Résumé of our books
A post-capitalist, that is, a social eco-logical
We are forced to live worldwide in a economic situation that is not as it should be
We will start this summary with the following statement: the technology and knowhow in all kinds of areas have progressed far enough, there are enough people who can deliver the necessary labour, and we are so abound in (raw) materials, that it is possible now and in the future to guarantee all people of this earth a dignified existence in respect for nature.
The only condition to make this happen is the decision to make a choice for an economic order in which these favourable factors can be fully exploited. Unfortunately, obviously humanity hasn’t made that choice up to now, as appers from the the worldwide economic reality we are forced to live in. Instead of the guarantee of a dignified life for all people, we see an ever greater threat to the existence of mankind and earth. Virtually everyone is aware of the continuing widespread poverty in the world and of the social inequalities that are growing. And the problem of overloading people and the earth, and particular the deterioration of the biosphere, are already “an inconvenient truth” (Al Gore) for almost everyone.
But the real concern and disturbance must strike, if we realize that this misfortune in the world should not be attributed to one or an other natural disaster which we are powerless to do anything about, but that it is the result of a men-made order. And how disastrous that order is appears if we comment it more closely with some figures.
Let us examine the existing poverty in the first place. It turns out that 1.2 milliard (US. Billion) people must get along with 1 US dollar per day and more than 3 milliard (US. Billion) with less than 2 dollars a day. More than one half of the world population – almost all in developing countries – has been forced to live below the poverty line. More than 1 milliard (US. Billion) people starve daily, every three seconds a child dies of hunger, and every day over 30.000 children die of diseases that could have been avoided. Of the people of the poorest developing countries, 43% has no acces to clean water, and 64% does not have the most rudimentary sanitation. Moreover, in these areas the traditionel state structures erode, ventures, enterprises and (business) concerns are at the helm, exploit the population and broadly open the door for the organized crime, the Maffia, corruption, environment disaster and epide-mics.
But not only developing countries are reduced to poverty, also so-called rich western countries know all about it. In the US and Europe 100 million people are living below the limit of poverty and in the former Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union 80 to 100 million.
Poverty appears not only in absolute, but also in relative sense. Thus the inequality between rich and poor countries has more than doubled since 1960 and raised from 1 to 30 to more than 1 to 80 now. The 358 most wealthy people in the world have more means than the 2.5 milliard poorest people. That accumulation of capital is not only to be found with individuals, but of course especially with enterprises and compagnies.
Hence, 70% of the world trade is in hands of only 500 compagnies, and 1% of all the transnational compagnies owns half of all foreign investments. More and more capital is being found at continually less and less compagnies. The global economy is thus dominated to a larger extent by fewer and fewer industries that grow larger and larger and that impose to their own advantage their economic power on governements and societies.
Overload of people, nature and environment
The chaos of our economic system also comes to light in the overload of man, nature and the environment. The need in our economic policy for increasing profits, leads to overloading of mankind and earth. Those who have a job are often under great pressure and are many times being exposed to burn-out or are disabled, while so many others are out of work. And the ability to sustain of man, as wel as of the earth, has been exceeded by far. The need in our economic order of continuously making more profit, leads to an unbridled production, the result being that energy and raw material are being consumed rapidly and nature and environment being seriously damaged. Half of the rivers in the world has been polluted, 15% of the soil effects the same fate and about one sixth of it, or 2 milliard (US. Billion) hectares, is even extremely polluted. Since 1990, almost 90 millions hectares of rainforest have been cut down. The emission of greenhouse gases and other noxious and detrimental gases, grows steadily and contributes to the warming up of the earth and the frequent natural calamities which can adopt a disastrous impact in the near future. And concerning biodiversity: 12% of the bird species and about a quarter of the mammals are being threatened in their survival. Around 2050, the year in which – according to a non-binding agreement of the G8 in Heiligendamm – the CO2-emission worldwide should be reduced by half, already a million (US. Billion) species of plants and animals shall be extinct. The earth is an increasingly less suitable place for life!
