Globalisation and Humanity

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The global economy can only be possible if it rejects the national and embraces the human. To be truly global, it cannot be driven by Americans or Chinese, it has to be the work of humanity. In reality the nation state should already be a thing of the past, but, while the global economy has evolved rapidly and with enormous energy, the political globalisation of the world has stagnated or even regressed into separatisms rather than unifications.

Globalisation is, in fact, a great dilemma for a capitalism which has traditionally bred the segregation of nations and peoples in order to create the conflicts necessary for the kind of dynamic markets it loves the most. In fact, segregation is so embedded in the identity of capitalism that globalisation-through-capitalism itself becomes one great paradox and sounds like an oxymoron.

Of course globalisation-through-capitalism doesn’t really exist because while we know that a process of globalisation through capitalism is going on, we also know that in order to ever complete this process the world will have to become politically-one, in harmony with itself, and this scenario is anathema to capitalism.

So, the question arises concerning capitalism’s real desires for the globalisation process: How global can we really get in the eyes of capitalism?

Capitalism nurtures itself on rivalry – but: What kind of rivalry does it prefer?

To answer this question, we first have to consider how rivalry can be measured qualitatively. Perhaps it could be measured according to levels of complexity: the rivalry in Lebanon is not the same as the rivalry for the State of California. Lebanon is far more complex, as is all of the Middle East, compared to the U.S.A. When economists and politicians talk about needs for regional stability, they are expressing a desire to lessen the complexity of rivalries in certain regions. Paradoxically, this simplification, as understood by liberal capitalism, demands a totalitarian organisation that must be implemented by invasive war.

The question of the relationship between capitalism and war is a thorny one for capitalism; so thorny in fact that it should have been reason enough to look for an alternative to the system. It never has been, but that does no mean that the thorniness has gone away.

In order to grow, capitalism needs to open up new markets and expand its geographical roads. It also needs access to cheap new materials and regions where labour costs are lower as well. On a common-sense level, no one should want war, but underlying that common-sense there is another pragmatic field that knows there is a profit in war, and there is certainly profit in conflict. Investment in the military is a major business interest for large corporations – and not necessarily only for those that manufacture arms. Our contemporary conflicts generate inflation and create substantial profits.

Neo-liberalism might argue that peace is necessary in order to secure free trade and allow for the unfettered flow of capital, but, when they say this, we need to ask what are the consequences of the rivalry involved in the liberation of markets. Conflict is created through exploitation and the fermenting of inequalities and poverty that are an essential part of the fuel that drives the great engine of capitalism and its rivalry-driven economies. So, it is hypocritical for the capitalist to say it desires peace, for a capitalist-peace is a beehive of humming rivalry and implicit in the noise is an element of dissidence.

So, does capitalism need war to maintain its momentum? Probably not, in the short-term; probably yes, in the long-term. It is hard to envisage a capitalist-motivated universal peace movement, precisely because capitalism would have to change too many of its traditional practices in order to ensure such a peace … It is this essential need for war that makes capitalism profoundly incapable of driving the globalisation process.

In the world today, Power-as-Wealth resides in the dominant, capitalist corporations. If war does guarantee substantial profits and promises an increase in inflation then, especially in times of low-inflation or deflation, the companies may find themselves praying for a war just as, centuries ago, farmers prayed for rain. But, the difference in that analogy is that war can be manufactured whereas rain was beyond the farmer’s control. In short, war will constantly be a temptation whilst Power-as-Wealth resides as the pilot and chief-architect of the structure of our System. And wars need States to wage them.

A real globalisation that would absorb States is, therefore, by no means an objective of capitalism, simply because it is not, and never will be, an objective of the corporations wielding power. A real, global, human, stateless panorama would be useless for corporations because they would lose the pieces they need to move around the board; pieces which allow them to keep the game going.

As pieces of a game, the Nation States are not truly held in any authentically patriotic way by the corporate system, they are merely the pieces of the game that make it possible to play. The nationalist pride that is so prevalent around the world today is really one great farce. While our politicians espouse the virtues of patriotism, especially if a war or an election campaign is coming, the real allegiance in the capitalist-driven system is always a corporate one. Since the 1980s, the real value of wages has declined, whilst capital-gains have skyrocketed.

No, capitalism cannot be expected to be a driving force in globalisation, and with the pressing needs of the climate emergency and the urgency of global solutions to solve it, capitalism is equally powerless to act there.

