Aug 022012
 
 August 2, 2012  Posted by at 3:55 pm Finance
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know your enemy

We need a systematic moral transformation in America – something which leads us to a society so fundamentally different than what we have now, it would be scarcely recognizable from our current perspective. That, in my opinion, is the conclusion Morris Berman gives us in his latest blog post, Sociopaths Rule, which is intended as a review and critique of the documentary, Heist: Who Stole the American Dream? (Frances Causey and Donald Goldmacher, 2011). Berman points out that Causey and Goldmacher are right to dump on Reagan’s neo-liberal, trickle-UP economic paradigm, but they are also asking the wrong question.

It is not who stole the American Dream, but rather who convinced us that the “American Dream” is worth having in the first place. Why should we even value a socioeconomic philosophy centered on entrepreneurial individualism, unlimited growth and endless complexity? All of those things simply lead us to a state of moral apathy, which leads us to repeated bouts of corruption, exploitation and systemic crises. To answer the question of who transformed American culture into this state of hollow utilitarian morality, Berman takes us back to the very beginning and forces us to look in the mirror (full article found at link above).

Greed, and the free-market ideology, were hardly born in 1981. In this sense, the film lacks a genuine (which is to say, long-range) historical perspective. Greed showed up on the American continent in the late sixteenth century, when what would later become the United States started to be colonized by a particularly aggressive and entrepreneurial segment of the English middle class. Louis Hartz makes this point in his classic work, The American Liberal Tradition (1955), when he says that America is a “fragment society,” i.e. one that took a particular strand from the mother country—in this case the mentality of hustling, of go-getting, of unlimited economic expansion—and made it into the whole of the new country. One might argue that Reagan represented a “quantum leap” in this ideology, but he hardly invented it; from Day One, it is what America has been about. Credit-default swaps are merely the inevitable culmination of a process that has been going on for more than four hundred years.

Over the last few decades, we have merely experienced the accelerated phase of economic, social, cultural and political decay in a country that has been decaying from the start. Note that the word “decay” cannot be confused with “contraction” or “stagnation”. We are not talking about the inability of the wealth pie to grow or innovative institutions to develop – in fact, it is exactly those types of developments that contribute to the inner rot. If we want to recover any meaningful sense of justice, liberty, equality and social commonality, we must be willing to abandon the amoral American cultural Zeitgeist once and for all.

Like Occupy Wall Street, the film insists that we must “take back” the American Dream. Like OWS, it never seems to grasp the fact that rather than recovering or restoring the A.D., we need to abolish it. The A.D. is part of the American frontier mentality, coupled with the mythology of extreme individualism, and is in fact based on the idea of infinity: there can and should be no end to economic and technological expansion. Unfortunately for that hopelessly neurotic vision, we are fast running out of resources; the planet cannot support the A.D. extended to every American, let alone every person on the planet. In fact, it was once calculated that for everyone on the planet to have a “modest” middle-class American life, we would need the resources of six Earths.

 

This is why socialism, or spreading the A.D. around more fairly, is not an adequate response to capitalism, because it too is based on the notions of “growth” and “progress,” and those notions are fast becoming obsolete. The real shift required is not to (let’s say) a Scandanavian-style economy, but to a steady-state one: no growth, and not profit-oriented. And if the left hates this, as I’m sure they do: well hard cheese, folks, because in thirty to forty years we are going to be forced into this, when petroleum runs out and the dream of unlimited energy turns into the nightmare of scarcity. To socialists and capitalists alike, to Paul Krugman and Robert Reich and every other so-called liberal, I can only say this: permanent growth means permanent crisis. It’s time to start equating this type of growth with cancer.

So how do we achieve this radical transformation into a steady-state economy that abandons self-absorbed pursuits of growth and profit, and focuses on selfless struggle towards the good of the collective? As Berman states in his post, the American people are “exhausted, spiritually spent”… and any intentional metamorphosis of the national identity seems like a pipe dream right now. Movements such as Occupy may raise some awareness and produce a few beneficial results, but their underlying mentality about the whole thing falls way too short.

America needs a systematic moral transformation, but very few are willing to take the necessary steps to get it.

“Compromise
Conformity
Assimilation
Submission
Ignorance
Hypocrisy
Brutality
The Elite
All of which are American dreams!

