Table of Contents
REGAINING LIFE-BEARINGS FOR EARTH RECOVERY: THE LIFE-CAPITAL PRINCIPLES OF ECOLOGICAL ECONOMY
Whatever the diagnosis, ever more people know the future of planetary life itself is increasingly at risk. But as long as the causal mechanism is not recognized, the malignant system goes on invading – from the scraped ocean bottoms to the destabilized climate and hydrological cycles, from the biodiverse extinction spasms to the all-levels stripping of life-serving vocations.
The Latin American recovery leads along with Scandinavia outside the EU. But the deepest rising structure of impoverishment on Earth is not turned back anywhere – the devastation, poisoning and pillaging of planetary life-carrying capacities themselves. Despoiling the life-capital bases of ‘the economy’ as ‘the economy’ is not yet recognized as incoherent if not insane.
Even Brazil the giant of Latin America’s transformation has not stopped the march of the timber and mineral extractions reducing the Amazon into private money fortunes in one of the longest eco-genocidal reigns of history. It has reduced the rate of annihilation of forests and forest habitats from its peak in 2004, but vast tracts still fall and countless first peoples and species are endangered by extinction. Ecuador has declared a 700,000 acre bio-reserve to ‘leave the oil in the ground’, but is reliant on foreign contributions. Bolivia enshrines the ‘rights of Nature’ in its constitution and Ecuador includes the rights of Mother Earth (Pachamama). But for all this, community and ecological devastation by oil extraction methods has not been resolved by any exporting nation on earth.
So although oil revenues and control have been successfully reclaimed for national and public use, the problems of life-blind technology still produce ecological and local community ruin. We confront here the deepest-lying challenge of the epoch.
On the upside, Latin America has moved to restore small industry and cooperatives with local sensitivity and lack of war-like machines of large-scale destructive extraction for private money-sequencing. Has anyone heard of co-operatives – which can make anything to including aeronautical fine components in Europe – with ecocidal methods? Co-operatives of fossil fuel extraction, however, are not yet formed.
So the oil majors go on tearing the world and the seas apart while their products pollute the globe.They are back into the Gulf of Mexico deep-sea drilling before it can recover, and increasingly frack the earth mantle by high-pressure search for gas seams depleting non-renewable freshwater resources at the same time. The transnational money-sequence system destroys and pollutes the more that prices rise.
The great disorder is not just of oil, gas and coal looting. Its deregulated transnational money-sequence system clears forest habitats North and South, the home of land species and the lungs of the world. It mines the earth for minerals in multiplying destruction and toxic wastes left behind. It fishes out the oceans so that the big fish disappear and the coral kingdoms of the earth die. It destabilizes the climates and hydrological cycles, fills the fresh and sea waters with poisons, and mono-farms the soil to no fertility left.
The life-capital ground is increasingly understood, but not yet as policy determining.
Latin American Leaders and First Peoples on the World Destruction
Latin America’s leaders uniquely show identification with the Earth as humanity’s Mother – an ontological grounding not evident in official leaders before. Rio+20, which was supposed to plan how all nations working together could resolve the deepening crisis of the common life-ground, has come and gone with not one binding agreement to do anything. Transnational corporations and banks controlled it by their idea of sustainability which means sustainable profits for them.
Public regulation by life-capital standards is hardly yet conceived. Still in 2009 when leaders of the Latin America spoke to the World Social Forum in Brazil, the life-capital base implicitly emerged without defined meaning. President Evo Morales declared the South has not ‘resigned itself to accepting the destruction of our planet’, and ‘according to the conscience of our people, we have put a block in our constitution that will prevent any future privatization of our natural resources and social services’ or ‘the patenting of life itself’.
President Chavez of Venezuela defined ‘twentieth-century socialism’ as ‘the only way to save this planet, to save human life’. President Rafael Correa explained that Latin America is a ‘new development model’ which is ‘not traditional socialism’, but ‘inspired by ancestral knowledge and not based on materialism, consumerism or accumulation’. The new constitution of Ecuador states that human beings must live in harmony with nature and not against this Pachamama.
President of Brazil, Lula da Silva, reminded his audience of the pervasive violence and foreign debts of past rule. He rejected ‘the God of the Market’, and affirmed the ‘state’s responsibility for investments … in the productive sector … major housing projects and … new oil revenues to resolve the problem of poverty in Brazil … to create new jobs and raise the standard of living, instead of the irresponsibility of bankers’.
All expressed the underlying common vision decoded here – taking back public wealth and jurisdiction to invest in public life-goods, repudiating the control of investment by bankers and foreign corporations, affirming a ‘twenty-first century socialism’ not bent on ‘a faster and less unjust path to the same destination’. What remains absent is the unifying framework of meaning to govern practices by clear policy deciders.
The Recovery Begins At The Level Of Life-Capital Meaning
Overcoming the growing structural impoverishment of the planet begins at the level of meaning. While ‘growing the economy’ and ‘protecting the environment’ have been absurdly opposed by politicians and the media – ‘the economy versus the environment’ – their meanings are one in underlying principle. Their lost common purpose is life-coherent organization to enable the life-capital of both without loss in either.
Re-integration of what has been long bifurcated is the first logical and scientific step of recovery. Understanding is reset to the underlying life-ground of both and its laws of reproduction and development on each level. Life-capital is the bridging principle of these laws of the economy and its ecological life-host – life-wealth that produces more life-wealth without loss but gain.
Their shared etymological roots already indicate the unifying meaning. Both derive from the common root of ‘eco’, the ‘household’. The implication is not hard to follow. The Earth is humanity’s household all depend on to provide daily means of life, and the economy is humanity’s organization to provide what is otherwise in short supply. These are formally one in ‘the primary axiom of life-value’, but lie deeper within the origins of language and thought themselves.
The ancient conception of the Earth Mother is a feminine personification of the underlying idea. The ultimate disorder is that the transnational money-sequence system of demand destroys and pollutes the home of future life. Recall Crowfoot’s warning: ‘When all the trees have been cutdown, when all the animals have disappeared, when all the waters have been polluted, you will discover that you cannot eat money.’
Life-coherent ecological economy is the way out. Life-capital is the way of understanding the principled ground that bridges between them. Whether it refers to natural capital or human capital, or ecological, economic or social capital, life-capital unifies across their differences. Historical meanings substantiate the underlying idea of progression – from the original cattle-capital of tribes to the natural capital of human manufacture, to knowledge capital used at every level, to social capital that enables reduction of transaction costs, to ecosystem capital as what enables all. It is a long awakening to the life-capital principle joining across them. But ecosystem capital is only understood by means of knowledge capital, and economic capital requires both – as with ensuring clean air and water, hydrological stability, ozone layer protection, soil filtration and carbon sequestration, forests for timber, oceans for fish stocks, pollinators and habitats for foods, and so on, in the life-coherent order required for their reproduction and ours.
