The present global economic, ecological, environmental, climate and energy crises are intimately linked. This also includes abuses of science and technology that requires appropriate responses. These views imply the need for an as soon as possible, if not immediate, move away from the capitalist causes of these problems, especially the unfair, unequal concentration of wealth and power. Not only is it self-centred, self-serving elitist decisions made through such condensation of wealth and power that propel us all towards mass species extinction, but heading towards these catastrophes has continuing effects on everyone. This creates an ethical responsibility for all to take part in the resolution of this unprecedented human caused global problem.
Presented here is an exploration of the possibilities of traversing a path out of capitalism to a post-capitalist future via green policies. The focus is on various environmental policies; using particular examples from the ECOPEACE party (see Appendix 1 below). That is, trans-capitalism is a proposed transition to a post-capitalist society initially through the regulation of capitalism with various legislative, economic and political mechanisms; such as wealth redistribution, participatory democracy, social corporate responsibilities and ecological sustainability.
Trans-capitalism includes regulated markets in which interventions reduce and limit inequalities and concentrations of wealth and power through mechanisms that can be progressively and fairly implemented and increased in a just transition. Market efficiency requires economic management, planning, forecasts. Policies should be based upon empirical evidence and participatory democracy to realise everyone’s full ability and potential. A strong social support network for the poor through various mechanisms, including an exponentially increasing per-capital wealth tax, enhances appropriate outputs. By decreasing both absolute and relative poverty, sustainable productive participation can be developed. Regulation, and cross subsidisation can lead to superior economic outcomes.
There are various promoters of post-capitalist future scenarios besides green economics that can be expanded upon to compare similarities and differences. With a sufficient overlap of interest, it may be natural to assume that movement in an agreed direction would be more quickly achieved. This opens a question of what is the area of consensus and does this form a common platform on which the broad green-left can campaign.
So, what policies are necessary or sufficient for capitalism to be transcended or transformed into something else? What would be their effect and what objective measurements can be made? Can this be modelled to indicate whether it is inflationary, deflationary, etc.? What is the risk of capital flight and can it be countered? What is the possibility of developing a trans-capitalism coefficient to be measured, and how could it be used?
The term anti-capitalism is often used progressively, but it also includes some traditionalists, fascists, and anti-science or pseudo-science cultish tendencies such as anti-technology primitivists. The term trans-capitalism might be developed in a less ambiguous way to preclude some of these. In this respect it is also necessary to examine alternatives to postmodernism, such as trans-modernism for example. Future impacts from developments leading to the possibility of a technological singularity should also be considered.
Various Scenario analyses give some insights into future trends and possible outcomes. The Great Transition Initiative is an international network of scholars and activists that analyzes alternative scenarios and charts a path to a hopeful future. They discuss three paths to the future each with two optional scenarios making a total of six scenarios (see Appendix 2 below). However, this represents the ultimate worst case of brinkmanship ever; the three paths are Conventional Worlds, Barbarization or Great Transition. Conventional Worlds business as usual, being what has brought us to our present predicament, is most likely to actually result in Barbarization, not just a descent from civilisation, but a global mass extinction event. One of the Conventional Worlds scenarios is Policy Reform, but by this is meant merely a set of ‘minimum demands’ that the ruling elite are willing to implement without compromising their elite positions. The only actual alternative is a set of sufficiently strong enough policy demands to challenge and change that elitist concentration of wealth and power that is the cause of our global problems; i.e. a Trans-Capitalist Great Transition.
A second Conventional Worlds Scenario is Market Forces relying on marketable technological adaptations to fix those very same market caused problems. This is not only not credible, but a look at some possible future technologies (see Appendix 3 below) indicates that for any possible benefits, ever increasingly powerful technologies also present existential risks and other unintended consequences. Nano and bio engineering pose similar possible precautionary risks as present day Genetic Engineering for pursuing marketable novelty intellectual property options rather than actual human or environmental benefits. Also, for example, the possibility of cheap abundant clean nuclear fusion energy may solve a looming energy crunch crisis, but without prior fundamental systemic changes towards sustainable industries, even this fossil carbon free energy would actually present a huge problem by fuelling and accelerating other persistent unsustainable processes and activities.
The eventual superseding of human intellect and labour as a singularity that forever irreversibly alters human society may seem a little remote at thirty five years distance, but still demands some consideration. Other less esoteric ethical, moral, cultural, social, political, economic, environmental issues are ever present and while they may demand our attention it is also necessary to consider any options to better organise and move forwards. Looming technological changes present other scenarios of rapidly changing working conditions, but also ubiquitous advantageous communication possibilities - as well as possible hyper-surveillance privacy invasions and narrowing of political freedoms. There are already lights out factories, meaning they are fully automated, requiring no or minimal workforce and hence no need for the lights to be on.
So how are we to get onto a Trans-Capitalist path as soon as possible? How are we to achieve strong enough policy changes that reverse unfair unequal elite concentrations of wealth and power? Waiting on a social or economic collapse which could also invoke a population crash or extinction event is not a rational option.
Other options include the ongoing campaigns of the various social movements, such as CJN!SA (Climate Justice Now!SA). But what is still missing is a more synergistic combining of all the various struggles against the multiple effects of neo-liberal elitism. One component that may be missing is a formalisation of what is in effect factionalism within the ANC party, i.e. its ordinary membership that is forced to take political struggles to the streets in order to be heard in regard to daily survival issues. However, as an avowed capitalist party with fascist leaning kleptocratic elements, there must be doubts as to what ultimately can be achieved within either the ANC or the tripartite alliance?