(Rage Against the Machine, Know Your Enemy)

Home Forums Permanent Growth = Permanent Crisis

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August 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm #8450

ashvin

We need a systematic moral transformation in America – something which leads us to a society so fundamentally different than what we have now, it woul
[See the full post at: Permanent Growth = Permanent Crisis]

August 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm #4983

Ken Barrows

Maybe we should ditch the idea of America as well as that of growth. I cannot see how more than a few percent of the population will abandon the desire for growth before TSHTF. Of course, The Automatic Earth realizes the need to relocalize. Most people won’t do it to any significant degree(I have to say I haven’t), but it’s still important to do… eventually.

August 3, 2012 at 1:51 am #4984

Supergravity

This piece is limited in scope, lately I tend towards a cornucopean reaction when reading such things.
Yes, the US citizens are flawed devices, and spiritually spent, and their embodiment in the AD has produced delusional exceptionalism and wrongful hierarchies of want, but there’s a bright side too. Its at least better than the soviet dream as realised.

“selfless struggle towards the good of the collective?”

This runs afoul of the collectivist fallacy; the idea that individualism is equivalent to selfishness and that collectivism must therefore be altruistic. This is not so. There could be altruistic individualism and selfish collectives too.
The collective ‘good’ is never defined by the collective itself but by dominant individual voices, using political power for selfish reasons disguised as the ‘common good’. This seems to be an intractable problem of large-scale political power structures which mobilise collectives.

The idea of ‘Entrepreneurial individualism’ may sound badly growthlike, but I’m not convinced there are viable institutions to enable entrepreneurial collectivism in any form, except maybe for war. Certainly economic entrepreneurship itself is positive, if relating to societal innovation and prosperity.

A steady state system with stable material and energy throughput also necessitates a stable population, otherwise additional population will diminish material wealth for the rest. This poses a problem, as methods of coerced pop control, being forms of tyranny, are more immediately and more certainly dehumanising than possible starvationary resource constraints.
It may be that a steady-state global economy would have to be artificially constrained and have all social change arrested by totalitarian control of all intellectual throughput and elimination of innovation.

Furthermore, one shouldn’t think that the accruement of individual material wealth is inherently bad, only if it becomes increasingly wasteful, materialistic and exponentially consumptive.
An alternative form of economic ‘growth’ can be sustained by progressively diminishing input factors and waste output while keeping material wealth creation, expressed in ambient energy flux density, stable or growing, so lessening resource constraints and lowering biospheric stressors even with a growing population.

And abusing the idea of infinity to fool people into believing that there are no material limits may be a less dangerous form of social control than fooling them into accepting artificial scarcity and placing fixed constraints on socioeconomic innovation.

I have high hopes for stellar expansion and space colonisation in the next few centuries, potentially removing terrestrial resource constraints altogether. Although this global systemic collapse will proceed for the next few decades at least, there may be another epoch of expansion and a new growth of cities afterwards, depending on energetic innovations.

Obviously sustainable growth cannot involve exponential physical expansion in a finite space, but novel forms of deep growth not requiring ever-increasing material and energetic inputs may enable some metric of wealth to increase with stable or decreasing input and waste factors.

Finally, it occurs to me that politicians so easily win elections by promising growth because the amorphous growth mantra, by subconscious neuroleptic incantation, fools people into identifying politicians as nurturing parent figures to further their infantile consumerist drives, precisely as Bernays prescribed.

Growth is the law, growth under Gravity.

August 3, 2012 at 4:35 am #4986

SecularAnimist

“This is why socialism, or spreading the A.D. around more fairly, is not an adequate response to capitalism”

He obviously has an “American” definition of socialism.

“no growth, and not profit-oriented”

Well, gee, if it is not individual profit oriented, one would assume that it might be more – oh, I don’t know, social or community oriented.

August 3, 2012 at 5:05 am #4989

ashvin

Supergravity post=4651 wrote: Yes, the US citizens are flawed devices, and spiritually spent, and their embodiment in the AD has produced delusional exceptionalism and wrongful hierarchies of want, but there’s a bright side too. Its at least better than the soviet dream as realised.

The only reason it seems better than life under the SU Communist ideal is because most of our murdering and pillaging and suffering has been externalized to other parts of the world… but that will soon catch up with us. IMO, an amoral and selfish system composed of likewise individuals is always going to end up being just as “bad” as any other amoral and selfish system, regardless of what we call it.

“selfless struggle towards the good of the collective?”

