KEYWORDS: GLOBAL-LOCAL COLLABORATION • A GLOBAL REDISTRIBUTION SYSTEM • ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITALISM
and an Alternative Currency System: a Redistributive Economy, that Encourages Resilience, Inclusion, and Increased Equality, as well as it must
Note: due to size problems with this essay, the remaining parts of this project will the be uploaded as a PDF-file, after it is completed by the end of 2021.
"As the coronavirus continues its march around the world, governments have turned to proven public health measures, such as social distancing, to physically disrupt the contagion. Yet, doing so has severed the flow of goods and people, stalled economies, and is in the process of delivering a global recession. Economic contagion is now spreading as fast as the disease itself. [...]. In this uncharted territory, naming a global recession adds little clarity beyond setting the expectation of negative growth. Pressing questions include the path of the shock and recovery, whether economies will be able to return to their pre-shock output levels and growth rates, and whether there will be any structural legacy from the coronavirus crisis." (Carlsson-Szlezak, Reeves, and Swartz 2020).
Indeed, the global nerve after a historical shock or a so-called exogenous shock is shaky, uncertain, and unpredictable. Our hopes for the future is, nevertheless, one of a glimmering, and sparkling kind. However, because of the pandemy raging around the globe, we can all feel the tensions, just by taking in the news from a television, scrolling social media apps, reading the newspapers, or by listening to the radio. It is, most certainly, a frightening, heartbreaking, and devastating historical event for all of us! In this crisis we need each other! And, in togetherness, we need to start asking the right democratic and ethical questions (Piketty 2017, Seres 2021). Also important to stress: Krugman (2020c) argued before the coronavirus that "the rules of the game changes" after a profound crisis. But, he referred to the financial crisis in 2008-2009 (Krugman 2020c). The financial crisis was not a global crisis, it only effected parts of the world. However, its measures had global repercussions (Georgieva 2020). The pandemy, adds further dramatic consequences for our global world, our health, our loved ones, our lives, and our livelihoods, as well as for geopolitical stability, the base of economic prosperity; microeconomics, and macroeconomic stability. And, in the midst of this turmoil, this brooding global society, we must take a halt. Because, it is more than legitimate to turn existential; on the behalf of our current economic system, and ask ourselves: what is an economy, if it fails to support the majority of humanity, and nature? Because, the corona crisis, also creates vast opportunities to rethink our economic system, for the better. We must ask ourselves: what works, and what does not? It is time for a fundamental transfiguration or transformation of the economic system. From a dysfunctional economic system; with lacks in adaptiveness (Hylland Eriksen 2019), and redistribution deficiency, we must create an economic system that is more redistributive and collaborative, inclusive and resilient, tolerant and diverse, as well as adaptive on all geographical scales. It has to make humanity and nature, recover, thrive and rise again, and secure a more geographically evenly dispersion of advanced technologies, and resources. It must emphasizse 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, macroeconomics, international currents, and urgent global issues tied to natural ecosystem resources, ecological responsibility. We must base our global economy on renewable energy and renewable resources, in order to create a sustainable economy for the future. Given the situation our global society is in: it is time to change the rules for the better, and create new and holistic or governing economic principles for our future, that safeguards a just and fair redistribution of resources. 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 frameworks of an adaptive governance system with citizen's empowerment, local responses or simply bottom-up approaches. This global-local, social-ecological, socio-economic, and socio-technical system, must be able to take on the challenges that our global economy is currently facing. These global economic system challenges are: a potential economic instability due to the corona crisis, heightened job insecurity and income inequality (Chang 2010b, d and f), which leads to increased social and economic inequality (Piketty 2017, Krugman 2020a and b), and a continuous and emerging gap between financial assets and the real economy (Chang 2010c), a lack of an adaptive global governance, and a need for a more just and fair redistribution of resources (Dryzek 2005). Also, the rise of humanitarian crisis, unequal provisions of environmental burdens and problems (Dryzek 2005), and uneven spread of advanced technology geographically (Dicken 2011b), increased national debts, increased household debts (Rajan 2020), and market failures (Chang 2010g). Additionally, uneven distribution of food, and irresponsible production, and unhealthy consumption patterns. The problems are piling up! Nevertheless, even though we need an alternative economic model sorely, it is important to note that the alternative system which will be stated, is not an all-inclusive answer to all these societal problems mentioned. Stay patient clever reader, and keep your hopes high! It's about to get exciting: it's time to step up the game! The most fundamental question in this context is, however: are we up for it? Are we up for a system change of our current economic system? However, the next years are pivotal for the environment and our global economy. It will show us if there are any structural legacy to draw from the challenging environmental, political, social, and economic global challenges we are up against: can we change the gravely problematic situation we are in for the better?
From a critical eye on our current economic system, towards narrowing down the scope of this brief paper. 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. The uneven distribution of food, and irresponsible production and consumption patterns, will e.g. be addressed more thoroughly in essays planned separate to this brief paper. And, the increased gap between the real economy and finance, will not be analyzed in this text. Because, as Krugman (2020) argue: finance is not a part of the real economy. Therefore, it does not necessarily have direct effects on how our real economy performs, or works. However, finance and its effects on the real economy, requires more of an in-depth study, which this brief paper cannot provide space for. Furthermore, the technology required in societal progress, and in producing problem solving technological innovations, to answer to our environmental problems, is in general not an all fix, that would be naïve to think, unrealistic to achieve, or perhaps even dangerous to rely on (Miller 2017). The dilemmas, catches, and advantages of advanced technology, will be discussed more rigorously in this essay in the section; discussing the world as a case. And, it will be compared with the challenges and opportunities of eco-pessimism, among other comparisons. More importantly, the author has chosen to address what the majority of people, and nature need the most: the unprivileged and underestimated part of humanity, and nature. And additionally, we must sophistically maneuver among the challenges that the opponents of capitalism are up against, and respond to these urgent issues in a constructive manner. Because evidently, the economic language – is also the language of power (Moene 2020). In other words, free market capitalism equals power, and dominance. I must pull myself together and step into the chamber of power. Moreover, as problematic the economic and social, political, and environmental trends in our global economic system are, we have to confront these demanding societal challenges now. Certainly, these systemic societal problems will only get worse, if we do not pull the problems by the root instantly: we are up against the wall! We must confront the heart of the matter, and get into this powerful, difficult, and demanding "game" right now. As a starter, the essence to our problems about capitalism stems from, or more precisely; the Achilles heel of our global economic system, is presented by the Norwegian economist Jakobsen (2019f), in the following quotes:
"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. [...]. [T]he economy should assure that human welfare, efficient use of resources and adaptation to ecological frameworks are met. [...]. Since a pure market economy has not built in any principles, that ensures us 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, note: the different quotes has been pulled together by the author, see: the brackets in the text, or the full text in Norwegian, in Jakobsen 2019f, p. 70 and 73, or pp. 58-73).
The most pressing challenge of the current economic system seems to be the lack of a fair and just distribution of resources (Jacobsen 2019, p. 70). This, implies that we must create a more equal and redistributive economy: a different planetary economy, which brings together both humanism and ecological responsibility (Jakobsen 2019, p. 73). Jacobsen's perspective builds on Daly and Cobb (1989; in Jakobsen 2019f, p. 180). They argue that mainstream economy shows a lack in the "ability to handle issues related to over-consumption of natural resources and fair distribution of goods." (Daly and Cobb 1989; in Jacoobsen 2019f, p. 180). In their point of view, collaboration embedded in "network-based interaction becomes more important than competition between autonomous market participants." (Daly and Cobb 1989; in Jacobsen 2019f, p. 181): "Everything (also the market) is connected through dynamic relations (the web of life)". Since everything is connected through relationships, they add: "relations are more important than objects, and that the description of change is more central than mapping what is". To achieve such a profound change to our mainstream economy, a move from competition to interaction and collaboration, and a move from analyzing the status quo to engage in transformation, is fundamental. Also, in order to face urgent societal and environmental needs. The author, however argue, that rather than a move from competition to collaboration, we need a balance between the two entities, in which collaboration must become more prominent, than currently is the case. This balance, among other key balances in macroeconomics, international currents, and geopolitics, will be addressed in this essay. That brings us to the author's contribution, to this highly challenging and demanding discussion of global system change, to our current economic system. Let me explain the use of existing theory, notions, and concerns that unfolds heavily in this brief paper:
As a starter, the core of the discussions of this essay are: methodology, theory, case comparisons, and the alternative strategy. All these different parts of this essay discuss what already exists, except from the alternative, which discusses transformation into a greening of our future world. Let us get started. The methodological part has five sections. The theoretical part has four sections, and the case comparisons have four sections, as well. The alternative strategy is, however, divided into seven sections. Altogether, the highly demanding global system change of our current economic system, is, therefore, explained by the author's following arguments and claims: first, the author suggests following five methodological arguments to support her project. (1) The statement of claiming to create an alternative to capitalism is presented. (2) The discussion of the tabula rasa situation we are in is addressed. (3) A clarification of the author's outsider role stance follows. (4) An emphasizie on pluralism, synthesis, and decomposition, will be claimed. (5) the last methodological tool will be discussed: system transdisciplinarity, and the meta discipline dilemma, as well as connectivity, holism, and transformation. The fifth methodological tool, moves from methodology to theory: it is a unification of methodology and theory that paves the way for global system change to our current economic model. Then the argumentation of the theoretical parts is analyzed. The author suggests a four folded theory discussion. To break it down, it starts out with the author's discussion of (1) capitalism, socialism, political economy and welfare states, as well as the Chinese model. (2) The challenges to our current economic system; free market capitalism, will be presented. Then, the author will move on to a responsive discussion of the seven cornerstones of existing theories, and notions, to narrow the gap between challenges of our global society and theory, and to scrutinize the stated problems of capitalism. And, (3) the author aim at discussing key balances in macroeconomics, geopolitics and international currents. (4) Advanced technology wil be analyzed. The next analysis of the argumentation is four real life cases that supports the author's core theoretical concept. These four cases are: (1) EU as an optimum currency area (OCA), and the impossible trinity (IT), (2) New Zealand and Costa Rica's pioneering body of environmental lawmaking, and constitutional reforms, as well as (3) the case on green points in Paris, London, and New York. And at last: (4) carbon pricing in the European Union (EU). Finally, in the fourth part of the core body of arguments and claims, the author moves on to the author's visual, conceptualized, and constructed theory. It is the systemic alternative stated, and it goes like this:
To be clear: the alternative builds on existing theory, notions, and cases, as well as the author's own visualizations, theoretical concepts, theoretical constructions, system narratives, and concerns. The alternative has three parts. First, to begin with, the author will turn to suggest twenty one reinvented and reimagined governing economic principles for a planetary economy, as the first part of her alternative transformation of capitalism into an ecological responsible, just and ecologically reconstructed society for the majority of people, and nature. Then, second, a discussion of two societal models will be claimed, the Western and the Chinese. After this, third, the visual models will be stated. These visual models have seven sections, in which the last model; the seventh visual model, is a meta model of the previous six models. All the models strive to transform our current economic global society into a green economic society globally. Let us take a quick and refreshing dive into the seven visual models stated in this transformative alternative:
As a reminder: all of the visual models that will be expressed next highlights how our current economic system can start the transformation process into something new: a more just, more equal, ecologically responsible, and ecologically reconstruction of our global economic society. There are eight visual models in the alternative. (1) the first visual model of the alternative make claims for a rule changing global system of constitutional reforms to support nature as a subject. (2) The second visual model addresses local-global power in an adaptive governance system. And, the (3) third visual model of the alternative is the green valuta system as a collaborative and competitive rating system. The (4) fourth visual model discuss the transformation from old principles to reimagined and reinvented new principles. The (5) fifth visual model analyze a green class mobility system. (6) The sixth model puts forward a transformation from an ego system to an ecological system globally. (7) the author suggests an alternation of growth types. The first seven first visualizations, conceptual theory, and system narratives of the alternative, has to work on multiple levels (methodologically, theoretically and visually), and in reality on all geographical scales: the global, the regional, the national, and the local scale. Overall, the six visual models, conceptual theory, and system narratives, must create an (8) interdependent meta model, or simply: a planetary economic system. This last visual model, puts together the theoretical concept, system narratives and visual content of the six former models, into one holistic whole.