As a political party ECOPEACE includes attempting to gain parliamentary positions. Admittedly this has so far had limited impacts on voter imagination; presently only one green-left seat is occupied in the whole of South Africa by fellow Socialist Green Coalition (SGC) member Operation Khanyisa Movement (OKM) in the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council. However, we are hopeful for more gains in the 2011 local government elections, and we are still buoyed by our previously successful, useful, and valuable experiences in eThekwini Municipal Council. So we still see this as a necessary and important site of struggle that offers various opportunities and spaces to improve social movement campaigns.
The SGC is structured as an alternative to the tripartite alliance where a single dominant member holds the parliamentary seats (the ANC) rather than the alliance as a whole. The SGC has a straight forward single page manifesto representing a viable broad platform. Any party or community organisation can join the SGC on the basis of support for its manifesto. The SGC may be an important vehicle in charting a Trans-Capitalist path to a Post-Capitalist Future.
There are a number of alternatives for a possible post-capitalist future, such as;
Cooperative economics based on cooperatives and worker collectives.
Distributism, with wide distribution of the means of production valuing small businesses that support one family more highly than large corporations and large government bureaucracies.
Binary economics with private property and a free market but significant reforms to the banking system.
Economic democracy retains a market economy but establishes democratic control of firms by their workers, and social control of investment by a network of public banks.
Participatory economics (Parecon) an economic system that uses participatory decision making as an economic mechanism to guide the allocation of resources and consumption.
Post-scarcity economics based on resource abundance.
Resource Based Economy
Technocracy, a governmental or organizational system where decision makers are selected based upon how highly knowledgeable they are, rather than how much political capital they hold.
Some of these proposals overlap; some could be seen as precursors, prerequisites or priorities for others. Some propose wholesale changes whereas others propose only a smaller set of reforms. Some ideologies are not singular but contain a spectrum of positions and opinions.
This raises a few questions:
1 Is it possible to impose a least set of policies that would sufficiently change the present economic system so that it would no longer be ‘capitalist’?
2 If so, what would be the sufficient set of policies to create such a change?
3 Could this form a ‘left platform’ that could be unifying enough to ensure these policies come to fruition?
Anti-capitalist ideologies can also include: Conservatism, Traditionalism, Nationalism, Fascism, Nazism (National Socialism), neo-feudalism, certain religions and anti-science, anti-technology primitivism. Since these may variously be viewed somewhat negatively from the ‘left’ and may need to be distanced, this raises issues of definition and demarcation. This becomes more intriguing as elements within the South African governing elite are denounced as proto-fascist. Interestingly some anarchists believe in participating in electoral fronts in order to combat fascism, but this remains moot if agreement cannot be found on precisely what is a fascist. Also it might be considered trite when non-fascist capitalist elites are already creating global crises of enormous magnitudes, to not consider this an important enough threat to enter such a coalition.
It should be noted that pro-capitalist traditionalists and conservatives present a self-limiting paradox since capitalism proper is neither conservative nor pro-traditional values. A further paradox is presented by anti-technology primitivists, especially those who ironically propagate their message via the internet. Humans are intrinsically technological in as much as having powers of speech and dexterity. Palaeolithic humans have needed little more than fire, sticks and broken glass to cause extinctions, especially of mega-fauna (for example, the use of fire in Australia and of volcanic basalt glass edges by the North American Clovis culture). None of this justifies the misanthropic voluntary human extinction project of the primitivists.
Other candidates are the laissez faire pro free-marketers who criticise present capitalism for restricting certain freedoms that they claim if relaxed would be conducive to an efficient system. This includes some of those within a liberal, libertarian, minarchist, anarchist, anarcho-capitalist continuum. Their position may be paradoxical or self-limiting. For example a number of these differentiate between positive and negative rights and freedoms, between group and individual rights, proclaiming one while denying the other. So, for example, to deny group rights means there is no group to enforce individual rights, which would then only exist in as much as no one has infringed upon them. This leads to the slippery slope of minarchism, minimum government or group.
Also the differentiation of rights and freedoms in respect to free markets leads to the question of fair markets. Elections are meant to be both free and fair; however, this pairing is often neglected in respect to markets. Similarly, semantically, does a free-market mean freedom to exploit or freedom from exploitation? If it is the latter, then the left can also be considered as being in favour of free-markets.
This also raises questions as to the correct characterising of the present system as, for example, neo-liberal or neo-mercantile; and how critical it is to have such an in-depth analysis? The effects of the present system are, in any case, apparent.
Another point that may require more detail is the anti-state position. Below is a diagram of Circulation in Macroeconomics, it is thus a detailed picture of the state in action. To oppose the state would thus imply a wish to alter some or other aspect depicted in this diagram. This kind of detail would be certainly useful to know and understand.
A simplistic left-right political line has decreasing usefulness in accommodating, defining, demarcating the above noted political varieties. Alternative two or more dimensional maps of the Political Spectrum exist. Two interesting versions with on-line questionnaires and various examples of maps of various political parties are the Political Compass and Moral Politics. It could be helpful to map some of the above ideologies and positions, or to map the various South African political actors (See Appendix 4 below). This might best be done by political commentators or academic departments. Perhaps a new map or type of mapping might develop. It could be noted that these square two dimensional maps do increase the areas of the extreme points at the corners; a circular map might improve on this. Also the centre of the map could be seen as a significant space, the advocates of each political variant might prefer to see themselves as occupying this position, which implies a proliferation of maps that might actually be possible to accommodate digitally.
