Avoiding Earth-xit: part 1 – Diversion
When the Notre Dame tower toppled, I drew an astonished and regretful breath. Intelligent people were consulted immediately and concluded its social impact was akin to the devastation of the twin towers in New York. Any practical association ended with this knee-jerk sympathy. A few analysts asserted that in today’s fragmenting disparate world such a material tragedy might “bring people together” in grief, in affection for the building, for the icon, for the façade of piety that in their projections symbolises liberté , égalité, fraternité and our inevitable human transience. Or could it form a new European-wide bond, no doubt with money, with the express objective to preserve not human welfare but cultural heritage? Wha…? Whe…? And these experts get paid for this. Weeks on and they remain not hinges in history but mere sound bytes. Yet the collective sigh was palpable.
After Grenfell Tower burned on 14th June 2017, killing 72 people and making 223 homeless, it took two and a half years to raise and deliver most of the £20.5 Million. But material support for this old girl, within two days, was set to exceed €1Bn. Who’d have thought such a loved and resonating structure – not hailed for its religious dissemination as much as for Jules Verne’s sympathetic tale and images of Charles Lawton’s ugly mug gymnasticizing around its vaulted and buttressed appendages – would so acutely parody the antipathy of its purpose. Integrity is superfluous in today’s human tragedy. Notre Dame is in greater danger of leaving a monumental bad taste, leaving out the ethics of its proprietors and their material, no doubt highly insured, acquisitions.
Whilst the Arab Spring and all resistance movements since got subsumed as brief hiccups in 21st Century political history; the Gilets Jaunes fill the Champs Elysee; British climate protestors disrupt the London underground, so politicians could turn their attention to future tax-payers; China plan their Moon base and NASA spend billions in taxes on reaching the red planet; other nations within Europe wait in the wings for the outcome of Brexit, plotting their own independence and racist, nationalist, neo-fascist, separatist thinking, through what has come to be legitimised through global economics as ‘Protectionism;’ and all through the Middle East and Africa, brutality separates political and militarised factions and people from their own countries; while Russia and the US pursue a new de-stabilising fiscal cold war, despite accusations of a pally relationship even Britain would envy right now… the second hand of the final decade ticks towards the cliff-edge, from which global warming will dramatically tip us, if we don’t jump first. Human history will soon no longer be worth any of the trinkets, monuments, canvass or paper it has been painted or written on. This fate and our immobility presently chiselled in a handful of monoliths hard to budge.
It makes me wonder if homeless or poverty-struck French citizens and struggling businesses are thinking how many services will suffer, from the potential tax write-offs claimed by those who conjured these €-millions, overnight. There is only one Notre Dame, of course, but could martyring of the stone edifice be simply more marketing opportunism, to secure invitation to exclusive Champagne gatherings with President Macron and a ‘magnanimous’ name – no one will recognize as soon as it is engraved – on a brass plaque, as ‘patron of the arts?’ Such benefactors. Some would say if we only had another half-century, the investment would be worth it. The money is no loss in comparison.
But does this affirm confidence in global politics and commerce, or convince the electorate of intransigent pathological self-indulgence? Such a passion for history, yet nothing new to this city that caring people will resort to any means to counter the unprovoked and what would otherwise be criminal violence imposed upon them by the privileged? Any surprise when it draws appropriation from far left and right wing factions, riding the wave to supplement their own deficient agendas? What legitimate form of redress remains that is not subverted by corporate, political and legal process, legitimised in media as the bastille of social law and order?
Never in history has every nation seen such disintegration and clamour for urgent change. Some would dismiss as hyperbole the idea it constitutes WWIII, in the form of fiscal (often civil) conflict with more widespread and invasive inhumanities than those evident in the thirties and forties. The same cynicism secured Adolf Hitler’s popular selection as German Chancellor, whilst the comfortably indifferent reclined in their deluded grandeur, writing their (and everyone else’s) indistinct and tragically ironic epitaphs. Not the ones we honour today.
If commerce and politics have little will to alter course, who does? And what could that change be? Where does the power actually lie? Are we all as powerless as we feel, or will individual efforts not even forestall the inevitable? Is the twin-towered edifice of capitalism and what democracy has turned into worth saving?