Our Emperor is capitalism, and it is standing naked before us. We need to find a political force that can find global solutions to the existential crisis we are drowning in, and that force must come out of humanity itself. Humanity needs globalisation, and globalisation needs humanity to drive it.

A proper globalisation, political as well as economic, would be not just a political leap forward for humanity, it would also be a profoundly spiritual jump, allowing humanity to be properly born as a concept, allowing for the unleashing of the enormous creative and innovative powers of a human, Sapiens collective. In fact, the leap created by the authentic unification of humanity may be regarded as a transhuman one, whilst in fact it will merely be the liberation of what we really are, the first step for humanity to reach its home, the global world of humanity.

 

FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE ABOLITION OF MONEY

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And so we’ve arrived at the self-service airport with its do-it-yourself check-in. It should be easy, for we’ve already been well trained: we’ve all learned how to manage the tactile-screen world that we are ever so deeply enveloped by. Doesn’t it make everything so easy now? We used to speak metaphorically about having the world at your fingertips, but now it is a literal fact.

Nevertheless, the self-servicing of services at the airport, has definitely complicated rather than eased the consumer’s experience of catching a flight. The host at the check-in counter has been theoretically obsolete, although he or she seems to be just as busy as ever, and, perhaps even more stressed. Stressed, yes, because those of us checking in are definitely more stressed. Now, we must do all the work, and if there is an error … if there can be an error in the perfect self-service world … then it is we who are to blame.

The companies that have implemented self-service check-in will argue that by doing so they can keep ticket-costs low, but how much of that idea can we really believe. What self-servicing does indicate is that technology can effectively replace most kinds of customer-contact labour. There are restaurants that have made waiters obsolete by introducing tablet-app menus: just press the items you want and wait for the signal to go and pick your food up from the counter. Robots have automized industry: almost anything can be obtained from Amazon.com and the human-factor involved in the process of delivery is practically null.

Of course, Amazon delivers books, and the books are not (yet) written by machines. Did we say “not”? Woops. Correction: they already are,[1] and for the pulp-fiction editorial world the temptation to pre-programme a book with all the ingredients they “know” the readers want will be much more appetising than the traditional procedure of accepting manuscripts from cantankerous authors, that must be tediously edited in order to come up with the publishers’ needs.

Technology is destined to replace human labour – that is really part of its purpose – but what is the end-result of this process of “alleviating” labour? Surely, the ultimate goal is a society in which services and production-orientated work no longer has to be endured by the human members of society themselves.

Nevertheless, civilisation is still not geared toward, or even particularly conscious of this end-result. While the technological revolution unfolds, the political and economic fabric of the nation-states and the global economy enveloping them, remains the same. This is probably because the profits engendered from the tech revolution are immense for the few empowered with the control of that revolution. Whilst huge harvests can be reaped and the bubbling unrest from the non-privileged classes below doesn’t burst into revolt, Wealth has no intention of letting society develop into the technologically revolutionised Utopia that it should be evolving toward. Why would it? The self-servicing implied the complete technological redrafting of society suggests an evolution towards the non-necessity of money, and unto the abolition of Wealth itself. Of course, Wealth understands this. Technological progress is inevitable, but carries within it the seeds of Wealth’s own annihilation. We are governed oligarchically now by the empowered wealthy classes, but in that government lies a subliminal fear of this paradox. Only the creation of a Dystopia for humanity will ensure the existence of Wealth after the complete technological redrawing of civilisation has taken place. For Wealth, the only way forward is toward Big Brother. For wealth, survival implies absolute control.

THE ALTERNATIVE

 

For the moment, the revolutionary idea of a complex society that can function without money, is a sublime, if Utopic, one. It transcends any faculty of the senses. The idea seems like nonsense, or we are awestruck by it. We just cannot perceive it properly. Money is not just a part of the status quo, it is a seemingly essential ingredient in our own being. But this is a misleading perception.

The shadows we see flickering on the wall in Plato’s cave, are the shadows of the monetary system. In the real light that illuminates the human condition, money is by no means an essential ingredient. Rather it is a transitory phase that has enabled the development of technology but which needs to be abandoned at some point if technology is ever allowed to fulfil itself in its final purpose.

But the revolution is happening, and the point of abandonment from the control over our lives that money engenders can now be seen. Our politics can now be geared towards the technological revolutions complete realisation as a Utopia – the only alternative is the Dystopia that we are currently being shoved towards.

