll find he’s quite in agreement with the definition I’m offering here.

  26. Max Shields said on November 27th, 2010 at 2:04pm #

    And another thorough statement on consumerism:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumerism

  27. Max Shields said on November 27th, 2010 at 2:11pm #

    Now consumerism and markets are not one and the same. If I paint your house; and you provide piano lessons to your neighbor….whether the exchange was in USD, barter, timedollars, or local currency, it is an exchange of value. These exchanges are all happening within a market of exchange. There is nothing nefarious about the market, or about the exchanges. We control the market, the market works FOR us.

    A market which is controlled by corporate entities or unfair trade agreements is an entirely different market place. It is in that market place that consumerism as defined by all economists can rear its ugly head.

  28. Deadbeat said on November 27th, 2010 at 2:38pm #

    A market which is controlled by corporate entities or unfair trade agreements is an entirely different market place. It is in that market place that consumerism as defined by all economists can rear its ugly head.

    Max, corporation are extension of the whole system of inequality. Before corporation you had rich Capitalist who derived their wealth from markets. And again Max, if I have no money I still can’t purchase food from the “quaint” Farmer’s Market. Therefore Max you won’t solve issues of poverty if people are required to possess and exchange money for their needs. This seem to be the concept that you want to ignore about about markets.

    On “consumerism” I don’t think you proffered a definition in this discussion Max. Thus my argument is based how I see the word “consumerism” conventionally used which I dispute. Can you provide a clear and concise definition of “consumerism”?

  29. Max Shields said on November 27th, 2010 at 3:27pm #

    Where did the Farmer’s Market come from. I never mentioned such an entity…which is another red herring introduced as a means to wander off topic.

    I’ve provide two links (there are many more) to definitions of consumerism. I don’t know where you get that I believe in “isms” when consumerism is a perfect example of an ism which is used to generate a vicious cycle of wants/needs that are unsustainable on a limited planet.

    The problem of changing all this, as I’ve stated above is far from trivial. It is a matter of urgency. It affects the entire species poor, middle income, wealthy, black, white, red, yellow, etc. However a transformation to a sustainable economics is one that would lead to a reduction in consumerism, and a redistribution of wealth. Such wealth will be redefined because it is NOT sustainable to continue with the system as it defines wealth and the engine that produces it.

  30. ajohnstone said on November 27th, 2010 at 8:02pm #

    Max, whether the word capitalism was used or not isn’t really relevant because the underlying assumption of the writers was that capitalism remains, albeit in an altered state.

    “No longer can national self-interest, international competition and EXCESSIVE commercialisation form the foundation of our global economic framework.” ( my emphasis) so i can scarcely be blamed for concluding that the authors maintain that commercialisation will continue to exist but it will be at moderate levels….which is what exactly?

    Socialism ( and lets be clear , that does not mean government ownership or government control of the economy ) is the only system that can bring about what you and other well-meaning folk seek – a self sustainable “steady-state economy” or “zero-growth” society. A situation where human needs are in balance with the resources needed to satisfy them. Such a society would already have decided on the most appropriate way to allocate resources to meet the needs of its members. This having been done, it would only need to go on repeating this continuously from production period to production period. Production would not be ever-increasing but would be stabilised at the level required to satisfy needs. All that would be produced would be products for consumption and the products needed to replace and repair the raw materials and instruments of production used up in producing these consumer goods. There won’t be the blind pressure to do so that is exerted under capitalism through the market.

    In a stable society such as socialism, needs would most likely change relatively slowly. Hence it is reasonable to assume that an efficient system of stock control, registering what individuals actually chose to take under conditions of free access from local distribution centres over a given period, would enable the local distribution committee to estimate what the need for food, drink, clothes and household goods that would be required over a similar future period.

