The Fifth Industrial (Eco) Revolution – Radicalising Incentives

Avoiding Earth-xit: Part 2 – The Parallel Non-Monetary (Eco)nomy

On a UK seaside promenade, you can watch a woman carrying her cute white Cockapoo like a treasured designer purse. When she places the dog down on all fours, it looks up at her confused and any hint of movement it expects to be a gesture for it to be picked up again. She pulls its lead and it sits rigid, looking as if to say, “what’s this? You expect me to walk, when I can ride in your warm arms?” So she coaxes it with a treat, a bonus, if you like, which the dog devours and prances excitedly on the spot, like just one treat is never enough. But when the lead is pulled, defiance, she would have to drag its paws along the concrete, so she picks it up.

People have fostered this pathology upon themselves, carrying governments and bankers for aeons with their hard-earned cash, regarding them as providers, not wanting to bite ‘the hand that feeds,’ rather than a beast that knows no different than to gorge and waste and take and take and take, without being obligated and because it knows it can get away with it. But it is dependent. It is dependent not only upon financial speculation – and we all know bankers never speculate with their own money – but also upon the hit-n-miss pick-n-mix predictions of stock market traders consulting their various soothsayers, I kid you not, and expert analyses of the turbulent political and commercial infractions that impact on every corner of terra firma human beings can urinate on. “Also familiar are the effects of large-scale violence undertaken to ensure the welfare of the world capitalist system. A recent Jesuit conference in San Salvador pointed out that over time, the ‘culture of terror domesticates the expectations of the majority.’ People may no longer even think about ‘alternatives different from those of the powerful,’ who describe the outcome as a grand victory for freedom and democracy.” Noam Chomsky ‘Profit Before People: Neoliberalism and the Global Order’ (Seven Stories Press 1999).

The uprisings we’ve seen comprised of cross-party and non-political concerned adults have hit the majority of countries. Some populism movements successfully replaced their political status quo in a few short years – notably in Mexico, Iceland, Portugal, Spain and Italy – yet they attract derisive and violent opposition, physically, or through media propaganda, and rarely retain their ideologies when they wake in the morning to the same financial issues and system. Some later succumb to similar political tactics to their predecessors or return power to them. But they do provide successful processes and initial ideals worthy of examination. Such movements followed mass-student demonstrations and now in 2019 our children are forced out on to the street to tell the present self-indulgent adult generation to stop jeopardising their futures. It takes a mere child to tell emperors their new suits are all-together a collective embarrassment and not a funny one. If the woman at the outset had simply left her dog behind, it’d be better for both of them.

So far, this 21st century – aside from some technical advancements – has produced hardly anything that isn’t retrograde, in social cohesion, education, politics, economic policy, health, carnal conflict and criminal expediency. Some would assert that going backwards is what we drastically need to redress climate change. Stop flying, stop using diesel for shipping and haulage. Even a pre-industrial age might afford us a better future than a new ice age. Forecasts surrounding the Fourth Industrial Revolution are less speculative than predictions of a post-capitalism, post-mercantilism, or post post-neoliberalism, but many wonder if it’s merely the same fantasizing that promised us personal jet-packs, flying cars and monorails in the 60s. All these posts seem to amount to people erecting fences or sitting on them. Unification and solidarity are as utopian as the idea of replacing capitalism, in this protectionist panic-obsessed age where anything that’s up for grabs doesn’t require any moral imperative. Minorities pitch against countless other minorities with an equal chance of success, whilst diluting any collective interest. While capitalists capitalise on this to control potential opposition, or set conditions on what is supported and how, it also reduces their opportunities, so control becomes a peace-meal political squabble of outmanoeuvring. The concept of cycles undermined the linear notion of building a party organization that would grow and grow until it eventually overthrew capitalism. What they came to recognize was that struggles might grow and become more effective, as workers… succeeded in throwing capital into crisis. But again and again capital would find… a way to decompose those methods of struggle and restore the balance of class power.” Yet: “This contradiction between the way capital organizes society and the way this strategy undermines its ability to impose that organization has not been merely theoretical but has become manifest at several different moments in the history of capitalism. As ruptures expand and catalyze others, the crisis facing capital spreads and deepens, increasing the possibility of complete rupture—of the revolutionary overthrow and transcendence of the system as a whole.” Capitalists undermining of their own control is certainly of interest, but there is scope for an intermediary process.

