Unconditional Basic Income and Solidarity Economics
Without the social contract (Rousseau), we become wolves to one another (Hobbes). Basic economic, social and cultural human rights include the right to participate. Everyone should share in the wealth and prosperity brought by automation, labor-saving technology and higher productivity. Where all growth in income accrues only to the top 1% or the top 10%, our system becomes a feudal system, a new Gilded Age or a system of patrimonial capitalism (Piketty).
UNCONDITIONAL BASIC INCOME AND SOLIDARITY ECONOMIES
Neoliberal or Emancipatory
By Elisabeth Voss
[This article published in: Contraste - monthly journal for self-organization Nr. 350, November 2013 is translated from the German on the Internet.]
There are different models of an unconditional basic income (BGE). Therefore the question whether a BGE can contribute to another non-profit-oriented economics in the sense of solidarity economies cannot be simply answered with "yes" or "no." How this BGE is concretely organized is crucial.
An unconditional basic income is understood as an income to which everyone is entitled without a needs test, that is independent of assets, income and family state and without he or she having to do anything for that, that is without any work obligation. This is substantiated with human rights, in particular with the International Pact on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognized by 160 states including Germany. These rights are guaranteed unconditionally.
BASIC UNCONDITIONAL INCOME - FOR WHOM AND HOW MUCH?
What does this mean concretely? Who receives this basic unconditional income - and who does not? All who live in Germany or only those with a German passport? What should be the form of the unconditional claim? Would refugees be included? How can the undocumented realize their human rights? There are different interpretations on this in the basic income movement.
There are also different ideas on the amount of a BGE. Several years ago the CDU propagated a citizens' money also described as a negative income tax in the amou9nt of 600 euros...
MONEY OR LIFE?
For years, privatizations and debt reductions have led to enormous restrictions of public services. Initiatives of citizens have also long fought against privatization and for re-communalization of vital necessities like water- and energy supply, schools and child care sites, local- and long-distant transportation, public housing and cultural institutions. Public supply structures could be understood as necessary elements of solidarity economies. Closed swimming pools or book shops, train stations where no train stops any more or inadequate regional offers of social counseling or health insurance cannot be compensated with a little money. No BGE helps against price increases for housing, water, energy, and means of transportation or culture. Conversely, real participation in vital necessities cannot only be produced through a BGE but requires permanently affordable or better free public services.
A reasonable BGE could free collective work processes from the pressure of exploitation and thereby release their innovative potential. What is produced on the market? What do I really want to do? In what kind of activity can I find my fulfillment? With what persons do I want to enter what kind of work process? The questions where I am needed and what meaningful work can I do are not primary.
Regarding the liberation of the production process, developing forms of exchange beyond the market would be easier on the basis of a BGE. More people could participate in an economy of use instead of profit than is possible today and more and more areas of the economy would be gradually withdrawn from the exploitation pressure and transported in solidarity forms.
A BGE alone would hardly be enough for that. Beyond an individual safeguarding of livelihoods, supportive structures of economic self-help need resources, for example land and buildings, machines and equipment and also education, consultation etc. There were always different forms of appropriating these resources, through struggles (for example land-, house or factory-occupations), negotiations (around rights of use, incentives and so forth) or self-help (for example crowd-funding today). From my view, the question of ownership of the means of production and necessary products should be on the political agenda complementing a BGE as an instrument of secondary distribution of resources.
WHOSE FREEDOM - WHO BENEFITS FROM THE BGE?
With a BGE, many people could continue to pursue customary gainful work. Advocates of a BGE often argue no one will be forced any more to accept poorly paid jobs. However I fear that a BGE would be a massive combined wage program. Businesses would only need to pay minimum wages since the BGE would be paid on top of that and no one would have to live from the minimum wage any more. A BGE would then be a hidden business subsidy. To prevent this, a BGE should not be introduced without nationwide minimum wages.
The question how a BGE is financed is also decisive. The anthroposophic-oriented Gotz Werner wants all taxes on incomes abolished and a hundred-percent sales tax introduced instead. For a businessman and big income earner, this would certainly be a rewarding variant since he could have a tax-free income while prices would soar drastically. I have never understood why this "anthroposophic tax reform" was so well-received in the public. The freedom promise with which the druggist adorns his basic income is the freedom of the entrepreneur. This is clear from the title of his website "Make the Future."
The coronation ceremonies staged by the Swiss BGE advocates Daniel Hani and Enno Schmidt according to the motto "The land needs new kings and queens!" is also surprising. In their film "Basic Income - Cultural Impulse" - incredibly manipulative to me -, individual freedom, personal responsibility and eye-to-eye negotiations are emphasized. The individual salary is described as emancipative. The BGE should "grow in" existing incomes which means combined wage. Many intelligent men appear in the film and proclaim with the deepest conviction why this sales tax-financed BGE is almost a natural law. Klaus Wellershoff, former chief economist of the UBS bank, declares "the absolute individualization of society" is queued up and "money serves as the means to freedom."
From a union perspective, this is rightly described as the "Trojan horse of neoliberalism" because "income distribution becomes more unequal the deeper the social division and the weaker the social state, including the unions" (Claus Schafer). Unlike financing from taxation of consumption, the existence allowance according to the model of BAG-SHI should be financed from a take-half-fee. A tax of 50 percent would be levied on all income so a genuine redistribution from top to bottom could occur.
VIEW OF THE PERSON
The idea of the person as a social being who forms the newly created room for personal development for him/herself and for the benefit of society is also planted in the BGE. However isn't the idea of creative self-development a very middle class idea that arises out of the privileged experiences of actors capable of self-help and hardly considers the many others who never had the opportunity to learn how they could unfold their creative potential and be active in a self-organized way? Giving young persons without perspective and abandoned in the world a few pennies and then turning away from them is somewhat depressing. But how they are treated today is even worse. Work pressure or benefit cuts is not a dignified course for those who represent the future of a society.
