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Climate Crisis and Managed

Deindustrialization: Debating Alternatives

to Ecological Collapse

 

 

 

Richard SmithCommon DreamsNov 21 2017 - 10:00

On Monday November 13th, climate scientists from the Tyndal center for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia presented their carbon emissions research to the UN climate negotiators at Bonn Germany. The data were shocking: After three years in which human-caused emissions appeared to be leveling off, global CO2 emissions are now rising again to record levels in 2017. Global emissions are on course rise this year by 2%. China’s emissions are projected to rise by 3.5%. These may sound like small numbers but to climate scientists these are huge because if we’re to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Centigrade, those emissions need to be falling sharply, not just leveling off, let alone rising. Colorado State University climate scientist Scott Denning said “We’ve got to cut emissions by half in the next decade, and by half again in the next two decades, as well. The fact that it’s going up is like a red flag flashing light on the dashboard.”

"The problem is, we live in an economy built on perpetual growth but we on a finite planet with limited resources and sinks."

The same day, the journal BioScience published a letter by more than 15,000 scientists from around the world that looks back at the human response to climate change and other environmental challenges in the 25 years since another large group of scientists published the 1992 “World Scientists Warning to Humanity.”  

This time the scientists wrote in part: "Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse." If we don’t take immediate steps, “soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. " The goal of the letter, said William Ripple, distinguished professor in the college of Forestry at Oregon State University, and lead author of the new warning, is to "ignite a wide-spread public debate about the global environment and climate."

Ripple is right. We need a conversation, a global public debate about the global environment and how to save the planet, and we need to begin it right now.

As if on cue, in yesterday’s New York Times, Professor Benjamin Fong launched a broadside placing the blame squarely where it needs to be. The problem isn’t public ignorance, it isn’t bad politicians, it isn’t even bad companies: 

The real culprit of the climate crisis is not any particular form of consumption, production or regulation but rather the very way in which we globally produce, which is for profit rather than for sustainability. So long as this order is in place, the crisis will continue and, given its progressive nature, worsen. This is a hard fact to confront. But averting our eyes from a seemingly intractable problem does not make it any less a problem. It should be stated plainly: It’s capitalism that is at fault.

Changing the conversation

For far too long, polite conversation, public debate and consideration of policy initiatives have been subordinated to the imperatives of capitalist reproduction, above all profit maximization. Profit maximization and job creation go hand in hand and crucially depend upon economic growth. All “reasonable” solutions to the crisis of global warming take that as their starting point, a fundamental principle that cannot be challenged. This is the unspoken premise of carbon taxes: Carbon taxes do not threaten growth. They’re simply another cost of doing business, another tax which moreover can be passed along to consumers. This is why ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and most big fossil fuel companies support carbon taxes as the lesser evil (cap and trade is the greater evil precisely because a cap would threaten growth, which is why cap and trade are not acceptable to business and why such schemes have all been either rejected outright as in the United States or so watered down as to be useless charades as in Europe, British Columbia and elsewhere). The oil companies are not looking to put themselves out of business. Industry and IEA studies project that global demand for fossil fuels will rise by 40% over the next few decades and the oil companies intend to cash in on this growth. To do so they need to deflect criticism by being good citizens, paying their carbon taxes, contributing to the “solution” or at least appearing to do so.

The problem is, we live in an economy built on perpetual growth but we on a finite planet with limited resources and sinks. To date, all efforts to “green” capitalism have foundered on this fundamental contradiction: maximizing profit and saving the planet are inherently in conflict and cannot be systematically aligned even if, here and there, they might coincide for a moment. That’s because under capitalism, CEOs and corporate boards are not responsible to society, they’re responsible to private shareholders. CEOs can embrace environmentalism when it boosts profits, as with energy efficiency, recycling, and new “green” products and the like. But saving the world requires that the pursuit of profits be systematically subordinated to ecological concerns—and this they cannot do. No corporate board can sacrifice earnings, let alone put itself out of business, just to save the humans because to do so would be to risk shareholder flight or worse. Profit-maximization is an iron rule of capitalism, a rule that trumps all else, and this sets the limits to ecological reform within capitalism—and not the other way around as the promoters of “green capitalism” imagined. 

To save the humans we know we have to drastically cut fossil fuel consumption. But “Keep It in the Ground” is not just an abstraction and not just about future supplies. If we’re going to radically suppress fossil fuel consumption in the here and now as we must, then this has to translate into drastic retrenchments and closures of industrial plants across the economy—and not just of coal mines, oil and gas companies but all the fossil fuel dependent industries: autos, trucking, petrochemical industries, airlines, shipping, construction and more.

What’s more, the global ecological crisis we face is far bigger than just fossil fuels. We’re not just overconsuming fossil fuels. We’re overconsuming every resource on the planet, driving ourselves and countless other species to extinction. Ultimately, if we really want to save the planet, we’re going to have to shut down or at least drastically retrench all kinds of resource-hogging, polluting, unnecessary, unsustainable industries and companies from fossil fuels to bottled water, from disposable products to agrichemicals, plastic junk to military weapons of destruction.

"There’s no point in chanting 'Keep It in the Ground' if we don’t have a jobs program for all those workers whose jobs need to be excessed to save those workers’ children and ours. This is our dilemma."