Furthermore and not in the least, there is the agricultural crises, that grows worse. Although the food capacity of the earth exceeds potentially the needs of all people – now and in the future – already one milliard (US. Billion) people starve, an amount that will be excessively outnumbered in the future. A poignant instance we find in the agriculture in developing countries. The fundamental cause of the current food crisis is the western, capitalist, neo-liberal agrobusiness in the Third World. Through detrimental contracts and monocultures, it has transformed food from a source of livelihood into a mere object of capitalist profit, regardless of the mass starvation, and mass suicides of indigenous farmers as a result of that approach.
Economic and financial crises
The prevailing economic order has a very unbalanced growth, i.e. a growth that will always be alternated with severe crises in the making of profit by compagnies. These crises are being transferred to the population – especially the poorest part of it – in an attempt to continue nevertheless the growth of profit. Those crises succeed at a quick rate, whereby the (mostly short-term) growth in profit almost entirely benefits the rich and the compagnies owned by the capitalist.
Ad then, there are also crises triggered by financial markets, as nowadays. The world is in the midst of a financial crisis, wich is the deepest since the crash of 1929. The present crash marks the end of the system of financial capitalism, that is, a system driven only bij the search of maximum profit. The trigger being – not the cause as we shall see later on – the excessive lending of suspected mortgages to US households, and the irresponsable way on which these loans were sold to financial institutions and households world-wide.
The entire global economy will be effected by this crash. The decrease of economic activity will increase unemployment and inequality. Social protec-tions will still be weaker and wages be lowered. The decrease in aggregate demand from the western countries will hit the vulnerable economies of the developing countries and increase poverty. And the goals of a sustainable environmentally development worldwide become out of reach.
This crisis is not the result of some circumstances that are out of our control. As we shall see later on, this crash is deliberately caused and inevitable connected with the present economic order.
The question that matters
So far, we give nothing but a restricted enumeration of the severe problems of the economic order we are forced to live in. The economy wich has been called into question here, is the free-market economy or capitalism, since the 1980s also called neo-liberalism. This order has also led to certain results, or rather, under social pressure and resistance there has been booked also progress, such as the rise in average life expectancy, the fall in infant mortality and the reduction of illiteracy. But in the light of the above-mentioned pro-blems these results fade.
The question that matters is wether the obvious solution to these social and ecological problems can be sought and persued within the prevailing capitalist economy, or on the contrary, wether this system causes these very problems, even deepens them, and therefore stands in the way of an effective ap-proach?
It is obvious and goes without saying, that the advocates of capitalism/neo-liberalism, cost what it may be, are denying that this economic system would be the cause of these problems. On the contrary, they emphasize that a freely functioning of capitalism/the “free” market, will solve all those problems through the much-boasted “invisible hand” of Adam Smith.
Here, the original intentions of Adam Smith are violated in favour of private greed – the internal dynamic of capitalism – , which originates from human nature in the primeval ages to survive at the cost of everyone and everything. The latent intention of those advocates is the defence of the vested interest of the elites of capitalism/neo-liberalism, i.e. the private owners, the capitalists thus. This, and its derivative visions, neglect the dynamics of capitalism, in which there is wealth because there is poverty, there is development because of underdevelopment, and in which a healthy environment has been sub-ordinated to profit pursuit.
In these views, the cause of social and ecological problems – or at least the most plausible cause – is not looked for where it is to be found, namely in (international) capitalism. As long as capitalism/neo-liberalism dominates the economic state of the world, social and ecological problems can only be deepened and not solved.
The existing capitalist economy offers no solution, it itself is the problem. Capitalism is to its core identical to the problems its causes, it could not do without exploitation of men and nature, it is precisely there that it makes its big profits.
Without exploitation and the problems that result, capitalism doesn’t exist. Let us clarify in brief on the basis of some of the key features of that system.
The most important features
One of the most important features of capitalism is that owners or capitalist invest their capital in production resources, also labour, in order to produce services and goods which are sold on the market. Capitalists don’t invest their capital from considerations of philantropy. They do so on account of well-understood self-interest, that is, with the aim to achieve more than the amount invested. The difference is called profit. This is of course not a one-time profit, but the continuous movement of profit. The overriding principle is making profit, always more profit.