Lack of powerful opposition in each region leads to panic strategies and manipulation of the financially powerless. But while they scheme and kill, it is inaccurate to say the few to whom wealth and power have been devolved have scant regard for the future. Yet, human existence is in the balance. When Trump saw an emergence and expansion of left-wing activism and campaigning across the United States, he craftily hoodwinked them into believing he was their blue-collar saviour. That canny reality, born from the electoral rhetoric, saw low-status capitalists celebrate, while he picked their pockets to make the ultra rich, undercutting their rights and competitiveness, wealthier. The prime tactics of global competition are transparently division and diversion. Unification has become passé. Power-struggles are not the promotion of colonialist and imperialist ideologies spouted from the auto-cue. They are the panic-stricken, pre-apocalyptic loosening grasp on the diminishing edge of fatality. Fear of loss the prime motivator. Hence the predetermined policy to destabilise and disempower any and all individuals that will succumb, to concentrate wealth between the more manageable 1%. 95% of that wealth unrelated to trade, rendering them automatons to the escalating world debt, too engrossed in the poker-faced blame-game around summit tables to responsibly admit collective ownership.
This is why authors of The Green New Deal, not necessarily in opposition, suggest global warming is placed on a war footing. To the remotest regions of the planet, communities witness alterations in weather patterns and increased disasters. Nobody exempt. Putting the reason down to money makes the only sense as money is the prime motivator. So asking for more from capitalists and politicians seems dead in the water.
But what if there is a way for the disempowered to form their own diversion? To bypass this political and commercial dissociation with the determined impersonal evil fostered by neoliberal economics? Is it as many New Economic Models suggest through more protectionism and localised economies? Or will capitalists listen to them and suddenly grow moral consciences? We all know the answer to that. Reliance on commerce and politics has convinced people they are simply wasting their time; that doomsday scenarios are inevitable. What is termed ‘The Anthropocene’ in Bernard Stiegler’s opinion is a manufactured nihilism that can be dismantled to form ‘The Neganthropocene.’ But again, who will this rely on? The same experts, politicians, capitalists and economists that formed the Anthropocene, or the disempowered dependents marginalised from global economics? Or is that too much to ask of nihilists? Surely it is a gargantuan task even for a broad collective.
So, with all this desperate grasping for the wealth devolved to so few, what are our immediate options? First we have to get real.
There are numerous realities, parallel ones in fact. Not the plurality of a multiverse, but something that is in plain sight and occupies the same space and planet and air and time. Three of which are glaringly obvious. But to see them means peeling back the façade of global economics and challenging what that dependency actually is in reality, rather than the post-truth we are bombarded with through employer/employee dynamics and a media preoccupied not with what the serious questions should be, but the obscenities power people get away with.
Parallel Reality ♯1:
Money does not make the world go round. This is something you’ll struggle to convince someone in the street of, let alone any politician or capitalist. But how much trade and everyday transactions involve physical cash? In this sense it can be said most of the capitalist system is actually non-monetary, our salaries, things we pay for, are mostly virtual exchanges. Certainly the super-rich hardly ever touch the stuff, it’s way beneath them. “Accounting makes the world go round, the world go round, the world go round. Accounting…” exchanges in electronic figures that could just as easily be hieroglyphs. Only unofficial militants and criminals are interested in bulk hard-currency. No monetary and mineral reserves, precious metals and commodities, art works or oil-dollars, in heavily secured basements and faraday cages, cover the extent of world monetary commerce, or effectively supplement it. But it is astonishing what the virtual figures achieve, providing insurance companies massive virtual wealth, affording them their new super-yachts in Monaco, as they offer to compensate the nightmare scenario that the Chinese, German and Irish governments may not actually be able to redeem the spiralling trillions they own of US national debt. This is a reality. Another they agree on is that they could never compensate the US non-payment, but why concern themselves with that reality when they can luxuriate in the proceeds from their projections? But, astonishingly, capitalism is hardly the largest non-monetary economy.
So, if virtual abstract figures run the world and can achieve all these things for the 1%, can you imagine the shift if the 99% can create their own virtual market? Simples. Brace yourselves.
Parallel Reality ♯2:
This economy already exists. And what is worse, capitalists everywhere utilise it to boost profits – though currently in only a meagre way. What I am about to propose is something every capitalist and accountant worth their salt should frenetically start tapping away at.
This economy is not simply the vast expansion in NGOs, charities, aid agencies, campaign networks, voluntary groups and international refugee and crisis organisations. It is not even the economy of State; that of businesses propped up and facilitating profits in the private sector from public taxation – subsidised again by the above non-monetary initiatives. It is not the economy of the black markets and the figures saved by being omitted from tax-declarations, or through loopholes and havens; nor the charitable donations that not only come from everyday people’s expendable income, but from the virtual figures afforded them by state in match-funding and concessions. It is not the self-created currency of circular economies, alternative, complementary or crypto currencies; nor even the cumulative global exchange of the physical and virtual commons.
