New Visions, New Future

towards a post capitalist society

by

David Muller

Introduction

What a real mess the world is in. We are told that we have never had it so good, but with record levels of unemployment, job insecurity and drug related crime the facts belie the illusion. Everywhere there is increasing despair at the deteriorating quality of life despite technological advance. On the 50th anniversary of the United Nations we can look back and see how raw market forces have not only led to the gap widening between the rich and the poor within countries, but also affected the gulf between countries.

In 1992 for every dollar the North gave as aid to the South they got back $2.66 in loan repayments. Twenty of Africa's fifty one countries have foreign debts greater than their GNP. The structural adjustments programs imposed on them by the IMF and World Bank make sure the Western banks get paid, invariably at the expense of the people. The IMF and World Bank serve and preserve very distinct economic privileges in the North when social welfare is cut in the South and land formerly used to feed people is taken over by cash crops.

These world financial regulators perpetuate an unjust economic order that has arisen with the globalisation of Capital and the integration of the World economy into a single whole. We live in a world casino which impoverishes the many despite the pie in the sky temptation of riches for select individuals. Social development in the world can no longer remain at the whim of the global stock market. At the Rio Earth Summit the Prime Minister of Spain remarked,

"Five hundred years ago men set out to discover the size of the earth. At this meeting we discovered its limits."

Today after 500 years of capitalism we are beginning to see the limits of this system and private property itself. Global capitalism is failing in social and economic development in so many places in the world. We are in need of a new society in which economic relationships are redefined on free and equal partnerships instead of the alienating exploitation inherent in capitalism's wages, price and profit trilogy.

How global capitalism is retarding economic growth

No longer is the world divided into two contending camps - a capitalist bloc and a socialist bloc. Today there is one integrated global economy. This global economy operates on capitalist principles. At this level it simply does not matter how the internal dynamics of a country are organised. Socialist nations and capitalist nations alike relate to each other and the rest of the world along global capitalist lines.

While it is true that there is nothing new in the nature of capitalism itself, apart from the further intensification of existing socio/economic contradictions, globalisation has brought change. Globalisation has defined the nation states as separate yet similar objects on the world stage, irrespective of the actuality of the social contradictions grounded in those countries and the substance of their economic/political make up. Human rights matters are lost when it comes to global trade. Trade is becoming an intrinsic exploitative form of communication and bias between nation states.

A domestic socialist economy may prevent exploitation at the domestic level but whether the nation state as a totality exploits others or is itself exploited depends on the nature of this country's trade and the level of technology employed in production. No longer can a nation remain immune from the global framework as it had been in the preceding period.

Global capitalism has transformed national capitalism into a new world order. Yet this very globalisation has found its economic global limits. These limits are systemic to the capitalism itself. Production is still controlled by profit. Where profits fall production is cut. Greater deployment of technology only decreases the rate of profit despite increasing volumes of output. In this capitalism has an insurmountable contradiction.

This contradiction can only be overcome by changing the whole nature of the system itself. In the meantime whenever we reach this barrier economies overheat and three control or negative feedback mechanisms swing in to dampen growth. They are manifest as :
Rent, privatisation and imperialist war,

On a universal level falling rates of profit lead international financiers to a mad competitive scramble for monopoly and super profits. Ultimately they are prepared to go to war to secure and preserve this advantage. Imperialist wars are often fought on the dictates of transnational mining and oil monopolies.

Monopoly surplus profits are only generated at the expense of other industry. Further there is a global shift of value from the less developed nations to the developed world. But since this extra value did not originate within the normal productive cycle in the developed countries it must lie idle or crowd out an equivalent amount of productive capital. This excess value can only be capitalised as monopoly rights, ground rent and rising property values.

But even this has a limit and further rent can only exist in more and more tenuous the forms of monopoly privilege. Ultimately this leads to a universal crisis in private property itself. Only a stock market crash wipes the slate clean. In the meantime there is an increased demand for further privatisation. A universal privatisation that becomes all encompassing of land, sea and air! An expanding privatisation in which even people's thought and creativity become the intellectual property of others.