That pursuit of gain has not been realised by prices that exceed the real value. This is a persistent and widespread misunderstanding. In reality the pursuit of gain is based on the principle that labourers don’t get a wage for a part of their labour. They produce more value in the production process than what they are paid for. The difference is called surplus value. This surplus, that part of labour for wich a worker doesn’t get paid, is the source of the capitalist profit. These profits will be realised by selling on the market commodities that contain surplus value. By selling, that surplus value of commodities is being converted in money. That’s the way surplus value is being realised in profit. The capitalists put the profit, that is based on unpaid labour of others – with means exploitation – in their own pocket and enrich themselves this way.
The capitalists can wish all sort of things – especially of course self-enrichment – but the capitalist practice is obstinate. It turns out not to be easy or even possible, to convert surplus value in sufficient profit (money). Properly speaking, capitalism isn’t capable of gathering sufficient profit to survive in the long run. In the end its downfall is inevitable and only a matter of time. What are the ins and outs of this fate, why leads in the end the forming of surplus value (exploitation) as a basis on which an economic system has been founded, as well as the converting in money bij selling commodities that contains surplus value, always to crises and ultimately the swan-song?
A central notion in this question is what we call the tendency of the rate of falling profits. It is this factor that keeps the capitalist from sleep due to the bad luck in the formation of profit. The rate of profit indicates on the ratio between profits and costs. The higher the profit and the lower the costs of investments, the grater the rate of profit. The reverse applies of course also: the lower the profit and higher those costs, the lower the rate of profit.
It goes without saying that every capitalist strives for the highest rate of profit, but in fact he is constantly dealing with the opposite. In capitalist economy, the rate of profit shows permanent the tendency to fall, and so capitalist under-taking is a lasting battle against the falling of the rate of profit. This is an inevitable fact in this kind of economy, and it has to do with the killing competition amongst the capitalists mutually. A system such as capitalism, in which capitalist enterpreneurs can only convert surplus value in profit by selling commodities on the market, leads irrevocably to a killing competition. A consumer can only spent his dollar or euro of whatever, but once, isn’t he? It concerns here a rock-hard fight among capitalists, whereby the victory of that one capitalist brings the other to ruin: killing competition.
In order not to be ruined by this rivalry, the obvious strategy of the capitalist is to produce cheaper in order to oust his colleague-producer/competitor from the market. That cheaper production has to be pursued in enhancing the efficiency of the production process. And this more efficient production process has to be achieved by investing in labour saving technological innovation: the so called capital-intensive production. Such engines work more efficiently and faster than humans, making much human labour superfluous and therefore providing for a substantial saving of wages. The capitalist is capable now to produce in a cheaper way and thus stands up to his competitors.
This endeavour is of vital importance for every capitalist. If manufacturer A makes the same sort of products of the same quality as manufacturer B, but sells them at a lower price on the market, then A shall take that part of the market from B. In his turn and in order to regain that part of the market, manufacturer B will be force to offer his commodities at a price lower than that of A. But A in his turn won’t take it lying down, etcetera. In other words, constantly striving for perfect and more efficient machinery is an ungoing and continuing issue, and vital to all capitalists entrepeneurs. This never ending spiral of investments in technological development is inextricable linked with capitalism. But the consequence is indeed that an ever greater part of the profit has to be put in capital intensive production and that consequently the level of profit increasingly comes under pressure.
- the source of profit is the unpaid part of the labour of others: surplus value,
- killing competition is peculiar to capitalism,
- 3.it leads inevitable to the necessity of capital-intensive production,
- this latter causes the tendency of falling profits and urges the capitalist entrepeneur continuously to do his upmost in order to save as much as possible his fading profits.