Altogether, the core of the alternative stated should build upon the methodology, theory, case comparisons, and the two societal models, without simply repeating what existing theory says. It has to reimagine and reinvent existing theory. In short, it must address the achilles heel of our current economic system, presented by Jacobsen (2020e). Let us turn our curiosity to the cut to the core research question of this brief essay. 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? These is research questions, must be answered by the author in the following arguments stated in this brief essay; on the transformation of the global economic society, into a more environmentally friendly and just global society for mankind, and nature.
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-functioning planetary economic system. The alternative suggested should, most of all, strive to be fit for a sustainable future: our common future (UN 1987). To achieve this, we must seize the opportunity that have been handed over to us, in the shape of a historical shock. We must, most certainly, exploit the tabula rasa situation we are in, in order to reimagine and reinvent the current economic system we live by, to create a better future for all. However, to accommodate such profound system changes, we must start by running up that hill, or climbing that mountain. Everyone have to take their part in the opportunities and challenges ahead. This, by creating and sharing fascinating and problem solving concepts and thoughts, innovations and actions, technology, and ideas, as well as environmental measures, fit for an ecologically responsible, and humane future: a game changer for the majority of people, and nature. But, what if an even more severe and grave shock than the corona crisis, should hit the earth? What if everything, as we know it, falls apart? Do we have an alternative?
In any circumstances, it is fundamental to have an alternative plan or method. The most fundamental methodological choice of strategy must therefore; as difficult it might seem, be to create a well-functioning alternative to the capitalist system, if it should cease to function, in case of an environmental emergency, or 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 distribution of advanced technologies. And, if the present economy fails to provide us a more equal and just social and economic alternative: it will leave the majority, if not futureless, then certainly less prosperous, and with more restricted livelihoods and freedoms, than the privileged few. This is why we need to make the most out of the crisis or historical shock we are in, to change the rules of the game that we reluctantly have had to play by, up until this point. And, then suggest reform-friendly principles for our future. We must put our trust and enthusiasm 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, tolerant or diverse, 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, whether we like it or not, we have to pave the way for system changes of our dysfunctional capitalist model, since it does not work for the majority of mankind and nature. In other words, our current economic system suppress, or ceases to support our natural ecosystems, and the majority of mankind. "The globalized economy is so destructive, for both humans and ecosystems, that a new economy is needed." (Nordberg-Hodge 2016; in Jacobsen 2019c, p. 288). Furthermore: "The dominant paradigm based on the idea of the economic man must be replaced by an acceptance of the "man in the community"." (Daly 1991; in Jakobsen 2019g, p. 179). We have to change because we have pushed ourselves; our natural ecosystems, our physical surroundings, and humanity, to the limits. Kumar argued in 2002: "We are now at a crossroad, either we can continue on the same path, or we can choose an economy that serves the best interests of the community." (Kumar 2002; in Jakobsen 2019a, p. 238). However, in 2021, we are still at the same crossroad. Let's get it right this time! Sen supports the vison of the man in the community, and refers to Smith (1997), who argues that
"[m]an ought to regard himself, not as something separated and detached but as a citizen of the world, a member of the commonwealth of nature, and to the interest of this great community, he ought at all times to be willing that his own little interest should be sacrificed." (Smith 1997, p. 22; in Sen; in Jakobsen 2019a, p. 242).
Indeed, 2021 may be the pivot year for global system change, in which we take the right turn in the crossroad, and make a move towards solidarity with the commonwealth of nature. 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 and income inequality, and increased ecological footprints, which makes human beings live in economic uncertainty, as well as to live in a dysfunctional economic system: a global society which degrades natural ecosystems and – supports economic and social inequality (Meadows et al 1972, Dicken 2011a). In short, we have had to live in an economic system, in which economic growth has caused increasement in e.g. population, food production, industrialization, pollution, and consumption of nonrenewable natural resources, and it exceeds social, and ecological boundaries globally (Meadows et al 1972, Raworth 2012, 2017). Our core aim must therefore be to create a future world in balance, in which nature's given boundaries, and social limits, are not exceeded (Meadows et al 1972, Raworth 2012, 2017). In other words: we have to e.g. construct an innovative environmental contract globally, in which each country commit to constitutionally protect nature, and human beings. Additionally, we need an alternative to capitalism; in case of a collapse, an emergency, or most certainly: in case of a continuous system failure to justly support humanity and nature, in an ecological responsible, humane, and 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 resilience and diversity, a just and tolerant global society, respect and adaptiveness, trust and care, openness, transparency, and governance, as well as inclusion, at the top of the list. It must also transform the economy from being linear to resource generating loop systems that alternates between different growth types to favor humanity, and nature. 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 unequal, unjust, and unfair economic system we have constructed, which causes an over exploitation of nature. This economic system favors the privileged few, rather than the majority of people. We need to start rearranging and redistributing the resources we possess more fairly, and more equally socially and economically, environmentally, and politically. To achieve that, we additionally 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 present 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 lead 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, politically, institutionally, 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 our existence, as well as urgent existential matters tied to our global society. Because of that, we have already become more prone to adapt to changes. We must accept that we are in a favorable tabula rasa moment! The 21st century could be the year of fundamental, and rapid societal system changes, with global repercussions. The world is tossing and turning, and changing as I write. The structures are changing. We must seize the opportunity. But, remember: we create the structures, we are the structures, only we can change them. We must break free from pre-existing chains of societal problems we have nurtured, and start reinventing and reimagining what kind of societal principles we need, to improve ourselves, our world. Because, what the earth needs, is what we need too! We too are nature. It is time to clean the table, and take in all the impression from existing economic theories and notions, in order to reimagine and reinvent these. Let us start out by rethinking theoretical concepts, and notions in our mindsets, and at least to reimagine and reinvent our existing theories, and notions. The tabula rasa moment is here. We must let the structural changes unfold, and not fight against it. And, do everything in ower power to steer the structural changes in the right direction. The 21st century is our pivot moment for ecological responsible actions and behaviors. In order to create something original, or odd, fit for a different era: we must take a moment and pause to think, and then innovatively navigate into the unknown. The final achievement of this global system change quest, must be to make sure that we have kept the best from the past, learned from our mistakes, and added a twist; an original theoretical concept. This innovative goal, must be present in all the steps required to solve this riddle: the global system change challenge. And, the result must be fit for an ecological responsible, and humanist future: it must work for all of us, and nature, jointly. But, what kind of position is best suited to take on such an ambitious; or perhaps even unrealistic challenge, and unsound quest?
The global upheaval we are experiencing, creates an opening for the objective outsider's perspective of reinventing and reimagining economic theories, and notions: a tabula rasa situation, in which we have to sort out what to keep, what to learn from, and what to throw away, in terms of theoretical concepts, and notions. In order to achieve this, it is of great importance to take a position; such as an outsider's role, and furthermore, own this position. More importantly It is to state, what kind of stance, objectiveness and preconceptions, and biases, which is embodied in the understanding, that follows such a self-proclaimed position. This, in order to make sense of the author's perception of reality from the outsider's point of view:
"The qualitative researcher's perspective is perhaps a paradoxical one: it is to be acutely tuned-in to the experiences and meaning systems of others—to indwell—and at the same time to be aware of how one's own biases and preconceptions may be influencing what one is trying to understand" (Maykut and Morehouse 1994, p. 123; in Corbin Dwyer and Buckle 2009).
While the insiders have access to meaning systems, notions, and theories, cultures, and interpretations of these, the outsider's obvious advantage is based on the same arguments. But, it is a freedom from these meaning systems, cultures, theories, and notions, as well as its interpretations. This makes the outsider prone to be objective, free from indoctrinated knowledge, and innovative, in the best sense. Because: "When we see ourselves and society from the outside, we discover connections that are not so easy to see from the inside." (Kumar 2013; in Jakobsen 2019a, p. 240). Moreover, the author's outsider role, is most certainly, the creative-intuitive, and visual-spatial, human geographer and architect's approach, an holistic and societal perspective, an outsider perspective. Architecture; as seen as the art of conceptualizing and creating spaces, is more visual-spatial, and intuitive-creative, a human geographer can, however, be defined as the art of investigating the influence of differences in geography on human behavior or human phenomena. However, Shiva argue that: "The idea of an objective and value-free science is an illusion that arose in Europe during the Enlightenment." (Shiva; in Jakobsen 2019a, p. 250). He further adds that, all knowledge mirrors our cultural roots and identity, which are tied to a specific ethical stance (Shiva; in Jakobsen 2019a, p. 250). The lack or myth of objectiveness and value-freeness in science, is a point of view that is supported by Harari (2017). But, there are still differences between being an insider or outsider to a field of study, in which the outsider tends to be more objective than the insider, when these two positions are compared (Kumar 2013; in Jakobsen 2019a, p. 240).
