THE HYBRID OPTION: PRESERVING THE OPTIMUM ECONOMIC PATH
Hyper-capitalism is unsustainable in anything but the historical short-term period the last four generations have lived through. It served a percentage of humanity increasingly well, providing work, income, a diversity of useful products, innovative thinking and stupendous riches for the few.
However, we have reached a point when all its positives are now turning increasingly negative.
Apart from the obvious effects upon climate change, hyper-capitalism and reliance on ever-increasing economic growth are now destroying many of those aspects in earlier lifetimes that made life worth living.
Isolation, alienation and meaninglessness are steadily creeping into the most affluent of societies. Suicides among the young are rising, drug use and criminality also. And who would believe that in the super-affluent USA life expectancy would be falling? We have reached the point where the idea that having more equates to happiness is proving ever more false. The quotient of happiness within societies does not rely purely on materialist acquisition and this is becoming clearer by the day.
Yet consumer-led societies where governments rely on ever-increasing taxes to fund ever-growing demands for their services and the drive to achieve ever-higher profits far exceeds any notion of the common good means ever more of the same is in prospect. The rich get ever-richer and now, with online consumption of products and services the super-rich are becoming the hyper-rich. Hyper-capitalism is going into hyper-drive, and this exponential increase in wealth being vacuumed up to the upper levels of society is set to continue and especially so in the West.
We are beginning to see just how unsustainable and indeed detrimental the route we are on has the capacity to be. It is estimated that many hundreds of thousands of jobs will disappear within the next twenty years, decimated by automation and artificial intelligence. If your job can be reduced to digital format, i.e. zeroes and ones, it will disappear sooner or later. It is only a matter of time. Labour cost is the largest cost an enterprise has to bear and that which reduces profits most. If a machine will operate 24/7 with no holiday, no sick time and no need for a raise in pay it will replace humans anywhere and everywhere possible in the decades ahead.
Online sales, drone delivery and a cashless society will create a revolution in employment verging on medieval times where a tiny elite was serviced by menial serfs. The modern serfs may well be mechanical in the main, however, the gig workers of tomorrow will not fare much better in terms of recompense.
So, how can we preserve dignity in the workplace or out of it in the years ahead?
How might we envisage a degree of happiness and fulfilment when a higher and higher percentage of non-humans supply human needs? These non-humans need not be robots… but they are coming also, along with the A.I.
If twenty years is not long enough to create an adequate image of a virtually workless future then think of fifty or one hundred. The move to a completely automated, AI-driven, online interface for everything from consumption to health to education is coming. Again, it’s only a matter of time. Who will be able to afford these services? From where will the income come? How will the many be maintained and provided a decent life when the top 5% alone have sucked almost every asset up to them?
Though the capitalist West did everything in its power to destroy the egalitarian concepts behind socialism and still do to this day where they continue to be honoured, it is only through the concepts behind socialism that there is any hope of a dignified future for mankind.
Socialism and communism have been given a bad name in the West. In some cases this was well deserved, cases where the systems put in place went out of kilter, where hard-nosed bureaucrats took the pace of earlier idealists, where the ever-present sociopaths with their sharp-elbows and conscience free criminality made their way to the top and where the ignorant and brutish gained positions of power. The essential principles were precious and ideal however, seeking to bring everyone steadily up together in terms of housing, employment, medical care, leisure time, income and general happiness. To leave behind the eras of aristocratic and other elites gaining and hoarding wealth and privileges to themselves.
However, pure socialism and pure communism are unattainable and in my view undesirable in the form that they would take in practical terms if not in ideal form. The way forward in my opinion is through hybrid systems whereby entrepreneurial capitalism exists (maintained in strictly ethical terms) alongside sustainable voluntary socialism. Attempts to create such societies already exist. The Scandinavian nations are examples of this. However, another, much larger nation has shown and continues to show how this hybrid economic system can be made to work for increasing numbers of its citizens. That nation is China and its economic system, referred to there, as ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’.
No other economy anywhere in the world can match that of China. Its exponential rise in economic growth has been astounding, and equally so how it has managed to raise more than 770 million poor people out of poverty since the late 1970s. Yet it is China that is increasingly the brunt of western elite aggression in its clear efforts to keep the nation down, subvert it, stop it from rivalling the West, and if possible, initiate regime change within it.
In recent years China has begun to fight back against the western attempts to undermine it and currently, it appears to be winning the fight. However, nothing is certain where an ultra-aggressive West willing to use every means and weapon at its disposal is concerned. This is why it is vital that China, Russia and Iran, in particular, must maintain a close alliance of vigilant forces, developing and sharing those defensive methodologies and partnerships along with others such as Syria, Cuba, Venezuela along with all others seeking to maintain their sovereignty against western aggression.
If the elites of the West win out at the end present war they are waging then we will see an end of those systems which intend to bring the vast majority of populations to an ever-better way of life where dignity and happiness go hand in hand with good health, education and a spirit of solidarity and cooperation in sustainable form. Without these characteristics, a tiny minority of every nation will hold sway and keep in their grasp the vast majority of wealth, influence, privilege and power. Virtual dictatorships with sham democratic systems will become the prevalent modus worldwide. The vast majority of citizens in nations then will be rendered virtually powerless, useful only in as much as they are deemed so by their elites.
This is what is now at stake. A future where each individual is regarded as equal in terms of access to an ever-wider range of life-enhancing services and facilities, access to happiness-engendering and dignity-enhancing opportunities where a sense of belonging and worth is constantly engendered. Or to a virtual slave society where only a few scraps and vestiges remain for lucky souls who manage to jump high hurdles to access them, dependent on extremely hard-earned income, monitored and disciplined in stressful employment by elites rich beyond the dreams of avarice.
The optimum economic path of the future is a hybrid mix of ethical capitalism and voluntary socialism. It is a path worth protecting, a path worth preserving and a path worth following to ensure open access to happiness and dignity for all.