This economy is the untapped everyday reality that functions everywhere, by everyone, exchanged or not, during the long periods between monetary transactions. This is all the work around the world that gets done without money and without payment of any kind, far outweighing paid employment. It is the economy of the 99%. What some term ‘social capital,’ or ‘abstract labour.’ Non-commercial everyday activity that never makes the news; this is the economy capitalists seek to monetise but cannot, due to their neoliberal agendas shooting them in the foot.
Parallel Reality ♯3:
All people – whether engaged politically or commercially or not, of whatever status, including the 1% capitalist moguls – are dependents. Capitalists are dependents of their success and share of the global market and financialisation, well beyond their control, rendering them mere automatons to the ever vacillating machine. Politicians of all persuasions are dependents; if in dictatorships and police/military states, on loyalty and looking over their shoulders; in democracies, on their popularity, though it only requires that in theory or polls, not practically. This insecurity is something politicians needn’t be paranoid over, when they are constantly shaking mutated hands with friends who open doors and offer pies to plunge their multiplying fingers into. A good liar is always in demand. This is the dependency most people think is immovable and irreplaceable. Yet the critical masses marginalised and disempowered by it somehow carry on.
Whilst the 99% are diverted by greater demands on their time, energies and resources, to keep providing loved ones food, shelter and energy, the same power as motivates capitalists to monetise as much of this market as possible, even their insatiable greed, can be diverted for mutual advantage. The solution is to devise a new market by the 99% and on their terms. One that is not dependent on monetary transaction, but enables every individual to engage (initially) in capitalist ‘productivity.’ This is not a revolution in kindness or ethics, but an implementable inalienable right for anyone – regardless of age, capability, or status – to earn virtual value that remains crucially separate from the monetary economy. Its engagement with global commerce will affect it only positively, expanding the market beyond anything currently imaginable while radicalising employment practices incentives and relationships. It will cost no one – not even the wealthiest capitalists – a single penny.
ONLY the 99% have the necessity and motivation to form this economy. It cannot and must not be co-opted under political or commercial control. Yet it will afford capitalists increased monetary wealth as well as surpassing virtual wealth unattainable using money. Let capitalists have ALL the money if the rest of the world no longer needs it. Some will still prefer money, but they’ll be envious of what they see the non-monetary economy achieving. Imagine what those will be the moment it is implemented; end to poverty, beyond optimum employment, reduced hours without reduced wages (which employers will no longer foot the bill for), re-defined flexible concepts of work and practices, relationships, migration, profits, debt, productivity, quality, eco-tech and non-carbon energy research, rapid reversal of global warming through a Fifth (Eco) Industrial Revolution, re-incentivising of corporate motives, restructuring and compensating of social disintegration and infrastructure, remedied international conflicts, bi-partisan initiatives and potentially the eradication of the politicians Achilles heel – taxation.
Richard Branson is intent to fuel his space hotels off the privatised NHS. Just as that is an accepted emerging reality, the parallel reality of the non-monetary economy already exists and is established in many forms, globally. Beware the post-truth pathology of crash-n-burn panic-economics that would convince you this is unrealistic. It requires no giant leap of faith but only a small step, to make this accessible to everyone within 2 years, utilising existing organisations, methods and processes. Those that want it and need it far outnumber those that would resist against their own interests. Sitting-pretty capitalists will never tolerate opposition to their existing power, so why not use that against them? The only way to re-incentivise capitalists is to offer them a market way beyond the one they already have and that they can never obtain through money. All we have to do is examine these options and choose them collectively to form the largest inclusive economic force. Given specifics and an easy pathway to fulfilment, everyday people will simply get on with it much faster than protesting and debating ideological or politicised moralists.
So, who will actually take responsibility and douse the growing fire instead of being diverted towards enflaming it? And how is it done? Sanctimoney will never free us of the historic monumental burden of capitalism. But a comparison of a mere 66 books/papers and 649 global network initiatives conferencing with extended affiliates, dealing with the fallout of neoliberalism, reveals something shocking that not many everyday people are aware of. As close as neoliberalism has brought us to catastrophe, it has also brought us within a hair-trigger of an immediately implementable non-monetary economy and the liberation all people so desperately need. Sanctuary . . . Sanctuary.
The Fifth Industrial Revolution – radicalising incentives
Avoiding Earth-xit: Part 2 – The Parallel Non-Monetary Economy
Kendal Eaton (copyright 18 April 2019)
(Concepts from ‘A Chance For Everyone : The Parallel Non-Monetary Economy’ – yet unpublished).