    If people want too much? In a socialist society “too much” can only mean “more than is sustainably produced” . If people decide that they (individually and as a society) need to over-consume then i concede socialism cannot possibly work. But, as you say Max , under capitalism, there is a very large industry devoted to creating needs. Capitalism requires consumption, whether it improves our lives or not, and drives us to consume up to, and past, our ability to pay for that consumption. In a system of capitalist competition, there is a built-in tendency to stimulate demand to a maximum extent. Firms, for example, need to persuade customers to buy their products or they go out of business. They would not otherwise spend the vast amounts they do spend on advertising.
    Another side of the consumerist argument is that in capitalist society a tendency for individuals to seek to validate their sense of worth through the accumulation of possessions. The prevailing ideas of society are those of its ruling class so we can understand why, when the wealth of that class so preoccupies the minds of its members, such a notion of status should be so deep-rooted within workers . It is this which helps to underpin the myth of infinite demand.

    It does not matter how modest one’s real needs may be or how easily they may be met; capitalism’s “consumer culture” leads one to want more than one may materially need since what the individual desires is to enhance his or her status within this hierarchal culture of consumerism and this is dependent upon acquiring more than others have got. But since others desire the same thing, the economic inequality inherent in a system of competitive capitalism must inevitably generate a pervasive sense of relative deprivation. What this amounts to is a kind of institutionalised envy and an alienated capitalism .
    Human behaviour reflects society. In a society such as capitalism, people’s needs are not met and people feel insecure. People tend to acquire and hoard goods because possession provides some security. People have a tendency to distrust others because the world is organized in such a dog-eat-dog manner.

    In socialism, the notion of status based upon the conspicuous consumption of wealth would be devoid of meaning because individuals would stand in equal relation to the means of production and have free access to the resultant goods and services . Why take more than you need when you can freely take what you need? In socialism the only way in which individuals can command the esteem of others is through their contribution to society.

    By the replacement of exchange economy ( the market economy ) by common ownership basically what would happen is that wealth would cease to take the form of exchange value, so that all the expressions of this social relationship peculiar to an exchange economy, such as money and prices, would automatically disappear. Goods would cease to have an economic value and would become simply physical objects which human beings could use to satisfy some want or other. What is meant by needs should not be understood as mere personal consumption. It should not suggest a rampant consumerist culture. Production for needs would include a wide range of considerations such as the need to protect and conserve the environment. In defining socialism we should emphasise that it will provide for one vital need in a way that is impossible under the capitalist system. This is the need of peoples throughout the world to bring the organisation of their community affairs under their own democratic control and to develop them in the interests of the whole community.

    Let’s clarify what is meant by markets.

    It was with the emergence of the capitalist system that society lost its direct control of its productive resources. In previous societies, it was often the case that production was at near maximum capacity given the technology and resources available and this determined what could be distributed. In times of good harvests the whole community could benefit in some shape or form. But with the development of the capitalist system this was eroded as what is produced depends crucially on what can be sold. This means that distribution through sale in the markets determines production and this is always less than what could be produced.

    Market capacity is inherently unpredictable. If too many goods are produced for a market and they remain unsold, a crisis and recession may occur with reduced production, increased unemployment, bankruptcies, and large scale writing-off of capital values. Despite the many attempts that have been made, no theory of economic management has ever been able to predict or control the anarchic conditions of the market system. This is rule by market forces which serve minority interests and which generate the insecurities, crises and conflicts that shape the way we live. The fact that we have great powers of production that cannot be organised and fully used for the benefit of all people has devastating consequences and is at the root of most social problems. In this way, the capitalist system places the production of goods and services, on which the quality of all our lives depends, outside the direct control of society. Capitalism cannot produce primarily to satisfy human needs as production is always geared to meeting market demand at a profit. This means that production is restricted to what people can pay for. But what people can pay for and what they want are two different things, so the profit system acts as a fetter on production and a barrier to a society of abundance. Wherever wealth is produced for sale on a market—wherever, that is, there is commodity-production—economic forces are unleashed which come to dominate production and orient it away from satisfying people’s needs. The operation of these laws means that production is not subject to human control, with the result that it is not human values that are paramount in society, but market values, commercial values, the cash nexus.

  31. Deadbeat said on November 28th, 2010 at 12:31am #

    You’re right Max I missed your links. Regarding Farmer’s Market it was in my earlier response to your mistaken belief that markets can be managed.