Getting rid of money and markets entirely is not only a necessary condition for getting rid of capitalism but also desirable in its own right. I think that many utopians have been quite right to imagine worlds without money. I reject all programs that propose to transcend capitalism but retain money and markets as supposedly efficient methods of allocating resources in a new and better society—whether they be of socialist or anarchist or libertarian inspiration. Understanding the constraints that capitalism puts on our lives clarifies what we do not want and therefore what we want to get rid of. Every proposal I have seen for some kind of ‘market socialism’ would retain those constraints. It is way past time to transcend them once and for all.” Harry Cleaver ‘Rupturing the Dialectic: The Struggle Against Work, Money and Financialization’ (AK Press 2017, and above). A reasonable analysis, but does the situation need be so intransigently polemic? Although Cleaver proposes drastic change empowering workers, the struggle he describes to rupture, once-and-for-all, the dialectic dictating employment could ebb and flow for more decades to come. Decades we do not have. This prospect prompts many to throw up their arms and others to call to arms. But there are lateral ways to skin a fat-cat.

A one-size-fits-all solution most dismiss as Never Never Land, yet hardly anyone contests what is the single determining factor. Some say it is capitalism but capitalism is only a tool. It is about incentive. And what incentivises and empowers capitalists is money. So it‘s worth contrasting the limitations and incentives money dictates with the things people do without it. Not just as a principle or ideal, but as an existing parallel economy, a reality from the time when families first split and decided to exchange or trade. We don’t have to regress to bartering, or depend on human kindness, or morality someone decides for us, or any already tried and failed communist or socialist economy, nor do we need to eliminate the role of value or accountancy. It has to be non-discriminate and applicable everywhere, based on something people already have and crucially what capitalists would love to get their hands on.

Cleaver, asserting Marx was neither politically affiliated nor an economist, nails the process he stipulated all those years ago – “The revolutionary overthrow of capitalism can and will only be achieved with the end of work as a means of social control—the abolition of the material grounds of the concept of abstract labor. As the memory of capitalism fades, the meaning of the word ‘work’ will likely be reduced to its vernacular sense of exerting a lot of effort or one of its scientific senses (e.g., of exerted force causing a displacement). Human activities would continue to exist in all their variety, but there would no longer be any reason to lump those activities (that currently fit Marx’s definition of ‘labor/work’ within capitalism) under a single rubric…” “The problem would have reduced itself to: how to overcome the rise and fall of prices. The way to do this: abolish prices. And how? By doing away with exchange value. But this problem arises: exchange value corresponds to the bourgeois organization of society. Hence one last problem: to revolutionize bourgeois society economically. Those steps include both those that restrict the sphere of money and exchange—while expanding spheres free of it.”

An easy thing to say, but how do you replace the imbedded mentality of it just like that? I would contend that “expanding spheres free of it” has formerly been used as a principle countering force or resistance, the way Cleaver uses it. Yet if we consider deflecting and absorbing the countering capitalist force, (as you would use an opponent’s energy in martial arts, or the way Tabonuco trees intertwine their roots to flex and withstand hurricanes) diverting and expanding capitalist spheres through forming, valuing and then dictating the activities of the non-monetary market – “abolishing the material grounds of the concept of abstract labour,” it opens up new radicalised incentives to rapidly develop eco-technology and conservation energy strategies, no longer restricted by money. It offers them a vast global growth industry, thus revolutionising “the bourgeois economically” without the long tedious process of “the revolutionary overthrow and transcendence of the system as a whole.” Removing price is neither sufficient, nor necessary, but becomes a process of osmosis, where material transaction is obsolete and no longer governs the psyche. If children hate eating carrots, you bake them a carrot cake. The freed up market can be the carrot leading capitalists to the non-monetary economy that alters perspective and options both immediately and through long-term advantages and achievements. But, firstly, has anyone said we can do this? There are many diverse non-monetary economies across the globe and 4000 alternative, complementary and crypto currencies, some of which work successfully on national and international levels. The trend to localisation and protectionism is what prevents some joining up, but even this unification of disparate systems is not necessary for a new parallel economy.

