IART Ingrid Katrine Amundsen /
The Redistributive, Rearrangement, Reorganizational, and the Theoretically Tabula Rasa Alternative to Capitalism (2022)
By Ingrid Katrine Amundsen
KEYWORDS: GLOBAL/LOCAL COLLABORATION • A GLOBAL REDISTRIBUTION SYSTEM • ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITALISM
"Although competition means that resources are allocated in an efficient and rational way, this does not necessarily mean that the distribution is fair. [...]. When the market economy, both nationally and globally, contributes to the ever-increasing differences, with the consequence that some live in abundance while others starve, it shows that liberalism's demands for equality and justice are not met. [...]. [The economy should assure that] human welfare, efficient use of resources and adaptation to ecological frameworks [are encountered]. [...]. Since a pure market economy has not built in any principles, that ensure that resources are distributed in a fair way, the consequence of the differential treatment is instead that the distance between rich and poor increases in a self-reinforcing way. [...]. The solution may lie within an economic paradigm based on a foundation that unites humanism with ecological responsibility" (translated from Norwegian by the author, Jacobsen 2019, p. 70 and 73).
What is an economy if it fails to support the majority of humanity and nature? Indeed, after a crisis, such as a historical shock, which being in a pandemic state certainly is: "the rules of the game changes" according to Krugman (2020c). The corona crisis, creates vast opportunities to rethink our economic system. We must ask ourselves: what works, and what does not? It is time for a fundamental transfiguration of the economic system, from a dysfunctional economic system; with lacks in adaptiveness and redistribution deficiency, to a system that is more redistributive and collaborative, resilient, and adaptive on all geographical scales (Hylland Eriksen 2019). It has to make humanity and nature, recover, thrive and rise again, and secure a more geographically evenly dispearsion of advanced technologies, and resources. It must emphasise on technological fairness, at the expense of technological power abuse, monopoly, and exploitation. Additionally, it must accentuate on a healthy economic and political power balance globally, hence it must also address pressing geopolitical matters, and urgent global issues tied to natural ecosystem resources. We must base our global economy on renewable energy and renewable resources, in order to create a sustainable economy for the future. Moreover, the uncertain times we are all in, creates an opening for the objective outsider's perspective of reinventing and reimagining economic theories, and notions – a tabula rasa situation. This, with all the objectiveness and preconseptions, and biases, embodied in the understanding, that follows such an self-proclaimed position, and given the situation our global society is in: it is time to change the rules for the better, and create alternative and holistic economic principles, for our common future. We must not let this historical shock change our planet, our world, for the worse. Furthermore, we must shape a sustainable economic system, within the framewoorks of a social-ecological economic leadership and a socio-technical system, which can take on the challenges, that our global economy is currently facing such as: economic instability, heightened job insecurity, social and economic inequality, the gap between financial assets and the real economy, fragmentation of the global economic system due to a lack of adaptive governance and collective leadership, and a need for a more just and fair redistribution of resources, inequal provisions of environmental burdens and problems, as well as the uneven spread of advanced technologies, and increased national debts, and household debts (Chang 2010c, e, Dicken 2011b, Schultz, Folke, Österblom, and Olsson 2015, Piketty 2017, Krugman 2020a, b, Rajan 2020). The problems are piling up! It is important to note that the alternative system that will be stated, is not an all-inclusive answer to all these societal problems. The author has had to make her internal trade-offs, based on a careful selection of literature, which may highlight the most pressing and relevant and urgent challenges, and critiques of our current economic system. More importantly, the author have chosen to adress what the majority of people, and nature need the most. Such needs are social and economic equality, a more equal access to advanced technologies, and a global-local leadership that ensures that requirements of global redistribution, and ecological measures are met. Ecological bondaries and human limits must not be exceeded. And additionally, we must adress what the oponents of capitalism are up against too. Because, the economic language – is also the language of power (Moene 2020). As complex and demanding the suggested solutions to these economic system failures are, we have to confront these acute societal and environmental challenges now. These problems will only get worse, if we do not pull the problems by the root instantly: we are up against the wall!