Take just one: Cruise ships are the fastest growing sector of mass tourism on the planet. But they are by far the most polluting tourist indulgence ever invented: Large ships can burn more than 150 tons of the filthiest diesel bunker fuel per day, spewing out more fumes—and far more toxic fumes—than 5 million cars, polluting entire regions, the whole of southern Europe – and all this to ferry a few thousand boozy passengers about bashing coral reefs. There is just no way this industry can be made sustainable. The cost of the ticket for that party boat cruise is our children. The same can be said for dozens if not hundreds of industries, thousands of companies around the world. We can save these industries, save capitalism, or we can save the planet. We can’t save both.   

Needless to say, retrenching and closing down such industries would mean job losses, millions of job losses from here to China (pdf).  Yet if we don’t shut down those unsustainable industries we’re doomed. What to do? There’s no point in chanting “Keep It in the Ground” if we don’t have a jobs program for all those workers whose jobs need to be excessed to save those workers’ children and ours. This is our dilemma.

Planned, managed deindustrialization or unplanned, chaotic ecological collapse

Capitalism cannot solve this problem because no company can promising new jobs to unemployed coal miners, oil-drillers, automakers, airline pilots, chemists, plastic junk makers, and others whose jobs would be lost because their industries would have to be retrenched—and unemployed workers don’t pay taxes. So CEOs, workers, and governments find that they all “need” to maximize growth, overconsumption, even pollution, to destroy their children’s tomorrows to hang onto their jobs today. Thus we’re all onboard the high-speed train of ravenous and ever-growing plunder and pollution.

"If we don’t change the conversation, if we don’t deal with the systemic problems of capitalism and come up with a viable alternative, our goose is cooked."

And as our locomotive races toward the cliff of ecological collapse, the only thoughts on the minds of our CEOS, capitalist economists, politicians and labor leaders is how to stoke the locomotive to get us there faster. Professor Fong is right: Corporations aren’t necessarily evil. They just can’t help themselves. They’re doing what they’re supposed to do for the benefit of their owners. But this means that so long as the global economy is based on capitalist private/corporate property and competitive production for market, we’re doomed to collective social suicide and no amount of tinkering with the market can brake the drive to global ecological collapse.

We can’t shop our way to sustainability because the problems we face cannot be solved by individual choices in the marketplace. They require collective democratic control over the economy to prioritize the needs of society and the environment. And they require local, national, regional and international economic planning to re-organize our economies, to provide new jobs to replace those jobs we need to abolish, and to rationally and fairly redeploy resources to those ends. In a paper I wrote for The Next System Project last year—"Six Theses on Saving the Planet"—I laid out my argument for ecosocialism as the only alternative to market-driven ecological collapse in the form of six theses:

  1. Capitalism, not population is the main driver of planetary ecological collapse and it cannot be reformed enough to save the humans.

  2. Green capitalism can’t save us because companies can’t commit economic suicide to save the humans. There’s just no solution to our crisis within the framework of any conceivable capitalism.

  3. The only alternative to market-driven ecological collapse is to transition to some sort of mostly planned, mostly publicly owned economy based on a global ‘contraction and convergence’ around a sustainable level of resource consumption that can provide a dignified living standard for all the world’s peoples while leaving enough for future generations and other species.

  4. Rational planning requires bottom-up democracy.

  5. Democracy requires rough socioeconomic equality – which requires that we abolish extreme differences in incomes and wealth and enforce those rights already in theory guaranteed to us in the Universal Declaration of Rights (1949) including the right to work at fair compensation, the right to equal employment, the right to adequate food, housing, medical care, education, social services, and a comfortable retirement.

  6. Far from “austerity,” an ecosocialist future offers us liberation from the treadmill of consumerism, from the fetishism of commodities. Freeing ourselves from the toil of producing unnecessary and /or harmful products and services would free us to shorten the work day, to enjoy the leisure promised but never delivered by capitalism, to redefine the meaning of the standard of living to connote a way of life that is actually richer, while consuming less, to realize the fullest potential of every human being. This is the emancipatory promise of ecosocialism.

For some readers, my arguments may raise as many questions as they answer. Fine. But if we don’t change the conversation, if we don’t deal with the systemic problems of capitalism and come up with a viable alternative, our goose is cooked.  So if not ecosocialism, then what? This is the public debate we need to be having right now. What are your thoughts?

Discussion 20 Comments

  • Bat Chainpuller 14th Dec 2017

    The above is right but by the same token I am equally tired of these articles and this conversation...what conversation is that? The one that says we need a new conversation and to come up with a new economic alternative.

    It's 2017 and back in the late 80's and early 90's there was a cogent, clear and complete alternative to the existing 3 major general economic systems...market capitalism, market socialism and central planning...it was called participatory economics.

    It is now nearly thirty years on and no-one has yet come up with any other majorly concrete and comprehensive alternative yet which means we continue to get articles like this.

    The point is NOT that Parecon is the one, nor whether David Schwieckart's model of market socialism is the one, nor whether Inclusive Democracy's not so comprehensive model is the one, nor whether Christian Siefke's under-developed peer economy is the one nor whether Michel Bauwen's anti-comprehensive model stance is the one nor whether the Next System Projects plethora of diverse 'visions' which are not really as different from one another as it seems is the way to go....

    No, the point is to stop the fucking pussy footing around and get serious about discussion and debate, not among ordinary citizens because most of us wouldn't know shit from mud if our heads were buried in it, but among those serious radical thinkers and writers all us wannabe intellectuals read...