Yet instead of these life-capital bases being stewarded into the future, they are looted and wasted with rising shortages a price benefit for the very transnational conglomerates responsible. These are the widening carcinogenic loops masked as ‘investments’ and reversed as ‘economic necessity’.
The life-capital paradigm re-grounds and directs by life-value co-ordinates. Its measure of life-capital gain or loss is the extent to which life-carrying capacities are advanced or lost.
The Life and Life-Capital Measure
Always previous and subsequent states can be established to make this measure, and the underlying principle of measure always is:
more or less ( > or <) range of life enabled/disabled through time
= permanent margins of life-capacity loss or gain
= the yardstick constant of all life-capital
= the missing baseline metric of economic science.
Converted into mathematical language or not, the life-capital metric is the exact decider of better and worse in all domains.
Yet recall how the ‘Green GDP’ proposed by Joseph Stiglitz as chair of the US President’s Economic Council to keep accounts of the nation’s natural capital was attacked by the coal lobby with any associated researcher threatened. Likewise private forest corporations of Chile would not even let a World Bank accounting unit measure the sustainable capacities of ancient forests to produce timber. The system abhors any measure but its own. Any accountability to sustainable life-capital extractions sets bounds to wasting them, and waste of life and life-means for more money demand is the nature of the disorder.
The life-capital framework goes still deeper than green accounts. It joins across economy and ecology as one macro life-capital system. It counts both the material resource and the ecosystem as life-capital bases. Its system decider is life-coherent growing of life and life-means without life-capacity loss – the invariant exact decider. The missing bridge between the claims of ‘the environment’ and of ‘the economy’ is the life-capital of both developing to add life-value to each – as in forests, oceans and lakes that are selectively harvested to maintain their economic and ecological capital at the same time as indivisible life-ground.
The demonstrations of adding permanent life-value while protecting it are already well established – as in biodiversifying orchards, agricultural fields and gardens to generate and sustain bird and animal life to new life-carrying capacities. There is no sacrificial loss built in – as in the reigning disorder where ‘economic growth’ is opposed to ‘conservation of the environment’, whose destruction is then claimed a ‘necessary cost of economic development’.
The law of life-capital development is the Copernican revolution of economic reason.
The Ultimately Regulating Principles of Human Advance and Extinction
Life-capital bases and civil commons organization form the moving line of humanity’s real human development – progressively enabling universal access to human life-goods as fellow species and ecosystems biodiversify into compossible life-capacities and their life-coherent flourishing.
This is not utopian philosophy. All of it can be converted into measurable life-capital gain by margins of more life-capacity range and enjoyment depending on what reference bodies of life-gain/loss are chosen.
Against the ‘red in tooth and claw’ dogma’ of reactionary ideology, the evidence increasingly shows the ‘co-operative principle’ at work here confers survival and development advantage on groups the more co-operatively inclusive they become. One may discern an underlying law of development. The more human beings subsume the requirements of their fellows’ and their environment’s life-capital capacities into their organizational regulation, the better off they are. The rises and falls of civilizations confirm this higher evolutionary law whose agency is defined as ‘the civil commons’.
The most striking negative evidence for the law-like pattern through millennia is presented by societies whose exhaustion or spoiling of their soil, forests and water supplies have destroyed them. The extinct Sumerian, Khmer, Mesoamerican civilizations – and in perfect model the Easter Islanders – have shown the collapse progression in graphic historical form.
The story of massive life-capital degeneration recurs on all fronts and global scale today. Human genes remain the same through rises and falls. But organizing principles and institutions in epigenetic expression select for life-capital sustainability and gain, or degenerate trends. Genes are an alibi for the great sickness at the micro level – 2–5 per cent of cancer causation – and more so at the macro level where man-made rules decide which direction any group or society goes.
The polar opposite outcomes cannot in principle be explained by ‘the genes’ because the same mechanism cannot cause opposite outcomes. A social disorder collapses by life-capital destruction, and it occurs because the regulating moral categories and rules are life-blind. They lock in with ever worse effects – what is called ‘fate’. The collectively self-made fate by the hubris of life-blind rules is far worse than tragic. It is the flaw of life-blind decision structure all the way down and across destroying a civilization. The underlying causal mechanism is not seen because the system is assumed as superior and good.
At the choice-space level, the critical functions performed by the free press, the professions and higher research have been themselves increasingly locked into the private money-sequence system so that they are structured not to recognize and resist the disorder. At the same time at the system-wide level, inherited life-protective norms are so sweepingly deregulated and unenforced that social and natural life-carrying capacities degrade and collapse in slow motion from ever rising loads of unregulated pollution, depletion and deeper looting from one site to the next across borders.
Can the spiral down be overcome? As diagnosis demonstrates, system shift to life and life-capital deciders is the imperative for recovery. This is the generic logic of system cure.
The Real Ecological Economics: Life-Capital Economy Clarified and Distinguished
Received ‘ecological economics’ goes only the first step of the way. It lucidly recognizes that ‘harvesting rates must not exceed regeneration rates’ and that ‘waste emissions must not exceed the renewable assimilative capacity of the local environment’. Orthodox ‘Economics’, in contrast, abstracts out the entire natural life-capital base a priori. But both fail to distinguish between the value of natural resources as production materials and as living ecosystems.
As long as the materials extracted are reproducible (for example, by tree plantations or fish farms), all is well for received ecological economics. Life-coherent ecological economy, on the contrary, recognizes that replacing a living forest with a tree plantation with no life-habitat left is not ecological. Nor is replacing sea habitats with disease-spreading fish farms. Nor is substituting industrial chemical inputs for living soil and biodiverse habitats. Ecosystem, animal species and aesthetic life-habitat value must all count, and full life-capital accounting does so. It includes all that has been excluded, with species as micro life-capital within the ecological-economic whole.
A sceptic might retort: ‘Does this mean that we must put every form of life-capital into economic accounts? Do we have to put worms aerating the soil or pollinator making fruits and grains?’ The answer is yes. Pollinators enable 70 per cent of grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts to exist, but their reproduction is collapsing from transnational commodification – by their perpetual dislocation in crates, starvation when not in commercial use, poisoning by pesticides and GMO contamination, degradation of hives and queens by substitute foreign replacements, and loss of natural habitat. Yet leaders of pollinator destruction like Monsanto adhere to system superstitions of techno-market solutions to all problems, blocking correction of even the direct destruction of 40 per cent of all food cycles.
