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New~ A New Economic System for a World in Rapid Disintegration

2017-06-14 22:20 [ECONOMY] Source:Netword
Guide:The New socialism will require the direct participation of citizens in all socio-economic decisions affecting them.

(Photo: Antoine Collet; Edited: LW / TO)

(Photo: Antoine Collet; Edited: LW / TO)

We live in ominously dangerous times. The world capitalist system -- having fueled colonialism, imperialism and the constant intensification of labor power exploitation for roughly 500 years -- now threatens the planet with an ecological collapse of unprecedented proportions. Unsustainable resource exploitation, water pollution (the transformation of lakes, rivers and oceans into garbage dumps) and massive economic inequality are at the root of the possibly irreversible collapse of industrial civilization. Meanwhile, however, too many of us remain caught up in abstract and ahistorical predictions of collapse that fail to offer an alternative realistic vision of a future socio-economic order.

Simultaneously, the phenomenon of global warming, driven mainly by the dynamics and contradictions of a fossil-based economy, has prepared the soil for the eruption of New sources of conflict with the manifestation of historically unique destabilizing social forces. Climate change directly threatens billions of people and most other beings -- besides the occasional cockroach, diadem or tardigrade -- with outright extinction brought on by droughts, floods and other "natural" disasters.

Nonetheless, the catastrophic scenario sketched out behind the operations of global capitalism does not merely represent the other side of a wild socio-economic system bent on constant and abstract growth in pursuit of ever greater rates of profit. The so-called Golden Age of capitalism ended decades ago and the system has now run into a brick wall, as it appears to have reached a point where it is no longer capable of sustaining a constant momentum of growth to keep the economy reproducing itself at a pace that generates higher standards of living for the next generation.

Indeed, the productivity rates in the advanced industrialized regions of the world (such as the US, Europe and Japan) since the eruption of the Financial crisis of 2007-08 are far slower than those of previous decades, thereby confirming the claims of various experts who argue that we have reached the end of the age of growth.

Moreover, in spite of all the talk about the marvelous and awe-inspiring accomplishments of the high-tech revolution, these innovations pale in comparison to the innovations of the Industrial Revolution. The New technologies reach billions of people, generating mythical fortunes for founders and investors, but increasingly employ only a handful of privileged workers. In the meantime, the problems of massive unemployment, increased inequality, growing economic insecurity, and dangerous levels of public and corporate debt are mounting.

In this context, the present crisis facing the world economy as a whole "consists precisely in the fact," as Antonio Gramsci put it in his Prison Notebooks, "that the old is dying and the New cannot be born," and all of the above represent the "morbid symptoms" of this antinomy that the great Italian revolutionary underscored as being part of this interregnum.

Corporate Capitalism and Social Disintegration

Still, there are optimists among us who believe that the current system can be rescued from its apparently imminent decay by the implementation of certain government interventionist policies, such as those that guided the new Deal era. However, the global economy has changed fundamentally since the 1930s, with neoliberalism being a direct outcome of the New wave of economic globalization that has swept the world since the 1980s. And the reliance on fossil fuels to power growth is actually increasing the consumption of primary energy sources, such as coal, oil and natural gas, in spite of the phenomenon of global warming, which threatens to destroy human civilization as we know it.

Worse, the call for a new Deal has been adopted by several allegedly progressive political movements in Europe, as well as by Bernie Sanders and many of his supporters in the United States, thereby making it even more challenging to create political and ideological momentum for the emergence of a New economic system free from the chains of capital accumulation and the exploitation of labor power and natural resources.

It is only realistic that the germs of the future society will be built within the present one, as Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin advised, which means reform is always needed to move from here to there. Reform, however, must not have as its ultimate aim the maintenance of the existing social and economic order, which is what most versions of social democracy and Keynesian economics aim to do with their policy prescriptions.

Yet, the choice between "barbarism or socialism" has never been clearer. The need for an end to capitalism and its replacement by a New economic system based on cooperation, rather than competition; socially owned means of large-scale production, rather than private ownership; and participatory structures of social organization, rather than hierarchical and oppressive/repressive ones, has never been greater.


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