Social and environmental degradation; financial and econo-mic crises
Capital-intensive production is a necessary strategy in the attempt to keep the profit as high as possible in the killing competition among capitalists, but at the same time it brings – paradoxical – a great pressure on the possibilities of making profit. As said above, therefore the rate of profit shows a tendency to fall, and this is an unavoidable side-effect of capitalist economy. The question is how capitalists try to maintain sufficient profit in spite of the tendency of falling profits. Everything goes to show that this endeavour isn’t possible without bringing about great social problems, environmental degradation and financial and economic crises.
To begin with social problems and environmental degradation. To make head against falling profits, capitalism/neo-liberalism had to raise the grade of exploitation of man and nature continuously. And with the help of governments around the world, this system succeeds in realising a “miracle”: take over purchases and fusions (destruction of competitive capital, therefore a form of economic cannibalism); starvation wages in order to raise the surplus value (particularly in developing countries), and wages policy in our countries; overloading people; continually proceeding cuts in social security untill it’s totally stripped; mass discharges in times of crises; demolition of care; damaging the environment and the refusal to solve environmental degradation because it should not be conducive to profit shaping; the construction of enormous arms industries in order to make capital profitable; imperialistic conflicts and wars on behalf of the disposal of raw materials and markets; degradation of democracy and hence the democratic control of the people, et cetera. In short, in order to raise the profit notwithstanding the inevitable tendency of falling profits, the capitalist is obliged to enhance continuously the grade of exploitation of man and nature.
The tendency of the falling rate of profits as a fundamental structure and mechanism of the capitalist order, put also the capitalist entrepeneurs up to take measures compelled by necessity, that brings about irrevocable crises in economics and financial markets. This tendency of falling profits namely, forces to a compulsive stepping up, to a compulsive growth, that is allways present and meant to counterbalance the tendency of loss of profits. This everlasting compulsive growth has a causal relation with the present-day (and also the past) crises in capitalist economics and financial markets.
In economics, compulsive growth causes a crisis of overproduction. On account of unpaid
surplus labour, starvation wages, wages policy and mass discharges, the purchasing power is always to small to absorb the evermore rising productivity in answer to the falling profits. If this shortage of purchasing power reaches a critical stage, and also the worldexport holds up – like nowadays -, there develops a crisis of overproduction. Consequently, the capitalist will invest his capital no more and folows a wait-and-see policy, resulting in further losses of profit and mass discharges, and closing of production capacity. This process explains why capitalism not only brings about economic crises, but also deepens them, and therefore can no offer a solution.
The financial markets also give evidence of compulsive growth. In the first place there are financial institutions such as investment and commercial banks. The trigger of the current crisis was the excessive lending of subprime mortgages and junk loans to US households and the way on which these risky loans were sold to financial institutions and households worldwide. This development was possible specially after the introduction of free floating exchange rates between the major currencies, the abolishment of capital controls and the subsequent liberalisation and deregulation of financial markets. As a consequence, the financial industry experienced not alone a fase of rapid expansion (masses of financial assets, debts and a worldwide search for financial profits), but also a fierce (“killing”) competition among each other, and hence the continuous necessity to outgrow the financial competitors. In the end, the present financial crises originates from the compulsive financial growth. One has lent out risky mortgages and junk loans in order to satisfy this compulsive growth. The real cause of the crisis is this compulsion, the inducement being the risky mortgages and loans. Without the necessity to satisfy the compulsive growth, there should be no need or necessity of such poisonous mortgages.
In still another way compulsive growth seduces financial markets to cause crises: speculation. This is an activity that seeks profit by gambling on future prospects, and therefore is called also “casino-economy”. It gave rise to a huge financial complex: option exchanges, investment trusts, finance offices et cetera. Every day about 5000 miljard (US. Billion) US dollars speculative capital goes around the earth. It has taken on such a large scale, because investments in the western productive sector has less favorable prospects due to the tendency of the rate of falling profits. While this capital has not been spent on investment, the economic productive sector is weakening.
The inevitable conclusion
In capitalism the economy as well as the financial markets are unavoidable liable to compulsive growth. Social problems, environmental degradation, economic crises, speculative bubbles (speculation, vicious mortgages etc.) that burst; all these disasters are inhere in capitalism/the “free” market/neo-liberalisme. Capitalist world economy is by itself disastrous, and morally a total contemptible system, not only because it does cause ecological, social, and economic problems, but also and specially of deepens them continuously.