At the macro level, legally required ‘environmental assessments’ select against the lethal disorder. Yet these too are revoked – as with legal exemption of the US military from environmental laws and wholesale elimination of them by Canada’s 2012 ‘Budget Implementation Act’. These are symptoms of the carcinogenic disorder. Yet governments need only stand by life-coherent laws governing use or extraction of life-capital to stop its ecocidal spread. Norway does so with its publicly controlled oilfields and protection of its life-capital base against foreign money-sequence occupation – ‘We are protecting the future, reclaiming the land, providing jobs and wealth, looking out for citizens – You play by our rules. Otherwise you can be sent to jail, and your company stripped of assets for breaking our laws.’1
Bolivia and Ecuador at the other side of the Earth recognize ‘the rights of nature’ in their post-2000 constitutions which implicitly define natural life-capital as a process – ‘to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structures, functions and its processes in evolution’. But another critical question arises. What of Nature’s very cruel ‘functions and processes’ of natural disasters, death by predation, exposure, and disease? This is why John Stuart Mill argues against natural processes and for civilization in his essay, ‘On Nature’. Civilization also includes exactly targeted elimination of disease-bearing mosquitoes, cockroaches, flower-eating slugs, and rats eating a fifth of human grains and invading poor homes. A line must be drawn to meet these cases, and the ecological economics of life-capital exactly draws it.
What does not serve producing more life-wealth without loss, but does the opposite, as in these cases, is prevented by exclusion, consumption or elimination in accordance with the ecological-economic principle of maximizing coherently inclusive life through time.
This pattern is evolving against capitalist commodities and methods themselves – public bans on cosmetic pesticides, plastic bags, smoking around others, landscape despoiling by billboards and enforcements of recycling requirements, air quality and environmental laws on factories. What is required are the life-coherent system deciders and selectors across domains which the life-capital paradigm provides. It yields a complex system of macro laws of correlation. The more of life’s breadths and depths are compossibly reproduced and extended, the more life-capital bases gain together, the better are the real economy and society’s objective condition, and the more individuals are able to express and enjoy their lives. Conversely, the more any and all are reduced, despoiled or lost, the more life-capital has been eroded and the worse is the ecology, economy and society.
Knowing the Power of Sovereign Democracy Against the Financial Cancer
The reasons for inertial submission to the ruling disorder are myriad – ‘we cannot afford it’, ‘who will pay?’, ‘it is not economically viable’, ‘the system is too powerful to oppose’, ‘ what else but despotism can work’, ‘the damage has gone too far to reverse’, ‘the banks and corporations are too big to control’, ‘it needs a civil war and we don’t want war’, ‘there is longer a countervailing power’, ‘the UN itself has been co-opted by the corporations’, ‘the young who lead social transformations are helpless and unemployed’, ‘I prefer this system to communism or Islam’.
Impotence of alternative is what a reigning disorder cultivates. Yet diagnosis has shown recovery has already been significantly achieved – not possible to say in the first edition of this study. Publicly owned resources, spaces and jurisdictions have been democratically steered for the common life-welfare from Northern Europe to Latin America. Even the most virulent derailing efforts, including the 2011 mass murder in Norway with no police or army intervention, have been withstood.
Reminder of state success in the majority world is salutary. Brazil faced the same carcinogenic rule of the private bank system and their IMF enforcer stripping societies bare as they do now in Europe. The nation’s banks were opened to hot money-sequence foreign capital to buy up the country’s assets and when they started to leave for elsewhere, the IMF called for sowing the economy with salt – in this case by a 70 per cent bank interest rate to ‘attract foreign investors back to Brazil’. As Greg Palast’s Vulture’s Picnic reports (pp. 139– 42), the national elections had been thus steered in 1998. The client winner, Cardozo, did all he was told – more privatizations, a giant cut in pensions, and blame of over-entitled workers for the hard times. The scheme was reiterated in 2002. Only this time, the Workers Party under worker Lula da Silva won. The immediate orders from IMF-US-Wall Street were that Brazil would have to turn over its publicly owned banks to private financiers as signed by the prior economics minister. In response, the new government did the opposite and ‘lent out $500 billion for factories, farms, infrastructures – more credit than the IMF gave to over 100 nations’.
The transnational financial and trade sabotage of responsible government then went into its next gear. Brazil was told its sales of world-leading biofuel supplies would be hit with a 54-cent US tariff on every gallon (US ‘free trade’). The response was to raise $70 billion for shares in Brazil’s publicly owned fuel provider, the ‘largest share offering in world history’, and then to seal the borders against all ‘new financial products’ with a presidential decree required for any foreign bank to open in Brazil. The ‘Fifth Protocol’ of the ‘Financial Services Agreement’ was sent from Europe ordering Brazil to comply, signed by Lord Peter Mandelson (Tony Blair’s ex-PR director in Britain). Brazil refused, and so it also prevented the 2008 Wall Street black hole of fraudulent securities in global spread from penetrating its borders.
The moral of the story is again clear. Public resources, spaces and jurisdictions can be and are reclaimed and succeed, even against transnational financial attack and Big Oil intimidation.
THE THREE Rs OF ECO-LITERACY: FROM CIVIL COMMONS MOTTO TO FIRST PRINCIPLES
All readers know the three Rs of using energies and materials – Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. They run deeper and wider in significance than may first appear. When tracked all the way down to first principles, they define efficient economy and non-waste in a robust and coherent way. Production, distribution and consumption are re-set to life-coherent needs and real development.
What is missing is the usual – precise criteria, integrated meaning, and policy structure to regulate at a system-wide level. The unstated key is the natural and social life-capital base they protect.
In ultimate opposition, the transnational money-sequence disorder is set to full-spectrum waste to ensure more commodity sales and profits – the carcinogenic code. We need not repeat why. The invasive growth system has been diagnosed. Its masking slogans have been exposed. Its system set-points for depredating life-systems have been defined. Conversion of one disaster after another into open veins for new metastases has been tracked across levels. Now we re-ground in life-requirements.
The Clarifying Questions of the Three Rs of Eco-Literacy as Formulae for Terrestrial Life-Recovery
Clarifying questions immediately arise. ‘How much should we reduce? Or re-use? Or recycle? Where does one draw the line? How can we reduce or re-use when the economy and jobs depend on more products? How can people flourish with less than they have? Is there a non-levelling measure? How can the better life be by making do with less?
Unpacking the ‘three Rs of eco-literacy’ discloses the logic of ecological recovery. But the sceptical questions cannot be answered without movement beyond slogans to exact criteria, paradigm illustrations, and the common baseline of life-necessity they all presuppose. For each of the ‘three Rs’ we need to begin with an objective standard that transcends particular practices and applies across cases with no ambiguity or omissions. As always, principled meaning must be neither too broad nor too narrow in meaning.
Reduce by Rational Allocation to What Life-Capacities Require to Flourish
‘Reduce’ could mean anything at all – personal abstinence, belt-tightening state policies, corporate cost-cutting for profit, or whatever can be reversed in meaning. But it can only life-coherently mean reduce consumption of what is not required for human life-capacities to flourish. Once we recognize what is not needed to thrive as human, the clear line of reduction is drawn to life-capital requirements.
A major entailment follows. If some required natural capital is going short in healthy supply or long in polluting use – or both like water or fossil fuels – reversing their waste is an economic imperative. The first self-evident generic economic regulator follows: to allocate non-renewable and use-polluting resources to what human life-capacities need to thrive.