This runs afoul of the collectivist fallacy; the idea that individualism is equivalent to selfishness and that collectivism must therefore be altruistic. This is not so. There could be altruistic individualism and selfish collectives too.
The collective ‘good’ is never defined by the collective itself but by dominant individual voices, using political power for selfish reasons disguised as the ‘common good’. This seems to be an intractable problem of large-scale political power structures which mobilise collectives.

I agree that the labels do us little good here. The key question is not whether there is “collectivism” or “individualism”, but whether the individuals in society are primarily motivated by their obedience to moral/ethical principles and their concern for others. If the latter is true, then the collective good will necessarily follow. It must start with the individual, and can be aided by small-scale organizations such as the household, schools, churches, community centers, etc. Obviously, what we have now is the exact opposite of that.

The idea of ‘Entrepreneurial individualism’ may sound badly growthlike, but I’m not convinced there are viable institutions to enable entrepreneurial collectivism in any form, except maybe for war. Certainly economic entrepreneurship itself is positive, if relating to societal innovation and prosperity.

Entrepreneurial activity is bad in so far as it is primarily defined by a profit motive, which necessarily elevates the selfish attributes of individuals participating in those activities. Once the individuals and communities transform, entrepreneurial activity will work for the collective good.

A steady state system with stable material and energy throughput also necessitates a stable population, otherwise additional population will diminish material wealth for the rest. This poses a problem, as methods of coerced pop control, being forms of tyranny, are more immediately and more certainly dehumanising than possible starvationary resource constraints.
It may be that a steady-state global economy would have to be artificially constrained and have all social change arrested by totalitarian control of all intellectual throughput and elimination of innovation.

Here I may agree with you that Berman is incorrect to think that a radical moral and socioeconomic transformation can be sustained at the global scale. Once we get to scales larger than your typical villages, communities, states, etc., it becomes harder and harder for the moral foundations of individuals to endure, and we lapse back into episodes of corruption, exploitation and tyranny. It is all contingent on the inherent desire of the individuals and communities to voluntarily restrain themselves from growing and consuming more than their local environments can handle.

And abusing the idea of infinity to fool people into believing that there are no material limits may be a less dangerous form of social control than fooling them into accepting artificial scarcity and placing fixed constraints on socioeconomic innovation.

I disagree with this completely. It sounds good in theory, but the reality is that individual accumulation of wealth and societal orientation towards growth produces hierarchies and temptations that will always overwhelm the underlying intentions that may be pure. Once you have social and political hierarchies at large scales, it only takes a few well-placed individuals to be corrupted before that corruption “trickles down” to all sectors of society. That is the reality of Reagan’s trickle down economics… the wealth stays at the top and all the bad stuff trickles down.

There is nothing inherently wrong with technological innovation or even expansion into different places, such as space, but the question is where those desires are actually coming from. If we are acting from a moral and selfless foundation, and we still CHOOSE to pursue such things, then so be it… I have a feeling, though, that such a society would be much more focused on maintaining their current scale and quality of existence rather than reaching for the stars. It’s really just the practical and wise thing to do, because increasing complexity always breeds unintended consequences and corruption.

August 3, 2012 at 5:13 am #4991

ashvin

SecularAnimist post=4654 wrote: “This is why socialism, or spreading the A.D. around more fairly, is not an adequate response to capitalism”

He obviously has an “American” definition of socialism.

“no growth, and not profit-oriented”

Well, gee, if it is not individual profit oriented, one would assume that it might be more – oh, I don’t know, social or community oriented.

Again, the labels don’t do us much good. What is clear is that all past and current systems that have called themselves “socialist” or “communist” have most definitely been oriented towards growth and profit. What you have in these systems is a populist call for centralized institutions to act as our moral arbiters and distribute the wealth/resources fairly, but what we really need is for individuals and small-scale institutions and communities to be their own moral arbiters. As long as we keep thinking we can substitute top-down restructuring, i.e. “capitalism for socialism”, for systematic personal transformation, we will never make any progress towards our professed ideals.

