We see all kinds of scandals in mainstream news and in alternative news. But is that the beginning and end of our problem, clean out the rotten apples and all will be well. If we could just elect the right business leaders, if we could make sure nobody is lying about the money, then it would be better. No doubt that is the truth, better business leaders and no lies make the world better. There is however a deeper problem, quite obvious and in your face, working against you: how private investment alters market pressures. Private money that is going to be successful, will always seek the highest returns, and that always means the workers are to be exploited to the maximum. Is exploitation somewhere else worse, then that's where the smart money is going. Companies that don't exploit to the maximum are eventually removed from the system for lack of Capital. These things seem to be taboo in Western Culture, probably because they are undeniably true and demand fundamental changes in the makeup of our society. Who wants to take on the Government of Finance ? Not something private Capital is likely to invest in, is it. When academia is on the leash of the Government and big private investors, and Government is on the leash of private investors owned media and dependent on a friendly private investment sector to make it to the next election without a recession, which professional intellectuals dare bite the hand that feeds them.
Since the days of the Communist uprisings in Europe against abject conditions, there hasn't been much serious system-analysis of the economy. Even the present day rebellion against “the ruling elite” does barely dare touch the holiest tenets of private Capitalism such as the right to invest money in businesses. Because of this, this “anti-elite” rebellion may end up being an insignificant ripple on the surface of society that will die away when the main characters die away. Since the early days of anti-Capitalist struggle, the ideological battle-line has become: the people in favor of Trade, and the people in favor of nationalizing the banks. Unfortunately both sides wouldn't quite agree that this was the extend of their disagreement, because the people who favor Trade also favor “free private finance” as “an extension of market logic”, and the people who favor nationalizing banks also favored nationalizing most if not all industry, turning everything into large collectively run companies. An interesting occurrence of being divided and conquered. Today both systems have failed: first Capitalism failed, then – although it was hardly allowed to exist at all – Communism failed and collapsed back into already and renewed capitalist failure, such as wars and the threat of all kinds of bad things, pollution, poverty, world war, etc. That is the present condition. Communism in practice has failed so far to replace a failed system. This double failure presents great advantages, because we know of so many things now that we shouldn't do. Never did we have so much information on how to build a better system.
When you think about it, this is really quite funny isn't it. Because both sides, to the degree they mean well, hold half of the truth. Trade and market-operations can work, they keep businesses straight, the products popular, and people in reach of some power and even adventure (running the business). Hardly anyone is alive that contests this in principle. On the other hand the nationalizing of the investment sector is not contradictory with a free market economy. This is because the private investment-sector can not be understood at all as being part of productive company competition for consumer favors. It does not produce anything, it does not work, rather “it controls,” or “it enters a state of risk-taking.” Like the word says: it is a natural government function, and its productive capacity to the degree it exists is that of decision making. It all belongs under “the People's democracy”. Their true and effective democracy, as opposed to the Capitalist influenced irresponsible government. Even government succumbs to the “market pressure” of private Capital, even government can't be its real self, the kind of government it would be if only faced with voter pressure, voters free from private finance effects (such as subservient media, hacked history books, etc).
The obvious solution to the economic problem of finance, is to turn it into a political tool directed by democracy, and that it is heavily reduced as a market factor even if used by Government. This changes control over finance from private gambling and dictatorial investment-banker control, to democratic Government control, a step up in Democracy. When markets become overrun with Capital, they do respond proportionally less to market pressures. This solution to the problem of finance, though solving the most important negative long term factor in the economy, is not immediately reducing the existence and emergence of the exploitive companies that private Capital likes to invest in, but it can and should work against them and not like a catalyst like private finance is. An essential point is that private finance is being seen as bad across the board, hence all laws that make the life of private Capital easy are to be removed.
A second phase of the solution takes on the actual markets. The actual markets are made up of companies, and when these are dictatorial they cause the same problems that a country run by dictatorship does. It causes less capable leadership to have power, oppression and exploitation, hopelessness and injustices, etc. A convenient solution is: when a company has grown to some size, and the original starter leaves, the company then becomes by definition a democracy. This solves the inheritance problem, nobody but the original starter has a natural right to rule as dictator, and nobody has more right then the workers to take over the company. This prevents the emergence of an incompetent “ruling elite/class.” Problems melt away by the minute ? Sure, and why not. A business starter has a natural right to be a dictator, because it made the business to what it is, proving it to be probably a capable worker and leader, proved by the existence of the company (in principle at least).