[1] SEE THIS ARTICLE FROM SCIENCE ALERT, 2016: https://www.sciencealert.com/a-novel-written-by-ai-passes-the-first-round-in-a-japanese-literary-competition

THE PARANOID DEMANDS OF CAPITALISM

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Capitalism demands results. For this reason, it begins scientifically and ends anti-scientifically. The experiment in science is an attempt to prove the validity of a theorem, while in capitalism the experiment has to prove the validity of a dogma.

For the capitalist, the Universe revolves around his or her reality, which is how to make as much profit as possible from MY object. The total immersion in and obsession with this MY, which later becomes an insincere OUR, makes capitalism essentially a paranoiac.

Obviously a world dominated by the paranoid civilisation that is global-capitalism is hardly suited to humanism. For this reason, human-rights are for the majority of human beings, a largely deceitful concept. This lack of faith is part of an inverted condition of mutual suspicion because, in capitalist terms, anything that deals with the human is also untrustworthy. The human, for the capitalist, is a malicious concept, designed to undermine and diminish the MY which is “MY OBSESSION”.

But … what is the MY in capitalism?

It is not “me” but rather what I produce in order to obtain profits for myself, with the emphasis on the profits. The MY reality is equivalent to MY PROFITS.

Results in capitalism are, quite simply, PROFIT INCREASE. This is what capitalism demands. To be a good capitalist you must be obsessed with money. When the capitalist system talks of progress it means Maximising Profits.

The big letters manifest themselves proudly in the capitalist mind: P= Profit; Progress; Power and M= Me; Maximum; Money. PM and MP – capitalist fantasies ardently opposed to the letter H.

 

THE GIFT OF COMMUNISM

Communism was a great gift for capitalism because it enabled it to channel its hatred for the human into another term. It would have been difficult for the capitalists to maintain an aggressive dialectic against its real enemy humanity, but communism gave it the opportunity to do just that without the slightest complex of guilt.

It is hard to argue the ethical position that humanity is trying to rob me of my freedom to make profits, but the image of the communist oppression of individuality, easily transferred onto even milder forms of leftist politics like social-democracy, can be a seemingly valid argument to protest against an anti-capitalist tyranny perpetrated by humanity. Human-rights activists or ecologists now become easily slandered as “communists”.

Nevertheless, when the capitalist thinks of the left, he or she is really thinking of humanity. Humanity is the real enemy of capitalism.

 

CAPITALISM’S MONOPOLY DEATH-KNELL

For the capitalist, competition is healthy, it keeps the capitalist on his or her toes. But, how can MY PRODUCTS compete against Humanity? In order to keep the ruthless game of competition alive, everything must remain fragmented – there can be no monopolies.

And here we get to the paradoxical nature of capitalism: the aim of capitalism is to get results; which is to maximise profits; which is to grow; which is to swallow the competitors; which is to create your own competition; which is to become a monopoly – which is the death of capitalist freedom; which is the death of capitalism.

This is the contradiction rooted in the very essence of capitalism itself. the obsessive paranoia of the capitalist, constantly pushing forward to get results, can only, if successful, convert the capitalist – in the focal point of everyone else’s paranoias.

THE CRIMINAL NARRATIVE

Albert Camus made a differentiation between two kinds of crimes: crimes against capital and crimes against logic.[i] In actual fact, the second crime supports the first. In order to get away with a major money heist the blue-blooded criminal knows he or she must first create a narrative that will turn their crime into something normal; and to do that they need to simply distort logic. It is behind smoke-screens of bent rationality that the most audacious crimes are committed over and over again. They call these smoke-screens, “The Economy”.

In order to ensure that the money always rises to the top of the pile, the ones behind the levitation act feed societies with an Economy Narrative that is completely based and reliant on a logic of deception. It is a logic that justifies their greed, and it does so with total approbation from the greater part of society, even though it is degrading, debilitating and harmful for the vast majority of human beings. To achieve this lying distortion, create their own reality, and convince the masses to support that reality, the first thing that is done is extract “humanity” from the argument. Instead of using exchange to benefit the whole of humanity, therefore, the Economy Narrative talks about what is good for “The Market”.