August 3, 2012 at 7:02 am #4994

dr.van nostrum

Ash……. I have no quarrel with the obvious fact that limitless growth is an absurd fantasy. What I DO object to is the ridiculous idea (born of historical or philosophical ignorance?) that America is somehow unique in its greed, exploitation,etc.etc. This drive to dominate, this willingness to exploit, the drive for “profits” which translate into “the power to control” is UNIVERSAL. If America seems to have been better at the job than most, it is only that we are at present at “the top of the heap”. Go back 100 years, it was Britain and Germany. !00 before that, it was France and 200 before that it was Spain. This is what goes on among peoples. As to any hope of even a partial movement towards “steady-state”, the very first thing that MUST take place is de-centralization on a massive scale. No central banks, no European Unions, no powerful central governments that micro-manage each state or region, no globalization and no world government. These are the perpetrators of tyranny, the originators of local apathy, the destroyers of community, and the evangelists of the “endless growth” lie.

August 3, 2012 at 7:47 am #4995

ashvin

dr.van nostrum post=4662 wrote: What I DO object to is the ridiculous idea (born of historical or philosophical ignorance?) that America is somehow unique in its greed, exploitation,etc.

No one has claimed that it is unique in this way, so I’m not sure what or who you are objecting against.

Berman is an American, I am an American, and a lot of readers here are American, so it makes sense to focus on the depravity of America.

August 3, 2012 at 8:05 pm #5003

Libertylawyer

“No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” – Winston Churchill

The same may be said, it seems to me, about capitalism. All well and good to say that Americans are morally bankrupt and that capitalism is the cause. But that doesn’t get us anywhere. Given the problems of scalability when there are 6 billion mouths to feed we must be very careful about any proposed cure, lest we through the baby out with the bathwater.

August 4, 2012 at 12:16 am #5006

backwardsevolution

Ashvin – thanks for the great article!

“Like Occupy Wall Street, the film insists that we must “take back” the American Dream. Like OWS, it never seems to grasp the fact that rather than recovering or restoring the A.D., we need to abolish it.”

Totally agree!

“The interest of the poor or the middle class has not been to have the sort of civilization Robert Crandall talks about, or (also interviewed in the movie) Bernie Sanders does, which would include concern for the environment, the welfare of society, the fairness of our institutions, and so on—not at all. Their goal has been, since the late sixteenth century, to get into that upper 1%. When Sinclair Lewis published Babbitt in 1922, a biting satire of the hustling way of life, the reaction to the book on the part of Americans was not to smirk at George Babbitt, but to speculate on how they might become George Babbitt.

There really are limits to the argument that a small cabal of the wealthy and powerful “did this” to us—the rape theory of American history, one might call it. It’s more likely that the process was one of consensual sex. It is hardly an accident that Mr. Reagan won the election in 1980 by one of the biggest landslides in American history, or that every year, when polls are taken of the “who’s-your-favorite-president” variety, Mr. Reagan comes out on top or close to it. Consider also the unrelenting popularity—for decades now—of a book such as Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. If Alan Greenspan was her protégé, so are we all; we all swim in the stagnant pool of her ideological pathology.”

A totally brainwashed society! The elite have done a stellar job on propaganda and marketing; I’ll give them that.

August 4, 2012 at 5:47 am #5009

pipefit

From the wikipedia.org entry on St. Matthew Island, “For example, Garrett Hardin cited the “natural experiment” of St. Matthew Island of the reindeer population explosion and collapse as a paradigmatic example of the consequences of overpopulation in his essay An Ecolate View of the Human Predicament.[7]“

The carrying capacity of the planet is function of several factors, average standard of living, sustainability of major activities, and the extent to which resources are diverted from uses that improve standard of living. I suppose you could throw in ‘peak cheap oil’, but it is sort of covered by ‘sustainability’.

Since sex is a lot more popular than dying, population seems to be intent on testing the upper limit of carrying capacity. This seems to be putting pressure on farmers to use unsustainable farming methods to boost yields.

Another crucial factor is man’s seemingly inherent warlike nature. Here we have a huge problem. Barring the use of weapons of mass destruction, military machines seem to be increasing their capacity to siphon resources from the world’s economy at a far faster rate than they are increasing the body count. (not that I’m an advocate of the latter. just stating the obvious)

Combine all these factors, I think a parabolic rise, followed by a crash in human population seems to be in the cards. Do away with the world’s military, and the planet might be able to support the present population at half the present average standard of living. (not sure though)

August 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm #5014

Caith

‘The key question is not whether there is “collectivism” or “individualism”, but whether the individuals in society are primarily motivated by their obedience to moral/ethical principles and their concern for others. If the latter is true, then the collective good will necessarily follow.’ [...] ‘Once the individuals and communities transform, entrepreneurial activity will work for the collective good.’