We live worldwide in an economic order that is not all right. A necessary condition for the solution of the identified problems is not to be found in adjustment. Measures like financial support – such as 2000 miljard (US. Billion) US dollars for financial markets -, don’t put an end to compulsive growth in capitalism, and is money down the drain. The same applies to the support of capitalist enterprise: in no time compulsive growth will announce itself, and the process starts again. In the end, such measures of adjustment don’t end the compulsive growth, they are changes for the worse and aggravate the crises. A necessary condition for the solution of the identified problems is indeed not to be fount in an adjustment, but in the end of that economic order: exit capitalism.
The necessity of a post-capitalist or a social ecological alternative
In spite of its view-false-driven for men and nature, capitalism, especially in its present form of neo-liberalism, is stronger then ever and could spread over the hole world. In this economic model, the world is dealing with a new form of capitalism. Some call it “financial globalisation”, others “financial capitalism” and others speak of “shareholder capitalism”. These names had one thing in common: whereas in previous times financial markets had a instrumental role in the real economy, in neo-liberalisme this relationship has been turned around. The influence of financial interests on the real economy increased tremendously by subordinating all economic activities to profits in the financial markets, and by creating financial instruments to make profits only through the financial markets, while at the same time ingnoring to sustain production in the real economy (see what we said above about speculation). One important reason of this development is to be found in politics, and in civil society. The policy of political agencies worldwide is unambiguously aimed at the promotion and support of the vested interest of (financial) capitalism. And for lack of a post-capitalist/social ecological alternative, allmost all civil society organisations have been forced to limit themselves to propose nothing but small changes that have been allowed by neo-liberalism and are easily to integrate.
Therefore, neo-liberalisme could gradually bring the whole world under its pernicious influence. Meanwhile it has got so much power that, for the time being, it has nothing to fear of which economic alternative whatsoever. Even in these times of exceptionally crisis, governement comes to the rescue of this system, trying to safe the neo-liberal course and to return to business as usual. The world has to abide the moment that capitalism blows itself up. In the meantime we must do our utmost to attain a considerable political and social bearing support for a sound economic alternative. This is to say a form of post-capitalist/social ecological alternative, which in due time, when free capitalism has its agony, can prevent its resurrection. Especially, this alternative (henceforth to name also “social ecological” alternative) has to exclude the formation of surplus value (the unpaid part of labour). Because it is this very factor which is the main cause of the sequence: killing competition–> capital intensive production–> tendency of falling profits–>compulsive growth. In our books (in Dutch) we offered such a post-capitalist/social ecological alternative, which is intended to be an incentive for a discussion of such alternatives and in the same time an invitation to come forwards – if possible – with some better proposals.
Our proposal of a social ecological alternative
The first foundation upon which rests our social ecological alternative is the removal of the formation of surplus value. Not only surplus value owes its existence to unpaid suplus labour (exploitation), and is therefore already objectionable and a course of problems of capitalism, but also the conversion of goods and services that contain surplus value (profit making) into money on the market, underlies all the problems inherent to capitalism. The way in which our alternative wants to exclude surplus value, is in setting up a productive machinery in which money is no longer involved. Remove money from the production(process) of goods and services, and it will be impossible to buy labour. Consequently unpaid surplus labour and therefore also the formation of surplus value can no more accur. And the answer to the question of how production is possible without money, is in general: by putting an end to the acquisition of pecuniary income in the production proces. We distinquish three categories of participants who all earn an income in money in the production process, namely:
suppliers and producers of (raw) materials,
money-lenders (capitalists thus) and,
Thus suppliers and producers of (raw) materials get an income from delivering to the production process. The capitalist acquires an income through the formation of surplus value by means of the unpaid part of labour and ex-tracting in this way more money out of the production process than he puts in. And the worker gets an income by offering his labour in that production process.