Nevertheless, from the insider-outsider approach, and to the qualitative approach of this methodological section: the author has chosen qualitative research towards a global economy, rather than economy as a dismal science (quantitative research):"[w]hile the qualitative research relies on verbal narrative like spoken or written data, the quantitative research uses logical or statistical observations to draw conclusions." (key-differences.com 2018). This means that the author will try to grasp the global economy as a system of governing economic principles, rather than a complex with given rules. It is, thus, important to note, that the global economy is a system and a complex. The difference between a system and a complex will be discussed in the next methodological section. However, how the global economy is interpreted, all depends on the role, position or perspective of the global economy, whether it is an insider, or outsider perspective to core global economic activities. And, it is of great importance to take a stance, a role, a position in the game of free market capitalism. Furthermore, the author has chosen a qualitative approach in this essay, since her goal is to enhance accessibility and democratization of knowledge (open science). In short, the task is to reimagine and reinvent economic theory, and notions, to fit the purpose of this essay, which is to create a global system change of our economic system, an alternative. Additionally, the motivation is to construct an integration of knowledge, through synthesis, decomposition, and pluralism, in order to construct a foundation for a planetary economy of the future. These methodological terms will be discussed next, in which the author strives to make sense of the world, and our future, as well as to add more methodological equipment to our toolkit. This equipment must support the alternative bird-eye perspective on the future of our global economy. It must include theory discussions, core theoretical concepts, and theoretical constructions; and simply visual forecasting of our global economy, predicting given futures where any scenario; still, is possible. That is, if we govern the structural changes in a manner that will benefit the majority of humanity, and nature. And finally, the author will; tirelessly, strive to create order in an otherwise messy and fragmented world for you – the reader.
Since humanity is part of nature, our global society can be regarded as a natural system guided by principles, or a natural complex guided by rules (Kahil 1990, p. 11). These rules and principles continuously change, whether we like it, or not (Kahil 1990, p. 11). While the economy as a dismal science, may be regarded as a complex governed by rules, qualitative research considers the global society as a system, which may be guided by principles. While principles are looser, less specific, and more of a guiding kind, rules are more specific, and fixed. Principles and rules must work together in a future economic system: future principles can become rule changing, and on the other hand these rules may have an effect on future principles of our economic system, and e.g. on our social and environmental behaviour. But, as Jakobsen (2019f, p. 73) argued "a pure market economy has not built in any principles", which would have ensured us that a redistribution of resources, should have happened in a just and fair manner, that benefits humanity and nature. Our global economic society is, therefore, unjust and unfair for the majority of mankind, and nature. Economy as a dismal science have matematical rules and algorithms, but we lack any kind of collaborative and redistributive governing economic principles, that could have tied together humanity, and nature in a social-ecological way. Because, nature is a complex and system, so is our global economy. To create a future planetary economy for mankind and nature, we have to integrate knowledge, and create a holistic perspective on nature and the economy as a complex and as a system (system transdisciplinarity).
Furthermore, to understand the global economic society as a system, the author applies two cognitive styles to understand our challenges, when facing demanding global system changes. Let us start by defining the two thinking styles suggested: synthesis and decomposition. While the cognitive process of a synthesis is to build or construct a theoretical concept piece by piece or argument by argument, a decomposition breaks wholeness or theoretical concepts into parts, to scrutinize these. This, the author applies to global system changes theoretically. Because, it is easier to understand a system built element by element, or a theoretical wholeness divided into parts, than understanding a whole system at once. Examples of systems are food security, the Nordic model, the institutional art world, capitalism and natural ecosystems. Both cognitive styles; addressed to understand holistic systems, such as e.g. the global society, are as mentioned, core processes needed to conceptualize and construct conceptual theory on global system change. More importantly, these two procedures aims at creating coherence, and system understanding in this essay. The strategic choice of either option; a synthesis or a decomposition, is to understand and relate to core research questions methodologically. Such questions stated are: what feels most natural in identifying the characteristics of the problem(s) addressed? What brings the most original twist? Or, what unfolds the concerns of the system analysis? And finally: what kinds of arguments supports the coherence of the system inquiry most thoughtfully? Indeed, the synthesis-decomposition procedure aim at finding solutions to impossible or infinite intellectual quests such as e.g. global system changes, by creating an alternative or different planetary economy. This, is executed by taking into account theory that are pluralist, heterodox, complementary, and eclectic, which may support a variety of approaches to a planetary system change, towards a more environmentally-friendly global society. It also expresses my enthusiasm about the myriad of critical and dissenting ideas, embedded in a broader perspective on the field of economy, such as e.g. a system transdisciplinary approaches, or as defined next; pluralism:
"Economics is a hugely varied field, with an amazing colorful array of different paradigms, methods and focuses, and pluralist economics is [a study] that includes all of these [, by] introduc[ing] critical and dissenting ideas" (Fischer, Hasell, Proctor, Uwakwe, Ward-Perkins and Watson 2018, p. 2 and 4).
I have decided to define the key notion; pluralism, because it is perhaps the most unfamiliarly notion of the four terms, mentioned right before the quote. However, these four notions mentioned are befriended. Since heterodixity, complementarity and eclecticism is more familiar to us, these notions are more intuitively defined. Heterodoxity is; in this context, conceptual theory that separates it selves from standard or traditional perceptions, such as e.g. by being odd or original. Complementary; in this brief paper, means that different conceptual theories; alike colors, creates a neutral or a balance, when combined such as e.g. a complementary valuta. However, mixing two entities does not always result in a neutral or a balance. At times the result comes from a discrepancy between the expected result and the unexpected and actual result, this result is a so-called incongruence. However, that brings us to the last term; eclectic, which in this short text, may be understood as theories, and notions deriving from a broad range of sources, a relevant mix of quite differentiated theories, and notions, that when applied, supports the global system change approach. Every alternative theory and notions, that supports the author's system account in this essay is added into the text by using these four methodological notions, as a springboard to accumulate knowledge with relevance for the alternative stated. Altogether, these four terms favors a system account, or a more precisely pronounced; a holistic process, such as e.g. to create order when tidying up a messy room. In this case, the messy room is our fragmented global economic society. We have to tidy up our messy global economic society, and clean up, as well as to restore our natural ecosystems. That brings us to the next methodological tool that may; perhaps even further, pave the way for a more holistic understanding of our messy world, in which the author moves from a methodological to a theoretical perspective on the economy. This joint perspective builds on system transdisciplinarity, holism, connectivity, and transformation that must take a qualitative and integrated stance, on our current global economic system, and how we can transform it, in order to create a better future for all of us, and nature.
It is important to note, that transdiciplinarity needs to be scrutinized or explained more thoroughly, than this essay can provide space for. In short, it strives to create unity or wholeness out of pluralist, eclectic, complementary, and heterodox theoretical theory in this context. Furthermore, what separates transdisciplinarity from interdisciplinarity, is the aim of creating holistic systems and approaches, that fills in the gaps of an otherwise fragmented and incomplete global economic society. Indeed, the quest of transdisciplinarity is to unify and integrate knowledge. This, in order to create a system account or a holistic understanding, and solve our most pressing environmental, economic, social, institutional, and political matters. And, address what structural challenges and systemic opportunities, our global economic society has to handle, through the current era of system upheaval we are experiencing. Indeed, this historical shock will pave the way for structural processes or system changes to our global economic society, which will be accommodated by system transdisciplinarity and connectivity as a methodological tool, and theory on transformation. Let us start out by clarifying system transdisciplinarity as a notion.
“The notion of transdisciplinarity exemplifies one of the historically important driving forces in the area of interdisciplinarity, namely, the idea of the desirability of the integration of knowledge into some meaningful whole. The best example, perhaps, of the drive to transdisciplinarity might be the early discussions of general systems theory when it was being held forward as a grand synthesis of knowledge. Marxism, structuralism, and feminist theory are sometimes cited as examples of a transdisciplinary approach. Essentially, this kind of interdisciplinarity represents the impetus to integrate knowledge, and, hence, is often characterized by a denigration and repudiation of the disciplines and disciplinary work as essentially fragmented and incomplete.
If we now look at these rough and ready distinctions through the lenses of the three conceptual strands noted above, some interesting results emerge. First, consider the theoretical-practical wisdom distinction. Strictly disciplinary activities tend primarily to be concerned with theoretical understanding, while multidisciplinary activities, and perhaps even some interdisciplinary projects, are more concerned with practical results. Transdisciplinary activities, to be sure, tend toward addressing questions of theoretical understanding, especially those of the unity of knowledge, but the distinction between theoretical concerns and practical questions in interdisciplinary work seems worth making.” (Petrie 1992, pp. 299-333; in Evans 2014).
This systemic transdisciplinary approach, synthesis and decomposition, as well as the pluralist way to address urgent global societal matters, are tied to the environment, the sphere of politics, the economy, and social matters of a just and fair redistribution in this essay. It intersects or supports Mokiy's (2020) perspective on 'system transdiciplinarity as a meta discipline'; with an inherent meta narrative, meta theory, and meta model. Transdisciplinarity strives for unity of knowledge (Nicolescu, 1997; in Moghadam-Saman 2018 ). Moreover, it “[…] involves intense interaction between academics and practitioners in order to promote a mutual learning process between them.” (Steiner and Posch, 2006, 4; in Moghadam-Saman 2018). While this brief paper does not involve an interaction between researchers and practioners, it involves metamodels such as visualizations as a methodological tool, versus descriptive systems, or as in Mokiy's (2020) meta classification; meta narratives and meta theory. The idea of this essay, is to show that meta narratives or descriptive systems can co-work, co-create and co-evolve with visual models or meta models; in a synergetic way, to pave the way for a metadiscipline. System transdisciplinarity, is a system of systems, in which the core system (e.g. the global economic society), is more important than the parts; the fragments or smaller systems, such as e.g. the European Union (EU). Since it is a connected system explanation of the interaction of systems fragments, it is also a meta discipline. However, in this lies also the weakness of system transdisciplinarity. Indeed, since it takes a holistic approach to our world, it might underestimate the power of details. This is the dilemma of any system transdiciplinary or meta discipline approach. In short, this essay is, however, not a general system theory of economics, in the spirit of Keynes' ambitious project. But, it takes a holistic approach to solving our current societal and ecological challenges, through creating an alternative to free market capitalism.
"To solve the problems [our global society is up against], it is necessary that we change our understanding towards wholeness and contexts instead of focusing on parts and division. On the personal level, we must move away from an "I" – to a "we" consciousness, and at the system level, we must move from an egocentric to an ecocentric economy. This means, among other things, that we must develop relationships with others, with the whole system and with ourselves." (translated from Norwegian by the author, Scharmer 2019; in Jakobsen 2019c, p. 272).
Furthermore, we have to change our
"perception of reality which is characterized by separation between people and between people and nature. The solution lies in an awareness that everything in reality is integrated, and that we are part of the whole, and that we all have the whole in us." (translated form Norwegian by the author, Eisenstein 2007; in Jakobsen 2019c, p. 269).