It’s not going to happen. You can’t make people transform like that. You may be able to transform yourself, but that’s all.

Here’s John Michael Greer on the pitfalls of trying to transform societies:

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/plutos-republic.html

August 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm #5016

karlj666

Permanent growth is by nature exponential (growth by x% per year). This is of course not sustainable in the long run. Eventually we are limited by some finite resource, such as oil, or we run out of consumers to consume the things produced by the growth – one consumer can only consume so much.

Soon the world population is prognosed to level out at 9 billion, and that will set a limit, if not oil does before that, which seems more likely.

And then there is the problem with the National debt that requires growth in order to keep the interest rate low and to be able to pay intrest if the debt. Some countries have around or more than 100% debt to GDP, negative growth, and are now about to default, like Greece and the others in PIIGS.

So some reset or change will occur, voluntarily or not, when the growth levels off or goes negative.

August 5, 2012 at 1:58 am #5025

Babble

Ash, you sound like a blooming communist. It is obvious to many that we cannot have unlimited growth so that must stop. How? Well the world isn’t going to stop unless they starve so we need to greatly slow immigration into western countries to limit population. We need to invest in new energy resources that will help all. Two are the Nobel gas engine and cold fusion (and this is no hoax).

Some statements made here sound weird because they are just plain backward. For example: “Berman points out that Causey and Goldmacher are right to dump on Reagan’s neo-liberal, trickle-UP economic paradigm, but they are also asking the wrong question”. This is stupid. Reagan was not a neo liberal, he was a conservative (though not by today’s standards of the lunatic right) and he touted trickle DOWN economics not trickle up. This is still the mantra of conservatives.

The biggest problem in the US is that we are fed a constant diet of lies with twisted facts. You would do well to correct them not to promote them, as done by conservatives (the American Taliban).

August 5, 2012 at 2:10 am #5026

pipefit

Your are quite funny, Babble. You chastise others for inaccuracy, then turn around and call Reagan a ‘conservative’. That is utterly preposterous. At the time, 19881 to 1988, he was the biggest ultra liberal, budget busting, fiscal communist in the history of the world, by almost an order of magnitude. To be fair, he did take some conservative positions of social issues, but those pale in comparison to his fiscal treason against the constitution of the USA.

This is part of what is wrong with America. People such as yourself don’t know what simple words mean, and this makes it simple for the masters to befuddle the people with season adjustments and other propaganda.

August 5, 2012 at 4:18 am #5029

Anonymous

ashvin post=4657 wrote:
Entrepreneurial activity is bad in so far as it is primarily defined by a profit motive, which necessarily elevates the selfish attributes of individuals participating in those activities. Once the individuals and communities transform, entrepreneurial activity will work for the collective good.

It seems to me that the corporation is inherently the most selfish individualist institution, and government the most selfish collectivist institution. Because almost all commercial activity is controlled between these, and they comprise most means of production, the aggregate of individualist or collective motivations cannot be transformed from private profitability into altruistic orientation until these structures are decompiled to smaller scales of locally responsive and accountable organisation.

A constitutionalist rule of law as delineated by the individuality of unalienable civil rights should also yield an altruistic motivation for representative governments, if counterbalanced with civic duties and responsibilities which are collectively orientated and scaled to intergenerational political accountability. The contemporary format of corporations, with solely profit-based marketability, cannot yield altruistic motivations whatsoever, but corporate profitability may still contribute towards a common good by appropriately redistributive taxability.

And with ideal taxation mechanisms under a representative government, wouldn’t any form of private profitability, even when derived from completely selfish motives, be sufficiently redistributed towards a common good, if the fiscal motives of elective systems, political parties, were sufficiently altruistic between economic classes and at intergenerational scales?

August 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm #5034

william

There has been a paradigm shift where the rules are new. Growth and profit are only the increased waste and misuse of resources. Anyone promoting the idea of hoarding most of the resources to benefit a select few (the allied countries) is promoting the most bloody war. This is exactly what the American Dream is about.

If we cannot walk away from capitalism and these dreams, we need to embrace the most bloody war. Anyone who has done the math knows that to keep up these types of dreams many in the rest of the world must be killed.