    Yes, the point is now for the Richard Smiths of the world to point directly to existing alternative models regularly to start the real discussion. It is for the Alperovitz's, the Albert's, Hahnel's, Olin Wright's, Bauwens', Siefkes', Schwieckart's, Fotopoulos' , Harvey's, Trainer's, Alexander's and Smiths, and whoever all the other visionary thinkers are, to start a group, with a website and 'marketing' arm, to get the ball rolling, because until there is a central place where all this fucking shit is going on then absolutely nothing will come of it and all that will happen is this same old same old slowly evolving who knows where we will end up shit that has always gone on throughout history....

    Yes we need bottom up participation but it will NOT happen without the top thinkers showing the way to non sectarian serious but well conducted discussion and debate that shows that the revolutionary left is fucking united and willing to work together...regularly and consistently.

    It's no good that articles like the above are happening in 2017 and it is no good that things like RPS/2044 are out there existing as if on there own being totally fucking ignored, never discussed.

    Got an email from the Next System Project telling me they were going to interview Michael Albert about his Practical Utopia but wanted to see some on the ground examples of Parecon which tells me they won't do the interview...it's been ages, months and months since I suggested they even plug the book, which they never fucking did,.,why? Because they don't agree with Albert...that's just bullshit. And if I'm out of line here and wrong, well then prove it and start the serious discussion about serious alternatives.

    That's what I am fucking fed up with.

    It is not up to me, I am a six day a week worker and joining some fucking local group here and getting involved in some single fucking issue will NOT do a thing.

    Goodbye.

  • Bat Chainpuller 15th Dec 2017

    "The only alternative to market-driven ecological collapse is to transition to some sort of mostly planned, mostly publicly owned economy based on a global ‘contraction and convergence’ around a sustainable level of resource consumption that can provide a dignified living standard for all the world’s peoples while leaving enough for future generations and other species.

    Rational planning requires bottom-up democracy."

    How can people write the above and NOT acknowledge the already existent Parecon and the SANE and RATIONAL and new institutional contribution it makes to this debate...as a starting point...or point of serious discussion, for comparative analysis with other less well constructed mostly grasping in the dark ideas, because changing the institutional structure is a serious thing.

    "...if we don’t change the conversation, if we don’t deal with the systemic problems of capitalism and come up with a viable alternative, our goose is cooked."

    I repeat yet again, there is already one here for the discussion and in the particular mold that Richard would like...MENTION it by name and provide a LINK to it...start the discussion NOW from the position of what already exists for bloody sake.

    I can't wait for the Next System Project to rummage through the plethora of papers they have published. For god sake, there isn't even an attempt to debate and compare them all, measure them against each other and most of them are just kind of embryonic ideas...must all us normal people down in the cheap seats read all this shit with the expectation "we"- the word of the Left my man, "WE"- that "we" will all understand it and be able to make a rational decision as to the best direction to head in...jesus (with a small j).

    Does anybody realise how long it takes just to read a quarter of the shit out there on "vision", let alone the number of papers the NSP has published, and then you gotta deal with all the disagreements and principled positions no-one wants to jump from....

    And try explaining any alternative to someone else not in the fucking choir...see how YOU go and see their eyes glaze over or just not really get you even though they are listening intently and interested...

    Our goose is cooked alright because the LEFT itself is disfunctional, obsessed with old school fetishes with on the ground organising and face to face meetings, doesn't know how to use the net and basically cannot talk to itself and when it does it just bickers and bickers and bickers and writes the same old same old same old fucking shit I have to read over and over and over and over...

    ECO-SOCIALISM is a meaningless word to just about everyone...it could mean fucking anything to anyone at any time...

  • Bat Chainpuller 15th Dec 2017

    Anyone else out there who is a member of this useless waste of virtual space is free to contribute, but I suppose they're all doing their serious on the ground organising and shit, working locally and stuff and are SOOOOO busy they can't write anything in relation to this kind of stuff...stuff that actually is the real deal...because it is 2017 folks and little picnics in the park to celebrate the tenth anniversary of some small group that has been trying to get revolutionary ideas into the minds of ordinary folk and still only has a membership of below a hundred or even fifty and pretty much most people haven't heard of ain't gonna do nothing.

    And what are the unions talking about? the independent unions? and what of all those involved in unions who know we need new vision and know that things like Parecon exist, are they talking to members about them? but I suppose they are mainly Marxist and they don't spend much time in the Utopian kitchen, do they?

    Can anyone see Harvey talking about Parecon? He thinks anarchists are too wishy washy and he is probably right when it comes to vision.

    Geez, how angry am I and I haven't even had a drink.

    HELLO...ANYONE OUT THERE?

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 17th Dec 2017

    hey bat...good thing i check in here every now and then...
    doesn't look like anyone but you and me are here anymore...?
    but as you know...i'm in the parecon choir...

    agree with everything you're saying...it seems like such a logical step for the "intellectual/celebrity" left to facilitate an inclusive venue for discussing alternatives...
    maybe they're afraid of their projects being exposed to serious critique?

    as for the general public...i think the majority are counting on some kinder, gentler form of "conscious capitalism" saving the day...(someone actually used that oxymoronic term as a solution!)
    americans in particular seem to be deeply in denial about the unsustainable nature of capitalism and profit...and not very open to class equality either...
    i certainly can't think of any easy way to implement alternatives...other than just being aware of them and each area/community adjusting accordingly when/if the shit does hit the fan...