Over time monopoly practices seriously dislocate the reproductive cycle of capitalist enterprise. Overproduction and underconsumption of commodities are natural consequences of monopoly. The markets are flooded with unsellable goods. Regardless of need people simply cannot afford to buy them with real purchasing power falling. 

Cyclically monopoly capital leads to a general social crisis of overproduction and this intensifies the drive to war. War related production is the quickest way of destroying surplus stockpiles of goods and generate new demand. The State is the ultimate consumer. The massive spending by the superpowers on weapons of mass destruction is testament to that. War related spending is seen as a necessary negative feedback and regulatory control for overproduction.

Price scissoring, technological apartheid and crime

Falling profitability manifests itself also in a particular way - the divergence of price from value. Prices differ from their value, i.e., the socially necessary labour incorporated in them. As this competitive pressure increase price diverge markedly from their value. In order to be internationally competitive enterprises must sell their goods at globally dictated market prices. This has serious ramifications for a particular nations. Falling raw commodity prices can devastate the cash crop economies of developing nations. Even socialist nations with a single primary export feel the pinch, like Cuba when sugar prices fall.

Yet the divergence of price from value is marked by a distinct price scissoring effect. While monopoly make dictate a falling terms of trade for Cuba with less barrels per tonne of sugar the divergence in manufacturing is more pronounced. High tech goods are priced above their value and low tech goods sell below their actual value This competitive advantage feeds particular inter imperialist trade wars in a race to technological modernisation. But it also promotes a growing technological apartheid, from computers to nuclear power, between countries in the North and the South.

Underlying the divergence of price from value is a net shift of value from the labour intensive enterprises and nations to the less labour intensive ones. This represents a net shift of surplus value on a global scale. It parallels the net shift of surplus value from the countryside to the cities in a domestic capitalist economy. The North represents the economic centre of capital, and the South represents a devastated peripheral wasteland.

Yet despite all the gloss and glitter the divergence of price from value in the big city negatively feedbacks in a greedy, addictive and moribund way. Some elements enter a highly profitable black market which illicitly trades in human weakness and dependency. It is globally manifest from the small time punks in Russia to organised syndicates in the US. Transnational criminal organisations operating across national boundaries now have an estimated turnover of $1,000 billion a year. Many of these syndicates are related to or work with respectable intelligence agencies utilising the extra funds for other illicit activities. According to United Nations estimates American spending on narcotics is thought to exceed the combined incomes (GDPs) of over 80 countries.

Wage cuts, ethnic conflict and ecological crisis

Every where individual capitalist enterprises under falling profitability search for cheaper and cheaper labour and lowering of worker's real wages for longer and harder hours. There is an increasing attempt to cut costs of the social wage particularly in safety, health and education. Families are discouraged to minimise the individual workers wage cuts. Children are socially discounted and discarded. A cult of the individual is promoted in socio-capitalist Darwinism in which only the fittest workers survive! Workers are increasingly seen as dispensable to be replaced at will by others from the reserve army of the adult unemployed.

All sorts of divisive mechanisms are used to individually isolate workers from each other. A culture of racial superiority is promoted. Race is pitted competitively against race to lower wage costs. Ethnic conflict is fostered and spread like a new deadly virus to produce migratory flows. The use of a migrant labour becomes a tool to undermine existing labour practices. Where labour shortages exist migrants provide a cheap and ready source of labour power. This reduces the social, nurturing and education costs of raising a new generation of wage workers.

Further falling profitability leads to all sorts of production shortcuts. The environment is degraded and polluted. When combined with the cuts in health provision and social infrastructure is increasing leading to outbreaks of epidemics. These epidemics often seem like plagues visited on us by God. But they are only the natural consequence of a simultaneous, interwoven and compounding web of cutbacks.

The conservative French government nuclear test in the South Pacific regardless of ecological consequences. Under competitive pressures they cannot wait for computer simulation. They are driven by a chauvinistic Malthusian logic to maintain superiority in an "overpopulated" world. However it is land that is misused. There is relative overpopulation in respect to current private property. Which do we cutback, that is the question?

