[permaculture] Capitalism works fine, I just don't want it.

Bob Howard rmhoward at OMNINET.NET.AU
Mon Jul 21 22:05:06 EDT 2003

John Schinnerer wrote:

> Aloha,
> > I want more alternatives proposed for social and economic organization.
> > Currently, we suffer under a lot of contradictory language.
> Seems more propagandistic than contradictory to me.  The cultural norm of
> using generalizations and buzzwords ('the mainstream', 'capitalism',
> 'socialism', 'democracy', etc.) rather than precise descriptions of
> existing or desired processes and consequences is probably not accidental
> on the part of those seeking/holding power.

Ludwig Wittgenstein might be worth a mention here. He stated that words don't
have meanings per se, their meaning is defined by their usage. Hence a chemist
saying "water is h20" is using the word differently from a thirsty person
saying "water!". Similarly it's not so much the buzzwords per se that is the
problem but how they are used.We use words in what LW called 'language game'
and the confusion and arguments that arise often do so because people are
playing different games i.e. using the words differently..

[snipped a bit that i generally agree with..]

> We can start 'fair marketplaces' (whatever that may mean) any time.  I
> think some of the alternative money systems (LETS, Hours, etc.) are
> examples of this, as well as the even less formal barter that is always
> going on here and there (especially in areas where the 'economy' is
> categorized as 'depressed', it seems to me).
> The question IMO is what will be the responses from the 'free marketeers',
> or for that matter anyone who decides to feel threatened by something
> different?

Actually the question that this thread has raised for me criticlly revolves
around the use of LETS and local barter systems (see also Jamie's alast post).
The critical issue is not so much how the economically powerful respond. They
don't have to as long as it is local and there is no means of interaction
between LETS schems. This is a general problem that applies on a national
level as well. The current global currency market is a recent invention of the
last 30 years ( following the collaspe of the gold standard in the early 70's)
- the control that the IMF and the US Treasury exert on this 'market'
determines the trading capactiy of local(national) currencies. (and
consequently corrupts them etc..) .

At a smller scale, although there have been some attempts in places like NE
NSW to create tradeblity between LETS schemes. There is no real theory about
how this should work and how one currency can be prevented from overtaking
another. I don't have a good answer to this but I think it's the critical
question to ask.

> If you have a very small group of warriors with very limited means and
> wish to take over and dismantle the castle, it would seem unwise to walk
> right down the middle of the road leading to the drawbridge waving
> brightly colored banners saying "here we come, we disagree with how you
> run the kingdom, we're going to change all that...".

I once saw this guy called Nelson somehting or other do just this..mind :-).
Change can often happen quickly. The only good thing I ever saw from Disney
was a Donald Duck cartoon where Donald was the world's greatest demolition
expert and, confronted with a medieval castle, he took out his pea shooter and
shot a pea at precisely the right point and the castle fell down...

Some brief thoughts about capitalism and democracy -- they both operate in a
market place and are based upon assumptions about competing ideas or products.
The critical thing that is missing from many peoples ideas about competition
is that competition only works where there is a defined set of rules. Free for
alls don't work whether it's a market, sporting field or parliament. When
animals compete for mating or grazing rights it is usually to determine who is
best amongt equals. The weakest and strongest don't need to compete. In fact
the weakest often survive with the protection of the strongest.

The rules of markets and parliaments are of two forms - written and unwritten.
Often it is the unwritten rules that ensure stabity as much as the written
rules. Either way it is the rules that determine the nature of the
competition. It is only in the minds of aggressive, greedy and arrogant people
that rules are seen as an impediment to markets. Unfortunately there is a lot
of this about these days :-(.

Bob Howard


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