    • Bat Chainpuller 18th Dec 2017

      Thanks Kristi, hope you're doing well n' all.

      Yeah, got no idea if I'm right at all...don't really care if I'm not neither...but I've read Richard Smith say similar before and before...he wants an alternative to be conjured up but doesn't mention one that is already here to get the ball rolling or the pot stirred like I'm doing here now. The reason nothin' ever seems like it's going to change is because no-one knows where anything is going...and most "anti-capitalists" don't even have a clue themselves and are rarely convincing, clear or coherent when asked with what would you replace what you hate so much and me sister and friends are none the wiser...

      And you're right, every vision has to be exposed to serious critique but in a way that shows so many of all these apparently diverse imaginations are not all that different and just variations on a theme and usually, 99% of them are extremely short on serious institutional structure I think because most all of these "visionaries" haven't got even close to what Hahnel and Albert have done...I mean it's 2017 and I'm reading Kate Raworth's Doughnut Economics which is like a book of metaphors rather than any serious alternative...and this is the kind of thing dicks like Monbiot think are worthy of thinking about...it's NOT an alternative it's just a bunch of lose ideas you may be able to build a new alternative around...well Katey-poohs, you academic you, take a look at Parecon seriously and tell me, and us all, what you think.

      And any serious expounding of these alternatives needs to be done so all us in the cheap seats who like watching sports and shit can understand it all.

      Wrote Raworth an email about Parecon. She said she replies to all emails...yeah, I guarantee you she will ignore an email from a nobody, free improvising six day a week picture framer who's pointing her to something she totally missed in her thorough academic research for her book...funny because Hahnel and Albert are both economists...

      Here's something to ponder. Monbiot debates Albert in 2004 I think arrogantly. Reaches a conclusion, I think stupidly, that it's not going to work. Subsequently to that debate has he written about the existence of Parecon in the Guardian? I guarantee you probably not. If he did, it was probably to debunk it. Here's the rub...he's one person and even though he may think Parecon shit, for him to deny others the knowledge of its existence by NOT writing about it is pure arrogance on his part. As a journo for a high profile paper he has a lot of power. It ain't for him to decide what the people get to know about in this regard...if he truly cares about change the only appropriate thing he could have done would have been to publicise its existence and make it known to as many people as possible so they can make their own minds up.

      Another. Why have the Next System Project not publicised Practical Utopia or RPS/2044 (I dislike this book)? WHY? They have a problem with Parecon that's why even though they have published Hahnel and Albert papers. The books are significant and right down the ally of system change. And it amazing considering Parecon's the only attempt to come up with a non-market based economic system that could replace market cap, market socialism and central planning.

      I mean shit, Terry Eagleton mentioned in in one of his books and even Callinocos, a democratic centralist Marxist, reckons something like Parecon is probably what is needed.

      Are people like Bill Fletcher, I figure a friend of Albert's, talking about aspects of Parecon to unions...or is he? Wouldn't really know but one would suspect it important.

      In Southern Insurgency Immanuel Ness says several times that even independent unions in China, India and South Africa aren't really looking at systemic change, merely the usual, better work conditions and wages. Well Ness, get on board the vision train.

      Surely the WHOLE left, not just bits and pieces has to start getting on board existing ideas like Parecon and the others, which are really usually just market socialist ideas marketed under titles like economic democracy and are all much the same, or they're local community economics ideas , living more simply or embryonic p2p ideas which can get more complicated to understand than a nutters knitting?

      And Paul Street has to stop saying at the end of every second or third of his incredibly astute and insightful well researched essays that it's eco-socialism or barbarism. Eco-socialism means nothing to every body I mention it to. It means nothing to me unless the person saying it then outlines what it is coherently, clearly and cogently that suggests there is an actual alternative to replace market capitalism with. If not it's just a vague meaningless title.

      If you are an anti-capitalist like Street is, throw your weight behind something concrete you weak bastard. Chicken shit sitting on the fence crap. Eco-socialism??????? And don't get me started on anarchists and their vague unspecific but very principled visionary ideas because they just annoy the shit out of me. The Accumulation of Freedom is a good book and Albert gets a guernsey in it but most of the rest in it are just vague insubstantial things that one just doesn't even remember. And that's pretty key...if you can't remember what they propose it's probably because it's not that substantial, clear or concrete. I kind of agree with Harvey about the anarchist approach to systemic change.

      I better stop...losing it really...and I'm just venting really...because there is a place I can...this place...until it shuts down because of money. And I've kind of lost my train of mindless thought because the whole time I have been writing this I've been listening to Wannabe In LA on repeat...mainly because I dig it and it makes me go up and down. It's cool loud!!!


  • Bat Chainpuller 18th Dec 2017

    And a basic income, while a reasonable interim transitional proposition, needs to be put into the context of a complete reorganisation of the economy, particularly the allocation system which Richard Smith at least acknowledges needs to move towards a democratic planning model, which is exactly what Parecon is. A basic income is good idea as a transitional help and as a way to start the discussion regarding the absurdity of market capitalism and need for a completely different institutional economic structure but alone it is merely a distraction or red herring.

