Post-capitalism – errr, I thought you had a plan…

Excerpt from “Post-capitalism – errr, I thought you had a plan” by Rhizome

After my last post on the tactics of Occupy movement an old friend called and berated me (nicely) for not giving an alternative vision to capitalism. So here goes. And before you put the kettle on and settle down for a long read, no need. I’ll be brief:

I don’t know. Nor do I feel the need to know. What I do know is that capitalism doesn’t work. It preys on the worst aspects of the human psyche – limitless greed and the desire to hold power over others.

We need to clear the decks, pause and take stock. We need to make space for alternatives. So my alternative is making space for alternatives. Cop out? Stay with me. Whatever exists post-capitalism needs to be defined in its own terms, not with reference to capitalism. Like the black consciousness movement, or feminism, or indeed any liberation struggle we need to refuse to frame the conversation in the language of the oppressor, or with reference to the oppressor’s values. Let’s get rid of capitalism and not rush to fill the void. That void doesn’t have to be a vacuum, sucking in a new ‘system’ whole and complete.

What I do know about my personal vision is that it involves autonomy and diversity. And it involves continuing, and continuous (r)evolution.

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6 Comments on “Post-capitalism – errr, I thought you had a plan…”

  1. Reply
    December 25, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    Great post! Gets to the heart of how we should progress, making space for alternatives, instead of rushing into solutions which may just be re-hashes of the past or anti-capitalist rather than the post-capitalist alternatives that Occupy calls for.

    In regards to the holding of space and this posts statement that.. “we need to refuse to frame the conversation in the language of the oppressor” the need for occupying language is a much needed conversation: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/22-8 would this be a practice in addition to holding space which would facilitate the new solutions that occupy calls for?

  2. Reply
    December 26, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    There is no need for the kind of agnosticism Rhizome shares.

    The fact is (and excuse me for being so suspiciously “positive”) that we still have a primitive form of capitalism that has not come to terms with the effects of the scientific/industrial revolution. The effects manifest in the reality that most wealth—useful and destructive—is produced by sophisticated capital (meaning tools of production in the present context) production systems not by direct human effort.

    This means that the produced wealth can not be distributed via an income distribution system that mostly relies on wages and salaries received only through an employment.structure (and please do not blame money—a most useful social tool—for its current inept or malicious use).

    Capitalism needs to be *allowed* to evolve into a true servant of our species at the moment societal ideology insists that that we have to *earn* the right to live by being economically viable or be supported by someone who is so.

    This is tantamount to a subtle form of general slavery.. End it by distributing a share of the economic value of the free gifts of nature through the mechanism of an unconditional basic income—sufficient for a simple but healthful lifestyle—to all humans alive at any one time.
    This scheme, which would replace all means-tested benefits, has been known as a feasible *upgrade* of primitive capitalism since the 1920s. But the information has been expunged from common awareness (although it took thirty to forty years of systematic disinformation campaign—see “Understanding the Financial System”, Frances Hutchinson) by the 1%.

    All this said, however, the resistance of the “domination system” operated by the 1% percent will not be dismantled without a significant minority of us, the 99%, acquiring basic “economic literacy”.

  3. Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    > All this said, however, the resistance of the “domination system” operated by the 1% percent will not be dismantled without a significant minority of us, the 99%, acquiring basic “economic literacy”.

    Thank you for the reminder to strengthen our content in, and give more visibility to, the Economics category of our posts.

  4. Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    I agree economic literacy in a world that calls for greater participation and love for shaping our world is fundamental. We can not pretend to make the right decisions for ourselves or our communities without first understanding the basic rules of economics!! As we know that doesn’t need a multi-thousand pound university education… just common sense and appreciation for how systems can work together, with an eye on how these systems can better become more inclusive and generative of what we create together.

    If any one reading this is free tonight, Bank of Ideas has a great event on basic economic literacy which promises to be beneficial to all of us:

    http://www.bankofideas.org.uk/events/event/economic-literacy-introducing-fundamentals-of-economics-2011-12-27/

  5. Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    > understanding the basic rules of economics!!… just common sense and appreciation for how systems can work together, with an eye on how these systems can better become more inclusive and generative of what we create together.

    I doubt that common sense is enough. Maybe yes for understanding the dominant economic system, but not for changing it. Once it has realized its successful, Occupy cannot avoid to face the huge complexity of optimizing economic incentives at the national and international level so that the system can truly work for all.

    As long as our only decision-making tool is consensus, the Movement will remain unprepared for its epic task.

  6. Reply
    January 14, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    George, I share your skepticism about consensus but in the long run it could be be a winning formula. Consensus would depend on every participant sharing an understanding (or at least trusting the judgments of their peers) of the underlying matters.

    As my favorite quote assures me, “There can be no disagreements, only misunderstandings. We are all looking at the same universe; in the end we must agree.”
    Of course we probably do not have long enough time for that process. Although General Semantics is packed with techniques that can help us get there.

    You said there was an alternative to consensus which does not end up with disgruntled minorities. Something like integrative decision making, but a brief google search did not bring up anything helpful.

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