Social Pump priming under Partners

In capitalist and previous socialist societies, based on the wage system, an individual received back, what that person put into society, through work, regardless of individual needs. There was little diversity, incentive or personal satisfaction built into the system. Socialist societies of the current era have, in the relatively short period of development in which they have operated, been unable to achieve recognition of the needs of the individual on a universal scale. An individual with distinct individual needs as well as social needs truly. Under the partners concept what people receive, is still very much dependant on what each puts in and constrained by the total finite resources available. However their individual needs in these newly contracted social relationships open a new freedom for sustained growth.


This partnership has three aspects 
Partners in society

Everyone should share the fruits of society. But this equity needs to be more than a potentiality. It needs to be actualised. Each person must have an income or means of support that sustains their basic level of existence. In other words everyone should be guaranteed a minimum income. In Australia this notion was originally proposed by Professor Ronald Henderson in his studies into poverty in Australia in the 1970's. It is increasingly winning favour with the social-welfare lobby here in light of the complexity of the social security system and the oppressive youth training wage. 

The living allowance takes away the insecurity of living hand to mouth. Once a person no longer has to worry about where the next meal is coming from, or where the rent for the house is going to be earned, they can put more energy and concentration into more social considerations. This universal allowance in fact provides the inbuilt code for the new social operating system. It is the launch pad for higher forms of society.

Partners in work

The current capitalist system in fact encourages the existence of a reserve pool of unemployed to keep wages down and undermine award conditions. Under Partners trade union no longer need to fight for the social component of a worker income. That is already inbuilt with the universal allowance. Under partners people work now not only for pay, but for what they accomplish, and the recognition by others of their labours. The distinction between paid and unpaid work is abolished. Work must be seen in its true light not through the distorted prism of the wage system. ABS statistics show that a third of all work in Australia is unpaid . In 1992 the value of this unpaid work was estimated at $227.8 billion. When we subtract self employed work and work that is either personally or government subsidised we are starting to get a picture of work in Australia in which the wage system is increasingly becoming obsolete.

Work under partners differs from capitalism in three ways. Production is planned not based on profit. The products of production are sold according to their value not according to global capitalism market price. Workers share in the fruits of production and are not just underpaid wage slaves. See the contrasting diagrams.

Quality control tends to be built in instead of being an external thing. External quality control is inefficient and often does not have very good results. Faulty products still manage to slip through. If quality control is built in and each worker takes pride in the quality of their work, far fewer faulty products would be sold.

Under the new arrangement work based cooperatives have no need to move off shore in search of cheap labour. Their "labour costs" consist only of bonuses, not wages, payroll tax and superannuation, etc. The social cost of living in a particular country would be a cost borne by all citizens. Under Partners the social wage would be now incorporated into the universal living allowances and family payments. It is no longer a burden on a particular manufacturer who must pass on the costs into their products. There is no need now to go off shore or close down under the pressure of the competition from world trade.

Partners in family

The needs of each family situation or basic unit must be catered for on an individual basis. While child maintenance is the individual responsibility of a particular family unit society should universally fund it costs. In too many cases access to and custody of children in failed relations are used as weapons in a maintenance war by former partners against each other. The psychological and social damage resulting from this conflict we are only now beginning to cost. Prevention is always better then cure.

The most pressing need of any family is housing. It is only when one owns this need is one ever totally free from exploitation. Living in another's house, whether paying rent or not, compromises freedom. In contrast to State owned housing in orthodox socialist societies true partners in a new society must own their own home.

Home ownership is not just a dream but a prerequisite to individual freedom and fulfilment. But home ownership does not include the right to own the land. Residential land is no ones property. Residential land is a valuable need . If someone owns land outright, they are encroaching on the future needs of another.

Currently more than 50% of the cost of a home is the cost of the land site. Residential land should be socially owned and controlled by the respective municipal peoples councils. Infrastructure improvements to these sites should not be the burden of the home owner on the one side nor the capital gain of the residential speculator on the other.

Conclusion

I believe. I believe that partnerships are the key to the future. Men and women are social beings. They form social relationships on an individual, a particular and a universal level. Individually, one-to-one relationships will always be the primary aspect and cornerstone of all future friendships. Work and group relationships determine the essence of social experience, in the particular. Universally, men and women only find their place and destiny in their relationship to society.