    DiEM 25 needs to get on board the alternative economic model boat and not just a basic income drive or a similar mistake will be made that I think Bookchin made, by focusing in on political democracy at the municipal level, federations up (up being a word some on the left don’t like) while not presenting a new viable economic vision to support such self management. You can be an anti-capitalist and shoot for political democracy but that is ignoring that market capitalism is an economic system, a different sphere but with severe political implications. So you are right Kristi, often what is presented economically is a kind of nicer market capitalism of differing degrees, market socialism, like David Schwieckart’s model, being the furthest one could probably go without doing away with market allocation.

    And democratic rational planning mixed with markets is according to Albert and Hahnel problematic and most on the left like the Next System Project seem to just flip over this issue of the mixing of planning with markets. Even publishing papers where some authors, including Schwieckart, vehemently defend markets.

    The NSP is a good idea but it is merely dumping loads of info on people with not much analysis and synthesis and no-one’s reading it anyway.

    And voluntary simplicity just doesn’t cut it for me. Yes it’s an aspect and a necessary one but it, like Doing it Ourselves here in Melb (Theo told me in an email that she doesn’t dig Parecon basically, so doesn’t include it in the links on the site), choose to completely ignore coherent models like Parecon in favour of a hodgepodge of stuff supported by a lot of philosophical reasoning that may be somewhat true but comes across a little too clever to me, along with the usual inclusion of “spiritual” stuff.

    You’d kind of hope that with all these great minds coming up with all this great stuff, they’d be able to start some kind of visionary symposium that meets quarterly or every two months and debates and discusses and refines and publicises all this shit, yells it in the streets and gives people like Russell Brand the chance and a place, a website, to access a wealth of info critiqued, analysed and synthesised in a way that he can throw out into the ether for his millions of adoring fans to hear and read.

  • Bat Chainpuller 18th Dec 2017

    And Kristi, this is really just me letting things out. Getting them out of my head without a hell of a lot of editing which is kind of like an improvisatory approach. Michael Albert hates it. But if I was sitting opposite you having coffee I would say much the same stuff, in between a lot of jokes and laughing, hopefully, and yes, getting passionate and loud at times, just as Jason Chap can get as well, but basically keeping it cool. Otherwise I would merely be reading shit, thinking shit and just going home from work, resting, watching shit and not talking about shit and on my day off, sleeping and just doing what needs to be done like most people in the world. I don’t have time for meetings and face to face shit, they are just so time consuming, even just getting there and getting home. And if there isn’t and notion of coherent direction as in with what capitalism would be replaced with, it just seems lik3 doing shit for doing shits sake. It’s 2017 and there is no longer time for that.

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 19th Dec 2017

    imo, people are either complainers...or they're just grateful for what they have and don't take the time to question, let alone analyze the fundamentally unfair flaws in the capitalist system...blinkers on baby...

    i think people who have played the capitalist game and have accrued their piece of the pie and haven't lost it (yet?)...are just keeping their heads down and hoping for the best...not rocking that boat...

    probably the class-ism thing...alternative systems talk about equity and spreading the wealth and maybe folks find that a threat to their social and economic standing...afraid they'll lose what they worked for??
    so they just don't go any further down the rabbit hole of alternatives...?
    maybe the "conscious capitalism" systems aren't quite as threatening?

    a relative once told me parecon needed a "hook" to draw folks in,
    get consumers' attention...maybe alternatives need to address that, since we're so consumer/class oriented/conditioned...?
    it's been years now since i read the parecon books, but seems like somewhere i remember it dealing with inherited wealth as part of the solution...?

    as usual, people who have little to lose, or who recognize the unsustainability of capitalism, are more willing to look at alternatives...
    i think it's mainly the wishful "bourgeois" who seem to think capitalism will evolve into something more egalitarian...

    • Bat Chainpuller 20th Dec 2017

      The thing is Kristi there are numerous things going on but knot tied together...see what I did there?

      You’ve got an interesting project going on in the states trying to sign up as many new systemic ideas as possible, probably in the name of diversity and stuff. It’s mainly US focused but who out there on the left is pointing to it regularly? Even Albert at Z, while publishing the odd thing, doesn’t push the project with any real positivity at least to me. He went harder in this regard around lesser evil voting! But who else mentions it. Robert McChesney mentioned in a book I read of his re automation and the coming problems surrounding it. I thought that was good. But I don’t hear it much from elsewhere. Street never mentions it at all, just the word eco-socialism every now and then. Why?

      Is it because it’s coming out of the Democracy Collaborative and basically run and coordinated by Alperovitz and his ideas surrounding a pluralist commonwealth and anything that differs from that and his basic ideas doesn’t get taken seriously? It’s a thought. They have published Hahnel and Albert but I suspect they aren’t all that really interested in Parecon.

      So if the left as a unified group -let’s be very hypothetical here- is behind or pushing the NSP and making more people aware of it, why?

      It’s weird. Then you have in Europe this push for political democracy by 2025, from DiEM 25, but it is probably devoid of any real economic alternative to accompany that other than a basic income push and perhaps similar ideas in many cases to the NSP re cooperatives and shit, if that. Perhaps just some kind of social democracy or Viking economics as proposed by George Lakey. The real push is political.

      Why can’t DiEM and the NSP get together?

      And it seems to me that Albert is just pushing his own show, parallel to everything else. Everything he basically puts forward in his latest books revolves around Parecon. So it’s like all this shit going on on parallel planes but not really mixing and getting together.