  32. Max Shields said on November 28th, 2010 at 9:46am #

    DB, there are some really great farmer’s markets that work for low income people. First, most accept various forms of food subsidies (for example WIC/Women Infants and Children; and many other subsidies).

    The problem with the food system has been well documented. 95% of all food subsidies go to large corporate agri-businesses putting most of the small to medium sized farms either out of business or at an incredible disadvantage; i.e., the market place is rigged in favor of large corporations. So our food “system” is a perfect example of a market that is not working for people in a healthy way. This can and must be corrected.

    Almost every major city in the country have community gardens and farmers markets catering to the needs of low income/poor people. These are truly inspiring as they involve the community, helping to re-build tattered communities, and providing affordable healthy food.

    So we can make small market work. We have thousands of successes. These markets are community rooted as are numerous workers cooperatives and community owned businesses that employ people from the neighborhood that owns the business – these are generally innercity poor.

    Yes market can work. Markets are not the enemy; it’s who controls the market…like everything else.

  33. bozh said on November 28th, 2010 at 11:50am #

    to say it clear so that child of 7 yrs cld understand it: we do not think or fret what will come to pass or what we will obtain, but solely which people decide it and how many?

    this simplicity, being understandable, appears in toto eschewed by clergy and noble class.
    the simplicity ends for all time mystory of our miserable existence; i.e., total dependencies on people u never even see! tnx

  34. Deadbeat said on November 28th, 2010 at 2:28pm #

    Max Shield writes …

    So we can make small market work. We have thousands of successes. These markets are community rooted as are numerous workers cooperatives and community owned businesses that employ people from the neighborhood that owns the business – these are generally innercity poor.

    Don’t get me wrong Max. I too have been involved in small market initiatives. I also have relatives who own their own small business. Community based businesses are more responsive to people in the community. So I do understand and empthasize with your advocacy for “local” initiatives of exchange.

    However I find myself in agreement with ajohnstone. Farmers markets are all well and good but it still takes money to operate and for buyers to have money in order to make purchases. In other words it doesn’t solve the problem of inequality.

    My contention is that inequality is what leads to the social ills and that radicals should advocate for socioeconomic structures that mitigates inequality. ajohnstone excellent response describes such those structures. That is how I’ve come to view Socialism and why I think the Left should be putting forth the true vision and meaning of Socialism.

    Markets, even small community based ones, still retains features of inequality and will eventually lead to concentration.

  35. Max Shields said on November 28th, 2010 at 3:55pm #

    I don’t see socialism as a viable alternative and frankly do not think it is in play. First, whatever examples you may have world-wide of “socialist states” all have similar monetary systems and systemic inequalities – though to be sure the gaps are moving in the right direction in countries like Venezuela and Bolivia. But the gap is formidable.

    My sense is leaders like Chavez are closer to the notion I’m addressing then he is to the old time socialist notion of state ownership as the ultimate answer to our economics of inequality. (btw, I am a strong advocate for public ownership of natural resources and any service such as health care that is vunerable to monopolistic control.) Bridging the gap between the poor and wealthy will require constraint, understanding limits and that those limits are non-negotiable regardless your socioeconomic standing in society today.

    Understanding the full breadth and scope of this would require more space and time than I have. I suggest you take an open minded look at the Institute for New Economics.
    http://neweconomicsinstitute.org/

    This is not a pipe dream and there is a compelling case for why business as usual will not suffice and how this speaks to the very core of what we see today. Socialism is not an antithesis to this new economics in regards to some of the principles taken by new economics. However, the New Economics movement (which is a national and world movement) moves beyond the 19th/20th centuries of socialism/capitalism. It acknowledges that our capitalism is unsustainable; and that it is unjust; and it offers a means by which to eliminate poverty, and hunger and move toward a flourishing and just world.