To elaborate further on some of the above noted political positions:
Environmentalism – This spectrum includes those referring to ‘green capitalism’ which could mean a number of things. 1) It could mean natural capitalism, i.e. referring to dependency on natural materials. This may or may not imply an accounting of the value of those resources. It does not necessarily imply elitist profiteering. 2) It could instead refer to the continual greening of business and industry, which ultimately should result in a transition away from capitalism. 3) It could be a reference to so-called free market environmentalism, i.e. those that believe that a laissez faire approach is best to achieve sustainability. As noted above this is possibly a self-limiting position or a paradox.
Feminism – Some Feminists combat patriarchy and expect its demise would include the demise of capitalism since capitalism is seen as a symptom of patriarchy.
Cooperatives - can be supported in and of themselves or from numerous political positions. There can be both worker and consumer cooperatives.
Distributism, Binary Economics and Economic Democracy share some aspects of banking reforms and employee owned firms
Participatory Economics – dismisses Environmentalist support for local currency schemes to re-circulate wealth within a community, and lumps capitalism with socialism as both being market oriented. Parecon claims to have no market and no money. This may be a matter of semantics. It should first be noted that money and markets are significant, important and very useful human inventions; these cannot be easily transcended, especially with a just transition. People often create alternate forms of money. A number of anti-money proponents actually mistakenly rename labour or trade vouchers as non-money. Similarly, negotiating consumption and production sans money is still a barter process, a virtual market. That this is actually bureaucratic to a possibly unworkable degree is ironic since Parecon criticises bureaucracy and co-ordinatorism.
Post-scarcity economics, Resource economics and Technocracy share some common positions especially on abundance. Technocracy should not be causally dismissed as merely technocentric or technicist, it contains numerous interesting elements. One is energy accounting and emergy, embedded energy, i.e. an energy or thermodynamic theory of value that re-incorporates externalities. Pursuing the concepts of ecological, environmental, climate debts leads to similar thermodynamic views of economics and life in general as processes of matter and energy transfers. These are essential aspects also of environmental-, ecological-, green-, and thermo-economics. A method of imposing a thermodynamic inefficiency cost on industries is to charge a tariff on the change in its Gibbs Energy Function ?G which indicates loss or gain of useful energy.
Socialist, Communist and Marxian economics – There are numerous varieties, with some actually being varieties of capitalism or even ‘Red Fascism’. Others offer genuine transitions away from capitalism. However, calls to revolution have to be considered critically if there can be no guarantees of success. Eco-socialism is interesting, but developing a new ideological variant is not necessarily what is needed. An alliance of a variety of socialists, environmentalists, feminists, leftists etc. without them all having to conform to a specific ideology may be more what is required to bring about a Trans-Capitalist transition.
Since Trans-Capitalism as described here has a need for some objectivity, this is possibly a reason to make some mention of post-modernism which proposes an alternative radical relativism. There are a number of criticisms of post-modernism which may include the few noted below.
Post-modernism may be considered paradoxical or contradictory in a similar way that logical positivism fails to measure up to its own standards, in as much as post-modernism disregards the concept of a ‘grand narrative’. However, post-modernism as a pervasive paradigm or movement has actually taken upon itself this position as ‘grand narrative’. This is especially so in its attempts not only to challenge science, but to place itself as a viable alternative. Being irrationally anti-science is one problem that may be possible to cope with, but instead post-modern posturing poses a threat of being a pseudo-science that has found it suffering strong challenges from scientists and others in return.
Another area of concern here is the concept of post-modern architecture and the supposedly related post-modern art. The term modernism is itself unfortunate since at all times any contemporary movement must be ‘modern’. Twentieth century modernism in fact covers a multitude of inter-related movements. Futurism predates modernism, and modernism can be viewed as a partial retreat from futurism to re-incorporate elements of neo-classicism. Similar dialectic processes have occurred between the numerous components of modernism, and post-modernism is only one example of this. So the term post-modern is also unfortunate since it is a movement within rather than after modernism. The most unfortunate term is post-post-modernism and perhaps one of trans-modernism or neo-modernism as a partial return to modernism whilst taking forward some of the post-modern critique will become a name that is more useful.
While post-modern art includes multimedia, performance, installations and references to Dadaism, abstract expressionism, neo-minimalism, Pop Art and Op Art, this still seems to be very much within the mainstream of modernism; while inclusion of diverse elements as New Classicism and low-brow art are also reminiscent of modernisms previous retreats from futurism. This probably means that it might be better in terms of art movements to rather drop references to both modernism and post-modernism in favour of other specific movements within modernism.
Post-modern architecture with a return to ornamentation and with top middle and bottom is more a reaction specifically to International style architecture of the glass/steel office block slab, rather than an end of Modernist architecture as a whole. Otherwise this can be seen as a particular problem when the homeless and shack-dwellers wish for housing and jobs within the city, where various types of modernist apartments and densification would seem most appropriate. The claim to the definitive end of modernist architecture as 16 March 1972 with the demolition of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St Louis Missouri USA would thus apparently present that problem. However, a little research reveals that the problems culminating in demolition were not due to modernist design but due to political decisions to cut budgets, and substantially alter the resident friendly design. Other political and economic factors also affecting city housing included ‘white flight’ from the inner city to the suburbs causing both urban decay in the city and urban sprawl in the suburbs, a decrease in use of public transport being replaced with large but single occupancy automobiles. These represent an overall planning, political and economic failure with negative social and environmental impacts, rather than the absolute objective ‘grand narrative’ failure of modernist architecture.