August 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm #5035

ashvin

Babble post=4694 wrote:
Some statements made here sound weird because they are just plain backward. For example: “Berman points out that Causey and Goldmacher are right to dump on Reagan’s neo-liberal, trickle-UP economic paradigm, but they are also asking the wrong question”. This is stupid. Reagan was not a neo liberal, he was a conservative (though not by today’s standards of the lunatic right) and he touted trickle DOWN economics not trickle up. This is still the mantra of conservatives.

Neo-liberal is an economic theory/perspective, not a political ideology…

Trickle-UP of wealth was the result of that perspective in action… obviously a play on what he claimed to be “trickle-down”.

August 5, 2012 at 10:22 pm #5036

ashvin

Gravity post=4699 wrote: [quote=ashvin post=4657]
And with ideal taxation mechanisms under a representative government, wouldn’t any form of private profitability, even when derived from completely selfish motives, be sufficiently redistributed towards a common good, if the fiscal motives of elective systems, political parties, were sufficiently altruistic between economic classes and at intergenerational scales?

Does that sound like something that could happen? Maybe there’s a reason why it is impossible… the motives define the results.

August 6, 2012 at 12:09 am #5037

Glennda

“Like Occupy Wall Street, the film insists that we must “take back” the American Dream. Like OWS, it never seems to grasp the fact that rather than recovering or restoring the A.D., we need to abolish it.”

Strange that so many think that the Occupy movement is all for the American Dream. What we had here in Oakland and SF Bay Area, seemed more like a Localize and Decentralize movement.

No one seems to have reported on the Occupy the Farm that happened in the East Bay Area.

http://www.occupythefarm.org/

There was about a month where lots of local community people including Transition town groups etc came together to support the ideas of the Occupy the Farm. It was hoped that the Albany City council would vote against the UC Berkeley request for height limit exceptions etc so they could sell part of the track to Whole Foods a non union trendy store. With so many empty retail shops in the area it seems to be madness to build more shops to remain empty like loads of other newly built retail store fronts.

This was a grand coming together of urban farmers who reject the American Dream of unlimited growth. To me this was a good start of the localizing needed in this area.

August 7, 2012 at 12:03 am #5051

Anonymous

As large-scale profit-based structures control most means of production, individuals are economotively coerced to be selfish as well.
Corporations are maximally profit-oriented and very selfish, and control most means of production and much legislative powers, so much so that corporations don’t seem to pay much taxes wherever they operate.

Then the state controls most remaining means of production corporations don’t control. The fiscal motives of elective systems, political parties, although not monetarily profit-oriented, are mostly selfish as well in redistributing taxable wealth for political power.

That doesnt leave much room for small-scale communal sharing systems of de-growth. How can individuals possibly transform to a different motivational mindset if most of their productive capacity is syphoned off to large-scale predatory systems which can’t be held to account?

Another reason senseless growth is in demand is that the monetary system requires it, so I agree with the argument that central banking must be abolished to eliminate embedded inflationary growth-biases. The money supply, and thus the economy, is otherwise forced to continuously expand to facilitate its exploitation for private profit by banking cartels.

But I feel there’s a more fundamental reason why Ash’ appeal to communal altruism is difficult, especially in modern industrial society, insofar as that all economic activity is principally leveraged off the facilitation and maintenance of a food surplus, which must be individually allocated before it can be communally reciprocated. The facilitation of a perpetual food surplus itself may engender a growth paradigm, but any other means of economotive leverage is biologically and psychologically untenable.

The oldest material institution is the marketplace, it posesses motivational attributes which may be individualistic, communal and collectivist at various scales of organisation. Reciprocal value systems and bodies of law, governing doctrines of fairness, are primary products and prerequisites of equitable markets, and these enable both selfish and altruistic means of trade.

So it seems that people must be able to produce or trade basic needs at communal scales without coercion, without having to engage profit-based growth structures, to enable selfless and reciprocal relationships at larger scales of societal organisation. Aggregates of small scale free markets could work towards this end, perhaps, if allowing for the means of production to be uncoerced and locally oriented.

August 7, 2012 at 2:50 am #5052

SteveB

Gravity, you’ve hit on one of the main reasons why ending the use of money worldwide is perhaps our only viable option (the other primary reason being that its continued use will “motivate” us to destroy our ecosphere.) Removing the “econo” from “economotive leverage” also removes most of the leverage, leaving us to live–without that most ubiquitous of arbitrary motivations.

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