  36. bozh said on November 28th, 2010 at 5:05pm #

    too often a simplicity is complexified.
    eg, equal pay for equal work. this cannot be further defined or made simpler; thus the old tool alway comes in hand: keep on complexifing it so that nobody knows what the complexification means.
    and one can always come back to a given complexification and offer another, and another and ad infinitum; all in defense of inequality or for maintainance of supremacism. tnx

  37. Max Shields said on November 28th, 2010 at 5:15pm #

    bozh So what is equal work? Provide examples of who is getting paid more than others for the same work in any significant way (factoring in geographical cost of living requirements).

  38. bozh said on November 28th, 2010 at 7:04pm #

    max,
    i actually wanted to use “equal pay for equal needs” as an exemplum of simplicity.
    i realized to late that i did not say what i intended to say.
    but then equal pay for equal work, may also work as in: all bricklayers get the same pay, benefits, etc.
    when a person talks about socialism; nowhere to be found, but our heads, one cannot be wrong no matter what one says. but one cannot make any sense; so in not making any sense one cannot be wrong.
    similarly, host of labels like supremacism, capitalism, fascism, exploitation, markets, economy, liberalism, religion, americanism, etc., not referring to reality but only our ideating, also do not make any sense or mean too much that no one can understand what all these labels.

    clergy and politicians toss such labels around with recklessness; they know, i think, that people wld reefy such labels, but not really knowing what the user of such labels mean, they conclude: oh how smart these people are and how dumb i am;
    these verbal brilliancies that that person uses, is just butiful;
    perhaps i can understand all that one day.

    while facts prove that they are just talking nonsense– as per intent. naturally, a politico wld never use word fascism, americanism, supremacism, dictatorship, authoritarianism, when labeling anything happening in u.s.

    that is reserved for socialists[tho none may be found anywhere as of yet but we may one day] in venezuela, korea, et al.
    the ruse works and not just in u.s! if people only knew this much…. tnx

  39. ajohnstone said on November 28th, 2010 at 7:51pm #

    From the Institute for New Economics.
    “Sharing profits with those who labored to make the products is another part of the rebalancing of our economic system to one that is fair and sustainable.”
    And you say this is not a pipedream,Max. I beg to differ

    Yet again it supports my claim that too many on this site do not understand the functioning of capitalism , the history of capitalism , nor the alternative to capitalism. …Ahhhhh….we can make it all better if only we could make capitalism less capitalist….

    Capitalism is capital accumulation. Capitalism breeds inequality

    Profit arises from capitalist firms employing wage labour selling goods but only having to pay their employees the value of their labour-power, which is less. The need to accumulate capital out of surplus value is the driving force of capitalism. It stems from the economic competition between enterprises which compels each enterprise to increase their market competitiveness or succumb to superior competition and go bankrupt. So, increasing the amount of capital at their disposal to invest in more productive technologies means increasing the amount of surplus value extracted from their workforce which in turn means, among other things, holding down their costs, including their labour costs i.e. our wages!

    Capitalism is based on wage-labour and if a theoretical non-capitalist market economy was a reality it would have to be based on self-employed farmers and artisans. It would also have to be an economy based on handicraft rather than industrial production.(The reason for this is that where there is industrial production the work involved in turning the raw materials into a finished product is no longer individual, but collective.)

    This would bring some inevitable consequences.

    Industrial production can produce goods at a lower cost per unit than handicraft production, with complete laissez-faire, competition would eliminate most of the independent, self-employed artisans. In other words, industry would begin to be concentrated into the hands of the firms employing industrial methods of production.

    With complete laissez-faire, competition would result in those firms which employed the most productive machinery winning out against those employing out of date and so less productive machinery. So, there would be a tendency towards a yet greater concentration of industry into the hands of the big firms.

    What about the displaced independent artisans and the members of bankrupt workers’ co-operatives, some may ask? How would they get a living? Would they not in fact be obliged to sell their skills to the firms that had won out in the battle of competition? But if wage labour appeared then so would profits and exploitation. If these profits were to be shared but the continuing competitive pressures would oblige them to give priority to investing them in new, more productive machinery so as to be able to stay in business and not go bankrupt themselves.

    So even if it were possible to go back to the sort of multi “free” market economy , the tendency would be for capitalism to develop again. Examples being the kibbutzim and the Mennonites communities which have begun to employ wage labour and orient their production towards making profits and accumulating these as new capital.