So modernism is still relevant, while post-modernism should be considered a misnomer and can be considered one part of a diverse multi-component modernism, a part of but not the whole ‘grand narrative’.
Unequal Wealth Distribution
The distribution of wealth under capitalism is a form of positive feedback described by a preferential attachment process in which some form of wealth or credit, is distributed among a number of individuals or objects according to how much they already have, so that those who are already wealthy receive more than those who are not.
Preferential attachment is also referred to as "cumulative advantage", and "the rich get richer". Those who possess power and economic or social capital can leverage those resources to gain more power or capital.
Each person starts out with x0 wealth and further wealth is added at a rate proportional to the number x that they already have. The fraction P(x) of people having x wealth for large values of x in the limit of long time is given by P(x) = ax-k where k = 2 + (x0 + c)/m and c > -x0. The preferential attachment process generates a "long-tailed" distribution following a Pareto distribution or a power law graph. To the right below is the long tail (also known as the 80-20 rule).
Power law graph
The Pareto distribution is a power law probability distribution. The original observation was in connection with income and wealth. Pareto noticed that 80% of Italy's wealth was owned by 20% of the population. This idea is sometimes expressed more simply as the Pareto principle or the "80-20 rule". It can be seen from the probability density function (PDF) graph above, that the "probability" or fraction of the population that owns a small amount of wealth per person is rather high, and then decreases steadily as wealth increases.
The Pareto 80/20 wealth inequality is rationalised as natural because, for example, 80% of biodiversity occurs in 20% of the biomes. However, other natural distributions such as height follow a normally randomised distribution curve. Nobel Prize winner in Economics Paul Krugman in the New York Times dismissed this "80-20 fallacy". He asserts that the benefits of economic growth over the last 30 years have largely been concentrated in the top 1%, rather than the top 20%.
The two kinds of skewness a distribution has are:
1. negative skew: The left tail is longer; the mass of the distribution is concentrated on the right of the figure. It has relatively few low values. The distribution is said to be left-skewed.
2. positive skew: The right tail is longer; the mass of the distribution is concentrated on the left of the figure. It has relatively few high values. The distribution is said to be right-skewed.
If there is zero skewness (i.e., the distribution is symmetric) then the mean = median.
This randomised normal distribution should be the base line of a trans-capitalism alternative of a Gini coefficient (measured on wealth distribution not income). The above Pareto 80/20 power curve is a positively skewed version of the normal bell curve with a Gini coefficient higher than 0,5 whereas the normal bell curve would have a Gini of exactly 0,5 and a negatively skewed distribution would have a preferred lower than 0,5 Gini coefficient.
These values should be re-normalised for a Trans-Capitalism Gini coefficient (TCGini) over the wealth distribution so that the normal random distribution is given a zero rating TCGini = 0%, while a Gini coefficient of 0 becomes TCGini = 100% (perfect wealth equality) and a Gini coefficient of 1 becomes TCGini = -100% (total wealth inequality). This could thus give a more natural feel to measuring movement towards Trans-Capitalism.
Other wealth inequality metrics can be renormalized in the same way.
This opens the question of an overall Trans-Capitalism rating. A number of indices can be weighted and added to give this overall Trans-Capitalism coefficient for objective comparisons between places and over time. An appropriate accompaniment to a TCWealth coefficient would be a democracy indicator of direct and participatory components, i.e. the percentage of the population actually involved in the drafting of parliamentary proposals and another percentage of those directly involved in the adoption of any parliamentary proposal.
Other components could include: Measures of overall formal, legislated corporate social and environmental responsibilities (rather than voluntary actions); ratings for the safety and protection of vulnerable groups and individuals. A similar measure of ecological sustainability, diversity and vitality of species, and biomes should be included.
Effects of Wealth Redistribution
Wealth inequality approximates to a decreasing power law x-k, or a hyperbolic function. Rising block income tax clearly does not cancel this. Income is also a diminishing proportion of wealth as wealth increases. A rising block is not as powerful as a positive power function xj (like a parabola), such a complementary power function wealth tax could bring wealth to a more normal distribution. However the goal should be to reverse (opposite skew) rather than normalise (no skew) wealth distribution – i.e. increase the number of wealthier people compared to very small number of poorer persons. This can only be achieved though an exponential imposition nx. This is a more powerful function; as x increases an exponential function will always eventually overtake a power function which will in turn always overtakes a linear function which overtakes a step function.
Interestingly a negatively or left skewed wealth distribution is what is claimed to occur under the theoretical occurrence of perfect competition, however this has no likelihood of occurring under laissez faire policies.
Introducing exponential per-capita taxes on wealth and resource consumption together with other social and economic mechanisms to combat absolute and relative poverty could be found to be accompanied by capital flight. This might require the imposition various restrictions or protectionist measures.
A more egalitarian economy should be more sustainable and less susceptible to either inflation or deflation; it may be expected that computer modelling could be able to indicate this.
The graph below shows examples of a straight line, positive power function and exponential functions
Bio: Alan Murphy BSc (Physics, ORMS), BTech (Chem Eng).
Alan lectures Basic Engineering Science and Introduction to Mechanics, part-time, in the Mechanical Engineering Department of Mangosuthu University of Technology.
He is the co-ordinator of the ECOPEACE party and was its eThekwini Municipal Councillor 2005-2006 while the party had representation there 2000-2006. Alan is also a member of the Umbilo Park Conservancy, Umbilo CPF, and Earthlife Africa eThekwini. Alan teaches Om Taikido Zen Yoga Dharma for the Umbilo Conservancy.
