The point of this blog is to spread the idea that common people like you and me can achieve huge things by working together (with the help of social media and existing Wiki-style net infrastructure) by gathering masses of ideas with brainstorming techniques and then refining them with iterations of critical thinking. And when I’m saying huge, I mean things like a working model for a sustainable society.
Free (Fall) Market
Let’s face it: our way of life in this ‘free-market economy’ or unregulated market economy is so obviously unsustainable, that our collective denial about it has to be some kind of an instinctive, special (as in species), psychological defence. It makes sense – as biological beings, we’ve evolved during millions of years, virtually completely under circumstances that only required practical problem solving skills and understanding of no more than our immediate surroundings. And as much as we’ve achieved as a species, as individuals we’re still driven by the exact same urges and fears as we were a million years ago.
One particularily strong defence hits us when we try to think about the course we’re on as humanity, especially if we’re faced with evidence that seems to prove the specific course in question is leading us towards a certain crash. Our brain is instantly filled with excuses, explanations and generally anything that could justify us to stop thinking about it altogether. The excuses come in all sizes and flavors, but a common one is that it’s all too complex to figure out anyways. That’s true of course, if you try and comprehend the mechanisms of our society in full detail. But if you pull back and take a look at the big picture, it’s a no-brainer. We’re simply wearing this planet down, and at such a speed that the notion of finding another planet to rape or some redeeming new piece of technology in time to meet our ever growing needs is somewhere between science fiction and absurdist fantasy.
I like to keep as much as possible open for debate, as to not jump to conclusions and potentially miss previously unthought-of solutions. But for the purpose of this blog, I will be making a couple of assumptions, that really aren’t debatable (here I mean, of course… I’m sure you’ll find your forum if you want to argue on the very exceptions mentioned here). The first one is:
- The current course of humanity will sooner or later lead to an enormous ecological and/or economical and/or political disaster
Of course, nobody knows the exact timing or order in which the collapse will take place, but it seems evident we’re talking about a very human timescale (as opposed to thousands to billions years that significant changes usually take in nature), some generations anyways. As for the question about what natural resource or economic structure will wear out first, it’s like falling from a plane without a parachute and pondering on what bone you’ll break first when you hit ground. Maybe it will be oil, maybe breathable air or temperature conditions that can support life, maybe we’ll just panic before all this and bomb ourselves to stone age. It really doesn’t matter that much, what matters is changing our course before we’ll see for ourselves.
Most people who get past denial, are stuck in apathy. ‘This is just how the world is’, ‘One person can’t do anything’, ‘I’ve got my personal troubles to think about’, ‘I’m already putting my banana peels to biowaste, there’s nothing more anyone can do about it.’
But history has shown, and this will be my undebatable assumption number two:
- When the time is ripe, one person can change everything
But what? What can we, the little people, do? We don’t have power, we don’t own the big investment banks, we don’t have veto on international contracts. What could we possibly achieve that would actually have any kind of an effect?
To achieve a goal, one needs to imagine the goal first
The basic principles of Capitalism, Communism and the variations of Socialism between them (to take a few shortcuts), that are commonly considered as realistic options for an economic system nowadays, were all set with no or very little understanding of the limited resources of this planet. This makes them all flawed in a prominent way that is not fixable with mere finetuning. Campaigning for or against the forementioned economic systems, let alone the little differences between the variations inside each system, will not solve the underlying problem, that’s compromising the one thing we all share despite our differences: we all need a planet that can support life to be able to go on with our weird, ugly, chaotic and wonderful coexistence here.
In other words, what we need is:
- A completely new socioeconomic system, whose first and foremost priority is to make sure our planet will never run out of resources that are imperative for it to keep on supporting life.
We have various types of Green politics, sure, but the problem is they’re built on top of economic systems that ultimately contradict with them. There’s over 150 entries in Wikipedia’s list of government forms and over 50 entries in the list of economic systems but none define even imaginary systems that are based primarily on sustaining the resources of this planet. (I aknowledge Wikipedia doesn’t represent definitive truth by any means, but in the same time it does indicate whether a concept has any popularity). The discussion of even the possibility of this type of a system seems scarce.