Rational allocation of short-life goods – ‘rations’ – have long worked. Britain had rations for six years in war and for ten years afterwards until 1955, and the US has rationed gasoline to three gallons a consumer a week under the US Office of Price Administration. Japan launched its climb to productive leadership of the world not only by public investment and allocation of capital, but by policies of ruling out waste on high-executive pay and private demand (for example, on home sizes by zoning laws).
But the rationality of ration is unspeakable within the ruling disorder. This is because its growth depends on ever more non-need wants and commodities. Thus oil is wasted in profusion and pervasively pollutes; and ever more ecological destruction and wars occur to get it to burn for no life-need. Even climate destabilization and rising deaths bring no reduction in increasingly profitable burning for no life-requirement.
The oil nexus of the Great Sickness is thus met by progressive ration / rationality of consumption to what enables life-capacities. While the life-and-death choice is still taboo in the ruling culture of greed, this is how the carcinogenic circuits are selected out by the ecological economy of life and life-capital regulators.
Germany’s Renewable Energy Act has shown that government mandated conversion to renewable energies can create hundreds of thousands of productive jobs, and combined with the polluter-pays principle for fossil-fuel emissions, unnecessary use and pollution are also selected against.
Yet technological substitution does not suffice. It reduces dependency on oil, but renewable energy manufacture by monolithic industrial forms also despoils Nature and people’s lives. Industrial turbines propagate powerful subsonic waves which disequilibriate human autonomic systems causing illness, mass destroy bat populations, kill birds and their migrations in large numbers, spoil landscapes, and still require perpetual fossil-fuel energy inputs to keep the necessary constant feed – up to 70 per cent of the energy produced. Monster dams are more notorious after population uprisings in India and China against ruin of major local ecologies and community lives, while Russia’s biggest lake and inland fishery, Aral, has desertified from damming its inflow rivers. As long as far more energy is demanded than is needed, ever more devastation of natural ecologies and community life predictably follows – not to mention vast public revenue wastes on conglomerate new money-sequence schemes. No lesson could be clearer or more blocked out.
Reducing to what is needed by the lives of citizens does not require life sacrifice. Sacrifice is preached in the carcinogenic system to draw on people’s sense of community to better prey on their life-means for private money-sequence gains, as in ‘austerity programmes’. But reducing to what life-capacities require to flourish is life-sacrifice if it makes people’s lives better – just as reducing unneeded foods and moving rather than being moved improves personal health as well as the wider community’s life-bases of health care, air, passages of travel, and public expenditures on commodity infrastructures. Everything connects.
The opening of life which goes with minimalist demand on exogenous power is transformative in every released life-function, and reduces demand on life-resources for others and the future at the same time. Sages have long-recognized the idea, but not at the level of economic system. What the consumerism of the age is made sick by and what the carcinogenic system depends on to multiply are both solved by life-coherent ecological economy. The suffocating waste built into daily life is correspondingly reduced.
Observe that the choice is ruled out when the mask of ‘ration’ refers to higher market prices – another reversal of meaning. Higher prices for actual life-goods like cooking fuel and necessary auto use merely increase deprivation of the poor and intensify invasive extraction to profit more from price rises while aggregate pollution and carbon loads still increase.
Re-Using Life-Goods as Goods: The Second ‘R’ Towards Real Economy and Non-Waste Recovery
Readers already intuit the meaning of Re-Use in personal life with used clothes, cars, appliances and utensils. There need be no decline in life-function or enjoyment. There may in fact be life gain from the wider range of proven durable options. When new is right for the life-need, the same principle of life-coherent use holds – no waste of materials, energy and mandatory work without enabling life-capacity and its enjoyment. Once more there is no life-capital loss but protection against it.
When analysis takes the re-use principle to the level of economic system, the life-capital gains again advance towards ecological equilibrium. As we have seen, over 90 per cent of the materials in the reigning disorder come from violent extractions from the Earth which end up as waste within six weeks. A similar vast waste comes from indiscriminate and advancing forest clear-cuts, aquifer depletions, and ocean catches. The ultimate economic necessity to reverse the waste is self-evident, and the private-public economic demand required to do so is essential.
Responsible governments have begun to select against this despoliation of planetary life by taxation on whatever is sold that generates wastes (green taxes); banning it outright (as sales in plastic bags have increasingly been); or – most eco-intelligent – closing the waste circle by requiring everything sold to the public to be the responsibility of the seller to retrieve and re-use, from bottles and cans to all commodity armours including auto, truck and other vehicle cycle wastes.
Again the principle requires clear and exact criterion for consistent implementation. It is a mark of the derangement called ‘the economy’ that legal obligation of citizens not to dump their personal wastes into public places is repudiated as ‘command and control’ at the corporate level. Since corporations claim the rights of persons, it follows that they comply with the rules of persons. To leave no toxic waste from your actions is a self-evident principle of personhood.
Fulfilment of personal responsibility is publicly ensured by deposit returns as a condition to sell commodities into societies. Likewise, elimination of toxic effluents into societies is ensured by a condition of license to manufacture or sell into the community life-host. Schedules of accession to adapt (as already in place in much of Europe) smooth the transition to the responsibility of corporate persons and directors. Jail and seizure of relevant assets is, as with drunken driving, the consequence of wilfully blind destruction of common means of life like the air, the water, the atmosphere.
As always with ecological economy, preventative action enables better life and life-conditions for all, and preserves and develops life-capital rather than rising waste, toxins, diseases and squalor devastating human and natural life-support systems with impunity and high rewards. Large-scale corporate wasters and polluters lose past competitive advantage in externalizing life-costs and life-capital damages onto the public to undercut prices. The cancer drivers are reversed.
The Social Immune Response is Underway but Incoherent
Real economy is already codified and enforced in bits. Bottles and cans carry a refund price for their return to sellers, but not commodity containers. It is like an immune system that only works on some antigens. The environmental difference can be between utopian natural surroundings and eco-death by foreign corporate wastes – as the beaches of Mexico and Nigeria’s Ogoni delta demonstrate in different ways. In the ‘developed’ world, 1 billion trees are cut annually for paper bags in New York instead of re-usable bags.
The principle of Re-Use reaches wide and deep. Durable commodities such as cars and appliances are cycled back by law to manufacturers rather than externalized onto society and nature as lawless entitlement. The interconnected benefits to human and planetary life in resource, habitat, garbage and pollution savings by the re-use requirement for life-capital preservation are true economic necessity. Decisive competitive advantage finally goes to enterprises that build for non-wasteful use, rather than the reverse.
The re-use principle applies also to thrown-away corporate foods, a third or more in the US and Canada. The intact foods circulate to those needing them – a re-use system in progressive communities. Life-necessity rather than private money demand is the driver across domains.