Alan served on the first non-racial SRC at UND (now UKZN) in 1993. He was co-editor of the RAG Nucleus magazine, chairperson of the East-West Network and editor of its publication Tardis. He performed in the anarcho-punk bands; The Big Army Chaps, G5K5, Friends Urging Carnal Knowledge and the innovative disco-punk Short Fat Hairy Bastards. He also performed the punky-reggae number ‘Permaculture Revolution’ with Crush at the ABM unFreedom Day Concert. He previously collaborated as ?~axolotl in Incoherent Pleasure (electro-punk). He has never been accused of creating an internet meme.
An example of some Green Policies represented by the ECOPEACE party
ECOPEACE party is non-ideological, or non-dogmatic, non-authoritarian; meaning it is principle based where means/tactics should correspond to aims/strategy, so as to be honest and ethical. It does not claim to represent all views, recognising political plurality and multiparty democracy, while seeking alliances and coalitions with those sharing related goals and visions.
Similar to some other green parties, ECOPEACE has four pillars, they are; peace, sustainability, consensus and science. To elaborate:
? Peace is based on freedom, equality, justice, just transitions, fairness, absolute rights, responsibilities, duties and obligations to others and our environments.
? Environmental sustainability includes other sustainable practices in the ecological, social, economic, political, built-environment, urban, rural, agricultural, energy areas etc.
? Consensus decision making (internally) and the promotion within society of an extensive holistic democracy with (inclusive yes/and rather than exclusive either/or) multiple complementary components, including but not limited to; parliamentary reforms, participatory, direct and consensus democracy (more details below).
? Rational, logical, holistic, synergistic polices. An appreciation of; science; philosophy of science; the scientific method; the limits of science; the demarcation issue of; non-science, traditional knowledge, proto-science, fringe science, anti-science, pseudo-science, the abuses and misuses of science, and; the need for rigour and vigour in the pursuit of proper scientific knowledge. This is all necessary to be informed correctly regarding the dangers to society, our environments, ecology and economies, and in finding and campaigning for appropriate remedies.
An increase in democracy means allowing space for divergent views; Participatory democracy means people get together and discuss issues; Direct democracy means deciding directly on policy instead of electing representatives to make those decisions for you; Consensus decision making means prioritising areas where there is most agreement, where there are no substantial objections based on common principles and values. An extensive democracy means all forms of democracy working together. This means improvements should also be proposed to the present parliamentary representational system, as well as proposals on how to include other democratic forms.
We do have certain public processes in South Africa, but these are ‘informal’, in as much as the ultimate decisions are not made by the participants themselves. This process must be formalised; and that requires focussed campaigns.
Economic barriers to participation in elections must be dismantled. Funding of parties must be transparent and within seemly limits. Expenditure on ostentatious campaign displays and wasteful proliferation of identical posters must be limited.
The election of public officials other than politicians and the right of recall of any elected appointee at any level through appropriate referenda could make vast improvements. The tender process should be in the form of an open transparent public auction where bidders can be vetoed based on conflict of interest and other democratically agreed conditions.
We have ward committees, but why not rather have smaller wards with each councillor closer to a smaller cohesive community? And street committees! In the eThekwini Municipal Council ECOPEACE party proposed street naming to be decided by the community directly affected, i.e. residents and workers in each street. This was agreed upon in council, but neglected in implementation.
Rationalise the very large metropolitan areas as mini-provinces. Metropolitan councils should then devolve appropriate powers to local sub-councils, i.e the subsidiary principle: devolve powers to closest competency – review local, regional, provincial and national competencies. Limit undemocratic powers of executive committees, cabinets, mayors, premiers, chairpersons, ministers and the president. Executive committees and cabinets should be proportional in a manner that is as inclusive as possible. Cabinet and executive committee members must be answerable to their party.
Allow coalitions to pool votes. Elect municipal councillors on a ward basis only. Select provincial parliament members on a proportional basis - according to the provincial aggregate of local elections. This must be changed if proportions alter due to by-elections.
Halve the number of members in the national parliament. Select national parliament members on an overall proportional basis – according to the national aggregate of local elections. This must be changed if proportions alter due to by-elections. Integrate the national council of provinces into a single national parliament.
Party manifestos must be legally accountable contracts between their parliamentary representatives and their constituencies. Politicians could then sue to vote freely according to that contract or to leave their party without a by-election. No other ‘floor-crossing’ must be allowed.
Anyone found guilty of an act of unnecessary violence or of a human rights abuse must forfeit his or her right to hold public office. Anyone found guilty of an economic crime such as fraud or corruption must forfeit their right to hold public office for at least five years after completing their sentence.
Politician’s finances must be transparent; they must disclose their income and assets. Any performance bonuses must be democratically allocated on commonly agreed criteria. All politicians should receive a genuine living wage standard that will create a benchmark for the rest of society. Cap the overall inequality coefficient (e.g. Gini) of the public service pay scales, and then decrease this coefficient as an example to the rest of society.
Replace income tax and municipal rates with an exponential per capita wealth tax; Cross-subsidise those below a basic universal wealth level through a dividend from the commons. Eliminate both absolute and relative poverty.
Charge directly for services provided, if you create less waste and recycle you pay less, if you don’t have a local library you pay less; if you use more resources (whether residential or industrial) you pay more; charge for all levels of pollution at source. Replace business taxes on productivity with one based on inequality of pay scales. Award rebates based on numbers of employees, workplace standards, levels of participatory management, and job satisfaction.