Because, as Eisenstein continues: we are "interbeings", which means "to be one with everything" (Eisenstein 2007; in Jakobsen 2029b, p. 269). Therefore, since we are part of the global economic society and nature, we also have to start creating a "planetary consciousness", and a "harmonic interaction between humanity and nature", to endeavor our societal and ecological problems (Lindner 2011, Klein 2014; in Jakobsen 2019c, p. 264 and 266). Additionally, we have to connect and communicate, and make "a breech with established routines and frames of understanding" our current global economic system, in order to face the societal and environmental problems we are up against (Lindner 2011; in Jakobsen 2019c, p. 266). Moreover, to accommodate such societal and environmental problems stated prior in this brief paper, connectivity and holism may, therefore, be the key to understanding the relationships between the people, and nature. Because, Nordberg-Hodge (2016) builds on an integrated view of nature and mankind, in which she argues that such an integrated perspective, has to be conducted through an holistic perception of reality (Nordberg-Hodge 2016; in Jakobsen 2019c, p. 289. We are connected socially, economically, environmentally, institutionally, and politically. This point of view is supported by Zakaria (2020). The economy must therefore have an integrated and connected, pluralist and qualitative, as well as a system transdiciplinary approach, that transforms itself, or moves towards a global ecological economic foundation.
"Manfred Max-Neef points out that economics within a holistic worldview cannot exist in isolation from other disciplines. He gives good reasons why ecological economics must be developed as a transdisciplinary science. [...]. Peter Söderbaum points out that a transdisciplinary approach is required where economics, ecology and social sciences are central. Quantitative growth is being replaced by a focus on qualitative development, which is characterized by increasing complexity." (translated by the author form Norwegian, Max-Neef, Söderbaum; in Jakobsen 2019g, p. 179).
Altogether, connectivity, holism, pluralism, and system transdisciplinarity, works as the author's core guiding methodological and theoretical principles, in order to create an alternative economic system, and to handle complex global system changes theoretically, such as transformation. Since system transdisciplinarity and connectivity, may be regarded as a meta discipline approach, it supports the author's bird-eye perspective, and the creation of conceptual theory, visualizations, systemic narratives and notions, of the alternative. In short, this methodological and theoretical approach must support transformation of our economic system towards a paradigm shift of our current global economic system – an integrated global economic system change of our global society, in which ecological and societal changes must co-work, co-create and co-evolve. Moreover, the author will set out to identify seven key problems within our current global economic system; capitalism, and then suggest seven responsive cornerstones of theories, and notions, to these. This does not mean that there are other issues that should be discussed in the light of ecological responsibility, societal change, and economic sustainability. But, the author has had to sacrifice some topics, to create some unity and coherence, and to narrow down the scope of this essay. In order to be engaging, this text is a visionary mix of analytical-logical (coherence and comparisons), creative-intuitive (conceptual theory), and visual-spatial (visualizations and holistic approaches) language style and form. And, this brief essay must set the bars high; on how to create alternative theory and visualizations on how to improve, and recommend a system approach on how to better the conditions for the majority of people, and nature of – a future earth. That said, let us start the endeavor of contemplating on the core theoretical foundations of this brief essay, by scrutinizing the political economy and capitalism; its core concepts and principles, as the first part of the theoretical discussions. Let's pull out the best from existing theory on the urgent matter of requesting better conditions for mankind, and nature.
Smith is regarded as the pioneering father of the economy. He established economics as an autonomuous field, within the social sciences (Fishwick et al. 2010c, Eriksen 2012, p. XII and p. XIII). Until Smith, there was no proffessional title, and no established and independent field of economics (Eriksen 2012, p. XIII). It is therefore fitting that an essay on the principle and ideas of an alternative global economy, should start out by refering to its origin, and acknowledge the historical roots of economics (Fishwick et al. 2010c, p. 141). However, economic subjects had been discussed as early as by the Greek philosophers. And, even in the hundreds years before Smith, a broad range of texts was published. But, these were all very fragmentary according to Eriksen (2012, p. XIII). Today, he is, particularly, praised as a prophet for free trade and free competition (Eriksen 2012, p. VIII). However, Fishwick (et al. 2010c, p. 141) argue that his key contribution to the field of economics, has inspired both defenders of free-market capitalism and arguments against public regulations and public interventions on the right side, such as e.g. laissez-faire, as well as the left side of politics and economics, such as e.g. social liberalism, and the labor theory of value. His economic contribution, make up a solid foundation to the stance of new classical economy and market economy (Fishwick et al. 2010c, p. 141, Krugman and Wells 2018a, p. 2). Smith (1776) used verbal reasoning, instead of the mathematical language, and put forward simple principles to explain comprehensive and complex empirical materials, which made his arguments more accessible, and available to the public (1776; in Eriksen 2012,p. XVIII and XXIX). Three of these cut to the core principles were: division of labor and specialization, saving, and self-interest; the invisible hand. His principles was targeted on the field he called the political economy. Hence Smith (1776) problematized what we in our contemporary society have named welfare that is founded on the thoughts of a political economy, which is "the theory or study of the role of public policy in influencing the economic and social welfare of a political unit." (Merriam-Webster 2021). Therefore, Smith (1776) may have paved the way for what we today call welfare states. However, let us head back to Smith's principles. The two of the principles that will be discussed here are: the division of labor and the invisible hand, since these have relevance to the author's conceptual theory in the alternative stated. Krugman (2019) retells Smith's (1776) observations and arguments, on the division of labor, and specialization, the first principle of his thesis:
"He used the example of a pin factory to show how a group of workers, each specializing in one aspect of pin manufacturing, could produce more pins faster than the same number of master craftsmen working alone. Thus, he argued, countries were rich or poor not based on their levels of precious metals or other stores of wealth, but based on their capacity to produce the everyday things their citizens needed and wanted." (Smith 1776; in Krugman 2019, p. 13).
It seemed that dividing the tasks of the work, into specific and specialized maneuvers, made the whole process of creating commodities, more efficient and profitable. The key to understanding the division of labor is therefore: specialization. However, to introduce the next, and his core principle; the invisible hand, the author has turned to Smith (1776) in Krugman and Wells (2018a):
"Smith wrote: "[H]e intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote and end which was no part of his intention." Ever since, economists have used the term invisible hand to refer to the way a market economy manages to harness the power of self-interest for the good of the society."" (Smith 1776; in/and Krugman and Wells 2018a, p. 2-3).
In other words, Eriksen (2012) explains the principle accordingly: "[t]he principle behind the invisible hand is that individuals who pursue their own goals, together can create an effect that they have not intended." (Smith 1776; in Eriksen 2012, p. XVIII). Smith's strong trust in this marked mechanism, lead him to support international free trade. Furthermore, Smith (1776) claimed that the invisible hand was so successful, because people possessed an inner drive to be morally just, and to picture themselves in other people's situation (Smith 1759; in Eriksen 2012, p. VII-IX and XII). Self-interests was modified by peoples subconscious knowing that the society would not consider egoism as an attribute worth following, when it came to decision making (Eriksen 2012, p. VIII and IX). Hence Smith's theories created a foundation for decision making in microeconomics (Eriksen 2012). At the turn of the millenium, nobel prize winner in economy, and an authority within the field of economics; Samuelson, argued that by stating this driving principle of the economy, Smith (1776) discovered something peculiar, and problematic about the efficiency of the economy's self-regulating 'invisible hand' at the same time (in Eriksen 2012, p. X): have the markets become to efficient?
"Adam Smith discovered a remarkable feature of the market economy. With perfect competition and no market failure, markets will push as many useful products and services as possible out of the available resources. [...]. At the dawn of the industrial revolution, he pointed out the great leaps in productivity that were the result of specialization and division of labor." (Samuelson; in Eriksen 2012, p. X).
Brown, further, argued that Smith was a supporter for an egalitarian view of the society, and was a steady defender of social justice, as well as being a vital voice against suppression (Brown; in Eriksen 2012, p. IX). The Norwegian economist Moene, claimed that Smith was "The Champion of the Poor" in a newspaper article (Moene; in Eriksen 2012, p. IX). Rothbard (1995), nevertheless pulled out the strongest criticism on Smith. He stressed that Smith (1776) had had an impact on the growth of socialism, Marxism and unionization, which he himself did not support (Rothbard 1995; in Eriksen 2012, p. X). Rothbard (1995), further argued that Smith (1776) failed to explain why the capitalists' profit was justified, which made it easy for socialists to claim that any exchange of values and shares was suppression (Rothbard 1995; in Eriksen 2012, p. XI). However, Eriksen (2012, p. XIV) strongly defends Smith (1776), and argue that Smith was a "liberal defender of freedom and social progress for the whole of the society" (Eriksen 2012, p. XIV). And, he claimed that "increased division of labor was the key to increased prosperity" (Smith 1776; in Eriksen 2012, p. XVI). Smith (1776) stressed that population growth was the most clear indicator of economic growth and prosperity (Smith 1776; in Eriksen 2012, p. XVI). More people equals bigger markets, and more people equals better work effort proportionally (Smith 1776; in Eriksen 2012, p. XVII). Furthermore, since capital accumulation was a criteria for increased division of labour, it also became the criteria for increased prosperity according to Smith (1776; in Eriksen 2012, p. XVII).
From prosperity to coordination of the market and productivity: Smith (1776) argue that there are two types of befriended mechanisms that coordinates the society's productivity: (1) coordination through transactions in the market, and (2) coordination through real investments that is governed by the profit rate. The sum of these two kinds of coordination of the market is that "the members of society are optimally supplied with goods, despite the fact that there is no plan behind the way the market works." (Eriksen 2012, p. XIX). However, an efficient market does not mean that it is just environmentally, socially or economically. However, Eriksen (2012) argue: while the invisible hand coordinates the allocation of resources, it is the market price that signals the quantum of commodities supplied to the market (Eriksen 2012, p. XX). To be clear: Smith (1776) was an optimist, when it came to peoples embodied moral code, and economic development, which went hand in hand to push humanity towards greater prosperity, and freedom according to Smith (1776; in Eriksen 2012, p. XXI).
But, the truth is that markets can sometimes can be a hinder to advanced discussions of more redistributive and universal human development, such as the quest for more equality and justness in our global-local society. In practice, it may enhance egoism, which are not based on moral codes, but are basically a prove of mere self-interests, rather than a fair play of environmental, social and economic justice and equity, evolving and working together with market forces. Additionally, too efficient markets may lead to overconsumption and environmental destruction, such as e.g. climate emissions and deforestation, which may compromise healthy consumption patterns, quality, and ecological responsibility. Is there a way to fix this problematic and unjust game? Is there also a way to make competition fairer? Is there a way to take matters of social, economic and environmental justice more seriously, than currently is the case? And, what are actually free markets, free competition, and free trade: freedom for whom? Or, should it rather include freedom from economic exploitation, freedom from environmental destruction and climate emissions, less inequality, freedom from unjust, and absence of capitalist monopolies? Do we, as Chang (2010c) argue, need less efficient financial markets, without compromising the clear and outspoken values and benefits of specialization, fair, motivational and playful competition, economic development, and prosperity? And, what kinds of effects does too efficient markets have on the real economy? While the author will not address the financial market/real economy divide, due to the lack of relevance for the core intellectual question raised in this essay, the other questions are, however, at the heart of the analytical discussions of the theoretical sections in this essay. These questions will be used to decipher and support the core problem of this essay: how can we make the current economic system, a global-local society for the majority of people, and nature? And, what kinds of ethical discussions, democratic compromising, and struggles on equity, capitalism, ecological responsibility, advanced technology, and human limits do we need to go through in order to get there?
