The Paradigm Shift: From Cancer System to Life-Capital Economy
The techniques which induce a paradigm change may well be described as therapeutic, if only because, when they succeed, one learns one had been sick before.
THE MISSING LIFE-BASE OF ECONOMICS
Everyone intuits the life-sequence of value to better or worse in their own case – life now, the means of life it must have to continue, and continuing well-being as result or ill-being if deprived. This is ‘the life-sequence of value’.
In ruling economic doctrine, life does not exist. ‘Welfare’ and ‘welfare enhancement’ mean more priced commodities for consumers. No category refers to life well-being or ill-being. Only more or less commodities bought registers. In this ultimate confusion, the needed goods of life disappear into private priced commodities for profit, and no-one notices the collapse of the death distinction. All that can be seen are aggregates of atomic money demand and commodities in private exchanges with ever more as ever better (‘growth’), and less as worse (‘recession’). It is the money-sequence mechanism itself which is ‘the economy’, and the only ‘welfare’ is of its operators. This value theory is absurd, but unexamined. Thus it is never corrected however disastrous the consequences of its growth become.
This is why life-coherent economics re-grounds in life-demand itself. Yet more money value alone in commodity or profit is the first principle of the ruling doctrine, and ‘rationality’ is equated to seeking more of it. This is what diagnosis calls ‘the money-sequence of value’. In contrast, seeking better life-means for life to survive and flourish is the underlying ‘life-sequence of value’. Yet this life-and-death distinction is nowhere to be found in ruling economic theory and practice. Even the life-ground of the biosphere has no value.
Nonetheless people can still recognize the moving line of life-sequences through means of life to better, or worse, life. If we unpack this intuition into economic terms, we see that:
- life-demand is the driver,
- life-goods are the means of welfare, and
- the economy is the rational organization of factors to achieve equilibrium between life-needs and goods.
Contemporary ‘Economics’, in contrast, presupposes ‘the economy’ at the money-exchange surface. Human beings are axiomatically equated to self-maximizing desires without limit. The economy is equated to market exchanges among atomic selves competing to have ever more. An ‘invisible hand’ infallibly adjusts ‘supply’ (priced commodities for profit) to ‘demand’ (private money possessors willing to buy). This is how all the world must live as ‘free’, and politics comes down to eliminating all alternatives.
The Absurd Metaphysics Not Seen
What is priced for profit is thus the limit of the paradigm. Life-needs are equated to money-demand, and life-capital does not exist. Anything that sells for a price is classified as a ‘good’ even if it is a toxin, while everything that is not sold does not exist. This is why unpriced household labour is not classified as work (even if it is an 80-hour week), and why privatization of all universal life-goods including water spreads like a disease (even if as we see ahead it is always wasteful). Waste itself – the opposite of economy – does not exist except of private-investor money. But the doctrinal locks are no more seen than they were recognized in the prior world religion. Taboo against seeing them again regulates the ruling thought system.
How, one wonders, could such an instituted disorder rule the world as ‘economics’? This study is an explanation. But no facts can disprove the doctrine because its paradigm cannot be questioned within ‘economics’ and its axioms are not subject to scientific test – the telltale characteristics of a pseudo-science. Imposed on all peoples with only foreign investors having rights in its moral world, the consequences are the degenerate trends defined in Chapter 1. The ultimate value code explains the cumulative catastrophe that results. The Good is the system itself. Reality is what it demands. The Truth is what can be made to sell. As for the actual economy of providing means of life for people’s lives, it disappears into the life-blind mechanism with no life-capital bases or goods.
Recovering the Life-Ground that is Ruled Out
The life-capital bases on which all life depends – the original economic form being cattle capital –are ‘life-wealth that can produce more life-wealth without loss’, the life-ground of this study. Erosion, waste, or spending away of life-capital is what a ‘real economy’ prevents.1 For life-capital bases are what enable and sustain life-sequences by the life-goods they produce (for example, the water, food and knowledge systems by which means of life are provided and developed through generational time). In the silent war that is not seen, privately multiplying money-sequences to more cumulatively and increasingly consume and despoil life-capital bases at every level.
Yet the life-and-death oppositions have been ignored even as they have reached catastrophic tipping points for human and planetary life-organization. In classical capitalism, in contrast, the production of spectacularly more food, clothing, and household tools prevailed. Even although the lives of the ‘labouring races’ and first peoples were widely sacrificed, subsequent generations accessed these life-goods far more than before. At least this is the essential argument for the capitalist system. Yet since the turn to the transnational money-sequence regime, degenerate trends have deepened without correction across human and planetary life-systems. It is only when we re-ground in life-capital that we recognize the economic catastrophe in motion. Otherwise the system’s mathematical fictions overrun human and world life without our understanding the causal mechanism.
The system disorder begins in the thought syntax of which it is the expression. Life-value does not compute to this system, and life-necessity at any level counts for nothing in its money-value calculus unless it furthers its multiplications.2 Instead a preconscious theology rules of inviolable economic laws, heretical doctrines and sects, subversive unbelievers, punishments for disobedience, and ever larger-scale sacrifices of life. As in all religious fundamentalism, a never realized better state – the ‘optimal’ or best of possible worlds – is promised if people only compete harder to satisfy the god-system demands.
Nonetheless, an incorrigible truth remains. However much this system’s prescriptions and money-sequences are absolutized, however its coercive prescriptions are construed as natural laws, and however long alternatives to it are liquidated, it is an exactly enforced social construction through every turn. And like all social constructions, it is open to change. The mind-lock is the presupposition of the system as an infallible deist design in ‘creative destruction’ – the theodicy of the age that justifies bads as goods.
THE LIFE-BLIND MECHANISM AS THIS-WORLDLY GOD
From Ricardo on, the prescriptive regime of the capitalist system has been conceived as invariant as iron, a vast and remorseless cosmic machine. This model is an unconscious projection of the capitalist factory onto the world, and so William Blake, Karl Marx and Karl Polanyi have implied.
Yet the issue of good versus bad is nowhere permitted to interfere because good and bad are already assumed. More Money Profit and Commodities = Good. Less = Bad. Thus people deprived of their land and commons and without means to live, people hungry and with families with nothing to sell do not count. Their starvation serendipitously reduces the labour supply to equal the money demand of masters. This does not show the system as inhuman, but is the ‘economic necessity’ which proves the ‘iron laws’ of the ‘free market’. More exactly, the iron law of starvation for unemployed workers and their children is the work of the ‘invisible hand’ adjusting labour supply to demand – the original Deist conception of Adam Smith.
For Ricardo, the iron law was as undeniable as the law of gravity itself.3 Not caring for the class war that was becoming conscious in the working class against the God-machine in this form, ‘Neo-Classical Economics’ reformed the model in terms of non-living matter in motion.4 Free individuals – so central to the belief system – become now homogenously consistent atoms of self-maximizing consumers and investors regulated by nothing but desires for more. Again the absurd metaphysics is evident, but never conceived. Such is the hold of a ruling paradigm that is also a fundamentalist religion without knowing it.
Planetary life-support systems themselves are abstracted out, while social life-supports are assumed unnecessary and inefficient with deist government of the chaos by the invisible hand. Only private money-sequences and commodities exist to this doctrine, and nothing else is needed. As for the production and consumption of otherwise scarce life-goods for human beings, the real economy, it is lost in principle. And so the worst can happen without any doctrinal resource for self advance beyond it.