To start with, in order to approach these problematic trends apparent, we must replace capitalisms perpetual growth mechanisms, with a more dynamic alternation between different growth types. Likewise, rather than the linear capitalist system, the author will create a multiple loop system, that may tie these growth types together. The loops can be summarized by these key functions: first, it is embedded in social-economic, socio-technical and ecological-physical systems, which serves as three levels in the visual models, that will be stated. Second, it alternates between different types of growth: growth, negative and positive regrowth, and degrowth, in multiple loop systems, suggested as the core theoretical concept of the circular economy (Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2012). Third, the author make claims for a local-global economic and adaptive governance system, which means that the adaptive governance must have a presence on all geographical scales. More importantly, theories on adaptive governance, is rooted within the frameworks of social-ecological economic systems, such as e.g. the ecological economy (Schultz et al 2015, Spash and Asara 2018, Jacobsen 2019a-e). Additionally, this part of the alternative economic system is embedded in institutional economics (Ostrom 2015, Hodgeson 2018), and behavioural economics, as well as complexity economics (Kahneman 2011, Kirman 2018). Both of these; latter mentioned economic systems, discuss the notions such as bounded rationality, and the economy as an open system (Kirman 2018). This, in contrast to hardcore free market capitalism, that is embedded in rational decision making in closed economic systems, which; the classical economists argue, are calculable, since they are claimed to appear in closed systems (Kirman 2018). This will be further adressed in the theoretical section on the two mentioned economics: behavioral economics and complexity economics. Fourth and most importantly, the alternative is rooted in theories on the optimum currency area (Mundell 1961), and theories on the impossible trinity by Fleming and Mundell (1962, 1963), to shape a redistributive green valuta currency system. However, this poses an obvious challenge: what is the right balance between national sovereignty, and more regional and optimum currency areas? The most straightforward solution is to make these two geographical levels of economic power interdependent. This will be stressed in the theoretical section and the analysis, and it is perhaps the most demanding make-or-break point of this brief alternative synthesis. Furthermore, the alternative economic synthesis is heterodox, pluralist and eclectic, these notions will be scrutinized and explained in the methodological section. Fifth, embedded in circularity and different growth types, the alternative must have a grip on the environmental, social and economic challenges of a responsible consumption and production system (UNDP in Guterres 2020). These are concerns and opportunities, that free-market capitalism fails to handle safely, and adapt to. Sixth, the five privious steps must work as an planetary and economic adaptive governance system, that connects all levels (local-global), and makes them interact socially and societally, politically and technologically, environmentally, as well as economically. This comprehensive system alternative, therefore, has to co-work, co-create and co-evolve with and within the environment, and its physical surroundings. In other words, this system perspective on global economic activities, must function as a redistributive and sustainable economic system alternative to – capitalism. Additionally, this alternative must have profound respect for the vulnerabilities and limits of natural ecosystems and physical surroundings as commons (Meadows, Meadows, Randers, and Beherens 1972, Ostrom 2015). Because, over consumption and production, creates irresponsible environmental vulnerabilities and problems, that puts humanity and nature at high risk.
A global economy must strive to find solutions on how to prevent "the distance between rich and poor [to increase] in a self-reinforcing way" (Jacobsen 2019c, p. 73). This situation is inherited by the liberal economists' sins of not addressing their own shortcomings, when it comes to accepting that nature has given limits. They should have created preventive, and impactful principles, that are more than mere rational, and efficient market supply and demand distribution and competition, which has proven to be unfair and unjust in the long run (Jacobsen 2019c, p. 70). More importantly, future global principles must, therefore, be ecological, humanist, and economic, in the sense that these must provide a fair and just redistribution of resources among mankind, that does not diminish nature's path (Jacobsen 2019c, p. 73). In this context, we thereby, have to ask ourselves two more simple, but highly relevant questions. If we put our minds into it: how can we make our global economic system; an economy for the majority of people, and nature? Is it doable? It is time to get into this powerful game! It is time for a game changer for humanity, and nature! Let us, if only momentarily, try to distract our attention from the pile of problems in front of us. We must not become paralyzed by the amounts of difficulties we are confronted with. We briefly have to ignore the profound feeling of being stuck in a system failure. And then quickly turn our curiosity to the cascade of benefits and opportunities for nature and humanity, embedded in an alternative and well-funtioning planetary economic system. The alternative suggessted should, most of all, strive to be fit for a sustainable future: our common future (UN 1987)! To achieve this, we must seeize the opportunity, that have been handed over to us, and exploit the tabula rasa situation we are in, to reimagine and reinvent the economic system we live by, in order to create a better global future for all!
But, what if everything, as we know it, falls apart?