The principle applies also to urban transit. In cities like Montreal, racks of bicycles are available and re-circulated for citizens’ use to cut down environmental pollution and traffic congestion while enabling the cardiovascular health enjoyment of citizens. Yet rising China now goes an opposite route. It turns its urban avenues once full of non-polluting, self-propelled sturdy bicycles demanding no fossil fuel into commodity gas-guzzlers further polluting the smog-filled cities with toxic new inequalities of commodity bullying and aggression. In such ways, evolved regimes of ecological, economic and organic health are destroyed. Decided by privileged party engineers seeking to outdo Western capitalism with themselves on top, they ape the great disaster. Such is the spread of the global cancer through everyday life not yet marked.
On the other hand, life-coherent China has long led perhaps the most important basic practice of lasting human civilization – the organized re-use of human wastes for agriculture. Ageless social organization immediately removes them (originally by ‘night wagons’) without vast waste of flush water nor of rich nutrients, with vegetative scraps mulched in on the way to the fields for soil enrichment.
This re-use method further provides defence against e-coli and other diseases which without rechanneled re-use would be a major killer of children as elsewhere. This ecological economy may be the material secret to the world’s oldest standing civilization.
Re-Use as Political Economy Defended by Law
The re-use principle works at the level ecologists do not consider. Latin America’s revolution has been driven at the ground by landless workers re-using unused lands from grand estates (latifundia) of absentee landlords (Brazil in particular) to grow food in small-scale recovery of fertile lands (not Amazonian rainforests) to produce nourishing crops (not junk foods) for the malnourished unemployed (now working families) with no ecocidal side-effects (like rainforest clearing).
Re-use for life without loss is the life-capital principle. It is also at work where jobless workers re-use working factories deserted by their owners – as in Argentina where 4,000 factories have been reclaimed from owner desertion, dereliction and waste to thrive in co-operative worker management.
Argentina’s 2012 Bankruptcy Law 24, 522 (2012) enables workers’ co-operatives to keep closed factories working, guarantees contract fulfilment with labour credits as first claims, provides government technical assistance where needed, and purchases the company’s assets reduced by the amount of labour credits owed. Observe again the underlying principle of life-capital protection against private money-sequence waste at all levels.
In all such stands for life and life-capital protection and development, we find that public policy, law and reclaimed money demand for life-needs connect together into social transformation. What was cancerous dispossession becomes system-wide shift to productive life. For elementary example, the vacant lots and spaces of Havana are systematically used in organic farming all the way to its rooftops with reliable moisture barriers, water-source pipes, and sufficient weight-bearing capacities so that the city is now over 70 per cent self-reliant in fruits and vegetables grown from urban farming. In contrast, next door in El Salvador, death-squad dictatorship and sweat-shop Maquiladoras have hollowed the life-capacities of the society at human, social and ecological levels as ‘new growth’ and ‘rapid development’.
General laws govern across cases of real development and degeneration. The more life-capital of energy, materials and life is demanded and wasted than life-capacities require, the more despoliations of ecological, social and organic life-systems predictably follow. Conversely, the more life-capital of all kinds is re/used only to enable life-capacities to reproduce and advance, the more life-goods it produces for the well-being of all.
With the growing cities of the world increasingly overwhelmed by squalor and desertification, we see the law of despoliation at work at every level. In the rising love of gardening in cities across the world on all planes, we see the law of life-restoration at work recovering lost life-capital bases. The greening power of turning the disused into flourishing life-function is the principle of transformation in motion. From gardening on dead spaces to creative mural painting on blank industrial walls to ecological zoning and 100 per cent garbage recycling, the underlying pattern is clear. The primary agency in reversing the carcinogenic invasion to social recovery is the civil community.
Sustainability as Re-Usability After Use
The recovery ahead reaches to the future re-reuse of the world’s ocean fish habitats, living forests, freshwater lakes, rivers and aquifers, fellow species and stable hydrological and weather cycles as continuing life-support systems of humanity and the planetary life-host.
The carcinogenic advance by reversing life-meaning is seen through. The ‘sustainability’ that has mutated into the sustained profitability of the very transnational corporations leading the destruction is stopped. The causal mechanism of degenerate trends towards planetary life-collapse is reversed.
The only life-coherent criterion of sustainability is the anchor of meaning – re-usability after use. This is the litmus test of whether anything is in fact sustained. It is also the line between life-capital gain and loss. Yet scientific literatures lack the deciding test:
When the life-carrying capacities of any aquifer, river, fishery, forest or resource cannot be used afterwards, they have not been sustained but destroyed to the extent of their lost capacities.
The criterion is foolproof, and so is its policy entailment across domains. The future use of ocean fish habitats, living forests, freshwater lakes, rivers, aquifers and non-renewable resources, it follows as policy decider, must be scientifically validated as re-usable in life-supporting capacities before license is issued by the public owner to draw on any as resources or sinks. Re-usability is built into their use to sustain them.
To the extent of implementation of this ultimate life-capital standard, the planet-devouring machine is arrested and industrial powers become life-coherent.
Real Efficiency: Recycling for the Future
Recycling moves beyond the Reduce and Re-Use principles to full process comprehension. ‘Wide recycling’ is a foundational life-coherence principle which includes even one’s own life through death as a creative recycling process towards a more biodiverse whole including one’s enabling contribution to its advance.
‘Recycle’ thus takes on a comprehensive meaning of life-capital preservation and creation across all domains. In contrast, existing concepts of ‘recycle’ remain confined to mechanical returns through specified steps of recovery of a material or energy form. All this is valuable, but governing life purpose is demanded to ensure consistency with life and life-capital requirements. This is the life-coherence principle – the ultimately regulating principle of human reason.2 The reigning private money-sequence system is, as diagnosis has shown, structured against life-coherence at every node. ‘Recycling to life-function’ is the meta-antidote.
With life-capital as the baseline of what is protected and grown, the regulating purpose of all recycling is to life-function. We will find no evidence of the life-coherence principle in the contemporary literatures of industrial recycling. Money-profit is locked in as sole goal. For example, the ‘ability of industry to produce goods [sic] cheaply so that they can be sold cheaply at a low price and still make a profit’ is the criterion offered by the Financial Times Lexicon. Issues of non-renewable resources, trash in the environment, pollution of the elements, or destruction of life-habitat are blinkered out. The same is true of the definition of the online Cambridge Dictionaries: ‘industrial efficiency is the ability of a manufacturer to produce a product at as low a [money] cost as possible and still make a profit’. Again the ‘good’ or ‘product’ can be life-diseasing mass commodities or pillage environments by its commodity cycle.
The definition of industrial efficiency from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms moves a step forward (emphases added): ‘a production system consisting of manufacturing cells linked together with a functionally integrated system for inventory and production control that uses less of the key resources needed to make goods’. But the definition does not specify any criterion of ‘key resources’ or, more deeply, the purpose which the ‘functionally integrated system’ serves. Recycling is thus left life-blind.