Karl Marx famously saw the issue of class conflict as foundational. But ‘Economics’ after Marx was a priori disconnected from class as well as life-ground, a lifeless mechanics still reigning today. Symbols substituting for realities become autonomous in endless strings of money-value equations which never touch ground. Human and ecological life-requirements disappear. But the question insists, how could all of this be so long overlooked? The simple answer is that people only buying and selling commodities for profit is internalized as an externally governing necessity which cannot be altered. The clear rises and falls of the prices, the re-engineering of every life-form to obey, the absolute command that people either serve or die, the movements of exact parts into assembly and reassembly, the throughput of all existence to money-measured outputs – everything permitted and seen to exist conforms to the ruling mega-machine presupposed as ‘the economy’. What does not is eliminated.
Thus the human condition became – despite long periods of resistance and alternative – ever more submerged in the ravenous global mechanism of private money-sequencing and vast commodity outputs. Even Marx proclaimed ‘the laws of motion of modern society’ with the nomenclature of Newtonian mechanics to decipher it. He was certain that the great machine would ‘discipline, unite and organize its own slaves’ to overthrow it. Revolution itself was determined by it ‘independent of men’s will’.5 The God system is implicit even in the Marxian heresy. In the global corporate system of today, hardly an economic thought is communicated that does not stay strictly within the same boundaries of inanimate mechanism run by the Market God’s infallible design. It perpetually imposes necessary sacrifices, slashes workforces, axes social programmes, demands debt payments to private banks, and forfeits the environment for its growth.6 Coercive deprivation of entire peoples’ access to food, health care, basic literacy, and means of life is decided by the autonomous necessity of its laws. ‘I am just an agent of the higher necessity’ is the inner subtext of every CEO justification. No human or natural life-need counts in. Only functions of ‘free circulation of commodities and capital with no barriers or obstructions’.
Karl Polanyi long ago called it ‘the Great Automaton’, but he did not live to see the unconditional right of foreign transnational corporations to access and appropriate other societies’ markets, natural resources and built infrastructures with reciprocal requirements for the life of host-societies prohibited by law. He never saw the ‘re-engineering’ societies by ‘shock treatments’ which strip them of their organic infrastructures of life-support and force them – often at gunpoint – to serve the ever more insatiable demands of global money-sequences as ‘essential to compete’.7
The individual persons inside the machine’s throughputs are stripped of all properties which do not fit into the money-value-adding mechanism. The body’s needs, the urge for diversity and fresh air, the love of life’s exhilarating ranges of thought, feeling and self-movement are barriers to the money-into-more-money mechanism which prohibits any motion not serving it. Once machines are cheaper to substitute, then workers are slashed from their livelihoods in the millions if that is ‘what the Market dictates’ – the eternal alibi of the system. That is why 40 million workers in the US lost their livelihoods in ‘restructuring operations for globalization’, and corporate spokesmen and economists could not comprehend what ‘the political fuss’ was about.8 The terms used were ‘discontinued’, ‘displaced’, ‘excessed’, ‘downsized’, ‘severed’, ‘reallocated’, ‘rightsized’, ‘deselected’ – all in accordance with one ultimate regulator and no other, private money-sequence maximization across cultures and borders. As for people reduced to paupers with no life-means or meaning, they would ‘just have to adjust’. The world-ruling mechanism they were to ‘adjust to’ was not human or alive. It moved in and out of societies with no required commitment to their life-bases, and all must serve its growth to more to survive.
Even after the private money-sequence system has so mutated to no governor, productive requirement or life-function that it crashes the world economy in 2008, there is no inhibition of the carcinogenic disorder. ‘Hugely profitable companies fatten on wage, benefit and tax cuts’ is the documented frame of meaning (as the Canadian Policy Alternatives Monitor reports in April 2012. ‘Record-breaking US corporate profits’ rise in recession while wages are fractioned; household debts rise to the highest level ever; effective tax rates on corporations fall to less than half at the same time over 21 years; buy-outs of smaller firms continue; worker benefits and defined pensions are stripped, full-time jobs are casualized and cut, and the overall workforce is two-tiered into those with and those without.9
Even at the top of the ladder, life’s meaning is hollowed out. U.S. doctors are programmed to a time-costed set of reactions and prescribed medicaments by ‘health maintenance organizations’. That over 80,000 people a year die from the malpractices of this system in the world’s most profitable market is not an issue that enters its calculus, any more than the fact that it fails to cover 70 million people while demanding a world high of one-sixth of the US GDP.10 ‘Obamacare’ covers more people by making them mandatory customers of the private Health Maintenance Organizations and guarantees them far more of the public’s money than before. Public rather than for-profit health care costs far less with far better health outcomes but is attacked as ‘socialist’.
THE LOST CHOICE SPACE: DECODING THE LAWS OF THE CANCER SYSTEM
At an unseen meta level, corporate money-sequence selection replaces natural selection while overriding moral direction at the same time. Life-value is pre-empted a priori. This is why natural beauty without price, knowledge that does not add money-value, social relations that do not attract investors, and history that cannot be sold are selected out. It is why fresh air, sunlight and foods are despoiled. A new law of selection rules with science not noticing but serving it.
On the one hand, the ruling system is implied as an immanent God whose infallible laws and ‘invisible hand’ have no alternative without severe ‘punishments’. On the other hand, it is conceived as purely ‘rational’ with self-maximizing pursuit of commodities and profit producing the best of possible worlds on its own. No contradiction emerges, however, because an absolutist moral metaphysic joins them in which choice of any other way to live is ruled out a priori.
Understanding the System as an Absolutist Social Morality that Cannot Be Questioned
However much the ruling money-sequence system is assumed as inviolable law above human will, its rules of how people must live are not decided by Nature or God. In fact, the system cannot run for one minute without countless millions of decisions and actions made simultaneously in accordance with its ruling value system to reproduce it to the next minute intact. These decisions and actions become robotized by coercion and habit, and this is why they seem to be run by iron necessity. But in fact it is only a ruling moral construction at the collective level which can always be ordered otherwise and long has been. This is exactly why previously existing value systems of societies have had to be defeated by force of arms. Much has been made of the system’s higher order and supremacy, but it all reduces to a single master value-imperative governing every step: to transform money into more money for private money-sequencers with no social or political barriers to world rule.
Most people perceive ‘no choice’. They obey orders, dress as they are told, seek the money rewards of performance, and despair in unemployment. But the reigning mind-lock that presupposes all this as a supreme order that cannot be wrong or interfered with by society and a scientific and rational system at the same time – this absurdity is unobserved. But this is not all that people are required to accept. Self-maximizing atomic individuals organized only by their competitive self-seeking must, it is believed, necessitate the best of possible worlds. All of this is system superstition, as we will increasingly see. Yet theoretical parables are there to prove it by algebraically adorned examples stripped of all life-coordinates, relations, and other purpose by a priori assumptions.11
On the ground, the reality is pervasive money-sequencing through and over people, nature and societies proclaimed as ‘the common good’. Adam Smith founded the ruling doctrine, but he understood the market as a means to achieve the ‘wealth of nations’ in terms of ‘tangible goods’. In the global corporate money-sequence system, in contrast, the subject-instrument relationship is inverted. Nations, people and environments are understood as the means for the pursuit of money-sequences on paper even with no commodity produced. Whereas Adam Smith observed the market and its rule of self-interest promoting greater and cheaper quantities of human consumables, his market instrumentalism has been stood on its head. Today in the global market all that exists is conceived to be of value only so far as it maximizes money-value alone. Societies as well as individuals rise or fall in accordance with how well or badly they serve this moral absolute.