The beauty of a zero-cost economy is that it creates true wealth, which brings economic security… As a result, economic slavery doesn’t exist and people start enjoying life without the burden of daily financial pressures. However, if we fail to increase general purchasing power by controlling costs, economic security will elude us. By itself, creating new jobs can’t achieve this. What effective actions can we take that would make sense for all groups—the poor, middle class, rich, and superrich? Certainly, we should not favor one economic class against another, as this would be a waste of energy and resources. On the contrary, we should give elite capitalists the incentive to accomplish certain goals; then, once they’ve accomplished these goals, we should reward them. It’s important, though, that we withhold their rewards until they have met the desired goals. We should guide elite capitalists and other entrepreneurs in the right direction in the interests of the economy and the environment. They would enjoy all the pleasures of profit… as long as they did the things the right way.” Farid A Khavari ‘Towards a Zero-Cost Economy’ (Institute for a Zero-Cost Economy, Florida 2009). This still presents a potential conflict and restriction of movement. What would be superior is to offer something capitalists want, without it costing them anything. Some would argue they would never go for it, as it could trigger deflation. “Although deflation in the twentieth century is often associated with economic recession. In the nineteenth century, deflation was compatible with economic growth. The right kind of deflation involves lower prices through increased productivity and better technology.” Tejvan PettingerEconomic Growth and Zero Inflation,’ (July 2012). The non-monetary market offers precisely this.

In contrast with monetary economics that panders to gentrification, this fear of devaluation is somewhat hypocritical. Profit maximising; crafty tax-evasion strategies; producing cheaper retail goods and reduced tax on those; demanding more labour for less wages, infringing on dinner breaks and leisure time, demanding unsociable hours; minimising of any welfare state and crucially using pressure skills to acquire as much as possible in exchange for no monetary outlay… on top of statutory social infrastructures exploiting poor people’s sense of pride in not seeking anything for nothing, and workers’ enmity towards the unemployed who do not contribute a pittance (in comparison with politicians mis-appropriation of taxes and corporate tax evasion) towards the gargantuan economic crisis – are all part of the pre-determined expansion of control by capitalists. If the minority can exploit these factors for control, why cannot the majority? All they need is a means of doing so. If they formed their own parallel no-monetary economy, imagine the transformations they could incentivise, not just for themselves but crucially to appropriate and re-incentivise monetary capitalism in the bargain, turning it solvent without costing anything. Without interrupting the current monetary economy, or the way it functions, capitalists gain from both, but the monetary market gets absorbed and eclipsed by the other. And the everyday unpaid work people continue to do can be valued in a spendable specially devised or existing economy.

In fact, avoiding the pitfalls intrinsic to the monetary economy, it would go much further, enabling the Fifth Industrial (Eco) Revolution that eclipses and replaces the Fourth.

1 – Caravan covered in solar panels – courtesy

2 – Electricity generated by vegetables – Shutterstock

3 – sunglasses made from coffee beans – Published on October 17, 2018 in Shield you eyes sustainably from the sun with coffee sunglasses

Here’s a projection of what’s achievable, some of it immediately and others in the short-term:

  • ends poverty instantly;

  • supplies every living person the inalienable right to earn from anything that constitutes work;

  • enables re-evaluation of what constitutes work along with its rates;

  • enables well paid part-time work for more employees and increased leisure and care-time;

  • removes employer’s wage-payment obligation;

  • radicalises employer/employee relationships;

  • replaces cost-cutting shoddy production and profit-maximising with fair flexible local employment, reducing carbon footprint;

  • enables full technological development;

  • re-focuses human involvement on intellectual ingenuity and quality of products and service;

  • expands leisure and conservation as growth industries;

  • removes the need for economic migration and trafficking;

  • removes financial implications, prejudice and insecurities towards employment markets where economic migration continues;

  • allows beyond optimum employment in all sectors;

  • expands State, beyond optimal employment;

  • removes the need for State taxation;

  • reduces dependency on welfare state by 90-95%;

  • enables students to earn for the work of studying and for their institutions in extra-curricular activities;