The criminal distortion of logic in the Economy Narrative cannot function within an authentically human society. Its logical crimes are immediately stripped bare when shown against the backdrop of humanity. When seen from the human point of view, the crimes are immediately revealed for what they are – crimes against humanity. If we change “Market” for “Humanity” the whole Economy Narrative falls apart. And so, the criminal of capital knows, the human point of view has to be eradicated. Once this is done, the crime against logic creates a kind of story that will encourage the victims of capital’s thieving to think like criminals themselves by indoctrinating them with criminal dreams and fantasies. Once society itself has bought this dream, the smoke-screen is up and the real pillaging of all capital can take place in earnest.

With humanity out of the picture, society becomes a herd of individualities, each one mesmerised by his or her unique condition of being an individual within the Market, but driven by the barking sheepdog who pushes them together, inculcating fear with his barks of anything outside of the circle that might threaten the Market enclosing the herd and which is so absolutely necessary for its well-being.

Whilst the individuals are busy watching their neighbours and praying for the health of the Market, the big picture, and the awesome crimes that take place there, can be well hidden. And once the bigger picture is veiled it is easy to carry out the great systemic robbery: a tremendous magic trick that provokes an uncanny levitation of all wealth.

“We are living in the era of premeditation and the perfect crime,” said Camus.[ii] Economic measures, the so-called economic reforms, are anti-cholesterol remedies to ensure the upward movement of wealth. The term reform is criminally distorted so that it justifies the criminals selfish aims whilst seeming to mean something that is necessary for all of society. And yes, Camus is also right by naming our age, the era of premeditation. It is all carefully planned. What seems like economic chaos is simply a manifestation of pure criminal logic.

[i] Albert Camus, The Rebel, introduction, p. i

[ii] Ibid

PROGRESS, NEEDS and THE BEAUTY OF HUMAN MINDS

If we gauge progress according to the fulfilment of life’s needs through the satisfying of pleasure, then we could say that civilisation seems to do very well. This is a most hedonistic society, surely pleasure triumphs. But actually it doesn’t succeed at all. It tries hard but ultimately fails on the biological level of human life, and ignores over and over again the potential for creating pleasure on the psychological (artistic, spiritual and/or intellectual) level.

At the biological level civilisation operates in a rather perverse way. The needs to eat, defecate and reproduce have to be satisfied in a “balanced” way, whilst the civilisation of the homo economicus demands excessiveness and surplus. This in turn creates its own psychosis, as moderation is also a necessary part of the art of pleasure.

On the other hand, and this seems ironic, our psychological space needs to be constantly expansive in order to fulfil human potential. The art of psychological pleasure and the defeat of boredom has to be fundamentally concerned with finding the best way to unleash the creative and intellectual potentials of our minds. We have four areas to do this in: art, philosophy, science and technology. Four areas which are therefore interrelated as perpetrators of the art of pleasure at the psychological level, and which are retarded by the tools of Wealth.

The Big Economy reality that we live in deprecates the enormous wealth of creativity and know-how contained in the vast resource of the billions of thinking brains that make up the human race. Diverse thinking minds, all with an enormous potential that is unappreciated by the system of wealth-accumulation-for-the-wealthy that civilisation protects and propagates. The great cost of this is the enormous lack of exploitation of creativity. Yes, we do see enormous technological advances, but they are self-interested ones, and because of that “limited” advances, veiling the real technological progress that could be made if human creativity and thought were properly unshackled.

The culture of the homo economicus revolves around the cult of money. It disdains art, philosophy and science, except when it can ensure the continuation of the movement of wealth to the wealthy. In the place of these three elements of psychological pleasure we are fed another three more malleable ones: pornography, religion and sport.

But real pleasure is anchored in meaning, and the pleasure of meaningfulness is built through our humanity (unity, love, kindness and social intelligence); justice; transcendence (through hopes, humour, creativity, objectivity and spirituality); intelligence (curiosity, open-mindedness and love of learning); temperance (forgiveness, humility, self-regulation) and our courage and integrity. And in all of these ingredients lie our real potential to be authentic human beings.

The Psychology of Capitalism (1) DEMAND – NEED = DESIRE

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This formula (Demand – Need = Desire) comes from Žižek, after Lacan’s Love – Appetite = Desire. But how does this work?

For Lacan, love is a demand, and he talks of the demand of love and the appetite for satisfaction. But not all demands are love and not all love is a demand. Is the appetite for satisfaction the same as need?