Even Joseph Stiglitz once fell prey to this preconscious metaphysical inversion before the turn of the millennium. As cited in the first edition of The Cancer Stage of Capitalism since which he has woken up, he declared from his post as the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President (Clinton), and later the World Bank’s Chief Economist: ‘If people are not living up to their potential, then the economy cannot live up to its potential.’12 Deconstructed, Stiglitz’s exhortation meant that society’s sovereign is ‘the economy’ (that is, money-valued growth of the market), while the means of fulfilling ‘its potential’ is society’s people. They must become what serves it.
Human and planetary life in this way becomes a mere instrument to fuel and feed money-demand growth, rather than – as in any real economy – becoming more life-goods otherwise in short supply, with money as only the means. In the ruling paradigm, in the gross contrast, there is no distinction between what serves organic, social and ecological life-hosts and what poisons, dismantles and loots them. All that matters is more private money-value and commodities to more, even if they increasingly end up in possession of one-tenth of 1 per cent. Thus the most basic concepts mutate beneath definition. ‘Freedom’ is money-sequences multiplying without limit, while ‘security’ is the multi-armed system to enforce them.
Recognizing the Money-Sequence System as Carcinogenic: From Reaganomics and Mass Layoffs to EU Bank Absolutism
Because the global market is opposed in nature to the classical market model of national wealth production described by Adam Smith, it operates to produce an opposite outcome – not, as the facts show, more real well-being for a nation or its citizens, but ever more money-demand for the top end, and ever wider ill-being and deterioration of life-goods and the biosphere itself. We see the great weight of this disorder all around us, but it is not linked back to the money-sequence mechanism from which it follows.
Where is this reverse correlation not true? As the global market mechanism has penetrated more widely, decline of the life-capacities or life-capital of the world’s people has followed. The only exceptions are societies which have variously controlled the ‘unimpeded free capital flows’.
Yet in general, only money-sequence figures are tracked. No official economic measures are related to life-means. Prior to 2008, transnational trade aggregates of oligopolist corporations and stocks kept rising to new records. Yet conversely and unconnected, social and natural life-support systems were cumulatively stripped with no life-capital accountability or accounting entering into business or nation-state ledgers.
They expanded private money-sequences to more, while the means of life of multiplying tens of millions were diminished, spoiled and ruined. But this is ‘efficiency’ to the money-sequence system. The marginal value of labour has fallen for workers over 30 years; poverty and unemployment rates have increased to unprecedented post-Depression extremes; child and adult malnutrition and other non-communicable diseases have multiplied; social security, education and public health infrastructures have been systematically dismantled; and environmental degeneration of atmospheric conditions, water, soil, forests, and species diversity have advanced without pause.
While the evidence keeps coming in with no policy correction, the degenerate trends grow unconnected back to their common cause. All that can be seen are trade, stock market, profit and other aggregate money-sequence figures. At the same time worldwide hollowing out of life-support systems and means of existence do not register. Real life-bases are not only blinkered out, but consumed and destroyed by money-sequence feeding cycles metastasizing to wider control and despoliation – from ruined coral life-systems, placticized ocean gyres and crashing fish cycles of reproduction to drying-up and polluted great rivers and aquifers to songbird and pollinators’ habitats and numbers to ever fewer decent jobs.
There is still in 2012 – almost 20 years since the cancer diagnosis – no life-regulated response of governments to the deepening derangement. The life-capital bases of the real economy remain unconceived and unconnected. It has been a long time building. Consider some tell-tale symptoms over the decades. George Gilder, economist author of the ‘bible of the Reagan revolution’, Wealth and Poverty, celebrated as God-given graces the new statistics of money-sequence gains with no life-function whatever: ‘42,621 merger and acquisition deals worth 3.1 trillion, 899 billion in shareholder gains, the doubling of stock market value in real terms, and [average] per capita income by a third [as US wages dropped to their lowest real level since 1929]’.13 That such numbers are proclaimed proof of well-being from the ‘bible’ of the neo-liberal revolution when they do not relate to well-being at any level and are consistent with spreading social and ecological ruin, is the cancer-system hold at the level of measurement itself.
Soon after, celebrated American CEO Albert Dunlap expressed the system’s derangement in equating productivity gains to brief stock spikes from firing workforces. This set the pattern of destroying the real economy to enrich private money-sequences. It was years before Enron’s hollowing out energy systems for fast bucks from created shortages, and still longer before Wall Street’s multiplied enrichment by stealing the real economy blind. CEO Dunlap is another symptom. He destroyed the livelihoods of 11,000 workers to multiply the stock price of Scott Paper for a few weeks. He declared the credo of the system: ‘The responsibility of the CEO is to deliver shareholder value [private money-sequence gains]. Period.’ He then added the signature delusion: ‘I created six-and-a-half billion dollars.’14 Dunlap moved on, but the money-sequence metaphysic rose to ever more absolutist power and predation of the real economy as ‘wealth creation’, and repudiating all criticism as ‘envy’ and ‘unable to compete’.
In the European Union, the world-leading base of collective life-solidarity following the fascist interregnum, the pattern has been similar carcinogenic reversal of all common life and life-capital gains. When we fast-forward to the present, ex-Goldman Sachs VP of Europe, Mario Draghi, the EU’s Central Bank President, has presided over the collapse of the real economies of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and who-knows-next to pay private bank debt-servicing charges 7–18 times higher than the US rate in July 2102. The bond rates, with Greece at 18 per cent, are highest for the societies unable to pay; and they are unable to pay because of the financial crash of 2008 led by the money-cancer system.
While the media of record only talk of the societies and nations of Europe ‘being saved’ and ‘bailed out’, the private banks get all the public money – with the public in debt for the bailouts the banks received! The EU bank under Draghi gave out $750 billion (in euros) to the European private banks in December 2011 without having to consult anyone as Greece and Spain were in social and economic breakdown with no assistance to their real economies. On the contrary, they were squeezed for ever more money from their wage-earners, pensioners and whoever else most needed it to pay ever-rising debt-servicing charges to the private banks. We see here the ruling pattern – the absolutist power of the central banks that governments are not allowed to question or influence, the nature of the private money-sequence system bleeding European societies dry with up to 18 per cent demands on Greek bonds as the economy collapses, and the limitless hundreds of billions of public financing of the private banks to fund them to go on stripping societies with no productive or life-function.
Much has happened since Reagan’s economic guru, CEO Dunlap, the Enron energy-futures swindle, and even the 2008 collapse. When in 2008 the Goldman Sachs CEO-cum-Treasury Secretary successfully ordered the US Congress to give $750 billion on the spot to bail out Wall Street’s fraudulent money-sequencing which had broken the country and most of Europe along with tens of millions of pensioners, many could hardly believe they could get away with it. Yet the tactic worked on the Washington political class funded by the big banks and corporations. The surviving biggest banks were rewarded with more unaccountable power for running the life-economy into a black hole, and their feeding on victim societies metastasized across oceans to welfare-state Europe staggered by the Wall Street fraud into which it had bought. The worst was yet to come. The wealth of the wealthiest and the most responsible for the collapse increased along with further powers to drain public revenue capacities. America’s financial takeover and destruction by Wall Street re-emerged in Europe – first in slow-motion wreckage of societies to serve banks, and then to more total financial control of government by the same bank money-sequence mechanism.
Under the 2012 European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – decoded, the stability of debt payments to private banks – the terms became more absolutist than Wall Street-run Washington. The ESM imposed an open-ended debt on EU societies to put their public sectors and taxpayers on the hook to whatever public-wealth handout to the private banks was demanded next. The authorized slush-fund for the banks is, to begin, €700 billion, 50 per cent higher in real terms than the $700 billion given by the US Treasury to Wall Street in 2008. The codified terms (not media reported) show the pattern. European governments are required to hand over public money without limit as demanded by the Central Bank, already handed out to private creditors in amounts far exceeding the Greek debt itself.