    And Bozh , Marx fully explored the idea of equal wages for equal work and dismissed the notion. The value of labour power is determined in the same way as other commodities, by the amount of socially necessary labour incorporated in it – the labour in the things the worker and his family consume to live and by the labour spent on his education and training. Since different people’s labour power can differ in quality due to training, unequal wages reflect unequal values of different kinds of labour power. Wages are the monetary expression of the value of labour power and since it costs more to produce and maintain the labour power of a skilled worker than an unskilled worker and is bound to be reflected in the different wages each receives.( see Marx and his Value Price and Profit pamphlet)

    In socialism labour power will no longer be a commodity to be bought and sold on a market. Socialists seek a society of universal equality based upon the free association of producers working collaboratively to produce for each according to their needs.

  40. Deadbeat said on November 29th, 2010 at 2:29am #

    There is absolutely nothing new with the rhetoric coming from the New Economics Institute. They conclude with the following …

    Conclusion

    Adam Smith conceptualized the possibility of accumulating capital – physical capital supported and represented by financial capital – to improve the human condition. His vision empowered two centuries of extraordinary advances in productive output for human consumption. Some of his followers made the simple mistake of confusing growth in Gross National Product with growth in real wealth and welfare; while others, like Ruskin and Schumacher, saw a growing divergence between the multiplication of goods and money, vs. improvements in the real wealth that includes happiness, human relations, and preservation of a healthy natural environment. E F Schumacher Society and New Economics Foundation, as the founding organizations for the New Economics Institute, draw their message from the tradition that critiques conventional economic theory insofar as it pursues only the intermediate goal of financial growth, ignoring the larger human goals.

    After 70 years of Keynesianism and Liberalism we are just getting yet another “touchy-feely” DIVERSION that will only “kick the can” down the road. Have these folks never heard of the slave trade, the genocide of the Native Americans, child labor and shitty working conditions. All that misery were INTEGRAL to the development of Capitalism. How the hell can they describe that as a “simple mistake”.

    This is just bourgeois nonsense that appeals to upper class Liberals who want to retain their MONEY and UNEQUAL privileges. This is the main reason why you are seeing so much resistance to Socialism.

  41. Max Shields said on November 29th, 2010 at 5:24am #

    the fundamental difference between socialism and capitalism is ownership.

    And since your only statements, ajohnstone, are to attempt to negate every statement with some fairy-tale of socialism that only exists in your mind, I think your “arguments” are baseless. There is, NO socialistic movement.

    ajohnstone, simply put where does your fairy-tale exist today after over 100 years of experimentation. This is a new approach that is compelled by circumstances so severe that they cannot be ignored. What’s more this new economics deals with reality and the complexity of change.

    Eliminating commoditization of food and labor and other items is part of the New Economics. It just doesn’t lean on Marx and the fabrications of your old-time religion. It deals with life and the planet the way it is.

    I would like to hear your examples and the fine work you are doing to make your socialistic world a reality, ajohnstone. Until you can list those I suspect you’re just an armchair wannabe “socialist” with nothing of consequence to back up your religious fervor.

    Deadbeat the problem with your “assessment” is that it too ignores everything. You are living in a delusional world whereby there are people who buy what you’re selling. Where is your movement? And like ajohnstone what exactly are you doing to make your “socialism” a reality?

  42. Max Shields said on November 29th, 2010 at 5:36am #

    bozh, I think there are examples of what we would universally consider transformative living patterns. An economy which exists for people; not for Capitalists.

    The Capitalism of the US exists in part because it was a mixture of social programs and a sense (myth?) that one could attain a “better” way of life.

    That has and continue to tumble. First the system can nolong support those who live within it the way it appeared to. The cracks and flaws are so extensive they cannot be ignored. Additionally, an alternative must be the reinvention of how we live in order to continue to live on the planet and to flourish.

    A glimpse of this may be Costa Rica. It is has eliminated the existence of a military, it has ensured a sustainable eco-system, renewable energy is its primary source of energy, health-care for all. But it is not a socialist state.