The industrial efficiency that has developed at the front end of economic thinking is more demanding. The regulating goal is 100 per cent closed loops of energy and materials by advancing recycling methods. But we remain without any life-enabling purpose. Life-capital conservation provides the exact and missing economic meaning. The only point of 100 per cent closed-loop recycling of hydrocarbons, for example, is to conserve non-renewable fossil fuel from out-of-control extraction, waste and pollution. All this follows from the life-coherence principle. But 100 per cent recycling does not maximize money profits, and so no dominant corporation does it. The fact that oil is never renewable and is essential for all plastic necessities like water and sewage pipes, water and land vehicles, re-usable containers, and other lineaments of civilization does not factor into the ruling money calculus. Nor do the increasingly destructive ecological and human-life effects of oil’s excavation, transport, uses and emissions. Only executive and shareholder money gain count.
This is the nature of the money-sequence cancer, but there are heroic exceptions to its destructive growth. Ray Anderson’s rug-flooring corporation aims at 100 per cent hydrocarbon recycling with profits as means to the goal.3 His example has, however, misled ‘ecological commerce’ into supposing that the exceptional can transmute into governing global market rule without regulation to do so – market magic thinking again. In fact the noble exception is 20 years old and still an exception despite worldwide applause. Anderson himself bonded to the 100 per cent recycle goal as a life-necessity for the world from personal ‘epiphany’ after reading Paul Hawken’s Eco-Commerce. Neither recognizes, however, that the deregulated transnational money-sequence system overrides life-requirements in principle. Anderson rightly says (emphasis added) that ‘the industrial system takes too much, extracting and frittering away Earth’s natural capital on wants, not needs’. But he does not penetrate the ruling meta-programme which is based on wants and not needs in first principle, and has no life-capital regulators. That is why the pace of other industry taking up his example has been ‘glacial’ in Anderson’s own disappointed words. If a good example cannot lead, he rightly concludes, then public legislation is the ‘other option’.
Meanwhile, the greatest one-way wastes of fossil fuel there are go on unflagged by eco-commerce – private gas-guzzling vehicles with no productive function as ‘our way of life’ which brings massive pollution and perpetual aggression to control foreign oil.
From System Ignorance to Material Control
Public legislation has still gone a long way in requiring recycling at the downstream sales level. Consider what it would be like if aluminium cans with a 500-year life produced in the billions were not increasingly recycled to new cans in 60 days. Or if the 500,000 tons of US Sunday papers from billions of trees were not increasingly returned to recycle mills using 70 per cent less paper and 60 per cent less water. Or if countless billions of tons of steel produced from mining the Earth were not recycled in new steel mills with 97 per cent less mining wastes and 76 per cent less water pollution. Or if hazardous glass throwaways were not recycled to new glass with 80 per cent less raw materials.
What is missing are governing recycling requirements across domains to prevent all life-system assaults on public property long outlawed at the private-property level. Bear in mind how pervasive these crimes against public property and common life-support systems are with no binding regulation to stop them – non-stop rapacious extractions from and pollutions of publicly owned subsoils, species, forests, and oceans with no need or selection for life-capital sustainabilty; transporting the small fraction of usable materials left across seas and borders endangering with spills, accumulating toxic exhausts, highway collisions, and diseases to scavengers of the remainders; selling commodities and their wastes into cities and countrysides in ever bigger volumes of toxins and junk not only unneeded but causing ever more non-infectious diseases; and manufacturing new effluents with compounding demands on waters, air and the atmosphere to destroy the life-bearing capacities of the very elements. Governments are bound by the public interest to prevent their despoliation as much as from an armed invasion, but do not. This is the ‘regulatory capture’ that is the cancer system’s hallmark.
Clearly there has to be life-coherent regulators, and regimes of life-protective laws are developing in advanced economic quarters. Germany’s Act for Promoting Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management and Ensuring Environmentally Compatible Waste Disposal is moving strongly in this direction. More profoundly, the REACH legislation of the European Union (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) is a programme of the world’s largest economy to regulate all industrial chemicals within the system, over 100,000 in the EU by 1981, over 99 per cent untested, and 800 known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic. It is an emergent chemical gold standard for the world. But this truly economic advance coincides with rising private financial attacks on the bonds and currency of the EU by the transnational money-sequencing system. Everything connects.
Beyond the Theoretical Mind-Locks of the Ruling Paradigm
While ‘incentives’ for major polluters are widely assumed as the only way to reduce toxic effluents, the track record is towering public subsidies that do not work. New riches of pollution rights to trade for profits are – as in carbon markets – a strategically managed result with no effective reduction of the pollution.
Marketization to contain depletion and spoiling of needed resources has been a panacea since Garrett Hardin’s ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ which reversed responsibility for the ruin of the life-commons onto the village victims of it. In fact, only cooperative community control with powers to outlaw life-capital destroyers has ever worked to protect life-capital. Seeking exception confirms the rule.
Private-property rights in negotiated exchange is another variation. It brought Chicago’s Ronald Coase a Nobel Prize in Economics. His solution? One businessman polluting a river pays another businessman downstream for the pollution. The pollution of the river and loss of every human and other life-function and enjoyment of it outside of their business deal are erased a priori from the ‘economic’ solution.
‘Technological substitution’ for natural resources wins another Nobel Prize in Economics for Robert Solow. Subsequent debate focuses on the ‘unity of elasticity of substitution for Nature’s resources’ – the jargon ambiguation for destruction of them without economic loss. In fact, technological substitution can never replace Nature except in bridging bits. It standardly replaces other technologies – oil-derived plastic-fibre tyres replacing rubber-tree derived tyres, for example. Or wind turbines ‘substituting for fossil fuel’ while in fact requiring massive burning of it to sustain the ‘alternative’ energy.
Contemporary ‘economic’ theory generates these false solutions one after another by the following meta-programme of method:
- algebraically manageable fables
- substitute for reality
- as life and life-capital are blinkered out a priori.
What about ‘innovative science’? It is another mask for private money-sequence growth through public life-capital bases – much touted by university presidents as they privatize public university research to serve corporate product development while US Big Pharma spends 1.3 per cent of its revenues on basic research to justify its 20–25-year monopoly of knowledge on anything it can patent. What ‘innovative science’ invariably means in fact is private commodity research for private corporate profit housed by public university laboratories and led by publicly funded scientists for a leveraged small fraction of the money costs to get more monopoly patents. If the ‘innovative science’ is examined – and the author has examined hundreds of its biotech protocols to experiment on live animals – the ‘miracles of discovery’ are disquieting. ‘Genetically modified organisms’ (GMOs) for corporate patent are not tested for ecological contamination by their dominant genes, while the commodities of self-testing pharmaceutical corporations cause 200,000 deaths and 1.4 million ill people annually in America along with rising ecological damages.