All the while, the banks and bond-traders continued to speculate against the euro and sovereign bonds, with the words of the ESM treaty showing the profile of power of the Central Bank run by revolving-door Wall Street-style bankers. Its Article 9 binds its sovereign nation members ‘irrevocably and unconditionally to pay on demand any capital call on them – within seven days of receipt of such demand’. Article 27 then warns there is no possibility of elected governments, peoples or legislation doing anything about what the Bank decides (emphases added): ‘The ESM, its property, funding, and assets … shall enjoy immunity from every form of judicial process.’ Under this immunity and unaccountability of absolute rule: ‘The property, funding, and assets shall be immune from search, requisition, … or any form of taking or foreclosure by executive, judicial, administrative, or legislative action.’ Article 30 continues that everyone in the new central bank command of Europe ‘shall be immune from legal process with respect to acts performed by them … and shall enjoy inviolability in respect of their official papers and documents’.15
In this central command over limitless billions of public money, none is to assist real economies or life-capital bases in any domain. Article 123 of the Lisbon Treaty in fact prevents the European Central Bank from lending to elected governments for public purposes. Thus the reigning bank-money system overrides sovereign government, democratic process, productive requirement, and life-necessity at once – the ‘financial stability’ of the carcinogenic system.
Tracking the Future Out of the Past: Money-Sequencing versus Life-Capital
We see here the advancing hold of the private money-sequence system led by banks. It is structured to create, control and demand society’s money funds with no accountability beyond itself – not to social and natural life-support systems or to people’s and societies’ life-needs or, least of all, to economic self-determination. Yet as financial transactions exponentially multiply in accordance with the money-sequence formula of private self-multiplication with no responsibility to any life-requirement, the predictable but unforeseen occurs. Natural resources and ecosystems of societies are stripped, the productive lives and living wages of millions are eliminated or drastically reduced, and social infrastructures are dismantled across the board.16 There is nothing in exponential increases of money-value trade which show otherwise, and indeed massive evidence that skyrocketing global trade and degenerations of life-fabrics correspond.17 Even double-digit rises in GDPs are at best ambivalent. They rise with every clear-cut of forest habitats for throwaway paper, every increase in medical costs to treat more system diseases and traumas, and from every weapon sold to kill and terrorize more than before. This is the metric of ‘economic development’ which has long concealed the advancing Great Sickness. Data of life-means provision and deprivation, life-capital gains and losses, the real economy, do not exist.
Yet it is life-capital bases on which people’s and societies’ lives depend every moment, and they are ever more deeply invaded in every basic domain – the air, the sunlight, food, water, children’s futures, social and natural life-support systems. Peoples can if they are still conscious directly feel the sun burning lesions into them, the air harder to breathe, the water and food chemically laced with carcinogens, the loss of biodiversity and rise of scavengers, the trash that clogs the channels of the life-flow across boundaries, and the continuous slashing of life-serving social programmes as the privately money-rich become multiply richer. And many more do recognize the system is depredating and polluting world life than corporate communication systems begin to acknowledge. Since corporate parties and politicians serve the same money-sequence sponsors, however, social immune response is suppressed.
By 2000, three-quarters of all bird species were in decline, one of every four mammals was endangered, and one-third of plant species was extinct or threatened with extinction. Water supplies were depleted and polluted so that the United Nations estimated that two-thirds of the world will be short by 2025.18 Past constraints of wilderness, national boundaries, protected cultural differences, regulatory impediments, rising social economies and governmental activism have been all but erased. Yet still there are only demands for ‘growth without government interference’. The system yields a pattern of predictable effects. As the ruling value-programme achieves total directive power, the world’s water supplies, carbon cycles, food futures, resource and public-sector budgets all cumulatively fall to the life-blind ‘investment’ circuits with no goal but self-multiplication. Already by the first edition of this study, the largest 300 transnational corporations controlled 98 per cent of all direct foreign investment, while the largest 600 controlled 80–90 per cent of all trade among industrial countries, and 60 per cent of all land cultivated for export.19
Yet as these transnational corporations dominate investment, trade and agriculture across the globe – all the while being justified as ‘creating jobs’ – they in fact employ just 3 per cent of the industrial nations’ workforce.20 At the same time the rising majority of ‘new jobs’ have fewer or no benefits and are subject to unprecedented violent, downward swings. Life-security in employment has all but been eliminated, and boasted as such, while minimum wages fall at the same time, for example, by 40 per cent between 1981 and 1995 in the US with no real gains since.21 Throughout, social and income security programmes are slashed as ‘too costly’, and breadlines and beggars multiply with many people for every job on offer. Poverty levels thus continue to rise with, for example – until the Latin American turn-out of ‘neo-liberalism’ after 2000 – 60 million Latin Americans driven beneath the poverty line by ‘free market reforms’ which were declared ‘unavoidable’ to ‘get the fundamentals right’.22 Meanwhile, non-supervisory, private-sector workers in the world’s most dynamic market economy have watched their wages fall over 20 percent in real terms since the 1970s, while social security and environmental protection systems have been simultaneously cut by hundreds of billions of dollars of funding.23 Even in Europe with the world’s most socially developed economies, joblessness has risen seven-fold in 30 years – from a 1.5 per cent average unemployment rate in the 1960s to an average of 11 per cent in 1993, to up to 50 per cent youth employment in Greece and Spain in 2012 and universally rising in trend.24
Radical market reforms of the East European and Soviet economies have demonstrated the ‘miracles of market reform’ in more dramatic facts of life-reversal. Following its ‘rescue from communism’ by ‘deep market reforms’ between 1990 and 1993, Russia’s GDP fell by 17 per cent in 1990–91, by 19 per cent in 1991–92, and by 11 per cent in 1992–93.25 By 1996, swiftly ‘privatized’ industries’ free-fall in production had reached 50 per cent, and nearly 40 million people no longer had enough food to eat.26 It has not recovered since. ‘Market-transformed’ Poland, meanwhile, lost over 21 per cent of its GDP between 1988 and 1992, Czechoslovakia almost 20 per cent, and Romania and Bulgaria 30 per cent or more during the same period.27 Comparisons between access of citizens to universal life-necessities before and after the ‘sweeping market reforms’ of their societies have been effectively taboo to recognize.
The pattern of real economic degeneration could hardly be clearer, but as long as money-value trades rise, no problem can be perceived. Only those leading the borderless money-sequences do well in this life-stripping game. In ‘the newly liberated Russia’, ‘privatization’ sales of public assets benefited an estimated 5–7 per cent of the population, but ‘market reforms in general halved industrial production in three years, and reduced 80 per cent of the population to “destitute or semi-destitute” conditions’.28 Murder rates doubled while male life-spans fell precipitously to 57 years.29 Recognition of the ‘failed capitalist experiment’ across the ex-Soviet Union is, however, forbidden publication in media of record.
Whatever the disasters, not one policy dictate of the failed system has changed at the global system level. Only turn out of it succeeds. The more the system globalizes, the more systemic destruction of life-capital bases occurs. The more it invades and metastasizes, the more public money is allocated to its growth. The more life-serving functions are cumulatively depredated and deprived by its prescriptions, the more insecure life becomes at all levels. This is the downward spiral of the transnational cancer system.
Reversing Civilization as Money-Sequence Freedom
The trends are undeniable, but the dots are not joined. In no society in the world have transnational ‘market reforms’ reduced rates of poverty or child malnutrition and starvation. In no country where they have been imposed have they increased public access to health and educational resources, provided workers with more job-security or benefits, or protected the air, water, coastal land, and soil quality of the planet more effectively. They have done the opposite everywhere. Go over this summary of basic life-capital regressions across the world over 30 years, and seek any exception to it.
