Systemic Failure of Consumer-driven Corporate Capitalism births a New Economy
September 25, 2015 2 Comments
“This economic revolution isn’t being consciously driven, yet, however it’s an option that could prevail”, says Gar Alperovitz. It is spawning and evolving from the discontent and pains that our current system and its failures and lack of alternatives, is giving birth to. We’re at the pre-history, of something quite historic!
I sat among the choir. A note about Annie Leonard speaking in Baltimore, an environmental activist whose Story of Stuff first sparked my attention, arrived in my inbox. We attended the “People and Planet First” IPS conference to educate ourselves, exchange information and spread the word. It was hosted at the University of Baltimore, September 19th, 2015. The final session was moderated by ‘Institute for Policy Studies’ Director, John Cavanagh.
The conference looked at our current challenges from a wider perspective; seeing the various systemic problems ensuing from our current corporate capitalism model, as quite interdependent. The environmental problems of mass extinction, pollution and rising carbon dioxide levels along with the social problems of inequality and injustice, are all tied to the current economic model; which maintains and concentrates its wealth by funneling it back to the source (the 1%), instead of redistributing wealth and power (and empowerment) among the citizens and the community. And spoke of an emerging business model from community gardens, composting, water run-off and waste management to setting up local business alliances, local banks, farmer cooperatives and student civic actions that join the local alliances to promote investments in local businesses.
Annie Leonard, US Greenpeace director of ‘Story of Stuff’ fame, presented her more recent informational video “Story of Solutions”. It points to the fact that we need to completely step out of what is driving the capitalism machine of quantity, to an entirely different game which seeks quality of life – equality and freedom for people and quality of life for all creation. A model beyond merely consumption.
Historian and political economist Gar Alperovitz presented his ideas amassed in the preparation for his latest book, “What Then Must We Do by Gar Alperovitz?”, talking of alternatives to Corporate Capitalism and Socialism, as clearly the American empire is in decay. On almost every indicator, there’s a deeper trend over the past decades which reveals that there’s a systemic crisis in the United States. The systemic design that we’ve lived with for a long time, in which corporations control the capital, reveal that the surplus is not being returned to benefit the communities and the people, but siphoned off to make the 1% who are the owners, more and more wealthy. This trend of increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, of increasing inequality, increasing sickness within populations due to pollutants, decreasing prosperity among the 99%.
Corporate Capitalism and the American Empire as we know it, is giving birth to something new, which innovative Americans are creating all over the country. Gar Alperovitz mentions that this certainly isn’t anything the media is covering. In fact, many don’t believe that alternatives exist, until they see examples of what other groups and communities have accomplished. “Often we don’t know what our neighbors are doing”, says Gar. “Systems typically revolve around ‘who has control of the wealth’. The rule of royalty in the feudalism of the middle ages, in the present day manifests itself as ‘Corporate Capitalism’, of which the extreme is fascism, control by authoritarian rule.”
Sometimes noisily, but often times quietly, communities around the country – of which Maryland is an example of being ahead of the wave – are transforming our culture by decentralizing ownership. By democratizing the wealth through becoming owners of their own goods and services, they are able to maintain a number of things; circulating surplus back into their own operations and communities (rather than it being syphoned off to the 1%), empowering themselves, making conscious decisions to ensure that all aspects of operations have the lightest ecological footprint possible and generating freedom through participation in ownership and production and wealth.
We currently have a system of enormous waste, in which we continue to manufacture and create more stuff, because that is a NEED embedded in capitalism. Capitalism must produce more, to ensure profit.
Examples of alternatives are in cooperative enterprises, worker-owned companies, credit unions, 25% of American electricity is socialist in structure, social enterprise like CREDO (using profits for social and political purposes), neighborhood corporations, land-trusts that are socialized (to control land inflation and gentrification).
Following examples of success such as Mondragón in the Basque region of Spain. Mondragon Corporation networked democratized ownership where capital is being decentralized to empower and enrich the communities by circulating surplus back into local communities. Consciously making decisions to connect to all other suppliers and parts connected to the whole system, with conscientious efforts to localize and work within a ‘green’ system. It is just the beginning.
I apologize for any grammatical errors or gaps in information, however I must now leave to hitch to Washington D.C. to attend the People for Climate Justice Climate Rally in Washington D.C., coinciding with Pope Francis’ delivering his tenets of wisdom to the White House.