      I’m not so sure about hooks. This isn’t pop music. Let’s face it, to understand something like Parecon requires a certain amount of study and discussion, questions and shit. Hooks are for the lazy who don’t really want to listen to music, just tap their foot and dance. Like keeping comments and emails short. Brevity and concision. The sorts of things that eventually leads tweets of no more than x number of characters or shit.

      I don’t want to presume to know whether the less fortunate are more open to alternatives or not. The point is people can always deal with “doing”, with practical things like coops and community gardens and trusts and living arrangements, or living simply and local stuff, because they are in the now, but those things do not, at least to me, necessarily lead to a better set of economic relations in the future and that discussion is heavy and at the moment the left is split off all over the place as to what needs to be done in that regard...market socialist over there, p2pers over there, pluralist commonwealthers over there, solidarity economy folks painting blue prints as bad things and implying Parecon is one such thing, which it is not...not that there are actually many if any blue print models out there. There all just ideas, theoretical or not, all worthy of serious debate....

      But there’s the rub, there is NO debate or discussion, just books and papers and the odd guardian journo falling behind some idea which is really just a bunch of metaphors and suggestions, not a model or alternative at all. No he debated about a real model thirteen years ago and debunked it in the most arrogant of fashions. If he had of been open minded he could have thrown his weight and support behind it in the sense of it being a real possibility or alternative to start a fucking discussion...get some raging debate going...thirteen years ago...make his readers aware of its existence, regardless of his own thoughts about it...thirteen years ago...but nup...he throws his weight behind a doughnut in 2017, and it isn’t an alternative, just some ideas we could build one around.

      I don’t know anymore Kristi...we need a new system or we’re fucked apparently yet no-one on the left is really embracing anything with any really vengeance and pushing the idea or an alternative they’re all mainly still saying, we need a new system, anyone? got any ideas...or yelling at everyone that they are consuming too much and buying shit they don’t need and not meditating enough or join or make a coop...and it ain’t that easy making coops....

      And no-one much is even talking about what would be required in a green new deal sense right now to make real headway in avoiding catastrophe. I read the TCM plan about this sort of shit and what may be required on a reformist, albeit radical reform, level...it’s friggin’ scary...where’s the discussion about that for us in the cheap seats to wrap our heads around, to vote on at the next election...fuck...NOWHERE.

      The whole things totally fucked up and I’m not blaming anyone out there, those buying shit or those inheriting shit or trying to make as much as they can because the left has done a shitty job at awareness raising purely, in my mind, because it CANNOT TALK TO ITSELF WITHOUT GETTING PISSED OFF WITH EACH OTHER.

      I’m allowed because I’m in the cheap seats and I go out of my fucking way to read and stay informed about all this stuff, vision and shit, and even talk to these motherfuckers who write books and papers and they all either ignore you or just get pissed with you because I have shit personality and write too emotionally or something...stiff shit...get over it boys...and they are predominantly boys...So, what do I do....?

      Join some local group as Antonio Marty suggested to me and get involved...whoopty doo...tried that for a year and a half or two...time consuming and useless in the end...those things will always be tiny and any talk of real cogent vision or alternatives is rarely on the agenda and when it is watch the shit hit the fan...I mean, most normals don’t have the kind of knowledge or confidence about this stuff that Albert, Hahnel, Alperovitz, Chomsky, Schwieckart, Siefkes, Bauwens, Fotopoulos, Olin Wright, Raworth, Harvey, Graeber, Fletcher and all the others whoever they are have ...I mean shit there’s an example of nitty gritty, Antonio walked from IOPS because myself and Peter had a shot at his hero Castro. Took his bat and ball and walked...yeah we went hard, but so fucking what, we both had points...that’s how fragile the left is and Castro isn’t important, VISION, REAL VISION, is.

      2017 and the guy in the crows nest can see little on the horizon and most of the crew are not even looking, they’re just bickering about shit and talking the usual dribble....

    • Bat Chainpuller 20th Dec 2017

      “So if the left as a unified group -let’s be very hypothetical here- is behind or pushing the NSP and making more people aware of it, why?”

      Should be ‘isn’t behind’.

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 20th Dec 2017

    "why?"...like i got any answers...
    i just see a typical clique of boys ALL pushing their own show...
    vying for market share one could say...such a reflection of the competitive hierarchical, capitalist structure were all conditioned by from the git/go...

    you're right about the hook...my initial reaction as well...but nothing else seems to get folks motivated to do the research, reading, comparing and analyzing of alternatives that might lead to a better set of economic relations for the future...
    maybe people just aren't hurting enuf...?
    maybe it's the frog boiled slowly and we all simply adjust accordingly and are grateful for what we have and thankful we're not the guy that lost it all...
    Adorno's spectacle certainly sums it up...but who thinks critically or dialectically like he did...(B.Watson)(:
    again, takes too much time and thot and won't fit in a freakin' tweet...

    how to unite today's left is beyond me...i'm in that perpetual learning stage where the more i learn the more i need to learn...
    pretty sure it's an addiction...

    i know what you mean about these superficial, metaphorical, simplistic alternatives...i tend to use parecon as a guide when reading the stuff at NSP...and as soon as i see how it doesn't address one of the major issues like class or decision making or profit, i stop...
    that's why i think they're all afraid to compare/contrast on the big stage...might have to go back to the drawing board...and no one wants to admit they don't have all the answers already...

    probably becuz there are soooo many variables...culture, conditioning, religion, education, just to name a few, that there will never be a one size fits all alternative system...and every community will just work it out on their own, trial and error...
    like you, i feel the road to something better would be smoother if more people learned about alternatives now rather than later...