Yet the official world remains in post-hypnotic trance even after Wall Street 2008 hijacked public coffers of tens of trillions of dollars, and the aggregate demand of the people has been hollowed out. Where increases in gross money-values of national products and exports have occurred before 2008 in money-sequence bubbles, life-capital bases of societies have continued to be deprived and looted. Throughout, market ‘restructurings’ and ‘adjustments’ have the following track record taboo to report within the media of the private money-sequence system. It has escalated social inequalities, increased real unemployment rates and part-time jobs without benefits, and eliminated or reduced minimum wages with every public form of social security, learning, health care, and culture which societies had achieved over half a century of life-capital development. Is there any exception to this growing systematic degeneration?
Sometimes the examples are so harrowing the meaning cannot but be seen as generalizable across the post-1990 human condition. Consider, for instance, the following report from Victoria Brittain in a place where the neo-liberal programme could only be imposed by a ‘liberation army’ funded by the US. (Consider Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria today in the metastasizing invasion across continents invariably depredating life and life-capital conditions.) We can see in this example the long arc between the programme and its consequences in a pathological pattern that remains blocked out, decade after decade, however virulent in effects. In place of Angola below, we might write the Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Honduras and Libya since.
Unita’s primitive fascism [which has killed over 1,000,000 civilians over 15 years of civil war] holds Angola in thrall. It is one legacy of the Reagan doctrine. For years, the United States withheld recognition from Angola’s MPLA government because it was socialist and had Cuban troops to defend it from the apartheid regime of South Africa. At the same time, Washington transformed the army of the leader, Jonas Savimbi, into a formidable military machine because he was billed as a democrat. The doctrine distorted the society, destroyed the infrastructure and impoverished people beyond imagination … No amount of US dynamism and optimism can now knit together the catastrophic unravelling of this society … People wash in sewers and puddles … A nurse will let a child with meningitis die, keeping the prescribed drug to sell in the market … Government salaries for [public sector] nurses, doctors, teachers, professors and top civil servants are so absurdly low that no-one can live by these jobs … Oil earns $10 million a day … going straight into foreign bank accounts … Fortunes are made buying [the local kwanza currency] at one rate and selling at another. The ostentatious luxury of the cars, houses, foreign health-care and education … has never been so evident … Leaflets denouncing the government’s inability to provide a living wage, water, electricity, education or health care … are denounced on the radio … and the media are saturated with appeals for belt tightening … Aside from the Unita-controlled areas, other commercial interests linked to powers in the government are mining diamonds legally at a furious rate.30
There are many variations on the one transnational money-sequence invasion. Increased malnutrition, unemployment, destitution, defunded social supports, violence rule and deculturation are signatures of its growth. Invariably the ‘victory of market forces’ is proclaimed at the same time, decoded, foreign money-sequences seizing domestic natural resources, markets, farmland, bank operations, political and media discourses, and military control. It could be Cuba where non-white infant mortality rate is far lower than the US and where literacy, nutrition levels and health care are at far higher levels than those countries ‘saved by the US from communism’. It could be military coup in Chile in 1973 or Honduras in 2009 converting an elected social democracy in to the ‘murder capital of the world’. It could be hell-hole El Salvador and Guatemala once ‘saved from communism’ – that is, from rural community movements for land and human rights whose brave are slaughtered in the tens of thousands. Always the US – decoded, the American money party controlling the state – injects billions in armed-force and special ‘aid’, and always human rights are pervasively attacked. Who can coherently deny that the more the system advances, the more social and natural life-organization is predated? Who can deny the more there is ‘victory of free capital and commodity movement’, the more there is reduction of environmental habitat, of social health, of nourishment, of education, of productive employment rate, and of life-vocation?
The real economic laws of the private money-sequence system across borders are constant – the downsizing of the life-goods and capital of all to multiply the private money-sequences of less than 1 per cent. Is there any counterexample within the system to the growing Great Sickness over 30 years?
THE LIFE-CAPITAL BASE: THE WEALTH THAT CREATES MORE LIFE-WEALTH WITHOUT LOSS
We need to understand the inner logic of life-sequences so that we can understand the life-capital economy apart from the conglomerate money-sequences predating it. The most basic axiom of the life-sequence of reproduction and development is:
Life → Means of Life → More Life
(L → MofL → L1)
In this formula, life refers specifically to sentient life. Sentient life, in turn, is life which can move, feel and – in the case of humans – think in concepts as well as images. These three planes of being – (1) organic movement, (2) the felt side of being, and (3) conceptual and image thought – are the ground of all life-value.
Incredibly, no economic theory has recognized this organizing principle of all value. This is the Great Disconnection which has led in the end to a contemporary dyseconomy of private money-sequence debt and speculation overrunning all life-capital and development. It began with the decoupling of ‘Economics’ from the world into a self-referential realm of symbols in linear math strings. This theoretical autism might seem innocent enough in itself, but its built-in blindness to all life-requirements and bases has provided the logical space whereby dominant transnational money-sequences with no life-function have come to destroy the very life-ground of humanity and planetary life itself.
The real economy is opposite in nature. Its law of macro valuation is not ever more transnational commodities and private profits disconnected from life-requirements, but produced life-value otherwise lost or scarce. The fundamental law of the real economy is clear and universal, but amnesiac:
The more/less life-sequences are sustained and developed by provision of life-goods, the better/worse the real economy becomes.
For example, all human life goes measurably down with the loss of sufficient protein, or potable water, or home, or opportunities to learn, or ecological services of all kinds. Without any, life-capacities are reduced or destroyed. All such universal human life-necessities are provided by the life-capital bases which enable human life-sequences. The longer any is deprived, the more seriously human life is impoverished. The more life-capital bases are degraded, spoiled or depleted, the more the life of a society or the world itself is in decline towards cumulative crises and ruin. As we know from archeological evidence, many societies have variously gone this way (for example, by soil, water and forest destruction). The degenerate trends of life-capital in our time is more many-levelled, as we have seen in Chapter 1, ‘Decoding the Cancer System’.
For instance, the vital capacities of any population are diminished without life-coherent food, water and waste systems – the most basic life-capital formations. Conversely, they are able to develop when life-capital conditions provide them.31 In all cases, what is sufficient is what meets the needs of life-sequences with the life-means they must have not to lose life-capacities. Everyone knows this up to a point – but universal principles cover all cases, not just what one happens to be aware of.
In all cases, life-capital, individual or social, is what sustains, and is itself sustained by, the life-sequences it enables. Our life-capital bases are immensely rich and deep, but are in principle confined to what enables life through time as against what disables it at the individual and social levels. In macro definition across differences, only those means which consistently enable life to extend rather than lose life-function are real economic goods. This is the life-value measure and law of real development. It applies across the full spectrum of life and lives, and is always how you tell life-capital and life-goods – as opposed to what seem to be ‘capital’ and ‘goods’, but are increasingly the opposite.
All of these life-goods and capital are universal life-necessities as well insofar as no-one can do without them without suffering life-loss. Yet none of these life-and-death meanings is known to the reigning economic paradigm, and this is why we confront the growing life-system crises we do on all levels. They are predictable from life-blind and self-multiplying money-sequences growing ever more powerful in technologies of pollution, waste and depletion with no life-standards or regulators to govern them.
In overview and conversely, a single master formula connects the defining principles of real goods, capital and capital economy into holistic meaning:
Life-goods are the means to meet life-needs to enable life-capacities, and life-capital is what provides for them.
