I have decided to electronically distribute the book "Partners not Wage Workers" on the Web in response to the devastating budget cuts in Australia announced yesterday by the current conservative Howard/Costello Liberal Government. The severe cutbacks to government spending can only exacerbate the shortages currently being experienced by many Australians. It will invariably contract the money supply and curtail employment in the economy.
The reality is that global capitalism has had its day. Capitalism as a system has its own inbuilt entropy or tendency to run down. There is a tendency for the rate of profit to fall as the productive forces develop. Subjectively capitalism has its end, but that end is objectively at its end.
The wages system is collapsing under the weight of falling profitability. The contradiction between paid and unpaid work is growing daily in the climate of capitalist recession. In a recent survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics the bureau estimated that more than a third of all work done by Australians is unpaid work for themselves, their families and others.
The way forward demands an alternative to the wage system. A new society in which economic relationships are based on free and non exploitative partnerships. A new more ordered, technological and planned society which unleashes new ground in personal freedom and creativity.
To use a thermodynamic metaphor we need to take the heat out of the economic engine. By replacing the randomness of capitalist competition we can create a more efficient, planned and powerful motor. In so doing we transfer more heat and randomness into personal relationships. Thus we increase the degrees of freedom of the people.
The book consists of 3 parts:
In Part 1 we look at the dynamics of global capitalism to develop an awareness of the social forces at work. We examine the impact of technology on property relations. In so doing we question the very rationality of developing trends..
In Part 2 we take a socio-historical journey into the system of wages, profit and ground rent. Globalisation has brought about new economic realities, inverted images and projections. Yet globalisation has taught us how the interconnectedness of the whole can give us a vision of the future
In Part 3 we investigate how the idea of Partners could work for Australian society as a new social operating system. How human needs are addressed in a new way. What social wrongs need to be righted, what gaps need to be filled, and what bridges need to be crossed.
Melbourne August 20, 1996
I would like to thank all those with whom I have discussed such ideas over the years. In the preparation of the manuscript I would like to thank Phil Anderson of Tax Reform Australia; Neil Maclean of the Australian Bureau of Statistics; and Robert Pash and David Jones of the New Dawn International News Service for their valuable material and time. Thanks to Bob Barron, John Mc Carthy and all who took time to examine the draft. Jan Muller for scrupulous proof reading and active suggestions.
This book is personally dedicated to Elle Brown who has opened my eyes in so many ways. She has been a source of inspiration and co-authored key sections of the book.
Socially the book is dedicated to the youth of Australia who have become increasingly locked out of current society. If this book has any purpose at all it is to fire the imagination and enthusiasm of youth to build a new post capitalist society in Australia.
Susan George, author of A Fate Worse than Debt, recently remarked,
" half of humanity are young, frustrated, and angry and they are going to become more so".
It is obvious that the young hold the key to the future. Whether they bring down the sky or take us into a new era of enlightenment and prosperity remains their choice..
Of the 5.6 billion people who live on this planet, more than a billion live in a state of absolute poverty with income and consumption levels below nationally defined poverty lines. They are essentially bereft of life's basic necessities, struggling to survive on the equivalent of less than US$370 a year.
Some 550 million go to bed hungry each night. More than 1.5 billion lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Life expectancy is short, a consequence of factors such as disease, malnutrition and crime. In sub-Saharan Africa people rarely survive beyond the age of 50. Education is virtually non existent. A billion adults are functionally illiterate, while some 500 million children have nowhere to go to school.
While the poor can be found virtually in every country in the world
the overwhelming majority are in the developing nations. But
begun to swell in the developed countries. In the United States and
Europe, nearly 15% of the population live below the poverty line.
overall improvements in material living conditions all over the world,
poverty and inequality are worsening. This highlights the fact that
is a consequence not only of the misfortunes and limited capabilities
individuals but is systemic to current income distribution. This
such elements as distribution of wages and salaries; the impact of
taxes and other public revenue sources; land distribution; access to
and control of productive resources; and market and price structures
Symptoms of social disintegration
Clearly women are significantly represented within disadvantaged groups comprising 70% of the world's poor and 66% of those not educated to any level of literacy. Asia alone has 374 million poor rural women, more than the total population of Western Europe. An estimated 100,000 women are missing from the global population, mostly from South and East Asia, where female foetuses are often aborted after amniocentesis or ultrasound scanning.
In the non -US corporate world women hold only 1% of top management positions; one study predicted that at the current rate of appointment it will take 475 years for women to reach equality with men as senior executives.