What I think we need to do, is to start from scratch. What do all the 7+ billion people need to survive and to live a reasonably satisfying life? Food, shelter, tolerable climate conditions, a basic healthcare. All the rest is luxury, that could be either divided equally or earned with individual extra effort of some sort, depending of whether the system would be a socialism-like or capitalism-like system. Would exchange economy play a part in this system, or would you need a market economy? And if so, what qualities would “money” have in this system? What kind of a medium of exchange would it be? How would it be regulated to make sure global natural resources were only used as quickly as they could renew?
Yes, it’s utopia, and completely unrealistic for now. But this is brainstorming – we first need a million stupid ideas in order to refine one, that is realistic and applicable. And the more people are throwing in ideas, the more critical mass the system will have and the more refined it will become, until, sometime in the future, we could actually have a working basic model of a new socioeconomic system. Crazy? Perhaps, but hey, what else were you going to do today – watch Big Brother? Why not give this a try instead! If you’re an economist, take half an hour to imagine how a certain detail of this system could work… if you’re a trashman, think about how your work would change if the use of plastics and other carbon based materials were restricted to the absolute minimum…. if you’re a linguist, you could suggest what word would best describe this model… if you’re unemployeed, you probably have valuable knowledge on how to survive with less – there just might come a day when former millionaires come to you begging for consultance. Everyone of us will know something that could help making this model more detailed and realistic.
Feel free to comment and add to the discussion with any/all related ideas of yours!
The underlying idea here is, everything that’s ever been achieved has had to be imagined first. And, it seems, things that are once imagined, also have the tendency to get realised sooner or later. Many of our everyday electronical gadgets, just to give a simple example, are in a way result of the work of science fiction authors from decades earlier. Imagination is not just a fun toy to entertain ourselves with, it can be used purposefully and scrupulously to achieve realistic, applicable results and maybe – change the world.
This is just a single individual’s blog, and I’m not an expert at any of the areas discussed here – although I have to say I’m not sure if anyone can really be an expert on humanity. Anyways, these are by no means unique thoughts, I just believe every additional voice talking about these questions, and every additional mind thinking about them, will help. Perhaps the next person googling about this will find this blog and get to know more people who think alike, and feel encouraged to speak up. More and more people want change, and so it’s happening simultaneously on many levels and locations. So far, the biggest entity I’ve bumped upon that works on similar ideas is the Zeitgeist movement – I’m sorry to say I haven’t really familiarized myself with their ideals, so all views on their thinking is warmly welcomed!
When I was googling for possible phrases that could describe the ideas explained above, amazed that none of them really had provoked much discussion at all, I finally entered the keyword ‘sustainocracy’. This lead me to another individual’s site, namely Jean-Paul Close’s. I thought his video presentation of humanity’s current state was profound, I’m just not sure we should be requiring huge leaps in individuals’ conciousness or other mental capabilities in order to a certain scenario to work. What I’d personally prefer more, would be scenarios that could work despite ourselves, so to say. A positive finding nonetheless, and a lot of thoughts worth considering, for sure.
My personal properties have no relevance whatsoever with the ideas I hope will be discussed here. This is why I prefer to write incognito. I’m not famous in any way, especially rich or poor, or politically engaged to any existing party. I belong to the financially privileged part of humanity, but that’s pretty obvious anyways knowing that I have access to a computer and an Internet connection, and that I have enough free time to think and write about this, instead of just trying to survive.
This is not a blog on linguistics or etymology, but since the phrase ‘free market’ has such a huge indoctrinative power on us, I’m pointing out right from the beginning that I’ll address the subtext of some common words and phrases whenever it seems relevant.
A free market is commonly seen as opposite of a controlled or regulated market. So why isn’t it referred to as an uncontrolled or unregulated market? I’m not sure if the particular choice of words has its history in Cold War rhetorics or earlier times – be it as it may, it’s been around for so long it’s easy to mistake for a neutral descriptive phrase with no emotional value, even though this is obviously false. The positive connotations of the word ‘free’ soothe our limbic system every single time we see or hear the phrase. As the powers-that-be know so well, the most effective propaganda is the kind that we never come to think of as propaganda.
As a small thought experiment, every time you pass by the words ‘free market’ from now on, why not try and replace them with a phrase with equally negative connotations, let’s say ‘chaotic market’ and see if it affects your interpretation of the actual textual content at hand. In this blog, I’ll try my best (and probably fail miserably) to be relatively objective, though, so I’ll be using the phrase ‘unregulated market’ instead.