At the immediate level of needing to satisfy our physical appetites, the answer would be yes – I am hungry → I have an appetite for food = I need to eat something. A plate of spinach is given the hungry individual. He or she doesn’t particularly like spinach but the hunger is dominant and he or she devours the insipid dish to satisfy that hunger. After the hunger has abated, what is left over? Nothing. There might still be spinach on the plate, but the hunger has gone and the hunger was everything so there is no need to finish the spinach. If it is eaten it will certainly not be with any gusto, for after the hunger is satiated there is no desire left. On the other hand, give the individual a plate of his or her favourite food. The ration is ample enough to satisfy the appetite, the need for food and the hunger is quelled. Nevertheless, the individual is left wanting more. And … this is desire.

In this way we see that desire is a going-beyond need. In its essence it is a demand for more than one need.

Now, by understanding desire this way, we reveal how capitalism works in the realm of desire and needs.

In a mechanical sense, capitalism is a motor for desire which is a transcendence of the relationship between demands and needs that pulls us into a yearning for the unnecessary.

I love pizza. I am hungry. The pizzeria offers three sizes: individual, medium or family size. The family size is enormous; the individual ration is small but sufficient. Desire, however, entices me to buy the middle-size pizza. It will leave me stuffed, feeling unwell even, but … such is desire. The pizza lover after me buys the family sizer. He is alone and won’t be able to finish it, but … he also likes cold pizza. Or he’ll reheat it for breakfast tomorrow.

In this case, the equation is not Demand – Need = Desire but (demanded)Supply – Need = Desire. For capitalism to work, supply must create demand. It is not enough for a business to estimate what people want, it has to create that want. It has to create the market for itself. The realism of consumerism is not that we can have what we would like, but only that which is there. The illusion is that we can get whatever we want in the market place or the department store. Reality, on the other hand, is that we want what we imagine we can get there. What we really want is very often not to be found. One just has to look for a certain style that is no longer in fashion, or a replacement for a broken part of an old machine, or even a pair of shoe-laces for an old pair of shoes or a tooth brush that will slip into one’s old toothbrush-holder, or … a lightbulb that won’t have to be replaced every year, or a medicine to cure one’s arthritis, or a tomato that tastes like the tomatoes we had when we were kids …

For the capitalist market to exist there needs to be obsolescence. The shorter the life-span of a product the better. In the equation Supply = Need + Desire, it does not matter what the values of Need and Desire are as long as both of them have some degree of positive value. The real value for the capitalist is determined by the value in Supply itself, which is really the factor of availability. The greater the availability value is, the more likely it is to generate the Need and Desire necessary to make it a successful business proposition. The main aim is to fill the shelves with your products and leave no room for competition. This is why companies create their own competition – they are filling the space of Supply which determines our Desires and Needs.

THE MONEYLESS STATE – JUST GIVE US BREAD AND BEER

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The Great Pyramid of Giza was erected more than four thousand years ago in the Early Kingdom of Egypt. How it was actually built is still mainly speculation. Nevertheless, there is one thing we do know for certain – they were built by a civilisation that did not use money.

Egypt in the Early Kingdom had an economy of barter and gift-giving. Of course this gave the Pharaohs the advantage of not having to find money to finance the construction of their dreams. Yes, they would have to find enough workers to dedicate their sweat and time to the construction tasks; they would have to feed and provide some sort of housing for these workers. According to the official records, what was handed out to these workers was bread and beer.

How could the greatest architectural feat in the world be paid for with bread and beer? Could it be that the primitive economy actually favoured the task? Or, let’s go one step further: could it be that a monetary system would have made the great pyramid’s construction impossible?

We are so concerned about the collapse of our markets; so worried about the fragility of our economies. There is more money in the world than ever, and less to go around. The economy demands sacrifices: wage cuts, tax increases. Money is so important, and can be so deadly … and yet …

The best pyramids were built long before money had been invented.

Great things happened without money before … why can’t they happen without money again?

CAPITALISM AND INNOVATION

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We tend to associate innovation with capitalism. Capitalism is a dynamic system and the incentives for making huge profits from patents have inspired many great inventions and innovations. However, it is often said that innovation would not happen without capitalism and that society would be a more backward place. How true is that? Just how necessary, if at all, is capitalism to innovation?

If we look closely into the market place we start to see instances of the opposite happening. In many cases, innovation is actually retarded by the market. One example is the way that corporations delay product releases until the most potentially competitive and profitable date arrives. Once the ideal machine is invented, an inferior version of it is released at first, and it may take a decade before the original ‘ideal’ product is actually up and fully running to its full potential in the market place. But by then there could be a much better product out there. In this way, technology under capitalism is always loping behind its real potentials.