The most fundamental methodological choice of strategy must be to create a well-functioning alternative to the capitalist system, in case of emergency, or if everything should fall apart. If our global economy fails to co-work, co-create, and co-evolve with nature on a global-local level. If it fails to support a fairer redistribution of advanced technologies. If the economic system fails to stabilize ifself. And, if it fails to provide us a more equal social and economic alternative: it will leave us; the majority, if not futureless, but certainly less prosperous, and with a more restricted livelihood and freedoms, than the fortunate few. This is why we need to make the most out of the crisis or historical shock we are in, to change the principles of the game, that we reluctantly have had to play by, up until this point. We must put our trust in problem solving mindsets, and believe that there are multiple economic system combination possibilities, that has not yet transpired to us. These might be far better suited to approach our urgent societal matters, such as social and economic, institutional and political, as well as technological, and environmental challenges, concerns, and hopes for the future. We are not stuck forever! Given this, the core question that comes to my mind is: why not switch to a more preferable "game", with better future prospects for humanity, and nature? Our current free market capitalist system, has proven to us that it is surely not as sustainable or resilient, responsible or adaptive, stable or equal, redistributive or collaborative, as we would have anticipated. And, which we legitimately can demand from a well-functioning global economic system, in the future. To elaborate on this, wether we like it or not, we have to pave the way for system changes of our dysfunctional capitalist model. Because, our current economic system suppress, or ceases to support natural ecosystems, and the majority of mankind. We have pushed ourselves; our natural ecosystems, our physical surroundings, and humanity, to the limits. Because, there are human and planetary limits to growth, which we have surpassed (Meadows et al 1972). This, measured by e.g. increased job insecurity, rapid internationalization of finance, and increased ecological footprints, which makes human beings live in economic uncertainty, as well as to live in an economic unstable system (Meadows et al 1972, Dicken 2011a). There are limits to our efficiency. And additionally, we have had to live in an economic system, in which economic growth, caused by increasement in e.g. population, food production, industrialization, pollution, and consumption of nonrenewable natural resources, exceeds ecological bondaries globally (Meadows et al 1972). Our core aim must therefore be to create a stabilized world, in which nature's given limits are not exceeded (Meadows et al 1972). In other words: we have to construct an innovative contract with nature, in which each country commit to constitutionally protect nature. They must ensure that nature's ecological bondaries are not surpassed, and that their environmental laws are not violated. These national environmental laws, must be set by legally binding legislation for the protection of the environment internationally, in which each country's national sovereignty is also taken into account. An international agreement to protect nature, must therefore, strike the right balance between interdependence and independence, integration and national sovereignty, solidarity and freedom, competition and cooperation. This, must be achieved through an adaptive governance globally, which ensures that the political, economic, social, and legislative negotiation, between the global, regional, national, and local scale; on matters of the environment, functions optimally. More importantly, we need an alternative to capitalism; in case of a collapse, or more likely: in case of a continuous system failure to support humanity and nature, in a lifesaving manner.
That said, it is time to find an environmental cure to our societal problems, that must be embedded in a structural change, and a radical change of our global society, by the means of a planetary, redistributive, and collaborative economic model. This economic model must put regrowth, and a green valuta first. It must also transform the economy from being linear to resource generating loop systems. In order to support this new world order: the post-corona order, with new power configurations, new options to collaborate, new planetary perspectives, and new geopolitical alliances, we must change our global, national, regional, and local economic societies radically. This century, the 21st century, is a milestone historically. We are in a groundbreaking shock. This represents a vast and powerful opportunity, to change the inequal and unfair economic system we have constructed, and over exploitation of nature. This economic system favours the few, rather than the majority of people. We need to start rearranging and redistributing the resources we possess more fairly, and equally socially and economically. To acheive that, we additionaly need to start rethinking the organization or the arrangement of our global economic society. And, start this transition towards sustainability, by evaluating tabula rasa options to the arrangement of our economic system, in which we decide what to keep, and what to throw away. At least: We must make a real effort in trying to leed the economy into more sustainable patterns. These sustainable patterns must supports the majority of mankind, advanced technological fairness, and nature jointly. We must enable nature and humanity to co-work, co-create and co-evolve, socially, technologically, and ecologically. It is time to open up for a real conversation and a dialogue with nature. The corona crisis might make most of us to rethink our lives and exsistence, as well as urgent existential matters of our global society. We have already become more prone to adapt to changes. We must accept that we are in a favourable tabula rasa moment! The 21st century could be the year of fundamantal, and rapid changes, with global repercussions! The world is turning and tossing, and changing as I write! The structures are changing, we must seize the opportunity, and allows it to change us too! But, remember, it must, most certainly, be the other way around: we create the structures, we are the structures, only we can change them! We must breake free from pre-existing chains of problems, and start reinventing and reimagening what kind of societal principles we need: what the earth needs, is what we need too! It is time to clean the table, and take in all the impression from economic theories and notions, in order to reimagine and reinvent these. Let us start from an emty and blank state. The tabula rasa moment is on: let the changes roll!
A Synthesis and a Bird's-Eye Persepective: the Pluralist, Heterodox, Complementary, and Eclectic Way of Adressing Urgent Societal Problems
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Navigating into the Unknown: The Insider-Outsider Paradox in Qualitative Research
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Challenges for a Planetary Economic System: What Are We Up Against?
Social, Political, and Economic Inequality, in the Age of Hardcore Economics: the Rise of a Global Liberal Democracy
The Need for Global Leadership and the Planetary Collaboration: Adaptive Governance, Socio-technical Systems, the Commons, and Durkheim's Collective Consciousness
The Art of Addressing the Geographical Uneveness of Advanced Technologies
The Limits to Growth and the Planatary Bondaries: Towards Responsible Consumption and Production
Our Natural Ecosystems Soaked in Problems: Earth – I Know Your Face
Different Strands Within the Ecological Economy
Adaptive Governance, Institutional Economics, and the Commons
The Similarities and Differences of Kahneman's Behavioural Economy, and Complexity Economics
A Safety Valve for Consumption and Production: the Promise of Circularity
The Concept of Optimum Currency Area (OCA), and the Impossible Trinity (IT)
Why Can the Alternative Created Work as a Well-functioning Economic System for the World?
Why Can Free-Market Capitalism Destroy the World?
What is Gained, and What is Lost? Do We Need an Alternative to Capitalism?
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