This gives us the opportunity for a more concrete answer to the question how to put an end to acquiring an income in the production process, i.e. how to eliminate the linking of income and commitment in the production process.
That link may disappear when income from supplying and producing (raw) materials and from labour will expire. (Raw)materials and labour are free then. And this in turn brings with it the disconnection of income and undertaking. In such case there is no more need to invest money in purchase of capital goods and labour, because they are free. And when labour no longer has to be purchased, the formation of surplus value via surplus labour is out of question. In a production in which money is no longer involved, surplus value simple can no longer occur.
Now we have been accustomed so much to money as a factor in production and to link income and employment in the production process, that one takes it for granted that money and economy are linked inextricable with each other. Due to the unlinking of income and involvement in the production, one fears that supply of labour, raw materials and capital would decrease and hence the hole economy would paralyse. Nevertheless, the phenomenon that money plays such an important role as it does now in capitalism, is not of all times. Money first found acceptance during the slave-owner society. In the million years that preceded it, humanity knew an economy without money.
Nevertheless, a diminished employment in the production did not occur here, at least not because of that unlinking, nor was there a reduction of the pro-ductive capacity either. Labour and other production resources could freely be brought together in the production process, not impeded by the question wether there was enough money, nor hindered by the fact that wages should have to be paid or incomes should have to be acquired. More strongly still, one could produce freely and unimpeded, not in spite of, but precisely because money and the acquiring of incomes could not play a role. Exactly because labour and other means of production were free, nothing could hinder an optimal production, obviously in the light of the state of the then available technology. Both from a logical and actual point of view, the link of income to employment in the production process is therefore not an imperial need. In fact, history teaches us that unlinking indeed can benefit production and economy.
The second foundation of our post-capitalist/social ecological alternative, is the so called “periodic budget”: a more or less equal amount in money for everyone, periodically paid.
Already above, we have stressed that by the disposal of money from the production of goods and services in our alternative, consumer goods are free. In principle, those goods can therefore be distributed freely. “In principle”, as we said, for because of the greed of people, consumption would receive huge quantities that would surpass the supporting power of environment and nature. Therefore, partitioning in our social ecological alternative cannot be unconditional. The purchase of consuming goods must be in agreement with a reasonable satisfaction of needs, according to the standards of time and society the consumer is living in. Greed may not make consumption to surpass these standards.
To those standards belongs in the first place the requirement that the local amount of consumption must be brought in agreement with a production that doesn’t affect the environment more than the earth with the then prevailing technology is able to handle without lasting damage. Such a condition can be fulfilled in a budget, that is an amount in money, remitted periodically to every consumer. Such a budget controls that the total consumption remains approximately within the limit of what has been considered as largely sufficient for a real satisfaction of needs in a certain time and in a certain context, whereas at the same time that consumption remains within the boundaries of the capacity of nature and environment. We should regard this money of the budget not so much as money in the sense of the capitalist era, but as “pollution units”. Post-capitalist men get periodically a number of pollution units, that can be exchanged for goods and services on which in advance a number of pollution units was being attached. In our social ecological alternative, the terms “money” and “pollution units” can be used together.
The only counter performance for this periodic budget, is the total common-place that everyone is obliged to work according to talent and ability. The money or the pollution units are made available by the government to everyone, and after spending, it flows back via the sales-men to the democratic controlled authorities. So, the economic circular course of post-capitalism runs from the governement to the consumer, and from the consumer via the supplier of goods and services to the governement, after which this motion begins again and so it will be sustainable.
Because of the mutual harmonisation of that budget and the reasonable need satisfaction within the declared limits of environment and nature, it is inevitable to award a value in money amount or in pollution units to the various goods and services, so that the height of the sum of money of pollution units in the budget can be adjusted accordingly to the indicated limits of environment and nature. The granting of value – the fixing of prices of the various consumer goods – is not determined by the market. In post-capitalism the market doesn’t exist anymore. Value granting is in a sense arbitrary, but with the under-standing that those consumer-goods for the production of which nature and environment are charged more havily, are priced higher.