If to this system of staggering we add the notion of pre-programmed obsolescence, then what we see is a massive waste creating machine that is supposedly geared to giving us what we want whilst ensuring that the quality of what we want is sadly lacking. Why can’t we really have what we desire and need, which is a good product that will not be obsolete two years after buying it?

But even this slogan that capitalism only gives us what we want is perniciously misleading. So much necessary technology has never been produced because there was no profit to be made from them, or, the maximum profit was to be made somewhere else. Clean, hydrogen-fueled cars could have been manufactured eighty years ago, if the profit to be made in petrol was not so lucrative. In the question of car motors what was at stake were the profit margins, not clean air. Capitalism is a system of waste, enormous, unnecessary and dangerous waste.

Clean-energy technology development is loping at least thirty years behind where it could and should be. Here we see how capitalism is completely antagonistic to necessity. But progress has to be intrinsically linked to necessity. Because of this capitalism has to be suspect of actually working in a non-progressive or even anti-progressive way.

In terms of innovation, the greatest achievements we have made in the last century would have to be those made in the space race. They were achievements made with public, not private money. Capitalist innovations have so often be nurtured through the breakthroughs made by state promoted projects, especially military ones, that, rather than a great innovator, capitalism is really just a very clever parasite.

CAPITALIST DESIRE (PROHIBITION, PIRACY & DEBT)

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The great capitalist lie is its myth of unlimited desires. That which capitalism calls the realisation of dreams. Society knows that desire cannot be given free rein, for if society has a function it is to organise the flows of desire by establishing limits to them; by adjudicating conflicts that arise.

Capitalist advertising cries out: “Fulfil yourselves! Make your dreams come true!” While at the same time, knowing full well that such a thing is impossible.

If capitalism is a desire-inducing machine, it is also the great fabricator of impossible illusions, of delusions. Success can be found, but it must always be conditioned by the relating of the impossible dream, and the paradox that the attainment of the desired-object makes that object no longer desirable.

The dynamics of capitalism depends on the fabrication of dreams and the constant stimulus of desires. It requires a society enslaved to the lust for acquisitions. Nevertheless, it must also know what the limits to those desires are. Limiting the desires it creates or exploits is also important for capitalism as it needs to control the balance of supply and demand in order to ensure that it always works in favour of capital.

A limited market benefits a corrupt or criminal system (e.g.: the USA in the 1930s). By limiting desire through laws of prohibition, an underground economy can become enormously profitable for they who dare. There is huge profit to be had for those who can control, in an underground way, that which has become illegitimate. Desire for the most potently desirable and addictive commodities: alcohol, drugs, sex, gaming, slaves and weapons, can produce unimaginable benefits for those with enough influence and muscle to traffic them from within the deeply privileged space of illegality.

Most of the above examples of prohibition were established along with the excuse that prohibition protects public health. Primitive economies are markets of exchange, but, even in the free market ideal of capitalism, it is not good to exchange goods that society deems insalubrious.

Nevertheless, our modern, complex economy has created other reasons for controlling the market. The legitimate dealers of desire need to be protected from the pirates. For the system, the acquisition of an object without an exchange of money is a threat to the very stability of the system itself.

However, in a super-surplus creating system in which consumers desire the acquisition of all, an anti-piracy discipline can only lead to a sense of frustration and constriction, because, the truth is, no-one has enough money yet to buy everything, and, we certainly can’t all of us ever have enough money to buy everything. Yet, the capitalism ideal is that we all should want to buy everything. When we walk into a supermarket, we want it all. And now! There are so many possibilities being offered, but nearly all of them just beyond our reach. The great capitalist carrot. But, how long can a system based on a perpetual temptation for us to reach out just a little bit further, to catch that which will never be caught, exist?

An article is made and it is reproduced in millions of copies so each and every one of us can have a copy if we can afford it. However, before we do buy these new mass-produced commodities, first of all we must ask ourselves if we can afford what we desire. With the stress of the cost of necessities (food, shelter, health, transport) taking up bigger and bigger portions of the daily pie of our income, the further reaching economy of completely unnecessary, but ardently desired, wishes starts to decline, even though the actual desires that have been created do not go away. Therefore, we can either: a) get a loan and go into debt in order to acquire everything we want that we think we deserve (if we can’t have these things why do we go to work every day?); or b) exchange the copiable commodities of our desires with others who have the same love of these commodities that are now available to us in a digital form that can be freely copied and exchanged. The latter of course is exchange without money, and that option is piracy. It is illegal.