Smith (1776) discussed struggles, both class struggles and power struggles, which make up the foundation of Marx's theories on this topic. Therefore, let us start out this discussion by a brief analysis of Smith's (1776) inquiry into class struggles, and then move on to power struggles. His arguments on class struggles goes like this: (1) there are three classes: workers, capitalists and landowners, (2) Every class identify themselves in relation to the means of production: the workers own their work effort, the capitalists owns the capital, and the landowner owns the soil. (3) Every class' pay is defined according to their connections to the means of the production: the workers receives their salary for the work done, the capitalists earns their profit, and the landowners receives their ground rent. (4) The price of the commodity is tied to the worker's salary, the profit on the capital, and ground rent. (5) The workers salary and the profit, moves towards a natural level. (6) The worker must make sure that their expenses are covered, and the profit is dependent on the sum of capital in the economy according to Eriksen (2012, p. XXIII). However to make account for the problem of circularity in these price theory arrguments, an alternative theory was more popular to apply to the current economic society (Eriksen 2012, p. XXIII). It was the labor theory of value, which stated: "one could determine the exchange ratio between goods by measuring the work effort involved" (Eriksen 2012, p. XXIII). Thereby, on the left side of politics and economists, the invisible hand, is an inspiration for the labor theory of value:
"Smith was an adherent of what is known as the “labor theory of value” (LTV). At its most general, the LTV explains that the value (and price) of goods is determined by the amount of labor that went into their production. Sometimes the LTV is generalized a bit more to include other inputs, turning it into a “cost of production theory of value.” What is important here is that in all forms, the LTV and its broader interpretations see the value of outputs as being determined by the value of the inputs that went into producing them." (Horwitz 2019).
That said, let us turn to the arguments of Smith's theories on power struggles, as a continuance of his arguments on class struggles. These arguments are as following: (7) the creation of value between the three classes happens through a power struggle, in which the workers are the weakest link, and in which each class will strive to maximize their share and value, by using different methods. The fight or struggle for greater shares and value was therefore not just a class struggle, but also a power struggle according to Smith (1776; in Eriksen 2012, p. XXV). However, (8) Smith (1776) argue that the capitalists, might try to develop monopolies, to increase their profit and cease to compete fairly, and thereby make allies against their consumers, and their employees, as well as against nature. Nevertheless, (9) Smith (1776) also argue that the capitalists have great knowledge in the creation of value and shares for their businesses or industries, or their countries, and create jobs (Smith 1776; in Eriksen 2012, p. XXV). (10) Because, according to the invisible hand, capitalists that seeks to increase the profits for their businesses, will in sum, create an effect that they did not intend to (Smith 1776; in Eriksen 2012, p. XXVI). That brings us back to the start, the invisible hand, the coordination of the market, and specialization.
Altogether, the kind of information in this section on Smith will be useful later in this text. So, let us try to keep these arguments in mind. However, as we move forward to the next literary task: Ricardo's principles of the political economy, and taxation, the author will have to remind herself to pay extra attention to: free trade and the principle of comparative advantages. It's time to get focused on Ricardo (1911); acquire knowledge and understanding; from his principles on the political economy, and taxation, in order to become mesmerized by his intricacy! The key to understand both Smith (1776) and Ricardo (1817) is specialization and coordination at different geographical scales, which gives us quite different outcomes to contemplate on. Next you will discover the beauty of how these simple and clear cut abstract theoretical concepts or principles, can be applied to understand economic phenomena that are tremendously apart from each other, both in its nature and characteristics, as well to comprehend the author's analysis of its weaknesses and dilemmas for the global-local economic society. Because, the concepts of specialization and coordination, creates vast problems for social, economic and environmental justice simultaneously: can we manage to produce, coordinate, and redistribute commodities, advanced technology, and resources more fairly? And, without compromising the power of geographical differences, human and environmental limits, and at the same time fight for more social and economic equality. Is it doable within the limitations of the market's need for efficient specialization within the concept of division of labor, and within the concept of coordination of commodities, advanced technology, people, and resources in free trade, driven by comparative advantages? Can the concept of the invisible hand manage such outspoken and profound market failures, and deficiencies?
While Smith (1776; in Eriksen 2012) argued for a division of labor through specialization, so can the specializations within comparative advantages benefit free trade. However, division of labor and comparative advantages are clearly two distinctive principles. Since, the concepts and the geographical scale differs, so does its functions, purpose and meaning, the scope of the economy, and how we understand these two distinguishable principles. The principle of comparative advantages of specialization in free trade can be understood as following:
"In arguing for free trade, Ricardo formulated the idea of comparative costs, today called comparative advantage - a very subtle idea that is the main basis for most economists’ belief in free trade today. The idea is this: a country that trades for products it can get at lower cost from another country is better off than if it had made the products at home.
[...]. These gains come, Ricardo observed, because each country specializes in producing the good for which its comparative cost is lower." (The Library of Economics and Liberty 2021).
Free trade and comparative advantages is exemplified in next quote:
"Poorland’s cost of producing wine, although higher than Richland’s in terms of hours of labor, is lower in terms of bread. For every bottle produced, Poorland gives up half of a loaf, while Richland has to give up three loaves to make a bottle of wine. Therefore, Poorland has a comparative advantage in producing wine. Similarly, for every loaf of bread it produces, Poorland gives up two bottles of wine, but Richland gives up only a third of a bottle. Therefore, Richland has a comparative advantage in producing bread." (The Library of Economics and Liberty 2021).
In the strongest sense Ricardo's "laissez-faire doctrines were typified in his Iron Law of Wages, which stated that all attempts to improve the real income of workers were futile and that wages perforce would remain near the subsistence [or productivity] level" (Spengler 2021).
By arguing for three premises, Malthus took on his position as a public figure in the middle of the population growth controversy. He argued: (1) "that population cannot increase without the means of subsistence"; (2) "that population invariably increases when the means of subsistence is available"; and (3) "that the superior power of population cannot be checked without producing misery and vice" (Malthus 1798; in Winch 2013b, p. 20). In Malthus's own words (1798b):
"the power of population being a power of a superior order, the increase of the human species can only be kept commensurate to the increase of the means of subsistence by the constant operation of the strong law of the necessity acting as a check upon the greater power." (Malthus 1798b, p. 18).
I find that this quote from Malthus (1798b), is the key to understand his hypothesis, or the principle of population. It is the so-called Malthusian Trap. In short, a gap between the population growth and subsistence emerged, in which productivity could no longer support the unchecked population growth: that's the trap (Winch 2013b, p. 21-22). To be clear: Malthus core principle of population, says that in order to support humanity, in an ideal world, the subsistence has to grow as fast as the population growth in order to support mankind. But, Malthus (1798b) argued that this was evidently not the case. Agriculture ability to provide for subsistence, because of limited land supply, lagged behind what was needed to support population growth. If his prophecy was right, humanity would use up the resources that it needed, in order to support the future of the majority of people (Fishwick et al. 2010g, p. 75). His claims are as following: Malthus (1798b, p. 18) stressed that if population goes unchecked, it would increase in a geometrical ratio (linear growth), but humanity's needs to survive (subsistence or productivity) would increase in an arithmetical ratio (exponential growth). While a geometrical ratio for linear growth is e.g. "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc." an arithmetical ratio for exponential growth is e.g. "1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, etc." (Malthus 1798b, p. 17-18). But, when Malthus wrote his essay on the principle of population, he used the United States of America (USA) as a base for his calculations. Hence, Malthus (1798b) assumed that population would only double itself every twenty-five years, which was shown in the previous and available data on the USA, at his time (Malthus 1798b, p. 16). His hypothesis: that subsistence or productivity does not support mankind, is groundbreaking, and still, or even more alarming currently. Clarifying such a problematic and immense societal trend, that early in the stage of macroeconomics, is an achievement. However, the quest of creating a principle for population growth, which was supposed to be "a universal one capable of explaining past, present, and future condition of mankind wherever it was to be found" proved to be far too ambitious (Winch 2013c, p. 4). And, his assumptions that population growth could be calculated at a geometrical ratio was, however, somewhat false. By the data he had, he could not predict the future scenario of human population growth, other than up to his arrival. Something happend with the world's population growth that he could not foresee: he did not predict the future outcome of population trends after his lifetime. Because, according to The World Counts (2021):
"Around 1804, the world population reached 1 billion people. In 1927, the 2 billion mark was made. And then, the world population really took off. In the following 84 years, the world population grew by 5 billion people reaching 7 billion in 2011. And the growth continues. By 2023, world population reaches 8 billion people. Around 2037 it could hit 9 billion and by 2056 a massive 10 billion people." (The World Counts 2021).
This means that the world is growing by 200.000 thousands of human beings each day, which contributes to a long-term S-curve of population growth, rather than at a linear growth rate as Malthus assumed (Malthus 1798b, The World Counts 2021). And, this growth in population was not expected by Malthus (1798b). He did not take such a scenario into his accounts. Was the situation even graver than Malthus (1798b) would anticipate in his calculations? According to data the earth's capability of providing us subsistence to survive, is being critically tested when it comes to distribution of e.g. food and clean water for everyone, and to support other vital aspects of living. How we deal with this urgent issue, is a matter of life and death for people who experience being exposed or being part of a humanitarian crisis. In 2001-2019 , there were 20.45 million refugees, 43.5 million internally displaced people, and 4.15 million of asylum seekers (?) (Statista 2019). Nevertheless, was Malthus' prophecy far too pessimistic about the future? Even though we have seen a steep growth in population in the world, productivity has not necessarily been falling according to Krugman and Wells (2018e). Malthus core argument in the principle of population was that the pressure of rising population would cause the majority of people to live on the brink of starvation (Malthus 1798; in Krugman and Wells 2018e, p. 678). Malthus claimed that technological improvements would only cause temporarily improvements in productivity, before increase in death rates, and decrease in birth rates, darkened the already grave sceenery, and hit the exponential growth curve (Malthus 1798; in Krugmen and Wells 2018e, p. 678). However, his prophecy on the future of productivity, might have been too pessimistic in its prediction (Krugmen and Wells 2018e, p. 677). Nonetheless, while Malthus's predictions of the future was too pessimistic, his views on the past was right. Up until then, population growth had limited living standards for the majority of the people (Krugmen and Wells 2018e, p. 690). It was, thus, the bounded land supply that limited real income per capita, prior to the time of Malthus according to Krugman and Wells (2018e, p. 690). However, let us try to wrap this up on a positive endnote. Because, as Krugman and Wells (2018e) concludes, on the future:
"[I]n the time since Malthus wrote his book, any negative effects on productivity from population growth have been far outweighed by other, positive factors - advances in technology, increases in human and physical capital, and the opening up of enormous amounts of cultivable land in the New World." (Krugman and Wells 2018e, p. 678).
