March 16, 2010

For most of the supplies made by market forces, no demand was in fact made by the people

The global economy doesn’t need your town. It will relocate your jobs where profits are greatest at the drop of a hat. It can flip into recession overnight and dump you and billions of others into unemployment and poverty. It will only deliver to you those few benefits which trickle down from the ventures which maximise corporate profits. The global economy loots the Third World to stock your supermarket shelves. It pollutes and asks you to clear up the mess through your taxes. It will think nothing of condemning much of your town to idleness in the form of unemployment and wasted time and resources that could be devoted to meeting urgent needs in your own community.

The resources of this planet are finite. We are overfishing and over-farming. Soil and water are being polluted to the point where they are yielding less and less. At a time of resource diminishment the human population continues to grow. Technology may well devise yet more intensive methods of creating food, but we would be unwise to rely on it. Our governments insist on infinite economic growth from finite resources.

In the oceans we are losing species as well as entire ecosystems. Land is being stripped of its nutrients and indigenous vegetation. As a result, the overall ecological unity of our oceans and land are under stress and in danger of collapse. We are risking the ability of this planet to sustain our food sources.

The recent history of economic growth can be described as the history of exploitation of mankind by mankind. We have witnessed the creation of demands through whatever means possible - disinformation, high-pitched advertising, reconditioning of tastes and utilisation of human weaknesses. For most of the supplies made by market forces, no demand was in fact made by the people.

As far back as the 18th century, Adam Smith could see that “economic successes beyond the level necessary for the satisfaction of one’s physical wants do not add to a man’s real happiness, and it is only vanity, the desire to be looked upon by one’s fellowmen with admiration and envy that motivates the incessant accumulation of personal wealth”. Profit hunger conflicts with public interest, and he defined global monopolies as “infamous covetousness ..... which do not shrink from terrorization and crime”

In the coming time of scarcity the global economy will not look after you, only the foolish and shortsighted will rely on it. The choices boil down to one. You must create a safe economy in your own region, and run it to provide for the people who live there.

Either your town will get control of its own affairs and organise viable productive capacity to provide for its communities, or it will remain dependent on the mainstream economy and subject you to boom and bust, power shortages and growing impoverishment.

We will need coordination, priorities and planning – call it a Community Development Co-op, call it anything you like, but start setting it up.

We need to create our own economy - Economy B - a new local economy enabling the people who live in each community to guarantee the provision of basic necessities by applying their labour, land and skills to local resources. The old Economy A with all its inconsistencies and incompassionate recklessness will be sidelined as irrelevant because we will be capable of providing for ourselves.