Capitalism isn’t the problem. It’s growth

Another basic income supporter recently said to me:

Capitalism only works if there is economic growth, therefore capitalists will ensure that anything to prevent growth will fail.” I agree. I even see why it makes sense from a capitalist’s point of view.

But (my mind seemingly being different from most) I start from the opposite end. I go around with XR risking arrest through blocking streets and opencast coal mine entrances because I fear economic collapse anyway, including capitalism, on current ‘progress’.

So instead of trying to confront and defeat a powerful enemy, the problem becomes how to persuade capitalists to see growth as not in their own long term interests.

But this also means exploring why capitalists have not worked out an answer themselves, and why the rest of us haven’t either.

Unfortunately I think the capitalists may have worked out an answer of sorts, but it is a dangerous plan, even from their point of view. The Tragedy of the Commons means that no one player can opt out of a competitive situation. If they do, they just lose market share and ability to influence events when the crisis arrives.

But another problem is that the CEOs of the major transnationals. have got where they are today by taking appalling gambles, which happened to pay off. It is often said that 100 companies are responsible for 70% of CO2 emissions. I wonder how many of their CEOs play poker (and win?)

The MIT advised Limits to Growth in 1972, but the same research was done, privately, by Shell and Exxon Mobil. The latter’s response to the same finding as the MIT was a climate denial campaign which preserved four decades of profits.

Don’t they see the climate collapse coming? Of course they do, but these private companies are now more powerful than many nation states, and have key placemen in most others. They would have preferred someone more predictable than Trump in the USA, but at least they think he will impose Martial Law when necessary. Their biggest threat is each other, but perhaps a carve-up has already been agreed in principle.

Greta Thunberg asked, at the Launch of XR, “If climate change is an existential threat, why is no one talkiing about it?” This is easier to explain, at least to a mind such as mine. It was obvious to me that a reduction in economic activity would be necessary (and would happen anyway), but this would not happen voluntarily, in time unless everyone had a guarantee of  basic needs, hence an unconditional basic income.

But why should the CEOs of tncs do anything different from their existing plans? I don’t expect them to, but at least if there is a basic income, they will be spared the danger and uncertainty of rebellion. I see no way of avoiding a modern version of feudalism, but with a basic income not only can everyone rely on basic needs, but unlike historical feudalism. or the caste system. anyone whatever her or his start, can achieve whatever their abilities merit.

I started with the question of whether capitalism would survive. As long as my grandchildren do not go hungry and are not oppressed, and the ecosphere is safeguarded, I don’t care. The CEOs of those 100 tncs will have to make do with less than they are used to. However, they will still be in control, but by what name does not matter, provided it is sustainable.

Normal minds seem stuck with capitalists versus proles, and crucially, they do not seem to grasp how the exponential principle makes an end to growth – of anything – mandatory.

How do I get through to normal minds? Is there still time?

 

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