Of course there is something paradoxical and essentially absurd in offering everything to everyone. It is a lie we believe because we have to. A diversion from our real condition which is one of debt.

Deleuze and Guattari talk of our debt inscription[1]. An inscription drawn on us in every flag, in every national hymn and through every hero. Through the debt, the Oedipal debt, we have to the parents we must surpass. The debt of our self-image in the society, what we call our debt to ourselves, or our self-pride and self-esteem. But when life is a constant paying back, creativity becomes secretly restricted and real freedom does not exist at all.

Is this really the least worst of all systems?

[1] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, UMP, Minneapolis, 1983

ONE STEP BEYOND THE EXCHANGE SYSTEM

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If the thing is useless, so is the labour contained in it; the labour does not count as labour, and therefore creates no value

(Karl Marx, CAPITAL)

If we could abolish the system of exchange, what would we do with ourselves? Without monetary reward, labour would be useless. If we didn’t need to do things, why do anything? Wouldn’t the human race simply disappear?

However, even in the exchange system as we have it today, a great deal of activity is carried out without any monetary reward. The writing of this entry, for example, attains no other compensation than that someone will eventually read it. That may never happen, but that fact doesn’t dissuade the author from writing it. People spend hours a day toiling in their gardens with no expectations of monetary reward. Likewise, the time and effort spent in cooking a special meal achieves the only recompense of being able to enjoy a dish that you yourself has prepared, or offered to others. Artists will indulge themselves in complex, difficult activities, even dedicate their entire lives to such activities, without necessarily receiving any reward at all. In short, human beings do not need to be paid in order to motivate them to do things. All that needs to be stimulated is our inherent passion for doing things, for keeping ourselves occupied and free from boredom.

The exchange system of sacrifice and reward is designed to encourage us to surrender ourselves in exchange for a power to buy commodities, but instead of being a possible part of existence, as the exchange ritual originally was set up to be, it has become the essence of our existence. Hence the term homo economicus.

The concept of reward and sacrifice via the exchange of money has become so important it seems to be the essence of reality itself. It dominates lives in a dictatorial way, creating spiritual misery not only for those participating in the sacrifice, but also for those who are forcibly removed from participating in it. It is an absurd system based on a perpetual growth that is unsustainable. Essentially it is a dictatorship and, like all dictatorships, freedom can only be achieved by either: a) blindly conforming to the system (freedom through absolute passivity); b) escaping (freedom by removal); or c) by active dissidence (freedom through discrepancy, insubordination and/or revolt).

Of these three alternatives, the first is paradoxically the most dangerous. Although it may eliminate stress and perhaps even ensure a passive state of contentment, the stress generated by the system’s absurdity and ingrained exploitation of its subjects will grow around the passive citizen creating an increasing level of denial. This will only cause deeper guilt feelings. Conforming is a kind of escapism, inferior to real escape which is an active removal from the system.

Real escape can be positive if it can create a different system existing autonomously outside of the exchange system paradigm. Such attempts can be seen in the creation of grass-roots communities that try to reject consumerism without completely abandoning the exchange system. Traditionally this has been associated with hippy-type, back-to-nature movements, but that image is being transformed by the development of new technologies, especially renewable energy technologies, that can create technology-based counter cultures. What such escapes reveal is the profoundly revolutionary aspect of technology once it is applied creatively. But in order for this revolution to take place the existing paradigm must first be overhauled.

The third option (active dissidence) is the least cohesive alternative, and yet, at the same time the most promising and dynamic. The dissident space works from within the system in a cellular way. As a body it is largely unconscious as it has too many different voices to be heard in a legible way. It seems chaotic and confused, and it is in essence directionless. It is based more on discrepancy than any concrete alternative. It complains about lack of direction rather than offering clear solutions.  Nevertheless, its negativity has an eroding effect on the absurd system. Also it reveals the emperor’s nakedness, the system’s lack of possibility in the future, and eventually it will participate in the system’s inevitable collapse.

The main question is: will there be a tangible alternative available when the collapse occurs, or will the system operate as it always has done by pulling itself out of the rubble in a new reinvented form of the same mistakes?