Hey 99%, how does it feel to be a disposable commodity?
A little over two decades ago Francis Fukuyama, political scientist and political economist, astonishingly argued in The End of History that in Western liberal democracy humanity might have found the “end-point of mankind’s ideological evolution.” Chris Hedges, a prophet of doom rather than hubris, in his The Death of the Liberal class expressed the view that: “Unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives until it finally consumes itself.”
Fukuyama may have distanced himself from what he advocated in the nineties, but he drew a telling caricature of mainstream Western thinking. Even as deregulated capitalism riotously generates Hedges’s nightmares of social despair and destruction of the biosphere —as described in Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt— many of us have been so indoctrinated that we can no longer conceive of an alternative to our “free market” system of entitlements for the rich.
Almost one hundred years ago Bertrand Russell wrote in Political Ideals:
Political and social institutions are to be judged by the good or harm that they do to individuals. Do they encourage creativeness rather than possessiveness? Do they embody or promote a spirit of reverence between human beings? Do they preserve self-respect?
Can anyone disagree with these values and doubt that we dramatically fail in their realization? After all, we spend about 60% of the discretionary budget on so-called national defense. Combine that with a prison system that disproportionately affects people of color and has incarceration rate that exceeds by an order of magnitude, the rates one finds in Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan, and it becomes difficult to disagree with Vijay Prashad when he states: “Prisons and war are the rational extensions of the system in which we live.”
Out-of-control war spending and incarceration are just a few “minor” symptoms of capitalism on its final descent into self-destruction. The mass extinction that might be caused by global warming has the potential to produce death on a scale hundred or thousand times as large. Will this happen and when? Nobody knows, but clearly the tipping point for run-away climate change is dangerously close.
What are the alternatives?
This Friday the Land Stewards of the Voluntown Peace Trust will sponsor a discussion and video evening Seeding a Post-Capitalist Future. Although you would not read this in the corporate media —is there still anyone left who is reading them?— many of us agree, once again using Russell’s words, that
Capitalism and the wage system must be abolished; they are twin monsters which are eating up the life of the world.
We recognize what John Buck talks about:
I am supposed to be living in a democracy,” I said, “but I spend
much of my life at work in a basically feudal structure. There is a
Duke of Operations, an Earl of Administration, a Baroness of
Personnel, and so on. […] the only vote I have is with my feet
walking out the door.”
See We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy by John Buck and Sharon Villines.
Few know that right now
- 25% of the American electric system is co-op or municipal, essentially socialized.
- Land trusts do development locally: profits accrue to the the public or non-profit.
- California and Alabama use pension funds to finance in-state investments worker-owned companies.
Contrast this last item with Rhode Island’s use of pension funds to underwrite entitlements for Wall Street hedge fund managers.
To sum up, here is a list of topics for the discussion on Friday:
- worker cooperatives
- dynamic self-governance aka sociocracy
- urban agriculture
- prison abolition and racism
- climate change (or catastrophy)
See you this Friday and please bring your friends and neighbors!