The third foundation of our alternative is the governement monitoring of pro-duction resources. Just like consumer goods are free in our social ecological alternative, so are production resources, such as machinery, buildings, ships et cetera. And here too applies that the acquisition of them may not exceed through human greed the real needs or may not more than necessarily charge the environment. The best suitable condition seems to be a control that is carried out by a body, a body with exclusively aims at the public interest. A matter of such superindividual importance as the acquisition of production resources may simply not be left to private initiative. This must be supervised by a body that can take justified decisions from an overall picture and moreover thereby is democraticly checked by the people. Such an agency is for example a state body that can take such justified decisions.
A production process in which no money is involved so that goods and services are free in principle, the setting-up of a periodic personal budget that confines consumption to the capacity of the environment, and a government monitoring the sector of productive resources, see here the determining elements of our postcapitalistic/social ecological alternative. Now we will outline in some extent the blessings of that alternative for people and nature.
Because of these determining elements mentioned above, “killing” competition don’t occur anymore, consequently compulsive growth has been disappeared and consequently also crises of overproduction and financial crisis are gone, just like the necessity to exploit men and nature. Of all blessings, these are undoubtedly the most important.
Post-capitalism doesn’t know compulsive growth, because there is no surplus value that has to be coverted into money on the market, leading to killing competition. In our alternative there will be some talk of growth if and as far as technologies are being developed that permit a raised production, but where no irresponsible seizure is being laid on environment, energy and (raw) materials. Such a raised production can lead to an enlargement of the amount of consumption and corresponding to that of the (value of) the budget.
An other important difference is that in our alternative, growth is not a necessity without which the economy falls to pieces. In this system one can choose for economic growth at the moment it is desirable and feasible. Here one can choose for extra growth wherever it is needed, for instance in developing countries. And in function of that we can temper and stabilize temporary growth in all places where already a reasonable wellbeing and prosperity prevail, as is the case in the rich western countries.
In our alternative there is no money needed in the efforts to reach prosperity and wellbeing for everyone in this world. The only requirement is just bringing together the required knowhow, production resources and labour, which as we said, are free. Within this framework, governments haven’t any restrictions whatsoever to a maximum commitment for all sorts of care, such as educa-tion, public transport, health care, et cetera. In our social ecological alter-native, no state comes on the rates, like in capitalism. In general applies that the services in all sectors can be supplied freely and with a maximum commitment, within of course the capacity to bear of the environment.
In the new post-capitalistic economic system there is no accumulation of money, that is no accumulation of the labour of others. That is a big difference between the old an the new money, the periodic personal budget.
Because goods, services and production resources are free in principle in our alternative, there is no need for governements to buy something. As a consequence, governements no longer stand in need of taxation. And because of the periodic budget, we are no longer confronted with problems such as the affordability of pensions, financing social security and a system of taxation. Such provisions are no longer needed. For everyone has got the periodic budget at his disposal, a lifetime long.
This quarantee of an existence in reasonable prosperity and well-being, has also a significant influence on the relationships between people. They are no longer competitors of each other in securing their future life. Instead of the struggle for life, in which men quickly are a wolf to men, can come co-operation and harmony.
In the social ecological alternative, we also see no mass discharges and jobless economic growth, as we encounter in capitalisme. This creates different possibilities in view of the deployment of labour. Thus everyone who is capable can be employed in the labour process. This offers real prospects for a shortening of the working week, and so without limitations of expen-ditures. For in postcapitalism labour is for free and income gets shape in the periodic budget.
It is the democratic task and the reason of existence of politics/the state, to be the organized expression of the choices and the will of the people, and also to guide the economy according to that will and those choices.
In the process of privatisation, deregulation and liberalisation, the state under caspitalism/”free”market, increasingly gave up the economic control and left it to the capitalist. That has nothing to do with freedom. As a result, the common interest has been trampled on in favour of the interest of capitalists, i.e. making profit. Parliamentary democracy has become in this way the dictator-ship of the capitalist.
