Unless It Changes, Capitalism Will Starve Humanity By 2050

Snippets from a conversation in the EE Community on Facebook triggered by an article by Drew Hansen in Forbes magazine under the same title

Vassag Hovsep shared a link.

On the increasing importance of distributed ownership and governance:

Unless It Changes, Capitalism Will Starve Humanity By 2050

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“We need to build a new system: one that will balance economic growth with sustainability and human flourishing….”

Vassag Hovsep

In a similar vein: https://medium.com/@joe_brewer/the-pain-you-feel-is-capitalism-dying-5cdbe06a936c

The Pain You Feel is Capitalism Dying – Joe Brewer – Medium

George Pór 

It’s time to say as it is, if even Forbes, the prime magazine of conventional business says it. Of course, saying is not enough; we need to learn how to evolve our organization from command-and-control ==> self-management ==> self-organization, where we are not simply managing ourselves for the interest of the owners’ increasing profit, but decide together about the finalities of the production.

Vassag Hovsep 

If Forbes is telling me that by the time I am 68, I will be starving due to a cannibalistic capitalism, I will do everything in my power to imagine and implement a new system collaboratively…

George Pór 

“Collaboratively,” is the key indeed. Only together can we have enough smarts to figure out how to reach the tipping point into a post-capitalist era, by transcending the alienation caused by the private expropriation of the collectively-generated surplus value, and the ensuing alienation from the fruits of our labor, our creative forces, each other, and nature.

Vassag Hovsep 


George Pór 

Thank you Vassag for calling our attention to Evonomics, the online magazine that published the article you quoted. I found an interesting statement there, which points to the relevance of your first phrase in this thread on “the increasing importance of distributed ownership and governance.” It says:

“There’s no such thing as a non-corrupted capitalist market. Call it any other thing, cronyism, oligarchy, nepotism, they’re all just Capitalism. It’s a product of the way ownership and power is distributed; markets have very little to do with it.”

I found that an insightful observation and helpful in the debate with those, who want to “re-think, ” re-invent” and “fix” capitalism, or are dreaming of a “conscious capitalism.” They claim that the source of our social ills is not capitalism, but the excessive greed of some capitalists or that “we don’t have a real free market because it’s distorted by the monopolies.”

As long as private ownership of the means of production assures the private expropriation of the surplus generated by labor, the alienation I wrote about above will continue. The only solution to that is the transition to a commons economy. See http://commonstransition.org/ .

Stowe Boyd 

I am all for capitalism, with a lowercase ‘c’. People start businesses, product products, make money, pay salaries, post profits. Fine.

But globalist hypercapitalism, where everything is bent by the magnetic field of immense capital? No thanks.

Yes, our opposition to hypercapitalism must be to take a long list of common goods out of the market economy, like health care, child care, education, infrastructure, and the land, water, and air. And, radically perhaps, the polity: our political machinery has been marketized. This may be the hardest thing of all.

You might want to read Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 to get a sense of how difficult a transition away from market-based politics may be, and why we have to look to science fiction for the appropriate models. Likewise Heinlein’s ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’.

I advocate commons-ism: that any sustainable and just geopolitical order must be scaled bottom-up, based on the stewardship of geopolitical commons starting from small scale like a particular locale — like Beacon NY, where I live — to larger networks of locales into regions — like the Hudson River Watershed, where I also reside.

A transition of geopolitics away from top-down nation states toward regionalism and localism could lead to a world based on a bottom-up network of city-states. While we have to counter hypercapitalism directly, we need to envision an alternative economic and political order, and prepare for a difficult transition from the mess we have made into a future we can’t even fully express, since so many aspects of it have never been tried.

George Pór 

Stowe, I tend to agree with you, AND Kim Stanley Robinson is my fave sci-fi author. I haven’t seen his new book that U R referring to, so rushed to Amazon and just bought it.

Have you read his Mars trilogy? Much of the third volume, Green Mars, is a wise epiphany of the global constitutional convention of the commons and its preparation. It has greatly inspired my thinking about preferred futures what can become possible when there’s a web of critical connections in a social, ecosystem of Collective Awakening.

Now, I’m back to writing my essay under the same title, which is due to the publisher in a couple of days…

The question that such a transition will give rise to is, what will replace the capitalist market as a system of distribution of goods and services? The failure of the Soviet system shows that central planning doesn’t work in times of increasing complexity. Advocates of the commons argue for “avoiding authoritarian central planning, through the adoption of open book management, adaptation to the publicly available signaling, as well as through negotiated coordination of production and distribution.

This does not obviate possible need for democratic planning through citizen participation, whenever this is needed and wished for. However, it creates broad areas for mutual alignment of productive capacities.” http://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Theses_on_Digital_Labor_in_an_Emerging_P2P_Economy

I am unconvinced that this approach can eliminate the market as the mechanism of distribution. Democratic planning through citizen participation may work well in small scale autarchic economies, but not likely at the scale of national, let alone global economy. It makes me wonder, whether in a next-stage world, the capitalist market can be replaced with a commons-based one?

Harry van der Velde 

Let’s take notice of the fact that this change is entering the mainstream. Good for us. All of us. Keep up.

George Pór 

Indeed! And keeping up calls for you (all of you) and me connecting the dots, which is essential for the global ecosystem of next-stage organizations and initiatives to grow into replacing the Establishment.

I’ve just re-read what Frederic Laloux had to say about “ownership”, which is relevant to our conversation:

“Could it be that in a Teal society, we would no longer think in terms of ownership, but in terms of stewardship? Such a shift would have profound implications in terms of legal ownership of organizations. Only time will tell if and how such a scenario will play out.” (RO book, page 256)

In the next excerpt, he points to the “stewardship” distinction that is central to commons-based organizations.

“We might invent some concept that transcends both collective and individual ownership. Perhaps it will be based on the concept of stewardship. A factory might have exclusive rights to the use of a machine for as long as it puts it to good use. This right comes with the duty to maintain the machine, and if it’s no longer needed, to ensure it gets transferred, even at some cost, to another custodian that finds productive use for it again.” (RO book, page 297)


Drew Hansen 

I’m the author of the article that opens this thread. I wrote it at the beginning of 2016. On the point about ownership vs stewardship, I wonder about financing for businesses. This is not a theoretical question for me. I am an entrepreneur building a …See More

Steph Thom

What I have seen and read about, is that the organisation sets up as a For Benefit Corp and then negotiates with investors in similar ways, ensuring that the agreement they come to clearly supports the purpose of the organisation. Which means that the return for the investors need to be different than just cash on IPO or sales. I feel that most B Corps decide to grow organically to maintain their integrity however.

I know of 2 who are looking for funders rather than investors, however no agreement have come to fruition yet.

Harry van der Velde 

Thank you Drew Hansen! My thinking for the last year or so gravitates around how to exchange and store real relevant value without resorting to the traditional quantification systems like money and guilt. The hypothesis I am field-testing is that cooperating without budget constraints opens up vast underutilized possibilities. It works. I work.

Featured Image/graphic link added by Enlivening Edge Magazine.







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