Systemic Failure of Consumer-driven Corporate Capitalism births a New Economy

“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!

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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.

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Citizens United is anything but…what it claims

The Christian Science Monitor released an article in January “Four years ago today, the Supreme Court ushered US democracy into a new age of big money and pay-to-play politics. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court ruled in favor of unlimited independent political spending by corporations and other outside groups, which ultimately led to the creation of “super political-action committees,” or super PACs. The consequences were immediate and clear: Outside campaign spending exploded, making politicians more beholden than ever to their biggest donors, and creating an appearance of political corruption that threatens to further undermine voters’ trust in US democracy.

Although overturning the Citizens United decision would be the most direct path to undoing big donors’ newest power to secure special treatment, that is unlikely without a shift in the court’s membership.”
Public Integrity explains in an article

Public Integrity explanation of Citizens United

Public Integrity explanation of Citizens United

What's Worth Fightin For

Elizabeth Warren’s book “A Fighting Chance”

progressive political manifesto is coming out: “A Fighting Chance“. It’s one of the most important books of the year, which lays it all out there: how Wall Street continues to rip off the 99% and how corporations are using Citizens United to buy our democracy—as well as Elizabeth’s own story of how she rose from being the daughter of an Oklahoma City maintenance man to becoming a U.S. senator.
Demonstrator before Barclays Bank in central Lodon dressed as banker throwing away paper money bills.

Demonstrator before Barclays Bank in central Lodon dressed as banker throwing away paper money bills.

Annie Leonard who originally did an educational environmental awareness project explaining to the public about the waste built into a materialistic capitalistic society called http://storyofstuff.org/ As this link demonstrates, the original educational video has become a movement.

Here they embrace the same subject matter as Elizabeth Warren was moved to deal with, the hypocrisy of the United States government calling themselves a Democracy, when in fact, the high-bidders are now hiding behind a third party agency that floats political leaders, without disclosing the source of their financial backing. http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-citizens-united-v-fec/

An article in the Christian Science Monitor

Could be that we Really do have ! Too much Stuff !

Could be that we Really do have too much Stuff!

Sure, living in the ‘free world’ is great, we have so many opportunities and endless choices.  Just participating in America’s favorite pastime, shopping, can reveal how wonderful our life of excess really is.  Or is it?  Sometimes the simplest purchases can be a little overwhelming.  For example, when you just pop over to your local grocery store to say, pick up some tooth paste.  You find yourself becoming engrossed as you’re walking along an entire isle of merely different brands of toothpaste, trying to figure out which one to buy.  You scan the various colored packaging, slogans, highlights of which good-for-you natural ingredients are within, or additives which will whiten and brighten your smile to add more sex appeal to your life – ultimately most ads for every product from dish washing liquid to purchasing a new car will point to this latter detail.

You glance down at your watch, remembering that you need to get back home … and find yourself becoming a bit agitated that simply choosing a toothpaste has become a rather formidable time-consuming undertaking.

Well consider this.  With the number of things we buy to satisfy our desire to consume, beautify, display our fancy stuff; combined with the number of houses going into foreclosure, what happens if suddenly we’ve lost our home and no longer have a place to keep all of our stuff?  Suddenly all that we’ve accumulated has become a nuisance instead of a delight, a curse rather than a blessing.

George Carlin Talks About Stuff

Multiply all the stuff that we buy with the fact that in most cases, most items – particularly technical gadgets, have a built in obsolescence.  That means that they are meant to fall apart, in order for us to have to buy a new one.

What happens to all of the old carcasses of the electronic stuff that we’ve bought, well it has to be dumped somewhere.  And more and more it’s being dumped in our less wealthy neighbors’ countries.

this article talks about extoxics.

Not to mention, that at the beginning of this whole cycle of consumption, is the production of the materials, which in itself, puts a lot of strain on our environment.  In the case of computers, toxic sites are expanding right in the vicinity of where they’ve been produced in Silicon Valley, California.

It’s a whole cycle that has been brilliantly simplified for the purpose of educational clarity by Annie Leonard who researched the topic for 10 years and took it upon herself to bring to the publics’ awareness the topic of our environment, in order to update all the outdated textbooks that haven’t acknowledged our current crisis of ‘too much stuff’.

http://storyofstuff.com/

Maybe we better start adopting new ways of living, that recognize the simple fact, that the best things in life are free.  Health, beauty and happiness truly come from just living more simply, having a healthy diet and exercise routine and recognizing that education and awareness are what lead to dignity, self esteem and enjoyment of life.  A smile is much more potent than some material accessory propped by your side.

Creation, disregarding the complex interconnectedness of all life on this planetary organism on which we live, becomes destruction, which takes just seconds.

Though I originally wrote this blog in 2009, here’s an interesting article which reiterates the same theme. Written by Graham Hill and submitted to the New York Times in March 2013, “Living With Less, A Lot Less“.

Written by Carol Keiter, an American living in Berlin, Germany.