What about the new panacea of ‘renewable’, ‘green’ and ‘clean’ energies by public investment to create jobs? It seems ideal, but the life-coherence test has not been passed. If the water power comes by building monster dams displacing communities and destroying river ecosystems, or monumental wind turbines despoiling country-sides and assaulting bird and bat migrations, or ‘clean’ nuclear power that is more expensive and long-term hazardous, the labels of ‘green jobs’ and ‘clean energy’ again conceal more draining of public treasuries for more private money-sequence schemes on bigger scales with no life-capital standards.
THE LOST VALUE BASE OF ECONOMICS: LIFE-COHERENT SUPPLY AND DEMAND
Values govern decision and action whether recognized or not, and an economic value-system matters most because it steers for good or ill life at the collective level.
So it is good that leading economists now talk of ‘values’ where before 2000 they did not. But the values they speak of are ungrounded. When commentators talk of ‘values’, ‘moral compass’, ‘civic virtue’, ‘care for others’, they do so without clear life-coordinates, criteria or ground. The ultimate economic decider of ‘Demand’ itself remains equated to private money rule, and to have maximally more of it with no limit is still assumed as the first axiom of ‘rational value preference’.
The life-blind nature of ‘economic demand’ and its ‘rationality’ of limitless growth are not recognized as an issue, let alone a system disorder. All is presupposed and unexamined. Carcinogenic money-sequencing in de-reregulated conglomerate self-multiplication is thus built into the system as latent potential, but is not diagnosed even as it becomes historical reality.
So the reconnection of progressive economists to people’s depredated lives downstream and concern to provide a safety net to soften their fall, to reign in rent-seeking behaviours, to provide more jobs, to rationalize debt collection, and so on, only nibble at the edge of the runaway disorder.
The ‘values’ concern has no economic anchor or standard. More problematic, it is in conflict with the system’s ultimate decider of more private money demand as good in itself. The ‘investor’ seeks only more of it. The consumer chooses what gets most for least. And the worker gets whatever s/he can. The money-value driver to more is built in as automatic and as a priori life-blind. Thus once the ruling money demand is deregulated from life-protective laws and norms governing it, transnational conglomerate money-sequences multiply into progressively destructive overriding of life-requirements. The meta-programme of ‘globalization’ is always camouflaged, however, as ‘free enterprise’ for the investor with ‘no barriers to investment’, and ‘freedom of choice’ for the consumer to buy whatever s/he wants in ‘a free society’. ‘Efficiency’ and productivity’, in turn, decode as more private money-demand acquired for less input of it.
These system-deciding values constitute the unseen syntax of this life-indifferent moral universe. The sole title to anything in its value logic is private money demand, and none of it entails no right to anything, including life itself. This is why anyone who is not rich and receives money from government is sneered at as ‘dependent on government handouts’ – a ‘false entitlement’ that must be removed for the money to go instead to ‘productive’ citizens and ‘investors’ by more tax cuts, 90 per cent of which go to the corporate rich. This is the essential and still winning message of ‘Republican’ and ‘Conservative’ parties.
Once freed from any accountability to any life-standards or limits or public authority to stand for them, the ‘demand’ drivers of the corporate money-sequences become psychopathic – the subjective correlative of the cancer system (as Joel Bakan’s The Corporation shows). As long as the demand driver competes with other demand drivers for more, the moral order is assumed as ‘market competitive’ and thus, by doctrinal deduction, ‘the best of possible worlds’. The ultimate life-and-death issues remain invisible because the system-deciding driver of ‘Demand’ is a blank cheque.
The train of assumption can be simplified into the underlying equations of Economic Demand = Effective Demand = Private Money Demand Seeking Maximally More = ‘With No Government Interference or Trade Barriers’, ad infinitum. No regulating life-requirement is permitted in unless it furthers this ‘investor right’. This is why WTO add-ons like the Codex Alimentarius and Sanitary and Phyo-Sanitary Agreement which appear to be life-protective mask lower life-standards and systematic discrimination against local producers (as Vandana Shiva and Jennifer Sumner have shown). It is also why, more deeply, there are no standards to protect the lives of over 99 per cent of economic agents in this global system, the workers themselves.
What is not recognized even by the rising opposition are the value codes at war. Least of all are they recognized by economic theory. But in fact all struggles against this system have been driven by one ultimate but unnamed concern – demand for what a human life requires. The meta-conflict of life-needs versus money demand defines the ultimate struggle of history, but is not penetrated in its warring value codes.
At bottom, the system driver of money demand that overrides all life-requirements is not decoded. In his 2012 book, The Price of Inequality, critical economist Joseph Stiglitz rightly reverses the equation of system efficiency to Demand = Supply against so-called ‘supply-side’ economics. What he does not recognize, however, is that the latter’s equation of ‘supply’ to ever lower labour and tax costs is only the flip-side of ‘Demand’ as private money seeking only to be limitlessly more. The two ultimate categories of ‘Economics’ are thus deformed with no-one noticing the doctrinal mutilations of meaning. In particular, the life-regrounding step is not yet taken by which Demand is equated to what humanity requires to live as human.
This is the meta-step of recovery. All that has been shown in this study about universal life-necessities, life-capital bases and their measures spells out this re-grounding of economic Demand. In complement, real Supply is the production of life-goods which are otherwise scarce.
Thus Demand = Supply in these real-life meanings denotes the Equilibrium of the real economy between the life-goods provided and the life-needs for them. The private money-sequence subsystem is reset to its proper place and structurally adjusted to be life-coherent within the real economy.
The ultimate issue of human life-organization on the planet is thus resetting economic demand to life-capital necessity. In fact the resetting is already under way but without a unifying framework of meaning. Progressive economists implicitly grasp it when they advocate more public investment in employment when ever more people have no secure livelihood; in provision of food and shelter to people without them; in more education when there is no better way to ensure human capital development; in access to adequate health care to ensure healthy workers and citizens; in income assistance for children, the indigent, the old and the disabled as the nature of civilization; in repair of failing infrastructures from sewers to bridges; and in environmental protections and remediation when natural capital and ecosystem services are collapsing. By their policies you may know them.
All express the underlying value system of the life-coherent economy. But other fundamental life-capital and goods are also necessary to live as human – green spaces and fellow life, libraries, tools of literacy, playing fields, public squares, free and rest time, and intellectual and artistic modes of expression available to all. All these life-goods and capital bases are provided for by civil commons constructs and regulators so far as they have developed. Mass employment of unemployed youth in civil commons service for natural and social life-support systems is the first policy turn required.
But the supply of every one of these life-goods is at risk by the self-multiplying private transnational money-sequence disorder. This is why no life-system is not in decline, and why – impossible to imagine 40 years ago – over 90 per cent of citizens in the developed world are now without secure employment. That these general facts are undeniable and unspoken at the same time discloses the depth and reach of the system morbidity. The failure runs back to the most basic categories of economic understanding. The life-coherent meanings of ‘supply and demand’, ‘economy’ and ‘necessity’ are blocked out.