The future scenery looks far more optimistic, according to Krugman and Wells' endnote (2018e), or should we cautiously keep some of that Malthusian pessimism, in mind? So, the question is really: has Malthus (1798b); with his historical data been too pessimistic, or is Krugman and Wells (2018e); with their up to date data, too optimistic? Or, is there perhaps a middle way? Meadows (et al. 1972) argues that there are limits to growth environmentally. Krugman and Wells (2018e) argues that new supply of land in the New World would add more cultivable land. However, this also implies displacing environmental problems to these countries, caused by e.g. agriculture of their land, that e.g. again may cause deforestation or other environmental issues. Productivity needed for rapidly increasing population growth, does not come without costs for the majority of people's environments, and livelihoods in need of the grace and generosity of nature. The question to contemplate uncomfortably on or optimistically on, is therefore: should we aim at more productivity and continuous population growth, or less productivity for the sake of the environment, and the majority of the existing population, and future restrictions on population growth? Or, should we simply take the liftoff into outer space, an exploration of the universe? However, back on earth: can we look upon 'growth' as something more than mere increased efficiency and productivity? Since there are, also, limits to the free market's ability to efficiently redistribute the gains of productivity fairly, we might need to start thinking differently about growth, and the distribution of the means of productivity (Jakobsen 2019f). Is it time to reconsider the principle of population, and the Malthusian Trap? In short, Malthus discussed productivity's limited ways to favor the distribution of future resources, to support human population growth on the earth - a negative endnote. However, by the prospects of Pinker (2011) the future continues to look brighter for humanity: we are improving our inherent human capacities, this is e.g. shown in the decline of violence upon or within the human population, across time and geography (Pinker 2011).
Of course, it is important to note that "[i]n dealing with Malthus's reputation as a political economist it is important to recognize that he was addressing himself to a number of controversial questions in a historical context which gave them a special point." (Winch 2013c, p. 9). The French Revolution, was followed by rapid breakthroughs in human conditions, which was a result of a reformation of its political institutions. In Great Britain economic prosperity and agricultural expansion dominated the scenery (Winch 2013d, p. 9). These historical events, among many others incidents, made Malthus's (1798a and b) theories particularly controversial. Questions arose: was he pro nature, but against culture (humanity)? Or, was he a Newtonian, rather than a Social Darwinist? These kinds of questions regarding his reputation as a human being, were questions Malthus had to face in his contemporary society: Malthus's stance on the Malthusian Trap was surely 'against the grain' (Huysmans 1931, Winch 2013a, p. 104). The public pressure he was under, among his fellow craftsmen, can hardly be conceived. That said, let us bring together Malthus thoughts on how the future improvements of the global society, should emerge:
"population must always be kept down to the level of the means of subsistence [or productivity]; but no writer that the author recollects has inquired particularly into the means by which this level is effected [up until the author's inquiry into this matter]: and it is in the view of these means which forms, to his mind, the strongest obstacle in the way to any very great future improvement of society." (Malthus 1798a, p. 9).
Altogether, while the Malthusian theory highlighted human population growth and its challenges for future generations, Marx analyzed the human limits or human effects of a capitalist mode of production; on human beings or labors and their class struggles and power struggles, to form the the next principle of the political economy, which is thoroughly explained, and eloquently discussed in his in-depth critique of the political economy (Malthus 1798a and b, Marx 1867). For further analysis of the next principle, or root of the political economy, stay tuned: it is time to explore the Marxian logics of power struggles and class struggles dynamisms, as well as to briefly and critically, discuss the weaknesses and opportunities and dilemmas of the socialist project.
Let us start out with the craziest, most extreme, and limitless prophecy of the free market, laissez-faire, and then turn to the craziest, most extreme, and limitless prophecy of socialism and social planning. And, finally maneuver among the pros and cons of the two isms. First up are the voices of the free market:
"The invisible hand is a metaphor for the unseen forces that move the free market economy. Through individual self-interest and freedom of production as well as consumption, the best interest of society, as a whole, are fulfilled. The constant interplay of individual pressures on market supply and demand causes the natural movement of prices and the flow of trade. [...]. The invisible hand is part of laissez-faire, meaning "let do/let go," approach to the market. In other words, the approach holds that the market will find its equilibrium without government or other interventions forcing it into unnatural patterns." (Majaski and Sonnenshein 2020).
However, these assumptions might have been false according to Eriksen (2012,p. XV). He argued that Smith (1776) was a speaker of many public interferences into the economy, such as e.g. taxation, and his reputation for defending laissezz-faire, was a myth (Eriksen 2012, p. XI). However, at the other end of the economics, Majaski and Sonnenshein (2020) utilize the invisible hand in the prophecy of the (extreme) other perspective on the economics, such as the more right side laissez-faire stance. This brings us to the next argument, which proves that Smith's theories from The Wealth of Nations (1776), can enhance discussions of both sides of the middle way of economic theories, a balance of extreme positions, such as e.g. free-market capitalism and socialism. Let us take a look at these two extremes, and why are these isms so crazy?
The question whether a welfare state system consists of; a tug of war between capitalism and socialism, and political compromising, and/or changing international currents, and incongruence, is indeed an intriguing question or problem that has puzzeled me profoundly. And, I will investigate this through discussing the principles and ideas of the welfare state, in this section on the Norwegian welfare state, and the next section on the four Scandinavian welfare state systems. But, let us start this discussion on the welfare state with the most obvious question, the basics: what do we need welfare states for? Krugman and Wells argued (2018m): "the rationale for the welfare state rests in part on the social benefits of reducing poverty and inequality, it also rests in part on the benefits of reducing economic insecurity." (Krugman and Wells 2018m, p. 512). We simply need a welfare state because, as human beings; luck or misfortune, can hit us all. However, to tell the story of economic inequality, economic insecurity and poverty, and how to reduce these unfavorable societal components or its dehumanizing effects, the author will try to explain this challenge form a Norwegian perspective, with all its grandeur, and misery: what is the price for a well-functioning welfare state? However, to start this analysis of the welfare states, it is important to clarify what a welfare state is. In this emerging curiosity, we should turn our attention to Krugman and Wells, for a clarification, and an enlightenment (2018m):
"The term welfare state has come to refer to the collection of government programs that are designed to alleviate economic hardship. A large share of the government spending of all wealthy countries consists of government transfers – payments by the government to individuals and families that provide financial aid to the poor, assitance to unemployed workers, guaranteed income for the elderly, and assistance in paying medical bills for those with larger health care expenses." (Krugman and Wells 2018m, p. 506).
These are the inherent characteristics of a welfare state. To adress the three core questions of the opening to this brief section on the welfare states, however, the author will try to decipher the logics of the welfare state; its principles and ideas. As Ellingsæter (et al 2020a, p. 21) explains, there are three models of western welfare states: the social democratic, the liberal, and the conservative. In the social democratic welfare state the state is the core welfare institution, in the liberal, the market is more in charge, and in the conservative, the family is the governing welfare institution. This brief section on the welfare state will elaborate on the social democratic welfare state. The author will, therefore, take a swift look at the Norwegian welfare state, while adressing the political and economic matters of the welfare state (the political economy). While the Northern European countries are so-called coordinated market economies (more state and less market), countries such as UK and USA, are more liberal marked economies (more market and less state). In other words, more state means more socialism, and more market means more free market capitalism. Because of this there are different balances between free market capitalism, its type of welfare benefits and services, and socialism in these countries. Furthermore, the Nordic countries have a stronger state, as well as stronger and more active citizens, in order to achieve a favorable, and most needed balance. However, in 2020, USA scored 87% on voter turnout, Sweden 82%, Denmark 80%, Norway 78%, compared to 69% in the UK, and 67% in Finland (World Population Review 2021). But, 2020 has been a special year, a year of great upheaval and vast turmoil. This has engaged voters, particularly in the USA. However, all the welfare states have among the highest scores on voter turnout in the world. Citizens in these countries seems to be enthusiastic about their welfare states, it provokes debates, it is questioned, and it receives support. Because, there is something special about a well nurtured welfare state, in which its politically active citizens are particularly excited about: it supports the ideas of fairness, equity, and justice. That is not bad, or? According to Rawls (1971), most people behind a veil of ignorance would "do unto others as you would have them to do unto you if you were in their place" (Rawls 1971; in Krugman and Wells 2018m, p. 507). Hence, the argument support the ideas of justice, equity, and fairness of the welfare states: we rightfully care about each other, thus we also rightfully care about ourselves, and vice versa. Nozick (1974) however argued against Rawls (1971): "justice is a matter of rights, not results, and that the government has no right to force people with high incomes to support others with lower incomes" (Nozick 1974; in Krugman and Wells 2018m, p. 507). Does these kinds of arguments foster egoism or justice, fairness and equity, or simply knowledge based self-assurance?
From knowledge based self-assurance to a knowledge based service economy. Note this: the Norwegian welfare state contextual appearance is in a Scandinavian knowledge based service economy, in which workers are among the highest educated in the world. From 1970-1993, Norway spent the most in the world on public primary education. This is not the case in 2021, but we continue to prioritize public education, like the other Nordic countries do too (Our World in Data 2021). Knowledge in Norway and in the other Scandinavian countries is democratic, and in most cases public. Furthermore, the Norwegian welfare state has had to adapt to changes, such as: (1) societal changes, (2) new ideological currents, (3) new professional knowledge, as well as (4) shifting group interests and experiences with established practices (Ellingsæter et al 2020b, p. 372). Additionally, these changes results in more "coordinated income settlement, cooperation between the trade union movement and strong employers' organizations, active employment policy and good vocational training." (translated from Norwegian by the author, Ellingsæter et al 2020c, p. 35). In short, a strong focus on employment and unionization. Altogether, in order to succeed, the Norwegian welfare state has had to be flexible and adjust to changing contextual, and societal inputs as a knowledge based service economy, with a strong driving force of democratic compromising, conflict handling, and consensus in the political landscape. Because of this, Norwegians are prone to adjust to changes.
"Economists Erling Barth and Kalle Moene pointed out that in Norway and the Nordic countries there was a favorable interaction between capitalist dynamics and institutions that were not controlled by the market – strong organizations, coordinated wage formation, a compressed wage structure, central negotiations combined with local negotiations based on corporate productivity. The result was many winners and few losers." (translated from Norwegian by the author, Barth, Moene and Wallerstein 2003; in Ellingsæter et al 2020c, p. 35).