The universal life-goods and life-capital bases which follow from this unifying paradigm principle form a set of generic human necessities across individuals and cultures. Each and all are testable in one’s own case or others in any circumstance as that without which life is always reduced or destroyed:
nutritious food, clean water, adequate shelter, affective interaction, variety and space of environmental surroundings, health care when sick, and accessible learning conditions.
These universal life-goods, one may see, set a clear line against what are called ‘goods’ in the ruling money-sequence paradigm. Its concept lethally assumes that whatever sells for a price is a ‘good’ even if it diseases and kills its consumers in large numbers. As we saw in Chapter 1, these ‘goods’ as bads still freely increase in scope and volume to disable and destroy consumers in, yes, the hundreds of millions.
Economic Necessities and Life-Flourishing
The life-goods defined above are the only true economic necessities. In contrast, the ‘necessity’ assumed by the ruling paradigm is merely its system prescriptions presumed as natural laws – for example, the ‘necessity of attracting foreign investors’. Once again false assumption is superseded by re-grounding in tested life-requirements. Any true human necessity is that without which human life and life-capacities are always demonstrably reduced or destroyed – namely the universal life-goods defined above.
Observe that even the critical Marxian concept of ‘use-value’ versus ‘exchange-value’ misses this life-and-death point. Use-values are only what satisfy a desire – ‘whether of the stomach or the fancy, it does not matter’, Marx says in the first page of Capital. Yet real life-goods are precisely not imagined wants because life cannot do without them without becoming ill or dead. This is what makes them life-necessities. They are what all human life requires for well-being rather than ill-being. They are therefore what any true economy is based on and what real capital is: they provide universal human life-goods through generational time without loss but gain of the capacity to produce them. Unfortunately, the reigning global disorder has cumulatively and increasingly debased and attacked all of these universal human life-bases without recognition or correction.
Life-capital can be directly recognized in every instance as what is required to produce human life-necessities without loss of capacity to go on producing them. In contrast, money-sequence capital increasingly does the reverse. Yet if private money-sequence capital satisfies this criterion, it still qualifies as real capital and the two overlap, the extent to which capitalism succeeds. It is arguable that many capitalist forms have so qualified. Organic food and clothing production and non-toxic household utensils are historic cases, but not with life-destructive labour practices. Today Ray Anderson’s rug business is a transnational capitalist enterprise, but guided by the ecological principle of 100 per cent recycled hydrocarbons – a case to which we return in the last sections of this study. Real or life-capital is always an objectively ascertainable process through time.
Necessity of course admits of degrees in correspondence to the life-range lost without it. Thus conveniences are not ruled out by a life-value paradigm, but they rank clearly lower than necessities without which life is diseased or dies. On a general level, one principle holds across the life-capital bases of the real economy. For the good of clean air to breathe, society must have the life-capital reproducing it for all as clean. For the nourishing food its citizens require, society’s economy must have the life-capital of seeds, arable soil and farming knowledge. For the clean water all must access continually, society – or individuals – must have the life-capital of water and waste systems to keep producing sufficient distributed volumes. And so we may proceed through all of the universal human life-necessities.
Yet real life-capital and economy are not only reproduced without loss through generational time. They are improved on in their life-enabling provision. This is the measure of real economic development. Today better air quality, more and better potable water as well as more sufficient and higher-quality life-goods of every kind are possible, so there is no question of reaching a limit of real economic growth or life-capital appreciation. Observe that real capital and economic growth are never in conflict with real sustainability. Real capital and economy are sustainable, or they are neither by definition.
An objection might be that a life-capital paradigm is a ‘levelling’ concept – restricting production to necessities. This objection is false. Life-enabling goods which life-capital produces (or it is not life-capital) have no limit of creative possibility. Their necessity, however, admits of objective degrees of more or less. Food is more necessary than aesthetic enjoyment insofar as more life and life-range is lost without it. But aesthetic enjoyment is itself a necessity for humanity – the aesthetic experience being one of new perspective as well as better quality, both with no limit of creative production. Without it, felt life is deadened, though not so decisively as without shelter. The life-capital bases of these aesthetic goods include unspoiled Nature in all its wondrous forms as well as all the human arts producing objects of beauty and intense interest. Any economy not protecting or producing these aesthetic goods is dehumanizing, and perhaps impossible. On the other hand, kitsch and junk products do not satisfy the criterion of enabling life, and are therefore false substitutes – a profound problem of degraded life-goods which grows in food as well as art.
The only issue is place in priority in enabling life which decides their rank in allocating resources if and only if in a situation of scarcity of one or the other – what a developed economy seeks to overcome. Observe that the ruling paradigm is opposite. It is structured to create scarcity by artificial means, the opposite of real economy. So there is no question of a ‘levelling down’ by a life-capital paradigm grounding in real life-need. On the contrary, it is the reigning paradigm that levels down by mass uniformity in products and methods guided by private money-sequence gains at the top – eventually by carcinogenic multiplication against life-function. Life-capital’s built-in principles of priority, allocation and development have in effect been reversed. Thus gold toilet seats for a few trump clean water for a whole community if there is more money-demand for the gold toilet seats. Can we find representative cases of the global money-sequence system developing towards more life-flourishing for citizens in any domain of ‘goods’ or ‘capital’ at all?
Life-Capital: The Base of the Real Economy and Cure
Once we recognize that real capital is life-capital – the natural and human-made wealth that produces more through time without loss – we re-ground. Private money capital is the opposite to the extent it destroys life-capital. Consider, for example, private money-sequences of mono-crop factory agriculture that destroy the life-capital of the soil as well of biodiverse seed stocks as well as of rivers and waters polluted by their waste and chemical run-offs, as well as farming communities not doing so, and so on. They even produce 25 per cent of the world’s climate-destabilizing carbon gases endangering the lives of billions of the world’s peoples. Here and elsewhere, the ruling money-sequence system is structured to destroy life-bases to extract more money from them. The solution is itself destroyed by elimination of the life-capital bases that carry it – the long sustainable ecological family farms which produce little or none of these ‘externalities’.
Systematically life-destructive money-sequences now plunder all real life-capital we can see – the forests and mangroves and their biodiverse inhabitants, the freshwaters and oceans and their fish stocks, the world’s hydrological cycles and non-renewable energy resources, and societies’ life-support systems themselves. The more this system grows, the more life-capital it despoils and destroys. This is its carcinogenic nature, not human overpopulation – as demonstrated in ‘The Overpopulation Argument’ in Chapter 1. Consider the global pattern. Air, food and water themselves are in a one-way downward trend of degradation. Common aquifers and major rivers have been rapidly polluted or drawn down across the world for private industrial farming, factory sinks and golf courses not to mention new corporate fracking and tar-sand boiling. At the same time billions of people are going short of water and billions more to come in the most important basic shared life-capital of the species. In all, ever more polluting and extraction of natural life-capital free of effective public regulation is the law-like macro pattern.
With the basic forms of human-made life-capital, there is also a downward slide across domains. For example in Africa, the most basic literacy and health care systems collapsed as governments were forced to spend four times more on compounding interest payments to foreign money-debt sequences than on all public health and education combined – even if incurred by elites allied with transnational banks who deposit their stolen money capital in them.32 The outcome is illiteracy and death to millions of children. The reason is public funds reallocated to service private-bank payments.33 Everywhere we look, it seems, the same disorder is on the march into the United States and Europe themselves.