Next big problem: ownership. Ownership has boggled the hell out of the Marxists. They thought it be best to pretend there wasn't a problem by hoping they could do away with the concept of ownership altogether, pretend everyone owned everything. It didn't work. But in the earlier days of anti-Capitalist struggle they did get many things exactly right, such as that ownership should be taken away from the ownership monopolists, and that finance should be nationalized. Ultimately all this is a fight of democracy versus dictatorship. On a global, national but also company scale, and for the individual. To remove dictatorship, give power to the people. Ownership is a strong power, therefore I propose to give people fractional ownership rights to the resources of the Earth, at least in principle. This presents on the face of it major logistical problems. But these can be solved by turning “ownership of a fraction of the Earth” into an abstract right, embedded in an accounting system that can both re-accept land and hand it back out. What you can do with the resources is to be limited, perhaps it is therefore not justified to speak of ownership. But it represents real individual power for people nevertheless, you can decide to which company/person you may want to lend out your “right”, or use it yourself within the confines of the general limits for that particular resource type/place. This gives individuals power, and power is what it “is all about”, isn't it. Where the power is the money goes, and there is no satisfying life without power. Needless to say, setting up such a system that it would actually work well, is not going to be straightforward. But in concept it seems good, in practice possible with enough good will (where there is a will ... ).
These things would achieve a free-market economy, in which many companies would be run ultimately by the workers, probably by a representative democratic organization system. The companies would no longer face the hostile and negative second hidden hand of private finance, the effects of its gambling, which are very problematic in the long run and by definition a burden (a needless tax). People who want to gamble can go to the Casino. No gambling on other people as if they were horses on a race track. It is immoral and it does not work. The Islam got that right, as did the early Christians and Jews, all major movements which noticed the problem of private finance. So did the early Communists. And it is still true, it is up to us to formulate our answer. I suggest we root it out with root and branch, make its life difficult and illegal, and set a functioning alternative in its place. Weed can't grow back where there is no space anymore. If the problem of finance is solved alternatively, and if private finance is faced with problems, then its second hidden hand in the markets (the first hand is consumer preferences) is proportionally reduced, and the economy should be proportionally better in the long run (decades/centuries). Even if the problem can not be utterly destroyed – there could be some illegal private finance gambling - there should be benefits, it is not a make or break problem. Any set-back for the private finance sector in favor of consumer preference and political democracy is worthwhile in principle (not counting violent reactionary terrorist activity by the private finance sector to hold on to its unjustified privileges).
All this is of course nice in theory, but what about practice. One of the main problems is the private Capitalist financiers, banks and international finance institutions, who will not like this idea all that much. They have a lot to lose. But there is a solution for them: simply decide that the local currency will be without any value, and that savings and debts within certain limits have been transported to a new currency. This collapses all power of the private financiers, investor banks, who become nationalized and part of the Government. That way the financiers have lost everything, and therefore they can't hurt the economy anymore. Problem solved. There is probably a course somewhere for them to follow, so they can become productive workers. It should make them proud. With most of their money gone, they can finance no more terrorists, wars and military coups against democracies.
Why talk about scandals and conspiracies, if at the end of the day we're not actually going to do something. Proposing an alternative and making it real. Doing something will end up being much more satisfying, even if it fails. Then we'll know ever more for next time. I propose a long term strategy of talking and thinking spanning at least several decades before confident majority action can be undertaken with the least amount of resistance. Without overwhelming majority support this won't work, because it involves strong democratic controls on the state. Without a majority the state would relapse into private Capital corruption, without a large majority the system would be unstable/chaotic. It takes time for a majority to develop itself, especially if confidence and understanding are required.
Jos Boersema (Holland, Groningen; certified office cleaner)
Fur further reading (analysis, constitution proposal and revolutionary theory – let's hope it doesn't have to come to a full scale popular revolution, but “all options are on the table”, right?), see: http://www.socialism.nl/~joshb/democracy.html In short: distributing power into finer, brighter and wider hands. See also http://www.socialism.nl/~joshb/sheet1.txt for a shortest version possible.