Impose tariffs on thermodynamically inefficient industries. Replace VAT with a sustainability tax on products with higher social and environmental costs.
Renewable Energy: At least 10% by 2015; 50% by 2020; 90% by 2025; 100% by 2030. Impose a fossil carbon tax on coal extraction and oil imports, with all proceeds going directly to renewable energy. Design cheaper solar water heating options – offer a substantial prize for the design of a R500 solar water heater. Subsidise household renewable energy production. Buy back household energy production at preferential rates.
Place Eskom under democratic community and worker control. End perverse subsidies to industries. Increase the free basic amount on a per capita basis. ECOPEACE proposes a minimum of 50kWh per person be provided free per week. This will amount to a minimum of 200kWh per person per month. Charge higher tariffs for use of higher voltages and phases. Beyond the increased free basic amount, charge for per capita consumption at an exponential rate.
It is necessary to use exponential rates to deal adequately with powerful systemic inequality and poverty. Wealth inequality tends to a Pareto 80/20 power law (x-k), step increases in tariffs are not sufficient to reverse this. An exponential imposition (nx) is needed to have a progressive effect. The exponential slope can be determined so as to sufficiently cross subsidise with overall cost recovery and re-inclusion of externalities. Higher per capita users would thus benefit when employing more workers, while investments in energy efficiency would be rewarded greatly by a drop down the steepest part of the tariff curve. This single mechanism unites social and environmental aims.
Since electricity costs are a higher percentage of household costs and/or income for poorer people, then Eskom’s unfair targeting of households in comparison to industry is discriminatory.
Similarly, income is a higher percentage of wealth for the poor than for the rich, therefore even with so-called progressive step increments in income tax, there is still a regressive result in terms of wealth disparity. Only an exponential per capital wealth tax can be truly progressive.
ECOPEACE calls for per capita exponential tariffs for all resources i.e. electricity, water, wealth, and similar charges for pollution emissions at source.
Further useful initiatives include smart metering with time-based tariffs: half rates at night and double rates at peak hours. Smart payments can also apply to electricity producers; double pay for production during peak hours, half pay at night when demand is less.
Sustainable organic agriculture, zero waste technologies, sustainable architecture with cool roofs, solar air-conditioning and heating, and integrated public transport systems must also be implemented.
EcoCities: Concentrate multi-use buildings in nodes where it is convenient to walk and cycle. Reintroduce nature and community organic agriculture between these nodes. Develop a safe efficient affordable integrated public transport system between these nodes. An integrated public transport shuttle system means establishing a synergy between all the different vehicle types; rail, bus, minibus, individual’s cars, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, pedestrian. This means an overall design so that they each have appropriate routes and areas to support each other rather than to compete. Public transport also means public ownership of public services rather than public funds directed to private profits.
The status quo agenda of the elites is to extract and burn all fossil carbon reserves (oil and coal). This will result in an at least six degree rise in average global temperature according to present scientific consensus, and a consequent mass extinction of most species. Therefore, the commitment of these elites is to emit as much fossil carbon into the atmosphere over the next 40 years as occurred over the previous 200 years. The polar icecaps will melt and there will be mass species extinctions, including humans – the largest genocide ever.
Redistribution of wealth and power must occur internationally. Wealthy countries and regions are inevitably so due to exploitation of people and nature through economic externalities and ecological, social and climate debts. To compensate, an exponential per capita redistribution of wealth on the basis of purchasing power parity is needed from the wealthiest to the poorest countries and regions. International bodies need to be reformed or new ones established based on participatory consensus and direct democracy, and similar measures introduced domestically in all countries and regions.
The right to free basic resources (energy/electricity, water, food, land, housing, education) creates a subsequent debt to those who are or have been denied the required amounts of these services.
The specifics of appropriate funding models for Free Basic Services must not leave gaps for opportunity and sunk costs. C.f. re-organised budgets to pay for world cup stadiums. Promote targeted allocation of budgets rather than unregulated contingency. A financial transaction tax should be targeted to specifically cover Administrative cost.
ECOPEACE proposes measures beyond the representational parliamentary system, but we still recognise the need to contest that arena. ECOPEACE challenges both the avoiding of voting and voting for those parties that offer ‘false solutions’.
Join or start a conservancy, ratepayers’ organisation, local social movement, community policing forum, and link up at local, provincial, national and international levels. Join or start a political party, lobby in your party and in the various levels of government. Join or start a political coalition. Register to vote and vote in the 2011 elections.
Persistent calls for a boycott of the polls emanate from seemingly informal factions within the ANC. These groups are struggling for their share, but they are not threatening elite rule when they do not unite with all those working for deep systemic improvements. If we are to gain socialism in South Africa it needs to be sustainable and Green, not nationalist or proto-fascist. We must all decide upon this future together.
ECOPEACE is a member of the Socialist Green Coalition, the Social Movements Indaba (SMI), Climate Justice Now!SA (CJN!SA) and SAFeAGE.
The Great Transition Initiative is an international network of scholars and activists that analyzes alternative scenarios and charts a path to a hopeful future. Trends and policies move us in certain directions, but our fundamental choices reveal strikingly different paths.
3 Future paths
In the essay, the Great Transition three broad categories of scenarios are discussed – Conventional Worlds of gradual evolution, Barbarization with precipitous decline, and Great Transitions fundamental progression - represent three fundamentally different social visions. Within each of these broad categories two scenario variants are considered for a total of six global scenarios.