Re-Grounding Well-Being Indexes in Life-Parameters
The Institute for Innovation in Social Policy at Fordham University long ago led in seeking social indicators of well-being in the US by relating to life-coordinates. The ruling paradigm as we know has none, but equates an increase in society’s welfare to more commodities and services sold. Yet the Fordham Institute’s methods and many similar ones since (like the Canadian Index of Well-Being) do not penetrate to the universal life-necessities and life-capital bases which are required. Fordham tracked known indicators like infant mortality, child abuse, teenage suicide, health insurance coverage, drug abuse, alcohol-related traffic deaths, homicides, and poverty among children and the aged. Revealingly, they show a dramatic decline of well-being since 1973 – from a peak of 77.5 to a low of 38.1 in 1991.34
Because none of these markers is directly grounded in either universal life-needs or life-capital bases, dubious results follow. For example, ‘health insurance coverage’ does not tell us about people’s well-being or ill-being if private ‘health insurance’ is driven by corporate money-sequences which, as we have seen, kill more people in the US by malpractice than all traffic accidents, fires and shootings put together. What is required are the facts of people’s access to health care when needed and evaluation of life-capacity outcomes. A further contrast between the ‘social indicators’ approach and life-grounded analysis is that statistics of ‘drug abuse’ give a meaningless figure in terms of life-gain or loss: because so-called ‘abuse’ may not harm life-capacities, but only transgress prohibitions whose prison cages for offenders do vastly more harm than any such abuse. Here too we may see the money-sequence system at work as the 2 million US prison population is privatized for cost-free mass labour for profit.35
Life-sequence and capital analysis, in contrast, demarcates the real economy of individuals and societies, and tells whether they develop or decline in life-carrying capacities. With the dominant conception, on the contrary, anything is of value so far as it adds money-value to consumers and investors – even if life-capital is destroyed across the world’s biodiverse forests, fresh and saltwater habitats, soil mantles, freshwaters, and air and atmospheric conditions. All that matters are the gains in money-value numbers – the Great Delusion. This continues until the natural world is ever more depleted and despoiled and ever less remains for the rest of life, humanity and the next generations.
Getting Life-Capital Right
Life-goods for life-sequences are the measure of all human welfare, while life-capital preservation and development are their bases. Without these life-parameters of recognition and response, ‘Economics’ remains submerged in money-sequence calculi, and the cancer system advances beneath policy resolution. It is not an issue of ‘anthropocentric’ or ‘Western’ or ‘human nature’ defects. It is a system causal mechanism predating and despoiling life-capital across phyla, cultures and population profiles.
System rupturing of the ozone layer, or destabilizing of climate and hydrological cycles, or massive extinctions spasms not only endanger and destroy other forms of life, but human beings in the billions. In the case of ultraviolet light exposure by holes in the ozone layer, for instance, the biosphere suffers cancer-causing and immune system-weakening in humans and massive amphibian die backs, and thus food deprivation by the loss of what depends on amphibians such as various fish and waterfowl populations, and thus loss of insect control by what they eat, and soon. Since phytoplankton too and numberless other species also are damaged by this single strand of transnational private money-sequences, international treaty prohibition by the Montreal Protocol phased out the specific cause of chlorofluorocarbons from aerosol products. But this is only one ecocidal externality among ever-widening circles of life-capital destruction by transnational money-sequences left to self-regulating competition for more money-demand for multiplication of themselves. The ozone protocol passed a quarter of a century ago with no effective protection of any life-support system since.
The ruling money-sequence categories and drivers are locked against valuing any life-system or other growth. Thus massive destructions of life-capital forming the very bases of life on the planet – biodiversity, stable climate and hydrological cycles, and the biophysical integrity of the earth itself – escalate as ‘free enterprise, ‘capitalism’, and ‘the economy’. The descriptors are not called out as ludicrous. Instead, there are ever fewer curbs on the drivers of the cancer system. Led by the multiplying price of oil in global money-sequences, huge machines fracturing and polluting the planet become ever more invasive and polluting, while wars of aggression come one after another to seize the oil of other peoples. Everywhere real economy – the principle of non-waste – is reversed as ‘economics’. All that international trade treaties protect are invasive money-sequences themselves. Again we can observe the immune collapse.
Big Oil is by no means alone in leading the unnamed eco-genocidal spasm. Ripping the worlds’ forest life-habitats into board feet and pulp that spike in price as the forests disappear, or industrially mining the soil so there are no nutriments left but pricey chemical inputs and toxic wastes, or factory-ship mining of the oceans so that ever less life remains – all are driven every step by transnational corporate money-sequences. ‘They produce what we must have’ is the stock answer. But do they? In the case of fossil fuels, the product is fumes, noise and air pollution, destabilizing carbon loads, war and vehicle deaths and maimings, and drawing down of the primary energy and materials supply of the species which once mined is gone forever. Life-capital and lives do not enter into account at any level or time space.
Life-Capital Accountability versus Money-Sequence Multiplication
The life-capital economy is opposite. Its ruling principle is to conserve and develop capacities to provide life-goods through generational time. Consider oil as an example. It is a life-capital and life-good of the first importance only so far as it enables this provision of life-means and goods – such as sewage pipes, tools, and needed vehicle and heating fuels. On the other hand, so far as oil extraction and use disables people’s lives and life-systems, the oil corporations lead a waste and misallocation of contemporary society’s primary non-renewable resource with almost no government or international treaty doing anything about it.
This is how famines arise when food is plentiful; why heating fuel is unaffordable to those most needing it; and why carbon is still destabilizing the atmosphere with unnecessary effluents. The life-capital paradigm meets all these problems before they arise. It allocates in accordance with life-necessity – that without which life-capacities are lost, the only true economic necessity. It is opposite in meaning to the reigning system for which necessity means only what private money-sequences require to become more – the carcinogenic metaphysic of the doctrine. People know better in real life. Thus the formula of ‘Reduce, Re-use, Recycle’ has emerged independently of the ruling dyseconomy to elaborate the life-capital principle in practical terms. The implicit objective is 100 per cent retention of life-capital. Developing more life-capital beyond it is the process. Wealth that creates more wealth without loss is the result. This is the ultimate principle of real development and flourishing to which we return ahead.
Getting Past the Myth of the Invisible Hand
Since Adam Smith capitalist-market theory has trusted to his myth of a built-in providence of the market’s invisible hand to optimize results, however many children die and life-bases are destroyed. Competitive money self-maximizers in the market produce the best of possible worlds. This is the ultimate article of faith. The opposite is demonstrated by degenerate trends. How then can this ultimately organizing idea of the world go on being believed?
The answer is: by selective idealized examples as the basis of analysis over 300 years. Whether one examines Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ guiding selfishness to socially beneficial results, or Vilfrid Pareto’s ‘principle of opthemality’ (now ‘Pareto optimal’), or other contemporary equivalents of the capitalist market theodicy, none remotely stands up to factual or logical scrutiny.36
Today, Harvard Business Professor Michael’s Porter’s much touted idea of ‘creating shared value’ argues for ‘constructive capitalism’ which is the same principle of happy coincidence. Porter thinks that depletion of natural resources and community well-being must be taken into account by business. Yes. But he argues they already are with selected examples and aspects. Walmart saves on electricity bills with conservation measures. Nike recycles shoes. But wherever the social or ecological good conflicts with private profitability – as it standardly does – private money-sequencing by an absent few overrides commands. As Friedman so famously put it back in 1970, ‘The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.’ Where Walmart or Nike can maximize their private money-sequences by reducing costs on materials and energy and boost their brands at the same time, they do so. Every corporation does this as long as it serves private money-sequencing to maximally more (‘shareholder value’). But no social good that costs more money to their private money-sequences – like living wages, benefits and pensions – makes it through the deregulated oligopolist race for more money for few. Only selected examples count. As in the logic of superstition, counterexamples are screened out.
