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Thu Dec 22, 2011, 05:31 PM

Capitalism is toast. What will replace it?

(This thread disappeared from GD, so I'm reposting it here.)


The world economy as currently structured requires growth to sustain it. Capitalism has the same ethics as a cancer, and will just as surely kill its host if left unchecked. The host, of course, is the biosphere.

The species does NOT need growth to sustain it--either in population or in "productivity."

What we need is workable population control and a functional distribution system that ensures everyone has enough so they may live happy, self-fulfilling lives. If we have less attachment to useless, throwaway material possessions, we need to work less. If we have machines that absorb the work of production, then a major portion of the proceeds of that production ought to go to the people.

There is a path to a world in which everyone has the basics such as food, shelter, education and peace. People would not have to work as hard in this world. Everyone would have the time and opportunity to flourish as fully-functional humans. We just need wisdom to get there.

Unfortunately, the wise and fair-minded do not generally rise to power in this system, and perhaps not in any other.

The American Revolution was an attempt to build a more foolproof hierarchical system, based on a division of powers among 3 branches, those 3 branches themselves basing their authority on the consent of the governed.

But almost from the outset, the rich and powerful interests captured portions of the government and bent them to their own narrow purposes. Andrew Jackson & the smallpox blankets. Using cops & Guardsmen to bust strikes. Make up your own list. The point is that by now, the corruption is virtually complete.

So how can you build an incorruptible hierarchical system, one that is impervious to the toxic effects of money? The more I think about it, the more convinced become that you can't build such a system.

When I was a state employee, I used to say that the state's organizational chart consisted of a pyramid of boxes with names in them, each connected to the boxes below it by diodes. The system was designed to pass orders downward from the top, but not to allow any signals to arise into the system from below. It was a classic hierarchy. Shut up & do what you're told.

Nowhere was this hierarchical unidirectionality of communication made more clear than in the old Soviet Union. Right after the revolution, Lenin was faced with decisions about how to modernize his new nation in a hurry to elevate it from its quasi-feudal state. He thought about putting in a national telephone system. But he scrapped this plan. Instead, he wired the major cities for networks of loudspeakers--the ultimate one-way communication device.

Now, contrast any such hierarchical system with the system in place at an OWS General Assembly. In the GA, someone speaks and everybody gives immediate feedback on how they feel about what the speaker is saying.

Then there is the Human Mike. The "mic check" phenomenon is a very interesting one. One person's message is passed on to the crowd through the concerted, self-coordinated actions of those crowd members nearest the speaker. The speaker must have the consent of his "microphone" if he is to be heard. That's sure a bit different than Moscow, 1923. It's also different from any previous protest action in America. In the past, there were always defined leaders, whether Tom Hayden or MLK. Not this time. The power is distributed very differently.

The major difference between previous social actions and the present worldwide upheaval is the nearly universal access to the new social media. The 1% have their broadcast media, just as Lenin had his loudspeakers, and they have gotten very sophisticated in using these tools to shape public opinion. Classically, the public has had little capacity to respond. Oh, you could write a letter or make a phone call, but in general the public was limited to one-to-one communications, while the Mighty had one-to-many communication capability.

But the transpersonal environment is now very different than it has been at any time in the past. Each person has one-to-many capabilities. For example, I'm writing this in hopes that many more than one of my fellow-travelers will read it, and each of them will have the power to respond in kind, i.e. with one-to-many capabilities.

One way of looking at the massive one-to-many linkages among maybe 1 billion of us is that we have created a feedback mechanism unlike anything the world has yet seen. We are escaping the information filters that have always been imposed on us. We are making direct contact with each other around the world and sharing hour common humanity and our common concerns.

Learning occurs in the presence of feedback. Instant learning occurs in the presence of instant feedback. Learning means adaptability, constant change, constant updating of the information banks. No hierarchical system can coordinate an action as swift and graceful as a leaderless flock of birds suddenly executing a change in direction.

This is why I look to leaderless organizations such as OWS as experimental workshops for developing the new society.

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Arrow 19 replies Author Time Post
Reply Capitalism is toast. What will replace it? (Original post)
Jackpine Radical Dec 2011 OP
socialist_n_TN Dec 2011 #1
Jackpine Radical Dec 2011 #2
Starry Messenger Dec 2011 #3
Jackpine Radical Dec 2011 #4
Fantastic Anarchist Dec 2011 #6
jwirr Apr 2012 #13
Fantastic Anarchist Dec 2011 #5
Mr_Jefferson_24 Feb 2012 #7
Guerrilla23 Apr 2012 #8
Jackpine Radical Apr 2012 #9
TBF Apr 2012 #10
Jackpine Radical Apr 2012 #11
TBF May 2012 #15
limpyhobbler Apr 2012 #12
Jackpine Radical Apr 2012 #14
Taverner May 2012 #16
white_wolf May 2012 #17
Jackpine Radical May 2012 #18
Taverner May 2012 #19

Response to Jackpine Radical (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 05:50 PM

1. Good post. I agree that the social media

is the biggest difference between Occupy and the previous movements. I'm interested to see where it leads us.

I posted something from worker' power down the page about the specifics of a socialist system. A rather long read, but much for discussion.