Yet we know the logic of recovery. The proved measure of life-necessity and need is the human life-capacity lost without it. The real economy is provision of these life-goods and development of their life-capital bases through generational time. The exact measure of life-gain and loss is known. All of this has been shown. We also know that the reigning growth system selects against these life-needs and capital the more it is deregulated to maximize commodities and profits free of life-requirements; and the more public revenues, investments and regulatory systems by which human and natural life-carrying capacities are protected and enabled are slashed for money-sequence growth.
Yet even as no peer-reviewed science disconfirms any step of this disorder or recovery from it, it continues to advance life-blind. ‘The economy’ goes on blinkering out all unwaged work and ecosystem services although they are to the priced exchange surface as the tree trunk, roots and ground are to its foliage. Commodities priced for profit are still assumed as always ‘goods’ even as they have been shown to cause mass diseases exceeding all infectious diseases put together in affliction and deaths. Money-sequence ‘investment’ is still assumed as alone ‘rational’ and ‘free’ as its extraction-to-waste cycles and demand by fictional money tides destroy the natural capital bases of humanity and planetary life. The ruling measures of ‘efficiency’ and ‘productivity’ continue to presuppose that the more private money-value gains per unit grow and multiply, the better ‘the economy’ is.
As for correction of the ruling disorder by scientific method and democratic process, they too are occupied and reversed in meaning. No evidence can count against the truth of the doctrine (its pseudo-science), and elections themselves are what private money always wins (its false democracy).
The Inner Logic of Recovery: Public Investment to Meet Life-Capital Demand
Money itself is not the problem, as readers of Herodotus through Shakespeare to Marx may think. It is an indispensible medium of exchange for enacting system cure by progressive taxation, reclamation of publicly owned resources as societies’ life-capital assets, and non-profit banking and credit for public investment in natural and social life-support systems. Modern economies are so governed as far as they succeed, and all failing ones do the opposite. Particularly damaging has been the private-bank debt yoke increasingly strangling governments and citizens since the 1970s, compounded by regressive taxation and deregulated giveaways of public resources to transnational money-sequences.
This is why collapse of life-capital bases deepens with no public financial capacities to invest in their recovery and advance. Overwhelmed by the carcinogenic metabolism of transnational private money-sequences multiplying against their life-capital foundations, people know by the rising life-insecurity of their children’s futures that the crisis is deepening. The cure begins with their lost collective life-agency in constitutional control of money and credit issue, taxation in proportion to private possession, and public control of public human and natural resources for the public good. It is what successful economies did after 1940 for 40 years, and what most of Latin America has done since 2000. The centuries-long worker, union and community movements finally winning the life-rights of peoples and the welfare state to ensure them have, however, been warred upon since 1980.
Traditional labels like ‘social democratic’ are inadequate to the economic principle at the core of real social progress. Public life-necessity becoming public economic demand is the innermost principle of recovery. Human development to more inclusively coherent life-community is in fact timeless, but it is invariably attacked by dark forces, as Nazism and death-squad dictatorships have graphically shown in our time. In modern system terms, life-capital deciders of investment are required at micro as well as macro levels. Citizens collectively refuse all commodities disabling life-capacities – as all free individuals now do. Democratic movements demand public control of societies’ public property from money issue to knowledge and subsoil assets – as in Latin America and EU-free Scandinavia now. As history shows, these provide all the energy and financing required. Public property and jurisdictions return to responsible government. Life and life-capital necessity re-ground economic demand and supply.
Public investment with no private-bank system setting terms has long succeeded in peace and war, East and West. But the US and European Union have been occupied by the transnational money-sequence disorder propelling one disaster after another. Consider ‘food and shelter’ where once few were without in the developed world. Homeowners now across America and the EU have been made homeless for not paying debt services on money the banks never had; family homes go idle and derelict with no use; the young are forced jobless back into struggling parental homes; and system-caused devastations by weather extremes grow.
The transnational corporate food system reveals the interconnected degeneration of life-capital bases by the transnational money-sequence system. While continuously expelling small farmers from their lands across nations and producing over 20 per cent of carbon gases, its commodity cycles systemically pollute the world and deplete fertile lands by the exogenous energy feeds that industrial agriculture demands at every step; add more toxic contents and carcinogenic chemicals to transport, keep and sell commodity substitutes; repel labels for untested and random gene-fixing inoculations; degrade foods so systematically that ever less nutritional and more disease-causing contents are sold as the growing bulk of the entire food system; relentlessly and pervasively lobby against public knowledge of what citizens are in fact consuming; produce diseases like obesity and diabetes in numbers now passing smoking cancers and deaths; price whole foods ever higher with derivative futures bidding them up 30 per cent in five years as droughts, floods and weather extremes rise from system inputs; while – lest anyone think ‘at least the people get to eat’ – 30 per cent of lower-income families cannot afford a nourishing meal in even Britain.
The lifeblood of modern civil community – society’s collective life-requirements as public money demand – is not penetrated as the organizing principle of the common interest. No other capital can sustain the collective investments required. Only the sovereign public right to create money, to issue it in credit, to tax its possession, to claim its full value in public resources, and to finance public infrastructures and programmes has ever worked for modern society. Yet it is this very basic lifeblood of the real economy that has been cumulatively invaded and occupied at every node by the transnational money-sequence cancer. Human labour, environments and social sectors are all made transient functions of its multiplying growth and demand across borders and domains.
Seeing the Matter Whole
The parameters of the real economy and their measures are better known than ever before. Nutrition levels, literacy rates, disease ratios, air quality, water purity, noise levels, biodiversity, forest cover, soil quality, physical fitness, public and green spaces, social and artistic communication venues, higher education participation, population housing, wildlife habitats, fish stocks, employment rates, jobs for youth. All the life-coordinates are there, but the dots are not joined. All express life-capital gains or losses, and all are measured by their margins to more or less life-carrying capacities to enjoy. All are protected and developed at the macro level by public resources, planning, and investment.
Conversely, the transnational money-sequence disorder systematically disables every one as it multiplies private money demand circuits through them.
The evolution of human society to life-coherent order is a long road. But public life-need and necessity prevail in all societies that work. The Market God does not exist. Reclaimed public demand propels the metabolism of life-system recovery. The set-point shift to ecological economy is the ultimate choice of life on earth. The global system morbidity is, from a wider view, the secret of disease that is evolution’s provocation and history’s moving spring.
Rolf Wyborg, a top Petro engineer now working with the government of Norway’s Public Oil Fund (specifically the Norwegian Oil Directorate) for one-seventh of his former Big Oil salary, explains this relationship between the life-capital of oil in Norway and the life of the country in an interview with Mitchell Anderson, August 22, 2012, http://thetyee.ca.
I have written much since 2000 on the necessity of the principle in logic, scientific method, and policy structuring. A reasonably definitive account is provided by the UNESCO/EOLSS work referenced above.
Interface uses a modular system of invisibly integrated replaceable squares whose hydrocarbon-derived nylon fibre and vinyl are aimed towards and succeeding at a 100 per cent closed loop of manufacture by recycling.