Conventional Worlds are futures that evolve gradually from today’s dominant forces of globalization as economic interdependence deepens, dominant values spread and developing regions gradually converge toward rich-country patterns of production and consumption. The Conventional Worlds scenarios present a future without major surprises, sharp discontinuities or fundamental transformations, with the continuation of present dominant institutions and their values. The world economy is seen as growing rapidly while developing countries gradually converge toward the norms set by highly industrial countries. Market forces, new technologies, and policy adjustments allay environmental pressures as they arise.
Market Forces: incorporates mid-range development projections, and technological change assumptions. The problem of resolving social and environmental stress arising from global consumerism and high economic growth is left to the self-correcting logic of competitive markets. The “invisible hand” of the free market corrects for inefficiency and staves off environmental crisis. Powerful global actors advance the priority of free markets and economic expansion, relying heavily on technological innovation to reconcile growth with ecological limits.
Policy Reform: adds strong, comprehensive and coordinated government action, to achieve greater social equity and environmental protection. Policy changes continually aim for sustainability by enforcing environmental efficiency wherever possible. The political will evolves for strengthening management systems and rapidly diffusing environmentally-friendly technology, in the pursuit of sustainability. Governments eventually respond to nagging global problems with comprehensive initiatives to align the economy with environmental and social goals. Fundamental change is absent.
Barbarization explores the risk of rejecting the need for deeper change. In these scenarios, Conventional Worlds strategies are inadequate to address mounting environmental and social stress and problems spiral out of control, leading to a general crisis and the erosion of civilized norms. These scenarios envision the grim possibility that the social, economic and moral underpinnings of civilization deteriorate, as emerging problems overwhelm the coping capacity of both markets and policy reforms.
Breakdown: The world descends into conflict and collapse. Crises combine and spin out of control, leading to unbridled conflict, institutional disintegration and economic collapse. These forces are unable to counter or even inhibit spreading chaos, waves of disorder ensue, and institutions collapse.
Fortress World features an authoritarian response to the threat of breakdown. In the face of environmental collapse, the international elite retreat to protected enclaves where they manage critical natural resources and protect their interests. Powerful international forces are able to impose order in the form of an authoritarian system of global apartheid. Outside these enclaves there is repression, environmental destruction and misery, an impoverished majority remainder of civilization endures poverty and degradation.
The Great Transition
The Great Transition scenarios envision practical, plausible solutions to the social, economic, and environmental pressures which will inevitably worsen as time passes. The Great Transition future is more than simply market and policy adjustments. It is a future in which fundamental societal values change – materialism and self-interest decline replaced by new notions of “the good life” inclusive of human solidarity and environmental sustainability. The Great Transition is linked to the global citizen’s movement to advocate new values for a global society. A transition to a society that preserves natural systems, provides high levels of welfare through material sufficiency and equitable distribution, and enjoys a strong sense of social solidarity. Population levels are stabilized at moderate levels and material flows through the economy are radically reduced through lower consumerism and massive use of green technologies.
This variant encompasses the small-is-beautiful visions favored by some environmental and anarchist subcultures, it incorporates the green vision of bio-regionalism, localism, face-to-face democracy, small technology and economic autarky. The Great Transitions authors do not view Eco-Communalism as being credibly plausible; it is difficult to envision how a patchwork of self-sustaining communities could emerge from our increasingly connected world, except perhaps in recovery from collapse.
The New Sustainability Paradigm
This variant shares some of the goals of the Eco-Communalism scenarios, but would seek to change the character of the urban, industrial situation rather than to replace it, to build a more humane and equitable global civilization rather than retreat into localism. Population stabilization, lower consumerism, and greener values create a more humane world. Civilization has a smaller ecological footprint and its members live healthier, more equitable lives.
The New Sustainability Paradigm, the variant embraced by GTI, sees globalization not only as a threat but also an opportunity to construct new categories of consciousness – global citizenship, humanity-as-whole, the wider web of life, and the well-being of future generations – alongside a governance architecture that balances the twin goals of global unity and regional pluralism.
Converging Technologies: Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Science
Some Emerging (Disruptive) Technologies
LED lamp - Powered exoskeleton - paralysis, construction, warfare
Nuclear fusion - Bio fuels - Hydrogen economy - hydrogen fuel cells
Nano-wire battery - Laptops, phones, electric cars, electric grid storage
Ultra-capacitor – electric vehicles - WiTricity - Wireless energy transfer
Electric cars - Personal rapid transit - Very fast, long distance, hydrogen powered air travel, space travel - Non-rocket space-launch - Launch loop track, Space elevator.
Synthetic biology, Synthetic genomics - Infinitely scalable production processes based on programmable bacteria and other engineered life forms
Swarm Robotics - swarm intelligence, autonomous robotics, nano-robotics, particle swarm optimization, Multi-agent systems, Behaviour-based robotics - Autonomous construction, Space construction - Molecular nanotechnology - Desktop devices that can make anything given the materials, cheap planetary terra-forming
High-temperature superconductivity - No loss conductors, frictionless bearings, magnetic levitation, lossless high-capacity accumulators - Carbon nano-tubes - Strong light smart materials, space elevator - Meta-materials - Microscopes, cameras, cloaking devices
Artificial intelligence replaces Human decision, analysis, etc.
Machine translation - Easier cross-cultural communication
Driverless car, Machine vision, Digital image recognition processing - Hyper-surveillance
Exo-cortex – Wearable machine, augmented cognition
Semantic Web - Answers Machine making the web machine-readable by linking data on the web based on its meaning.