Children everywhere are vulnerable victims of violence and abuse. More than 1.5 million children have been killed in wars in the last decade; five million live in refugee camps today while some 12 million have lost their homes, families or both. Wars by another name, such as the US inspired blockade of Iraq have led to increased infant mortality. In Iraq lack of food and medicine have seen monthly deaths of children under five increase twenty times from 112 in Jan 1989 to 2306 in Jan 1995 due to malnutrition. There has also been an ten fold increase from pneumonia and diarrhoea in the same period. In some politically sick circles there is a view that feral children should be culled. In Brazil, home to an estimated 200,000 street children, four youngsters a day are murdered; the killing of Brazilian minors has increased 40% in a single year (1993-1994). In a situation reminiscent of child slavery a total estimated 500,000 child prostitutes work the tourist sex centres of South East Asia.
Illegal activities are increasing. In the US alone, 14 million
were reported in 1992, costing the country $425 billion; American
on narcotics is thought to exceed the combined incomes (GDPs) of over
countries. Worldwide, many crimes are drug related. Each year
people in Canada and 400:100,000 in Australia suffer from drug related
crime. This figure doubles in Denmark and Norway, while increasing more
than 30 fold in Japan, in the later part of 1980's. Transnational
organisations operating across national boundaries now have an
turnover of $1,000 billion a year. Many of these syndicates are related
to or work with respectable intelligence agencies utilizing the extra
for illicit activities
Globalisation new scourge
At the beginning of the century 90% of war casualties were military. Now 90% of casualties are civilian. About 40% of the world's countries have a minimum of five ethnic populations while half of all countries have experienced some form of recent inter-ethnic strife. During the four months, April-July 1994 3.5 million people in Rwanda -almost half the total population- were killed or forced to flee their homes due to internecine conflict.
One in every 115 people on the earth is a migrant or refugee, having been forced to leave home for economic, political or military reasons. Victims of ethnic conflict have grown from 8 million in 1970 to a current figure of some 20 million who have fled across borders; and another 26 million internationally displaced persons. It is as if we globally have been hit by a new deadly virus. A social virus against which current society has no immunity.
Everywhere families are under enormous pressure. Much of this
can be ascribed to the relatively harsh economic times we live in.
Underlying economic trends
Global free trade and competition has equalised worldwide the average rate of profit.
There is a race to high technology in the developed world, which is leaving the developing countries in its wake. The more powerful and richer countries of the North grab large slabs of the market, including the right to dictate where, how and who uses new technology. This reinforces the position of countries such as the US at the head of the developed world.
When the UN Security Council invokes sanctions and threats against Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Pakistan over their alleged development of weapons of mass destruction, there is often a hidden agenda. Under the mantle of "dual-use technology", the Security Council deems such technologies as being any that could potentially be used to make weapons, even if that is not their intent. For example, high speed computers and centrifuges are currently banned from Iraq as a result of such professed concerns. Likewise, technology to manufacture insecticide is also banned, since the UN claims that such technology might be used to make poison gas.
On the question of nuclear proliferation, the Security Council has used the Institutional Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) for overt political purposes. It was originally established in the 1950's to promote the spread of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Iraq has been ordered to end all nuclear research, and even the instruction of nuclear physics in its universities, in order to prevent such proliferation.
What is more worrying are statements in the UN Security Council about technological personnel. German Foreign Minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, in a speech made in Washington in January 1992, warned of the "threat" of "wandering technological mercenaries." Alluding to the so-called Islamic bomb, Genscher warned that unemployed Russian nuclear scientists might find employment in "rich countries outside Europe." Genscher called on the Security Council (of which Germany is not a member) to prepare a "bundle of sanctions". These sanctions would "isolate" any state seeking to build such weapons, whether or not that state was a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Both the United States and Israel are not content with the destruction of Iraqi scud missiles. Their main concern is with the scientists and their knowledge of the technology. For this reason, they are prepared to keep the sanctions on Iraq and prevent Iraqi scientists from working. However, when medicines and infant formula are also denied to the Iraqi population to wreak a demoralising effect on the Iraqi military, one wonders where the world is heading.
It is technological apartheid of the New World Order in its craziest extreme. Yet media manipulation turns black into white and vice versa. War games are played out in living rooms of television viewers. The hearts and minds of the people are used in a most sinister way.