    Once you realize that the economics of growth is what pushes consumerism, and degrades the planet and human existence; creates massive desparities, then transforming that system becomes an imperative – it is not an ideological dogma, but an imperative born out of the limits of the planet itself.

  43. ajohnstone said on November 29th, 2010 at 7:12am #

    Oh dear , so we are reduced to ad hominem arguments. How novel. How very Holier Than Thou.

    The INE offering radical solutions – i don’t think so. They want to retain exchange and trading with some new kind of money. Socialists want a society based on common ownership geared to producing things directly for people to take and use in which exchange and trading, and money as the means of exchange, would be redundant. What’s the point (apart from helping local shopkeepers)? What difference does it make what coloured pieces of paper we have to use to get the things we need to live? The real problem is that in present-day, capitalist society we have to use money at all to obtain these, and that the amount of money we have will always be rationed by what we get as wages . That restricts and distorts our lives.

  44. Max Shields said on November 29th, 2010 at 10:57am #

    ajohnstone you have not addressed the questions I posed. So I will assume you are all talk/no action. If that is an ad hominem to you…work on a thicker skin…you wouldn’t last a day in a real revolution.

  45. Max Shields said on November 29th, 2010 at 11:21am #

    Deadbeat your cut and paste of a tiny statement is pure political spin.

    New Economics is a major challenge (threat to Capitalists) to the general liberal economic establishment such as Robert Kuttner and Paul Krugman
    who are tried and true Liberal Keynesian.

    The New Economy are not Keynsian. I don’t think, DB, that you are ready to learn. I’ve studied Marxism and Socialism and once held these as positive ideals….but I learned that this did not address many of the fundamental issues.

  46. bozh said on November 29th, 2010 at 11:27am #

    max,
    “A glimpse of this may be Costa Rica. It is has eliminated the existence of a military, it has ensured a sustainable eco-system, renewable energy is its primary source of energy, health-care for all. But it is not a socialist state.”
    assuming that u’r correct about about costa rica, then i applaud u calling it nonsocialistic.

    johnstone,
    marx did say: to each according to her/his needs. thus, to me, it wld be contradictory for marx not have promoted about equal wages for everybody.

    what did marx say about the needs selves? i am assuming: determined by all who want to participate in finding out what the needs actually wld comprise and via a referendum enact them.

    the needs wld not include, i suppose, tanks, warships, i pods, tv sets, golf clubs, arenas, private media, wmd, advertising, 10 pair of shoes, spies, ‘experts’, movie ‘stars’ [bloated goons] etc. tnx

  47. Deadbeat said on November 29th, 2010 at 12:04pm #

    “A glimpse of this may be Costa Rica. It is has eliminated the existence of a military, it has ensured a sustainable eco-system, renewable energy is its primary source of energy, health-care for all. But it is not a socialist state.”

    I’ve been to Costa Rica and I can tell you there is a great deal of corruption there and like many places in the world, they have a real estate bubble. When I was there the place was abuzz with real estate speculators who were engage in “development” projects where they were selling Costa Rican real estate for $700,000.00 USD way way more than the typical “middle class” Costa Rican can afford.

    These developments were occurring in some of the most pristine areas and the idea was to encourage rich American to live there thus pushing up real estate prices.

    Thus Costa Rica is NOT what people make it out to be. San Jose also is a quite a dangerous place. Its a haven for prostitution and a place know for young American to “get the rocks off”.

    Sorry Max to burst your bubble but Costa Rica is not immune from Capitalism.

  48. Deadbeat said on November 29th, 2010 at 12:24pm #

    ajohnstone writes …

    The INE offering radical solutions – i don’t think so. They want to retain exchange and trading with some new kind of money. Socialists want a society based on common ownership geared to producing things directly for people to take and use in which exchange and trading, and money as the means of exchange, would be redundant. What’s the point (apart from helping local shopkeepers)? What difference does it make what coloured pieces of paper we have to use to get the things we need to live? The real problem is that in present-day, capitalist society we have to use money at all to obtain these, and that the amount of money we have will always be rationed by what we get as wages . That restricts and distorts our lives.