    But doesn't seem to be the human m.o...most of us are too caught up in the now and waiting for someone else, smarter, to feed us the answers in a palliative form that won't disrupt our lifestyle too much...and why not...that precisely how we've been educated and conditioned...!

    So, i'll keep looking for opportunities to speak my piece, for all the good it does except to generate that familiar eyeball rolling...
    but you never know...ever the optimist...sooner or later that 100th monkey might crawl out!

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 21st Dec 2017

    Guess were just a couple of incorrigibles!
    Really liked your comment...covered all the bases...and then some...
    And alberts reply was good too...especially liked his comparison to other disciplines critiquing each other...that would be so helpful to read opinions by those on the left, who actually devote much, if not most of their time, studying these issues...
    Maybe they need to start taking themselves more seriously if they truly want to create/facilitate equitable change in the world...?

    • Bat Chainpuller 21st Dec 2017

      Yep, definitely incorrigible...recalcitrant as well, emotional and I swear (curse) too much...can't help myself...complete nutter...a pain in the arse!

      I blame it on the internet you know...as much as my shit genes...totally out of my control...at least that's my excuse.

  • Kristi Doyne-Bailey 22nd Dec 2017

    There’s an art to cursing...spent 20 years traveling on TB racetracks myself, so cursing is second nature...probably why I relate to yours...and i kinda like fucking with anything proper!

  • . 23rd Dec 2017

    Happy holidays,

    sorry I'm not able to respond more thoroughly -- feel tired and fearful* lately. yes things have gone quiet on this website but we can surely maintain a website through this or other media outlets

    I was reading this essay by Steven Wineman about facing the reality of climate catastrophe

    traumaandnonviolence.com/files/Crossing%20the%20Chasm.pdf

    he talks about using the prospect of imminent species extinction (by capitalism, not necessarily by humans) as an occasion to recover our humanity. for me it was both a provocation to get my personal priorities in order and think about how i participate in struggle (usually not much on the ground). would be interested to hear what you think.

    Something i wanted to come back is this idea that some people are the paid intellectuals and some of us our volunteer intellectuals, 'lectuals, and some people's ideas are more important than others. i guess the great thing about this website as it's set up (and which speaks to the brilliance of the design) is that it really flattens the playing field so that anyone can voice ideas or join a conversation about them. we're all intellectuals aren't we? not wannabe but intellectuals who are interested in working with ideas in a socially productive way to try to better everyone's condition. agreed that everything plus the kitchen sink, parecon, iops, z, left, right, center, solidarity, workerism, syndicalism, platformism, autonomism, feminism, indigenism, is needed to make an idea like universal basic income stick. Whatever way you decide to pursue the ideas and advocacy that make the most sense for you I hope you feel supported in your endeavors because you are, by people all around the world. everything has its season and purpose and i don't claim to know when it's still worth trying to salvage and when it's time to let go. even if the big time intellectuals thought the latter, nice of them to leave this infrastructure behind and maybe we can squat it into a parecon studies hub or something through it.

    *some fears include the fear that people are going through crises which are worsened by their participation in participatory society-making (e.g. being messed with in real life, losing job, stuff like that) and i was too busy farting around to notice and was ineffectual in responding so that made crises worse.
    *fear that you or i or the big time intellectuals will read this and think i'm stupid, and by the superior power of their thinking, if they think i'm a dumbass then that must be forever true and there's nothing i can do about it. so feeling defensive i'll say hey whatever, you big time intellectuals, and then it just goes downhill from there.
    *i had some other fears and they'll get back to me soon.
    *fear that life's difficulties will never improve and only get worse, that i'll get worse, and on and on. fear is the mindkiller!

    • Bat Chainpuller 24th Dec 2017

      Hey .,

      “i guess the great thing about this website as it's set up (and which speaks to the brilliance of the design) is that it really flattens the playing field so that anyone can voice ideas or join a conversation about them. we're all intellectuals aren't we? not wannabe but intellectuals who are interested in working with ideas in a socially productive way to try to better everyone's condition. agreed that everything plus the kitchen sink, parecon, iops, z, left, right, center, solidarity, workerism, syndicalism, platformism, autonomism, feminism, indigenism, is needed to make an idea like universal basic income stick.”

      That is the great thing, the flattening of the playing field, but doing will always carry more weight than talking...but then doing doesn’t happen without talking, at least collective doing...and things like consensus often happen with lots of talking which pisses people off, even those right into consensus...and writing isn’t even talking...talking being more direct, more improvisatory while writing seems at the very least one step removed from that...but then lots on the left write...even those who have been involved for decades in direct action, direct doing...and reading a book is even more removed than reading some blog by some dick in the antipodes on some marginal website intended to be a place of participation by all those who joined...weird that...but that’s what books are...these isolated things/objects full of information, which, after they are read usually has to be disseminated in some way or it stays in the head stirring up trouble...it needs to be released, there is this urge. The Internet has helped provide that space. Yes privatised social media has fucked things up because it’s just market cap doing its thang in the virtual world but websites like this are little oasis’s floating in a sea of hostility.