But, why are there so many winners in the Norwegian welfare regime? The Norwegian welfare state and its future, is more and more in the hands of the state and core Norwegian politicians. This political landscape is decided by a tug of war between three types of actors: protagonists (reformers), consenters (followers), and antagonists (opponents) (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 23). Rather than being a tug of war between free market capitalism and socialism, the making and the continuance of the Norwegian welfare state, is a tug of war between these three types of political actors. Since the Norwegian welfare state has become more decided by the state and core political actors, it makes sense to claim that the Norwegian welfare state has moved more in the direction of socialism (the state and political actors), rather than free market capitalism (the market and capitalist actors). While the economic situation have favored an expansion of the Norwegian welfare state, this is not the case for other European countries, according to Ellingsæter (et al 2020c, p. 27).
While oil and gas drilling and exploration in Norway, have supported a strong state, and an expansion of the Norwegian welfare state; compared to free market capitalism, in other European countries the economic progress has been weaker. This has put pressure on the role of the state to cut down on benefits and services (Ellingsæter et al 2020c, p. 27). However, the fruits of the massive economic growth in Norway could have been provisioned differently. In more liberal welfare states, such as USA and UK, the focus have been on more private consume and saving, rather than public services, and benefits, even though the USA and the UK are considered as rich countries. The Norwegian state and politicians have rather spread the economic resources, based on economic growth, among their citizens more redistributive and universal, or simply in a more just and fair way. However, there has been a shift from welfare to workfare in the Norwegian, as well as other Nordic welfare states. In Norway this has been executed by more power to the labor market in order to provide for citizens' livelihoods. High levels of working citizens have not just created tax incomes, it is also a shield against poverty. In short, in the new welfare state the welfare state's benefits, services and institutions, are woven together with the public, and solutions on the market only functioned as a supplement (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 372). Ellingsæter (et al 2020a) concludes:
"Although the welfare state until the 1960s was driven by the parties' gathering on income security and redistribution as a common goal, the new welfare state was more of a compromise, where the parties came together to unite conflicting ideas and principles – market and state, autonomy and regulation, solidarity and individual responsibility." (translated from Norwegian by the author, Ellingsæter et al 2020c, p. 383).
Ellingsæter (et al 2020a, p. 21) continues to argue on the Norwegian social democratic welfare state, that it is particularly distinguished from other welfare states in its aim to seek full employment, utilize the principle of universalism, it has a wide risk covering (it covers economic insecurity), it is generous in its benefits, and it has well-developed services that are financed by taxes (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 21). But, these attributes, such as universalism, also thrive in other types of welfare states, but its presence is more moderately. However, the term universalism, might need some clarification. Universalism as a principle for welfare, means that benefits and services are given to everyone in the same situation. This differs from selective benefits and services that are targeted on people that are poor, redistribution. Redistribution can be defined as "[t]he distribution of something in a different way, typically to achieve greater social equality." (Oxford, Lexico 2021). In the context of this brief paper, redistribution will be addressed as a different way to ensure that measures of social, environmental and economic equality, and justice are met. However, universalism is a principle that builds trust between the citizens and the state, since it is a right that is given equally to all people in the same situation. Ellingsæter (et al 2020a, p. 21) even argue that the social democratic welfare states in the Nordic countries, is often presented as the most universal, compared to other types of welfare states, such as the liberal, and the conservative. They continue to argue that the notion of welfare states as being universal, is tied to the political ideology of social democratic politics in Scandinavian countries (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 21). Universialism and redistribution between rich and poor, are the cornerstones of principles of the Norwegian welfare state, and in other Nordic welfare states. More precisely the principle of universalism says that "most schemes cover all citizens, that the benefits are distributed as one right, and that everyone has equal rights." (Ellingsæter et al 2020b, p. 375). The definition of universalism, claims that universalism and redistribution in the Nordic welfare states, are relational, which also is the key to understand the next topic in this brief section on the welfare state.
Since the Norwegian welfare state is governed by the state, political actors have changed the relationship of the three governing institutions of the welfare state, such as the state (social democratic), the family (conservative), and the market (liberal), towards a stronger state (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 22). However, the new welfare state turned out to be more decided by political compromising, rather than consensus, and tighter and interwoven connections with the market, rather than a tug of war between free market capitalism and socialism (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 374 and 380). Social regulations of the market and union movements have contributed in limiting the power of the free market in Norway (Ellingsæter et al 275). This should strengthen the social community, solidarity, and strive to rip down existing class divisions, by enhancing social and economic class mobility (Elllingsen et al 2020a, p. 376). To ensure that resources are also just and fair, some benefits and services are added in a selective manner (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 376). So that economic resources are redistributed. Altogether, these measures provides more equality and social integration into the Norwegian society, and environmental ambitions (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 378). This makes Norway a suitable nesting place for social-ecological system changes, based on learning processes of social interaction and ecological interaction. In sum, the keywords to a Norwegian style welfare state is: "universalism, generous benefits [and services], high levels of employment, and high levels of tax financing", as well as redistribution (translated from Norwegian by the author, Ellingssæter 2020a, p. 380). Given these above mentioned arguments it is easy to see that the welfare states is relational in three ways: (1) Its principles and ideas are relational (universalism and redistribution, as well as fairness, equity and justice), next (2) the different types of welfare institutions are relational (family, market and state), and in the Scandinavian welfare state there are three types of political actors which interact (reformers, followers and opponents). This is supported by Daly and Cobb, who argued that everything is connected, also the market, the state, and the family, or political actors, and governing principles, and ideas of the welfare states (1989; in Jacobsen 2019f, p. 181). But in Scandinavia more weight has been put on the state, political actors and the governing principles and ideas, such as universalism and redistribution, and fairness, equity, and justice.
This is seen in the new Norwegian welfare state. However, the Norwegian welfare state was not a tug of war between capitalism and socialism, it was a democratic tug of war between political parties with "conflicting ideas and principles" that was in the spotlight (translated from Norwegian by the author, Ellingsæter et al 2020c, p. 383). Moreover, the most obvious challenge to create a welfare state is that it is quite expensive. But, most reliable studies of universalism and redistribution shows that rather than leaving it up to the free market, or the family, leaving it up to political compromising parties, or simply democratic decision making, has proven to be quite a success story in Norway. And, theory on the other Scandinavian welfare states has proved to us that human development, universalism and redistribution to fight poverty, social and economic inequality and economic insecurity, can take place, even though the country is not financed by an oil and gas industry. Finland, Denmark and Sweden all score in top ten of the world's most innovative countries in 2020 (Asheim and Mariussen 2010, pp. 52-56, Ceoworld Magazine 2020). Due to oil and gas dependence, Norway fails to create innovation among the top ten countries in the world (Asheim and Mariussen 2010, pp. 52-56 and pp. 68-71). Furthermore, welfare is also a matter of political prioritizing, doing what is right for the citizens, and it is a matter of free choice: redistributing and sharing. Or, to leave it up to the free market, such as in the USA and UK; in which human development, equality, economic and social mobility, becomes the injured party. Welfare states that are social democratic creates happy and more equal citizens, and lesser unemployment rates. It is important to note that all formal models and principles may not be applied on all cases or on all countries: different contexts, may need different solutions (see: universalism and eurocentrism in Brohman 1995, p. 121, and in Tvedt 2021). This is why a global/local governance system, has to be adaptive and take into account geographical unevenness, in order to function optimally. However, even though the Norwegian welfare state has been able to redistribute the resources more equally, fairly and justly, it has come at huge costs for the environment. This is not unique to Norway. While all the Scandinavian countries scores high on everything that is about human development, such as e.g. education, social progressiveness, health and happiness, they "fall toward the very bottom of the Sustainability Development Index." (Hickel 2019). The environment will suffer the same destiny in all Nordic countries, such as Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Finland, if not an ecological reconstruction takes place in these countries, in which we become more ecological responsible (Hickel 2019). But, why are these welfare states so bad for the environment?
"Ecologists say that a sustainable level of resource use is about 7 tons of material stuff per person per year. Scandinavians consume on average more than 32 tons per year. That is four and a half times over the sustainable level, similar to the United States, driven by overconsumption of everything from meat to cars to plastic. [...]. As for emissions, the Nordic countries perform worse than the rest of Europe, and only marginally better than the world’s most egregious offenders – the US, Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia. Yes, they generate more renewable energy than most countries, but these gains are wiped out by carbon-intensive imports." (Hickel 2019).
The solution may lie in welfare states that scores high on human development, such as more equality and social progressiveness, education and health, happiness and less poverty, and prevents economic insecurity, that are also able to reconstruct their societies ecologically, and cut 70% of their emissions (Hickel 2019). This means e.g. "scaling down fossil fuels, shifting to plant-based diets, retrofitting old buildings instead of constructing new ones, requiring consumer products to be longer-lasting and repairable, and improving public transportation." (Hickel 2019). However, to repeat a core argument; the expansion of the Norwegian welfare state comes with a price tag, and a disturbing gust from mother earth: we are thriving economically, by harming nature, and people that are hit by natural disasters! It is simply not just or fair! It does not promote environmental justice. But, how can we change this situation for the better? While the Nordic countries may learn other countries something about human development, other countries such as e.g. Indonesia, Philippines, India, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and, Bangladesh, may learn the Scandinavian countries something essential, about having the lowest ecological footprint in the world (NationMaster 2012). And, we might also come to the conlusion that universalism and redistribution does not fit all contexts (Bohrman 1995, p. 121, Tvedt 2021). We also must considering creating some new governing economic principles and models, fit for a more complex and comprehensive, ecological responsible and sustainable future, in which we figure out how changing contextual inputs, in other words: geographical unevenness of the world, demands different solutions: a different planetary economy.
Furthermore, while the welfare states are connected to theory on the political economy, such as free market capitalism and a strong state and socialism, the key to the most favorable solution lies in the term incongruence. When we put pressure on the welfare states or "melt" it down to its basics; metaphorically like a laboratory chemistry experiment. And, reconstruct or adjust it while adding some geographical differences, and then stir it around by adding some movement, such as changing contextual inputs, geopolitical rearrangements, and new international currents, the welfare state might turn out quite differently, depending on the updated global/local geographical situations it is applied to. This turmoil might result in an incongruence of its original form, and the creation of an ecological responsible welfare state system. Because, while we like to think that we are particularly ecologically conscious in our Scandinavian countries, theory and statistics, shows that this is evidently not the case. We need a meltdown in form of a turmoil of international currents, geographical unevenness, and geopolitical pressure, in order to make the welfare states more adaptable to change. Also, in order to become more resilient, as well as to turn more ecologically responsible. Because, the Norwegian welfare state is not ecologically responsible, neither are the other Nordic welfare states. But, these Nordic countries can become more sustainable, and ecological responsible, in the future.