    Money is an anachronism. It is totally useless and designed to control us. All this “localism” like “local money” introduces other problems that Max ignores:

    [1] It reduces the velocity of exchange
    [2] The local dollars still has to be backed by U.S. Dollars.
    [3] It restricts trade and resources.
    [4] It ignores the benefits of scale.

    What this will do is increase the wealth of local entrepreneurs but it doesn’t guarantee equality. It still require the interference of stupid commodity in order to engage human exchange. Get rid of money and you’ll have more humanity. In other words the rulers will have to be more UPFRONT in order to control us. Money is a form of control and it is time to come to this understanding.

  49. Deadbeat said on November 29th, 2010 at 12:31pm #

    Max Shields writes …

    New Economics is a major challenge (threat to Capitalists) to the general liberal economic establishment such as Robert Kuttner and Paul Krugman
    who are tried and true Liberal Keynesian.

    The New Economy are not Keynsian. I don’t think, DB, that you are ready to learn. I’ve studied Marxism and Socialism and once held these as positive ideals….but I learned that this did not address many of the fundamental issues.

    I think you much of cut class Max. I’m and NOT a student of Marx but I’ve picked up bits and pieces here and there about Marxist ideas to understand his critique of Capitalism. I used to be a Liberal and have been moving Leftward over the years. The importance of Marxism is its critique of the system and helping other get out of the Capitalist indoctrination by introducing not only a critique but real solutions not B.S. or phony ones.

    Yes you are correct Max that “New Economics” is not Keynesian in that it is not calling on huge government expenditures to inflate the economy. But localism is not a solution either. Localism creates cliques and enclaves that makes scale impossible. In fact, Localism, is reactionary and not progressive at all.

  50. Deadbeat said on November 29th, 2010 at 12:32pm #

    What Localism doesn’t address are class and the profit imperative of Capitalism.

  51. Max Shields said on November 29th, 2010 at 2:08pm #

    Reactionary is just another way of say we react to what is. No one escapes that label.

    That said, the new economics is not localism. There is a focus on scale but it is not about disconnecting human existence and cluster them into separate localities.

    The reason why I don’t think you’re ready, DB, is because you have not conceded the problem. And so if we don’t agree on what the problem is then this discussion can not advance.

  52. ajohnstone said on November 29th, 2010 at 7:13pm #

    Oh, as an armchair socialist, why should i challenge the knowledge and wisdom of those who have never left the campus classroom, who never been arrested on a picket line , or suffered police brutality on protests, never spent countless days and endless hours endeavouring to engage ideas with others directly through leafletting or newspaper selling, who prefer a lecture room lectern to a soap-box, choosing instead to conference with like-minded academics than address us ordinary souls at public meetings – “Tickets: $65 per person at the door “…. “Presenting an academically and intellectually robust new economics will allow us to partner with mainstream businesses and financial services … work with business, academics, and policy groups”—-BUT WHAT ABOUT THE WORKERS?

    Not particularly thin skinned , but definitely long in the tooth enough not to be fooled by palliatives measures to surface effects that ignore the root causes of the problem.

    Oh, and Costa Rica -military expenditure as % of GDP according to the CIA Factbook – same as Hondurus , Nicaragua , El Salvador , more than Guatamala.

    Oh , and i have been there too and witnessed very heavily armed riot police handling demonstrators.

  53. Max Shields said on November 29th, 2010 at 7:34pm #

    Costa Rica has NO military. Is there something missing between your reality ajohnstone “long in the tooth” and Costa Rica’s abolishment of the military in 1948?

    The rest of what you posted still leaves me with: ajohnstone is more talk than action.

    Look your socialism has been a big help. (by the way, I’ve done the picket and leafletting and it aint what its cracked up to be in terms of results).

  54. Deadbeat said on November 29th, 2010 at 8:28pm #

    That said, the new economics is not localism. There is a focus on scale but it is not about disconnecting human existence and cluster them into separate localities.