Our alternative on the contrary is precisely designed and meant in favour of the common interest, social justice, prosperity and wellbeing for everyone. A social ecological state that promotes the economy, by definition favours the public interest and is a vehicle of democracy.
In order to disguise the neglect and violation of the public interest by capitalism/neo-liberalism, the consciousness of people has to be misled constantly and on a mass scale with the message that the advancement of capital interest is the best quarantee for common interest.
In our social ecological alternative, there is no need for such a deception and poisening of consciousness, because in that economy no other interests are taken care of than those of the people: the general interest.
In a production process in which labour, (raw) materials and means of production are free, and where the periodical budget takes care of the purchase of consumer goods, banks are superfluous and shall disappear. This means also our alternative to be a system bearing no interests. Interest payment under capitalism is an instrument in the hands of banks and governments to oblige capitalists, moreover, interest payment is also one of the factors in capitalism that added to compulsive growth. Here we have two excellent reasons why our social ecological alternative feels obliged to remove interest out of the system.
All this and much more is possible in an economic system where money no longer rules the world. In our social ecological proposal this is the case. What this proposal the world has to offer, is like a treasure that we no longer knew to exist. Each policy and any work on an other world that should remain frustrated in capitalism because of the everlasting shortage of money, can be performed in our alternative. The only constraint is the capacity of nature and environment. The swansong of capitalism paves the way for an economy which:
- ·can serve the entire global community, instead of a small group of capitalists,
- ·can utilize again fully the production forces, rather than forced to destroy capital,
- ·can divide goods and services equally as much as possible, rather than exploit the vast majority and nature in favor of a small minority,
- ·enables the government to enlarge again the welfare state, rather than demolish, as in capitalism,
- ·handles as starting point respect for people, nature and environment, instead of crossing constantly the capacity of nature and environment, as in capitalism.
The course of things in our social ecological alernative can be defined as “sustainable” in the mening this term has got in the course of time for the characterization of “development”. Sustainable development has an ecologi-cal, economical and social dimension.
Ecological sustainability is the corner-stone of systainable development. The ecosystem may not be so heavily loaded that it becomes permanently dis-rupted.
Sustainabele development also covers social aspects. It involves a situation where the interests of all show to full advantages as far as possible, within the limits of course of what is ecologically justified.
Economic sustainability refers to the creating and maintenance of an econo-mic system, which can meet the needs of the present and future generations all over the world, even within the supporting power of the environment.
Given these dimensions, we can say that “sustainable” is an appropriate characterization of our post-capitalist alternative.
Far from finished
As already noticed, capitalism/”free” market has been so powerful in its current form of neo-liberalism, that it has nothing to fear of which economic alternative whatsoever. In order to introduce a valid alternative, i.e. a post-capitalist/social ecological system, probably we have to wait for the requiem of capitalism. Unfortunately as this may be, it does not mean that pending this requiem, in the meantime no change for the better is possible in the meaning of little steps that can reduce somewhat the sharp edges of capitalism. Each relief of need, no matter how modest, has been ordered. Only that does not carry us a step further to the end of capitalism. What we need is a post-capitalist alternative – and a great support for it -, that can strike powerful when at some time capitalism blows itself up, and that also is capable to prevent its resurrection. About the question when this will occur, little can be said with certainty. When will capitalists massively withdraw their assets, because of a worldwide mistrust in the output of their investments and thus blow up their own monstrosity? Who knows? Or rather, when will huge public pressure be placed on politicians? Not in the sense of polite lobbying, but of a return to the streets and direct action. A necessary, or in any case a helpful condition for such a huge public pressure, is having at one’s disposal a viable post-capitalist alternative. Unfortunately, there are no such alternatives. What is now more than necessary, is to start as quickly as possible a discussion about the most practical and appropriate form of post-capitalism. There is still little time to loose. With our publications concerning post-capitalism, we want to trigger such a necessary discussion. Because one thing is for sure: without an alternative that state the grounds for direct action and public pressure on politicians, there will be only superficial changes and as quickly as possible a return to capitalism and the so called “free” market, thus business as usual, like governments worldwide show now.