      The internet brought the blog and people jumped at the chance to spill their guts and many, on left and right, don’t like that. Ordinary nobodies spilling their guts embarrassingly to the world. That used to be limited to a few who had the skills and talent to do it well. Now any fucker can do it without concern for quality. New software brought the home recording studio and many in the professional world of music making, music commodity making don’t like it, this idea that anyone can make a record. It used to be only those with skill and talent could do this, the market made it so...well, fuck ‘em, truth is, now anyone CAN make a record and if they don’t like what they hear, then they can go jump...

      It’s hard to express oneself, let alone do it in a way that truly conveys what one is thinking...that’s when you might get poetry, to express the inexpressible...and even the that doesn’t always help or even furthers the confusion but may stir an internal knowing or recognition which if expressed in words will just kill the feeling. Many think that talking face to face is the best form of communication...well, maybe at times, but maybe not...maybe the confusion that often still arises when people talk is just of a different type than that that occurs when people write and others read.

      Talking is often full of huge errors and misinterpretations that last for ages causing all kinds of problems between people as what was said drifts into memories that become ever more vague and uncertain like dreams when one wakes...we are often certain about our memory of a dream when we really shouldn’t be. Dreams are confusing enough witjout someone relating them to someone else in linear form...that’s just deception. At least writing is in print and can be looked back on and checked...but the issue then is when someone gets asked, what did you mean by that, those dreaded memories again must be consulted!

      But all we have is language without which we would all remain silent. Yet, IOPS remains silent but the left writes and writes and yells and yells...just not here...weird.

      And all language is is sound created through some strange mechanism through which the internal is made external and at some point a whole bunch of hominids possessed this ability and discovered they could some how communicate using it. They probably just couldn’t not...silence was not an option.

      Then the shit really hit the fan because the mind just wouldn’t shut up and talking to yourself, in your head, can get boring, and doing it out loud can get pretty lonely and make you feel crazy so you hunt out others with this same capability to try out what’s in your head on them...but then one has to be careful about choosing sounds to match the thoughts and has to be certain that the person listening has similar knowledge regarding the sounds use and this whole process to be confident they understand what they are trying to say.

      This is why we have music...we can pretend with music to be together on some level without having to understand what’s being sung because we have the music to distract us...Dylan without the music probably doesn’t work. Then there’s just music, majestic and stirring to distract us from the bullshit of the world but of the word...opera tries to return the the word to a more powerful place within music but fails...pop music and folk music use the word sparingly (unless you’re Bob) and in a way that avoids any certainty anyway (Bob does that anyway, regardless of the length of the song), unless the message conveyed is banal, which most pop is and is meant to be which testifies to the problematic nature of the word and language that most of us intuitively feel but just can’t express like I am trying to do...so you get poetry that jumps right in there, into the fire of meaning...

      This is why Frank Zappa said music is the best...

      This is why I say free improvised music is the best...as pure doing as you can get, collapsing the wave function from one sixtieth of a finger snap to the next, because if you don’t you get nothing, naught, zero...silence...just like here at IOPS....and silence sucks...people just like silence to avoid the confusion language has brought to the human species and the hassles such confusion creates and the last thing we all want are more hassles...

      This is why I free improvise...emphasis on the free...there are less hassles...

      There is a kitchen being played below...perhaps even a sink...

    • Bat Chainpuller 24th Dec 2017

      Correction. “...the bullshit of the world of the word...”

    • Bat Chainpuller 24th Dec 2017

      Liner Notes (to the above music)

      I Digress Indeed: Guitars, Junk
      Konk Zooben: Saxophones, Gufukra
      Peter Baxter: Kitchen Percussion, Conversation
      Out To Lunch: Mouthnoise, Yamaha Keyboard, Conversation
      Ben Moran Healy: 4am Guitar

      Ben Moran Healy & Out To Lunch recorded in Ben's living room in Crookes, Sheffield, 4am Wednesday Morning 9 Aug 2017

      Peter Baxter & Out To Lunch recorded in OTL's kitchen in Somers Town, London, 9am Monday Morning 14 Aug 2017

      I Digress Indeed & Konk Zooben responded in real time to OTL's 'creative edit' of the kitchen session (where the 4am Crookes recording was played over the kitchen speakers) at Nowhere Studios in Melbourne, Australia, 11am Sunday Morning 29 Oct 2017

    • . 24th Dec 2017

      Hello Bat,

      I appreciated how you reverbed my words back at me: "flattening of the playing field." That common sense that there are social hierarchies to begin with is so engrained, or there's this eagerness to display my knowledge of the common sense as such.
      (Not very sports-savvy, so, perhaps there's a reason to elevate sections of the playing field.)

      If you don't already have a broadcast, channel, records I hope you might consider doing so.
      (Nice kitchen and possibly sink improv)

      People should do what makes them happy -- if they want to write a lot and share early think-alouds, more power to them. The mountains and piles of writing and miscommunication and fixed communication before one gets to lucid paragraphs, essays, opus magnus, is just how it is I thought.
      I do alot of think-aloud in my own way as I walk around with a lot of fear of being hurt for expressing my thoughts through written or spoken word. Maybe it's hypercorrection or self-disciplining, anyway, to get back to goals, things are much worse for a lot of people.
      I have a goal which is to write a position paper or other statement that would after much deliberation, consultation, consensus process, eventually go to a policy institute for universal basic income. Since we have a common goal of participatory economics / society / polity perhaps whoever is interested could work together on a paper.

      As far as maintaining the website I think at last check there was a working committee who would be doing that. I could check with them after the holidays to see what all it would take to keep it running and maintained.

      Happy new year