    Sorry Max but I beg to differ. The primary person who is featured on the NE site promotes local currencies. You can’t have both scale and local currencies. If you think the floating exchange rates now are crazy they will be insane under a multitude of local currency exchanges. You can only imagine the wild speculation that would ensue under those conditions.

    Also localities will differ in its development and distribution of its local currencies. If there is not enough circulation in a particular locality there will be imbalances and potential for opportunists to hoard the currency. The reason why this is not progressive Max is that you lose the efficiency and the productive capabilities of scale.

    The reason why I don’t think you’re ready, DB, is because you have not conceded the problem. And so if we don’t agree on what the problem is then this discussion can not advance.

    The problem is inequality Max. All this does is temporarily redistribute some of the surplus to budding Capitalists who now cannot compete under these concentrated condition but these solution do not stem the fundamentals aspects of Capitalism. It will behave like Keynesian economics in delaying Capitalism’s reckoning. It took 30 years for Capitalism to start the rollback Keynesianism and another 40 years for Keynesianism to collapse. It’s now time to stop trying to revive Capitalism or promote schemes that will only divert time and energy from ridding the world of this economic system.

  55. Deadbeat said on November 29th, 2010 at 8:40pm #

    Max Shields writes …

    Costa Rica has NO military. Is there something missing between your reality ajohnstone “long in the tooth” and Costa Rica’s abolishment of the military in 1948?

    Military and Capitalism are two different things Max. This is what you said about Costa Rica …

    They are fervently against corporate capitalism…think that Costa Rica is a shining example of what could be…but are not delusional…and so think this will be extremely difficult to accomplish.

    Sorry Max. I’ve been to Costa Rica and there are Century 21’s all over the damn place selling out the pristine areas to the highest bidder. They’re pushing out the native habitat of the monkeys down there — the cute critters they are :-D. You can read the Tica News online if you’re interested to gain some perspectives.

    I also met a woman down there who got ROBBED of her life savings and was trapped there. Because she required MONEY Max — MONEY — she’s stuck. No way I could help her out Max because I needed money for my own damn self. I wasn’t going to get stuck down there.

    Capitalism is rampant in Costa Rica Max and it’s a crying shame.

  56. Deadbeat said on November 29th, 2010 at 8:48pm #

    ajohnstone writes …

    who prefer a lecture room lectern to a soap-box, choosing instead to conference with like-minded academics than address us ordinary souls at public meetings – “Tickets: $65 per person at the door “….

    This is an apt description of Chomskyism and the other “left-wing” celebrities. You’ve got Amy Goodman raking on $1,000,000.00/year. This is the one of the biggest contradictions and jokes about the pseudo-“Left”.

  57. Max Shields said on November 29th, 2010 at 9:06pm #

    Deadbeat I have no clue what you are agreeing (or disagreeing) with or why.

    Do you?

  58. Deadbeat said on November 30th, 2010 at 12:35am #

    Ok to make it crystal clear. I disagree with ALL FORMS of Capitalism. Whether it is “New Economics”, Keynesian (Liberalism), “F[r]ee Market”, Adam Smith, neo-Classical, neo-Liberal, “corporatism”, State-Capitalism, etc. Capitalism has inherent aspects that no kind of reformism addresses. ajohnstone enumerated several of them so there is no needed for me to repeat that here.

    I’ve already argued Max that Costa Rica as your shining example is just hyperbole.

    And as ajohnstone points out that the purpose of the police is really not much different from the military and Costa Rica is not above using the police to repress workers.

    Again Max, stop selling Capitalism. It’s defunct and plans to take the entire human race and environment to extinction. (a nod to Don Hawkins :-D)

  59. ajohnstone said on November 30th, 2010 at 1:55am #

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_without_armed_forces

    Not really very unique it seems to have no military.

  60. Max Shields said on November 30th, 2010 at 6:38am #

    Didn’t say it was unique. ajohnstone if you could only stay with the entire issue at hand we could begin to make some progress. Costa Rica comes close to a nationstate that has transformed itself to meet planet limits. It is not perfect…and your socialism has proven itself, in the hands of mere mortals, to be very imperfect…even if its precepts are commendable at least in part.