  • removes restrictions on housing, manufacturing, health, transport, community and social services;

  • enables human and economic investment in conservation, eco-friendly farming, green technology and energy;

  • enables repatriation and rebuilding of communities ravaged by war, natural disaster and austerity;

  • enables justice for all replacing privileged legal systems;

  • allows for everyday people to influence or dictate what public servants do and how they represent them;

  • removes political minority party power-mongering;

  • enables compensation for economic and physical loss caused by deceit in political and commercial manoeuvring;

  • allows prosecution of people who misuse(d) power to cause mass murder, marginalisation, social and racial hatred and discrimination, as a warning to anyone who thinks of abusing their representative position;

  • allows compensation for previous misuse or waste of taxes;

  • prevents national debt culture and spiralling interest rates;

  • transforms many international power struggles into mutual cooperation, skills and expertise exchanges (already extant in academia);

  • removes most monetary motives for crime;

  • can reward reduction of personal carbon footprint.

Now, wouldn’t you regard anyone who preferred money to this as sick, especially if they can keep the money? Evidential economic sense, then, is the most effective way to break this nihilistic pathology without violently removing it. Any of us could die by ecological disaster, traffic accident, disease or chemical terrorism tomorrow, so what have we got to lose, apart from time, if we remove the biggest single inhibiter to better dialogue?

100% of nothing

Capitalists spout ‘the work ethic’ whilst luxuriating in the riches of financialization that affords them their game of Russian Roulette with trade and people’s livelihoods. Most of that financialization lies inert doing precisely nothing except grow or diminish. “In 1971, 90% of international financial transactions were related to the real economy – trade or long-term investment – and 10% were speculative. By 1990 the percentages were reversed, and by 1995 about 95% of the vastly greater sums were speculative…” Noam Chomsky ‘Profit over people: Neoliberalism and the Global Order.’ But this abstract numbers game, exerts power. “Inasmuch as… ‘creeping stagnation’ in the productive sector continues to provide the flesh on which financialization feeds, one might have expected Foster and Magdoff to deepen the analysis of the sources of that stagnation. As a result… they were unable to see the attack on real wages or the fraudulent manipulation of credit as responses to those struggles, as counterattacks in a class war.” Harry Clever ‘Rupturing the Dialectic; The Struggle against work, money and financialization.’

If the rich cannily exploit all these devices to save them money, the 99% can easily devise a non-monetary economy that remains separate and crucially has no exchange value with money. The process that allows this already exists, but that is not for this article. Whilst money is finite and needs to be shared, the non-monetary economy is limitless and simply requires a method of accounting. It doesn’t even need distributing. It would retain no intrinsic value and exert no influence until it is used and hence avoid all the pitfalls of financialization. Capitalists can earn extra on top of the non-monetary accumulation from trade (and the money it saves them) simply for facilitating it, in other words, for doing precisely nothing. A hundred percent of nothing still equals nothing, which is not very appealing for capitalists – yet that also means twenty-four trillion dollars of national debt and any rate of taxation could, in practical terms, equal nothing. They are not wiped out in figures. They are simply treated for what they are in reality by other figures earned independently from money, ONLY through the market the 99% can offer.

As non-monetary accounts amass and people gradually forget how much they are totting up, simply by getting on with the work they need to do each day, work will eventually assume its general meaning instead of the inhibited mental concept defined currently by formal employers. This, by sheer level of engagement, dictates the global market, re-incentivizing away from the current industries that focus on short-term monetary and political gain. It is achieved without any frontal assault on capitalism. It even affords the prospect of shared and non-ownership. But idealism is not the aim.

We simply need to stop the abuse of disempowered people and the planet and forcing our children to be the grown-ups. To stop carrying corporations and politicians and leave them behind, initially. They will follow. Everyday people are not asking for something for nothing. All people want is to live life as productively as possible and a future to live it through.

So, how do we go about it?


Nothing New Under The Sun

Avoiding Earth-xit: Part 3 – Momentum for Change

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AvoidingEarth-xit Part 1 – Diversion



Kendal Eaton (copyright 22 April 2019)

(Concepts from ‘A Chance For Everyone : The Parallel Non-Monetary Economy’ – yet unpublished).

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