The welfare states, its politicians and citizens needs summon up a real and genuine discourse on urgent environmental matters, and on ecological reconstruction or simply: make a reality check on their environmental status, and ecological footprints. Moreover, we have to start listen to the scientists, and their perspectives on comprehensive and complex environmental matters. To create systemic change, the state and its politician, the citizens, and our scientists, have to actively support environmentally friendly businesses and innovations, projects and technology, as well as more eco-friendly livelihoods, and healthy consumption patterns. And, we have to start the transition from an oil and gas exploration and drilling dominated economy, to a more renewable, and sustainable economy nationally and globally. So, to be clear, the welfare state supports the majority of people, but it does not support nature, yet. However, national welfare states are also influenced by what is going on in global geopolitics, macroeconomics, and international currents. The move towards sustainability, is not just a local or national task, it is also about creating global governing economic principles that can shape a united fight for a better future, which may be applied to all scales (global/local). It has to be more ecologically responsible and sustainable, as well as more just, and more fair. It must support equity, fairness and justice, and redistribution and universalism, as well as social and economic equality and mobility, it must prevent poverty, create more economic security for people, and just as important; it must support ecological responsibility. Altogether, we have to start the journey towards an ecological reconstructed welfare state system. In short, it is all about striking the right key balances in geopolitics, macroeconomics, and international currents, in which an ecologically responsible welfare state system, supported by citizen empowerment, may play a key role in the shaping of a new economy: a different planetary economy, with a new type of adaptive governance. But, before we do that, let us turn to four other Scandinavian welfare state systems, for a comparison.
Note this: the problems stated and the solutions suggested in these two following theoretical sections, are not completely chronological. This means, that the problems that are stated, are not necessarily followed by a set of theories, which will "solve" all the key problems. However, the author seeks to order this essay as much as feasible, to create order in a messy world. Altogether, every arguments in this system change narrative on the existing economic system; its ups and downs, have been placed in this text to support the core scientific question: how can we make our global economic system; an economy for the majority of people, and nature? Is it doable? Additionally, as the author argued in the abstract: this essay is not an all-inclusive alternative to free-market capitalism. And secondly, some of the problems stated here, will be discussed in this essay as a whole, to support the key scientific question. Hence, this essay has a methodological system approach (system transdisciplinarity). Furthermore, the author hopes that she will sketch out a sufficient narrative of the core problems scrutinized. And then, bring fourth theory that may paint a clearer picture of the system arguments as a whole, as well as fragmentary explanations that has taken claims of the macroeconomic situation, in our global economic society. Let us see how it works. We must take a look at what we are up against, by addressing the first key issue, and then build from there. That's it! The first problem presented in this theoretical section is a rather grave one. We are in need of some real system changes, to bring fourth impactful solutions, on how to confront a global world in stress, to put it mildly. If you do not agree that there are societal and environmental concerns or problems to our current economic system, I challenge you to pay extra attention to the following arguments, and scientific facts of this theoretical section. Stay focused!
Displacement of the Homeless, Refugees, and Victims of Natural Disasters, Wars, and Famines, as well as the Pandemy
In this second theoretical section, the author addresses seven groups of theoretical frameworks, to accommodate the problems stated in part two of the four folded theoretical parts. Some of these devices suggested here, answers directly to the key problems stated above, and the remaining theoretical frameworks are used as theoretical tools for this brief essay as a whole. Let us get started. The first cornerstone of this theoretical part relates to responses to a covid shock, a crisis, which potentially may lead to a long-term recession, if we do not find the right monetary or fiscal innovations necessary, to face the urgent global situation we are in. But, the author still have to remind the reader that there is no all fix, due to the complexity of the pandemy we are in. Let us rather talk about improvements, relief or symptom-suppressing measures, or modifications of the problematic societal crisis, for mankind and nature. And then, on a good day, work for radical global system changes to our current economic system, mindblowing system changes, with profound consequences for mankind, and nature. Because, there are glimmer of hope, since we are in this together, we will, and must, find our ways to work our way through the load of pressure upon us. We must turn our curiosity to the promising theories, and notions, for such a strenuous challenge, and put our trust in the seven cornerstones stated, that these will keep this global house steady. We must believe that we "can be better", and achieve greater things (Obama 2020). It is time to make a move towards a better future for all, one cornerstone after one cornerstone. Let us keep the best part of us, learn form our mistakes, and leave the rest to the past. As a starter, the first cornerstone compounds following theories, and notions, to build on, which this brief essay rests heavily on. We have to see how all the "solutions" comes together, and unfolds theoretically, and start from there.
Meadows' Limits to Growth, Jakobsen's Perspective on Environmental Responsibility, and Hessen's The World at the Tipping Point
“The more powers compete and pursue strategic advantage at the expense of addressing shared technological, environmental and economic challenges, the more likely it will be that a broader sense of friction will develop across the global system. A rivalrous global system will in turn make it more unlikely that shared priorities are fulfilled” (Brende in WEF 2020).
"Cooperation, [...] will ultimately prove more beneficial to individual states – and to the world at large" (Brende in WEF 2020): “At a time when power dynamics are in flux, there is an opportunity for stakeholders to make the decision to shape geopolitics in a cooperative, rather than competitive, manner” (Brende in WEF 2020).
"The basic difference between explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge is that explicit knowledge is already codified, whereas tacit knowledge is rooted in the mind." (keydifferences.com 2021).
"current generations are taking more interest in what their lives might look like in 50 years, rather than focusing on what their lives look like today. The rise in techno-optimism, a belief which centers around the notion that future technologies will solve our current problems, is a seductive siren song of distant hope—and it is actually quite dangerous." (Miller 2017).
However, Miller (2017) clarifies his arguments:
"Technology [also] remains among humanity’s greatest assets. It has succeeded in extending human lifespans, increasing capitalist productivity, and making interplanetary travel possible. However, despite its venerable list of achievements, it remains nothing more than a tool. Without a responsible and steady guiding hand, it becomes useless, and perhaps detrimental." (Miller 2017).
"Korten claims that poverty, increasing inequality, environmental destruction and social disintegration are largely due to globalized companies becoming more and more dominant. The consequence is that deeper values such as democracy, justice and environmental responsibility are weakened. An economy in which the richest people define the rules of the game, so that they can maximize their own financial return without regard to the consequences for others, will inevitably undermine the social and environmental basis of viable societies. It is therefore important to increase knowledge and awareness of the consequences of economic globalization and the expansion of corporate power. [...]. According to Korten, the biggest problem today is that large companies own more and more of society's values. This leads to a concentration of power and a weakening of democratic processes." (translated from Norwegian by the author, Korten; in Jakobsen 2019c, p. 275).
The second part of the alternative stated, consists of twenty one principles for a planetary economy, which forms the foundation for the third, and final part of the alternative: the visual models, conceptual theory, and system narratives. These twenty one principles can be understood at a system level, and without acquiring any prior knowledge of any other theoretical notions or concepts, in this essay. But, the author strongly encourages the reader, to skim through the abstract and introduction, methodology, theory and case comparisons, to make sense of it all. However, these principles suggested should be simple to grasp, and cut to the core of understanding the alternative stated. Since the author has chosen to take a qualitative research approach in her bird-eye perspective to our current economic system, it means that the author will strive to explain system changes by introducing some principles, or guidelines, which again may result in changing the rules of the game. The twenty one governing principles, must answer to the pure free-market capitalisms lack of principles that could have ensured us that resources would have been distributed and redistributed more justly, and fairly. It strives to support advanced technology, entrepreneurial businesses, and frontline science, but most of all: the majority of mankind, and nature. You will soon discover that the principles are overlapping. This is made by intent. Since the global society consists of interwoven and messy, complex and comprehensive societal areas, so must the principles mirror. The author's greatest motivation for creating these principles, is for the reader to see how the world is interconnected. Our world works as a whole by consisting of interdependent functions. This is not something new, but it is worth as a reminder in our fragmented, messy, uncollaborated, and uncoordinated global society. It is also worth the effort to try to make sense of and remind the reader about the most relevant conditions and components of our global economic society, which was addressed in the theoretical parts of this essay. Because, the alternative builds on, reimagine and reinvent existing knowledge on the global economic society, stated in the theoretical sections. However, it is important to state that our global society shows clear signs of lacks in adaptive governance that is sorely needed, and which could have improved collaboration in geopolitics, macroeconomics, and international relations profoundly. This, not just to prevent war, but also to coordinate our efforts, if a pandemy should occur again, or if an even more grave historical shock should hit us. In order to show the worlds' need for more interconnectedness, collaboration, and coordination, the principles must, most of all, cover all of the most vital aspect of our global society, without merely repeating what previous and current economic theory says. The author has to show how our current global society can start transforming itself and humanity, into a different planetary economy: our future world. In short, by twisting the principles, new societal system changes can evolve, and an international sustainability transition can emerge. Let us get started. The first principle, therefore, stresses the necessity of collaboration. We have to collaborate more, in order to start the process of transformation into more sustainable pathways. We have to show everyone more trust and care, reciprocity, and solidarity, as well as to extend our global consciousness, societally and environmentally. We must also start this journey by engaging in fierce and motivational, playful, intense, and challenging competitive fairness. The first principle, thereby, suggests that e must make an inquiery into collaborative-competitive dynamisms. This, in order to enter into the future that we all want for each other, for ourselves, and nature. In return, these system changes may arise to exceed the current logics of free-market capitalism, by proving to itself to be original in more than one aspect. It might turn out to be a profound game changer for humanity, and nature!
The task of creating the systemic and visual models that addresses the core theoretical and visual concept of this headline and this under title, is a tricky-subject in my home, but I will, nevertheless, give it a shot: what else is there to do nowadays? The headline states that the models must have certain attributes. These are as following: (1) the models are holistic, and (2) visual, and the systems are (3) descriptive or narrative, or simply suggests principles. Visual models and system narratives or principles, is what we need in order to change the structures, or to (4) put pressure on the rules of the game. However, the system narratives, the conceptual theory, and the visualizations are a unity, the one cannot be understood without the other. Hence, they are (5) interdependent in order to be (6) rule changing, and cannot work separately. Which also means that the societal end ecological alternative to capitalism, have to (7) interact in a functional matter: the models, suggested in the headline, have to be coherent, logical, and strive to have (8) relevance to the core scientific question stated: how can we make our global economic system; an economy for the majority of people, and nature? Is it doable? These questions were mentioned in a heartfelt moment by the author in the action plan introduction, and have been repeated successively throughout this essay. And, I will stick to the mission of having to deal with, and answer to those perhaps unrealistic, and highly complex questions. Because, this sets the strategic target of the alternative, that will be stated in the following visual models, conceptual theory, and system narratives. In short, it is all you have to keep in mind or question, when you gaze at the visualizations, read the narratives, and conceptual theory: does the whole picture make sense? Let us get started, by introducing this second part of the alternative. The Eight visual models are as following:
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