But life-capital preservation and development must be rationally ensured rather than trusted to lucky coincidence. Neither selected examples, nor just-so stories in mathematical costume, can square the life-circle. All that can consistently sustain coherence between the universal life-requirements of humanity and ecosystems are life and life-capital standards built into the economy. They form a ‘fair rule for all’ so that none can privately profit by violating them. This is the essential step of responsible economic government. It does not rely on coincidence with private money-sequence maximization, but public law. Corporations achieve necessary norms of performance to stay in business.
As long as wasting and destroying life and life-capital reduces costs, it is done. Only enforced law works, the message of modern civilization. To rely on serendipitous exceptions of social benefit is another Band-Aid over the Great Sickness.
For the general theory of value behind this criterion of the real economy, see my The Value of All Values Across Time, Place and Theories, Oxford: Eolss Publishers under the auspices of UNESCO, 2002–12. For its underlying concept of life-capital, see chapter 1, ‘Life Capital versus Money Capital: The Turning Point of Understanding and Recovery’.
See chapter 1, ‘Conflation of Life Needs and Commodity Desires’.
The detailed development of this point may be found in my Unequal Freedoms: The Global Market as an Ethical System, Toronto: Garamond Press, 1998, especially pp. 60–70, 76, 98.
See Machine Dreams for the contemporary elaborations of ‘Economics’ decoupled from all life and life-requirements in robotic strategic maximizations.
These famous phrases come from Volume I of Capital, the First Preface and Chapter XXXII, ‘Historical Tendency of Capitalist Accumulation’. That Marx who was above all concerned to liberate humanity from the capitalist machine should have employed the scientistic language of mechanics to reify coercive value prescriptions into independently operating ‘laws’ and their programming of people into the forger of human liberation indicates the lock-hold of this paradigm on even its adversaries.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr provides a devastating and documented account of policy-decided ecocide in Crimes Against Nature, New York: HarperCollins, 2004.
Russia, for example, was liberated to enter the global corporate system under the tutelage of global market advisers, with every shock treatment and stripping of social life-infrastructure soon accomplished to achieve ‘the inevitable adjustments’. Its productive economy collapsed by 70 per cent, male life-expectancy dropped eleven years, the sharpest fall recorded in history, and 70 million pensioners are at risk. Raw material exports now account for 45 per cent of its GDP, up from 20 per cent in 1990. (See, for example, P. Seymour, ‘Russia’s Capital Punishment’, Guardian Weekly, November 23, 1998, p. 2, and Sergei Rogov, ‘Five Challenges For Russia’, Peace Magazine (September–October 1997), 8.)
See, for example, the seven-article series by the New York Times, ‘The Downsizing of America’, March 3–9, 1996.
Armine Yalnizyan, ‘Hugely Profitable Companies Fatten on Wage, Benefit Cuts’, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor (April 2012), 1, 6.
The source of the estimate of US deaths by malpractice in the US for-profit medical system is the Harvard School of Public Health (cited by Ralph Nader, ‘It’s Time to End Corporate Welfare As We Know It’, Earth Island Journal (Fall 1996), 37).
See ‘Behind Global Collapse: The Life-Blind Structure of Economic Rationality’, ibid.
Cited in ‘Earning Gap Grows Quickly’, USA Today, February 16, 1996, A1.
Forum, ‘Does America Still Work?’ Harper’s Magazine, May 1996, p. 36.
Cited articles from Ellen Brown, ‘The European Stabilization Mechanism: Or How Goldman-Sachs Captured Europe’, Global Research, April 19, 2012, https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-european-stabilization-mechanism-or-how-goldman-sachs-captured-europe/30403.
While George Gilder celebrates the money-sequence’s triumphs of trillions of dollars of mergers and acquisitions and the doubling of the stock market’s money-value, it is important to emphasize that the richest 5 per cent of Americans own 72 per cent of all such stock, while the bottom 80 per cent of Americans own 2 per cent (Holly Sklar, ‘Upsized CEOs’, Z Magazine (June 1996), 34).
The evidence here is worldwide, as figures given elsewhere in this study indicate. But since Canada has been recognized by the UN in recent years to be the ‘best country in the world to live’, and since its international trade figures have increased dramatically during the same period, it offers a revealing case. During the ‘globalization’ period since 1989, all of these effects have in fact occurred. Its fabled fish stocks are exhausted, its forests are clear-cut at increasing rates, its annual average income for wage and salary workers has dropped precipitously since 1990, and real unemployment is at the highest prolonged levels since the Depression.
Colin Graham, ‘Will the Public Expect the Global Economy to Self-Destruct?’, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor (July–August 1998), 20–1.
Maude Barlow and Bruce Campbell, Straight Through the Heart, Toronto: HarperCollins, 1995, p. 37.
Council of Canadians, Canadian Perspectives (Winter 1994), 22.
Will Hutton, ‘High-Risk Strategy Not Paying Off’, Guardian Weekly, November 12, 1995, 13; James Petras and Steve Vieux, ‘The Minimum Wage President’, Z Magazine (November 1994), 25.
Will Hutton, ‘Social Policies that Destroy Jobs’, Guardian Weekly, July 30, 1995, p. 2.
Russell Herbert Mead, ‘Essay’, Harper’s Magazine (September 1992), 41.
Eric Hobsbawm, ‘Golden Era Ends Forever’, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor (July/August 1995), 15.
Larry Elliott, ‘Russia’s Woes’, Guardian Weekly, February 25, 1996, p. 12.
‘Russia’s Welfare State’, Toronto Star, November 26, 1995, p. F6.
Van Smiley, ‘Russian Roulette’, Report on Business Magazine (January 1996), 52.
Victoria Brittain, ‘Peace Games Spur Angolan Collapse’, Guardian Weekly, June 23, 1996, p. 6.
On this baseline of real economic value – the capacity of an economic organization to provide the basic means of life-growth to its next generation with the resources available – the global market system shows itself to be less competent than even the widely reviled Soviet command economies which it replaced. In central Europe, for example, ‘the number of children living in poverty has more than doubled in the 1990s’ (Ian Traynor, ‘Children Pay Price For Democracy’, Guardian Weekly, April 27, 1997). This sharp decline is significant because it provides control and experimental conditions from which to judge the efficiency of opposing economic systems on this basic life-parameter. The point is not to argue for a Soviet-style economy, but to observe how very inefficient the global market system is with respect to such life-indicators, which it is structured to block out from view.
Larry Elliott, ‘Why the Poor are Picking Up the Tab’, Guardian Weekly, May 17, 1998, p. 14.
Maggie O’Kane, ‘A Plague That Kills Millions – The Plague of Debt’, Guardian Weekly, May 17, 1998, p. 1.
Wallace A.C. Peterson, ‘Class Warfare American Style’, Plenary Session of the Eighth World Congress of Social Economics, College of Charlston, South Carolina, July 31, 1996.
See Glen Ford, ‘Private Prison Corporations Are Modern Day Slave Traders’, https://www.commondreams.org/views/2012/04/25/private-prison-corporations-are-modern-day-slave-traders, courtesy of Professor Matthew Stanton, Kent Law School, sent May 1, 2012. Ford observes: ‘The nation’s largest private prison company, the Corrections Corporation of America, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, earlier this year sent letters to 48 states, offering to buy their prisons outright. To ensure their profitability, the corporation insists that it be guaranteed that the prisons be kept at least 90 percent full [and] demand a 20-year management contract. [Its] filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission read very much like the documents of a slave-trader. Investors are warned that profits would go down if the demand for prisoners declines.’
Demonstration is provided in my ‘Behind Global Collapse: The Life-Blind Structure of Economic Rationality’.