Yet the really sad thing for the democratic aspirations of the people of the world is the way the representatives of the New World Order parade the arrogance of this technological apartheid in the UN Security Council. In November 1994 the UN Security Council once again refused to lift the crippling sanctions against Iraq. Adding insult to injury the US envoy Madeline Albright, according to a report on the Reuter's wire, symbolically
"wore a brooch in the shape of a snake when she met Iraqi deputy prime minister Tareq Azis today".
Having knowledge is one thing, but being able to use it is another. The outcome of recent GATT negotiations for the enforcement of intellectual property rights such as patents and software copyrights, effectively enables the countries of the North and TNC's to monopolise new developments in technology. In agriculture and agribusiness all sorts of patents are being applied to seed and plant genes, and cloning. Therefore, the South, even if it has the knowledge, is restricted from its use by not having a patent or copyright license.
The US National Institutes of Health are engaged in what the Wall Street Journal calls "the biggest race for property since the great land rush of 1889". In this case, the race is to stake "...US patent claims to thousands of pieces of genetic material -- DNA -- that NIH scientists are certain are fragments of unknown genes". The purpose, the NIH explains, is to safeguard US corporations' domination of the biotechnology business, which the government expects "to be generating annual revenue of $50 billion by the year 2000," and vastly more beyond.
When it comes to the countries of the South, accessing their technological expertise with the nations of the North, they run up against a brick wall. In trade and development, the countries of the North present a collective imperial attitude to the hungry nations of the South. They present and act as a veritable Freemason's society united in the exclusivity of their knowledge and technological expertise.
Privatisation of knowledge
With global communications becoming instantaneous information is gaining critical importance and power. There is a battle for the information superhighways such as Internet. How any public thoroughfare could be privatised escapes rationality. Intellectual property rights should not extend to communication channels and computer system software. It would be like someone taking out a patent on the wheel. And there is no point re inventing the wheel !! Just because a company like Microsoft has worked on computer operating systems does not means they can keep this knowledge to their exclusive possession. Some thing that has become universal and a standard must necessarily enter the public domain. Further the spreading plethora of computer viruses shows that this operating system is far from perfect and needs revision. This cannot be achieved until Microsoft releases its source codes publicly.
Microsoft has no right to monopoly practices Any way the whole concept of Windows software was pirated from the research work at Xerox Park at Pal Alto .
One could think that global capital has gone totally mad. Have
and intellectual practices become private property? Are they to be
and sold like any other commodity in the name of profit? Have we
the ultimate degradation of human beings? A choice between ignorance or
Back to preface
People in Australia, have noticed that their
electricity, and water rates have risen dramatically in recent years.
rises have not been accompanied by new infrastructure development in
supply of these services such as new dams , etc. In fact the rise in
consumer prices has taken place against a background of cost cutting
labour shedding and so called greater efficiency in the utilities. The
spectre of further rises looms when we reflect on the experience of New
Zealand and Britain.
The UK National Consumer Council has estimated that since privatisation customers of the main water companies have paid an extra $7 billion in water bills. This is $5 billion higher than the inflationary increase. Average water bills have doubled in some cases. These increases with slashed payrolls have boosted profits by up to 20% and dividend by 60% per year.
Since 1990 the share value of sewerage companies has more than
This stands out when compared with a 40% increase for all companies.
Britain for the first time now suffers from water restrictions and
pollution of its beaches from relatively untreated sewerage.
Myth of privatisation
Economic rationalists want to privatise everything. Gas, water, electricity in the start!! Followed by communications, education, job skilling, unemployed case management, taxation and so the list goes on. They would privatise rivers, beaches as they are doing in Europe and the air we breathe, if they could! And this is the point of course. Some things are better not being privatised.
Likewise many things could never be totally privatised. For instance land can never be totally privatised. Otherwise there would never be roads or public thoroughfares which link and allow access from one privately owned property to another.
There is a need for virgin parks and water catchment areas which are
publicly owned so that individual private sites may be serviced by
Any privatisation of such areas is at best in name only and at its
the destruction of the quality of life of others.
Privatisation means monopolisation
Economic rationalists rave on and on about breaking up inefficient state enterprises. Their fantasy knows no bounds and logic apart from monopoly and greed. They dream of securing and grabbing demand inelastic markets of water, gas and electricity for their own personal advantage and disadvantage of others. This is hardly free competition.!!!
The break up of metropolitan water authorities into regional suppliers hardly overcomes any monopolistic practices. In any particular locality you can have only one source of supply. It is still a monopoly . Instead of one central monopoly we have several regional monopolies. Thus even from the viewpoint o