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Response to socialist_n_TN (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 06:01 PM

2. I read part of it & will get back to it in a bit.

My post was eaten by some gigantic server blowout or something that knocked out a whole bunch of posts. I reposed it in GD.

For a minute there I thought I was getting zapped for daring to say anything bad about capitalism or something.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 06:21 PM

3. I think because we are in a different stage of development from the early USSR

our transition to socialism will not be so stressed to make quick decisions to modernize. They had the immediate survival of the people and the state breathing down their necks and 17 countries poised to attack at once. We are already industrial and like you say, our communication methods are head and shoulders above what there was a century ago.

We can be ever more creative and flexible in creating a new society once the stress of monopoly exploitation is removed from our lives. There will be reactionaries who are comfortable with how things are now who will want to redirect our energy, but in the large, being able to redistribute the nation's wealth to those who are suffering and in need will give the people a creative boost, like adding more memory to a computer. People get really wrapped up in the plan, like we need the blueprints all in place before we get to change society. In reality, the beginning will be messy and human and full of mistakes.

But once we take away the loudspeakers from the 1%, look what happens. Occupy is showing how little bands of humans can recreate their pocket of society. That to me is very powerful. Just the fact that the media and the government has to deal with Occupy as an entity that exists has created a rift in reality. I've felt my own brain tracking into new patterns just in the little I've been able to participate, I can only imagine what it is like for people who have put in more time. It's electrical.

For the first time in 20 years I feel truly excited about the future.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 06:58 PM

4. I think the presence of the social media makes this time different from anything that has happened

in the past.

There have been leaderless organizations before, and on a small scale they have functioned well, as with the case of some Native American communities. But I think what's happening now is of a different order entirely. The interactions & information interchange among Internet-equipped people begin to resemble the activity of a single, species-wide brain. We can't foresee the implications of all this; for one thing, the "brain" is in its infancy, and, for another, it's a sort of Gödel's Theorem proposition: no single one of us has sufficient complexity and information processing capacity to understand the whole.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 09:20 PM

6. It's amazing the creative capacity of the Occupy groups.

I, too, feel really excited.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 03:59 PM

13. And it is not only Occupy. Ther are many small changes being made such as community gardening,

farmers markets, shared housing ideas, etc. these are all building a foundation to connect the people. In the end I think/hope that we can change to socialism while keeping some form of democracy. No dictators - people power.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Original post)

Thu Dec 22, 2011, 09:05 PM

5. Most excellent post, Jackpine Radical.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Original post)

Tue Feb 14, 2012, 02:16 AM

7. Excellent post. nt.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 09:50 AM

8. WE ARE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE.

Agreed!

Now you are talking.

We need a new "Manifesto". Right on!

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Response to Guerrilla23 (Reply #8)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 11:04 AM

9. Thank you.

I had forgotten about this thread.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 12:16 PM

10. Excellent OP -

kind of picks up where the Chris Hedges article posted above leaves off. How do we get back to a society focused on community rather than one focused on exploitation? Ironically it involves going back in time to the community-driven societies we had pre-exploitation.

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Response to TBF (Reply #10)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 03:01 PM

11. Community, yes; traditional tribalism, no.

It's very important that communication among us cross the old boundaries. That is the path to truth-vetting and strength.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #11)

Tue May 1, 2012, 08:12 AM

15. Good caveat - I agree. nt

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 03:33 PM

12. impact of social media...

Just reacting to a small piece of what was said in the OP...

The form of communication really influences the way people relate to each other

So it also affects what forms of authority and exploitation will be possible in a society.

That's a great observation that the internet, and social media in particular, has the potential to change society a lot and undermine current forms of authority and exploitation.

Makes me wonder how much will existing authorities, via government and corporations, attempt to block, control, and monitor these new forms of communicating?

Clearly they are going to try to control it somewhat. And some of it is even legit, such as stopping child predators or terrorists. But to what extent will authorities goes to control political, social, commercial information?

One answer could be that they will attempt to monitor and control everything on the internet until they meet up against some countervailing force that pushes back. As we saw when Hollywood tried to pass SOPA last year until they ran up against a counter campaign.

SOPA was just one example, there's so many more examples of authorities trying to monitor and control our communications that it would take days to list them out. From the new national intranet in Iran, to US employers asking for employees facebook passwords.

Maybe the degree to which we are free to communicate via internet and social media will help define the extent to which political and social progress is possible.




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Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #12)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 05:55 PM

14. I have a certain amount of faith, born of observing human ingenuity,

that people will keep finding ways to communicate and network despite government attempts to block them. There may well be temporary setbacks, but there is no stopping the creativity and energy of humanity once it has been linked together.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2012, 01:52 PM

16. Marx said Fascism is Capitalism in decay

 

With the popularity of RW hate groups, I tend to agree

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Response to Taverner (Reply #16)

Thu May 17, 2012, 01:28 AM

17. Lenin said that.

Marx was dead before Fascism ever came about.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #17)

Thu May 17, 2012, 09:46 AM

18. Thanks to Taverner for the quote

and White Wolf for the source.

I will be using that one.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #17)

Thu May 17, 2012, 12:12 PM

19. MY bad

 

However fascism did exist, it just wasn't called that back then

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