Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Alternative Economics

It's been a while since I posted, what can I say, too busy doing shit to write blog posts. But my pal Jeff sent me this super interesting article that I can't wait to share with others.

It's an interview with Douglas Rushkoff and Kurt Anderson about their new books and the economy. Rushkoff's comments intrigue me greatly, when he describes the current economy as primarily value-extraction rather than value-creation and compares it to the end of feudalism where similar value-extraction gave "failing monarchs (the dying aristocracy) a way to make money by owning money." Such comparisons provide compelling evidence that we nearing the end of the capitalist age.

Rushkoff also says that the basic market-driven political economy "can be slowly improved as we introduce alternative methods of investment and transactions" I can't wait to read more about his ideas of alternatives and to see if extends this thinking to alternative methods of production, because that's precisely what i've been experimenting with for the last 7 years.

His prescription is not "upend[ing] the market economy. Just lots of activity outside of it." Marx and Lenin's adage that the powerful will not give up power without a fight might prove that "lot's of activity outside" the system will not be possible without at least some serious upending of the system.

In this section Rushkoff also describes how government practices effectively shut down small businesses (not to mention radical alternatives).

You are right that the (rather unconsciously perpetrated) corporate-government alliance usually can't shut down things completely. But then I remember examples like the toy outsourcing scandal, where American toy corps distributed toys from China painted with lead. New regulations were developed by industry and government "working together," which now require toy manufacturers to test any toy being sold to an American child. The tests cost upwards of $50,000, and require a hundred or so units of the toy to be destroyed in the process. Because the regulation applies to all toys, it effectively puts small companies out of business. If the regulation isn't repealed by February, that's it. The mega-corporate practice leads to problems that in turn lead to regulations that favor mega-corporate practices.

He uses the phrase "rather unconsciously perpetrated" but when I think of all the examples like this (polyface farm's open air abbatoir, backyard gardens, etc etc) i find it hard to beleive that big business, their lobbiests, and the senators in their pockets remain "unconsious" of this advantage.

This sort of government protection of capitalism from alternative systems is the modern equivalent of the divine right of kings, which is what necessitated the capitalist revolutionary wars. Defending against such practices is where political action becomes a reasonable justified tactic. Political action (whether legitimate, extra-parliamentary, or violently revolutionary) as means to change the mode of production (see USSR, etc) is a doomed prospect. Political action to defend an alternative mode of production that is already being lived or attempted is another matter altogether.

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