Quantum computing - Much faster computing, chemical modelling, new materials with programmed properties, high temperature superconductivity and super-fluidity
Adaptive optics, Augmented virtual reality
3D printing - Rapid production of multi-material customized items
Thermal copper electric circuit cooling; small-device thermoelectric power generation
Timeline of future events
- practical use of animal organs for transplantation in surgery
- 10 petaFLOPS supercomputer can simulate the human brain
- Peak oil - global oil production peaks
- voice control replaces keyboard/mouse interface for 30% of routine tasks
- World population exceeds 7 billion
- Arctic shrinkage - arctic ice-free in summer
- hybrid cars make up 30% of the new car market
- every South Korean and many European household will have a robot
- the third of US fighting strength will be composed of robots
- Russian plans return to the Moon
- robots will routinely carry out surgery
- R10 000 computer will match the processing power of the human brain
- nanotechnology is used in 30% of commercial products
- Widespread use of regenerative medicine
- Arctic shrinkage - arctic ice-free all year
- world average life expectancy of new-born child exceeds 70 years
- Artificial intelligence reaches human levels
- Nano-machines in soldier armor controlled by on-board computer can change the properties of fabric from flexible to bullet-proof, treat wounds and filter out chemical and biological weapons, nano-muscle fibers can provide an exoskeleton.
- Space elevator
- NASA plans return to the Moon and establish a moon colony
- NASA unmanned mission returns samples from Mars
- Human landing on Mars
- Intelligent learning decision-making robots that sense their environment are used in 30% of households and organizations
- non carbon fuels provide 30% of all energy used worldwide
- Asteroid mining
- China plans return to the Moon
- Reverse engineering of human brain
- full immersion virtual reality using direct brain input becomes available
- permanent Mars colony
- World population exceeds 8 billion
- robots capable of performing at human level at most manual jobs
- Virtual reality allows any type of interaction with anyone, regardless of physical proximity
- Self-driving cars - all cars on major roads under satellite control
- number of people aged 65 or older exceeds 1 billion
- new-born child in developed country has life expectancy of 130 years
- Home automation robot systems perform most household tasks
- Completely autonomous military robot soldiers in operation
- World population exceeds 9 billion
- The first ultra-intelligent machine created - Singularity occurs
- world average life expectancy of new-born child exceeds 75 years
- A computer with the capacity of the human mind costs a few thousand rand
- A R10 000 computer matches the processing power of all humans on Earth
- World population exceeds 10 billion
- coral cover on Great Barrier Reef drops below 10%
A political spectrum maps political positions on two or more axes symbolizing two or more independent political dimensions.
Left and right are measures of economic position; the "extreme right" refers to extremely liberal economics that may be practised either by social authoritarians or social libertarians.
The "extreme left" identifies a strong degree of state economic control, which may also either be accompanied by liberal or authoritarian social policies.
The German Party Political Compass
UK Parties 2008
Below are the three largest UK parties and the positions that they've occupied on The Political Compass in recent years.
The US Presidential Election 2004
Mainstream Rep-Dem political activity is concentrated over a narrow ideological range. Conservative Democrats are closer to Republicans than liberals within their own ranks.
The Political Compass diagram above has some similarities to the Moral Politics diagram below if one of them is rotated through 90 degrees.
Moral Politics http://www.moral-politics.com/xpolitics.aspx?menu=Home
US 2004 ELECTIONS
The candidates for the US 2004 Presidential Elections were probably more spread out than they were in any previous election. George W. Bush was far off to the right straddling the Paleo-Conservatism and Conservative Neo-Liberalism spaces; probably the most conservative of all US presidents since WWII.
DISTRIBUTION BY IDEOLOGY The matrix below shows the distribution of all respondents by ideology. Many scores are located where two ideologies meet. The chart shows: 90% of the respondents fall between the four main ideologies: Social-Democracy, Capital-Democracy, Capital-Republican and Social-Republican. The top two ideologies, Social-Democracy and Capital-Democracy are evenly distributed (~29.5%). Social Republicanism is the least popular of the major ideologies. The most popular extreme ideologies are Ultra-Capitalism and Libertarian Socialism.
Of the total 603,034 respondents: 31.17% liked Socialism. 6.25% liked Authoritarianism. 20.42% liked Conservatism. 23.96% liked Liberalism. 18.20% straddled systems.
AVERAGE Average score (red marker): Moral Order: -0.13 Moral Rules: -0.06
Respondents seem distributed along a diagonal Socialist Conservative line.
TEST DISTRIBUTION FOR SOUTH AFRICA
Of the 487 South African respondents:
1. 35.93% liked Socialism.
2. 22.59% straddled systems.
3. 21.77% liked Liberalism.
4. 14.58% liked Conservatism.
5. 5.13% liked Authoritarianism.
SOUTH AFRICA best matches:
1. System: Socialism
2. Variation: Moderate Socialism
3. Ideology: Social Democratism
Average score (red marker):
1. Moral Order: -0.37
2. Moral Rules: 0.11
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demarcation_problem The demarcation problem is about the boundaries between science and non-science, pseudoscience, philosophy and religion.
The Death of Postmodernism And Beyond
The Great Transition Initiative is a growing international network of scholars and activists that analyzes alternative scenarios and charts a path to a hopeful future.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EROEI (Energy Returned on Energy Invested)
The Concentration of Wealth in the World
The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International The Transitional Program The Minimum Program and the Transitional Program