Therefore I see a great task for actors of solidarity economies under the conditions of a BGE. Attractive work possibilities should be offered as liberation from isolation and exclusion for many who in their outward language and conduct do not belong to the alternative or political scene. Experiences from employment measures and citizen work clearly show how many people gladly do these works under pressure conditions to have a task and a social environment. Something better should be offered them. Whoever does not accept these offers should be able to refuse them in a dignified way and not be subject to persecution or go hungry.
WHO DOES THE NECESSARY WORK?
The joyful propagation of idleness, the nearly contemptuous statements about paid work by BGE advocates, mostly men, often sounds irritating in women's ears. Is this juxtaposition of forced paid work and real life in free time only an apparent juxtaposition that leaves out all the other forms of work mainly done by women? As long as nothing is changed in gender-specific division of labor in relations, families and neighborhoods, men could cultivate joyful idleness after the BGE is introduced while women look after the children. That is a frightful prospect.
If a BGE should contribute to an equal valuation and more just distribution of the different forms of work in a society, that would be part of a reduction of average gainful working hours. The opposite to extending weekly working hours and unpaid overtime and driving lifetime working hours higher and higher would be announced. Full time work of 30hours a week with the right to part-time work for everyone would be an example like strengthening the rights of employees, payment of overtime and lowering the retirement age. A real equalization of the pay of women and men would be indispensable so women do n to remain at home and leave paid work to the men.
WHAT IS GLOBAL JUSTICE?
A BGE alone will not change society but could contribute to a social mood where malevolent claustrophic conditions - whoever does not work should not eat - are gradually replaced by generosity - there is enough for everyone. A BGE is still based on capitalist goods production whose surplus is only redistributed. A BGE does not attack the basis of a profit-oriented and unjust economic system. A BGE is limited to the sphere of circulation without raising for example the question about ownership of the means of production, control of resources and democratization of the economy. At best it covers daily needs and softens the bitterest poverty but does not change the system-conditioned gulf between poor and rich.
The higher the BGE, the more it could at least slow down the enormous income differences that are becoming ever stronger. At the same time, a redistribution that is only national does not change the fact that people in Germany as one of the richest countries of the world live at the expense of people in impoverished countries of the global South and systematically destroy their foundations of life. "A minimum income against hunger (basic food income), comprehensive debt remission for impoverished countries and a clear limitation of free trade (... ) must be first steps in a worldwide basic income program" (from Werner Ratz and Handy Krampertz).
A BGE can be an element of solidarity economies if it is available without exception, that is to the undocumented and has a height enabling complete participation in social life even without paid work. Financing should occur from an income tax calculated by the height of income. A BGE should be embedded in a series of other measures - so a good life for everyone is possible: affordable or free provision of all public services, minimum wage, gender-just wages and reduction of gainful working hours and training- and work-offers on a voluntary basis. For solidarity economies, resources are necessary like land and buildings, incentives, education- and consultation possibilities. A solidarity economic BGE must be understood conceptually as part of global emancipatory social movements and provided with elements of a globally just and ecologically supportive organization.
"Capitalism is a failure, a failure, a failure!"
interview to Tasos Tsakiroglou of "Efimerida ton syndakton" 14-15 December 2013 http://efsyn.gr
Downloadable version (.doc)
-You have stated that our "no" to the old world will not hold, unless we create a new world "here and now". How could we do such a thing without a concrete plan, a political alternative proposal?
We have many different concrete plans, many different alternative proposals. Is there any reason why we should reduce them to just one?
-Do you think that the "cracks in the system" have grown enough to constitute a real challenge to capitalism?
We often feel that what we are doing is hopeless, without any effect. But then how do we understand the enormous and increasing repression against our protests and our experiments, not just in Greece, but in all the world? Maybe we are much more of a challenge to them than we realise.
-"The austerity measures do not just impose poverty, they cut the wings of hope". How can we retrieve hope and survive in a sea of depression?
Perhaps a crisis is like a contraction during labour: the terrible pain that a woman feels before giving birth. And perhaps it is not: maybe there is no baby there to be born, or maybe the baby is already dead, and the pain is nothing but pain. And perhaps it depends on us. Perhaps it depends on us to create the baby, or, better, many babies. And it is difficult, because we do not know if any of the babies will survive. That is what millions of people are trying to do, in Greece and throughout the world: to give birth to a world of new worlds, without having any magic formula, without having a textbook to tell us how to do it. What else can we do? Give in to them, to the government, to the troika, to capital? That would be to close the curtains on humanity, announce aloud that we have agreed to our collective suicide.
In William Blake's poem "The Song of Los", the Kings of Asia react to the revolutions in Europe by telling their Councellors "To cut off the bread from the city/ That the remnant may learn to obey,/ That the pride of the heart may fail,/ That the lust of the eyes may be quench'd,/ That the delicate ear in its infancy/ May be dull'd, and the nostrils clos'd up,/ To teach mortal worms the path/ That leads from the gates of the Grave." The Kings of Asia are Capital, their Councellors are the Troika, and the struggle in Greece is for the pride of the heart and the lust of the eyes and delicacy of the ear and the opening of the nostrils.
-What's the real prospect of structures of mutual support by the people that have been excluded from the labour system (unemployed etc)? Can they be transformed into embryonic forms of a different society as you claim?
Capitalism is a failure, a failure, a failure! That is the cry that resounds throughout the world. For a large part of the world's population (and an increasing part of the population of Europe), capitalism cannot provide a basic structure for survival. This failure brings misery and desperation for millions. If they are not to die (and many do), they have to find alternative ways of surviving - by family solidarity, support of friends or community, cultivating their own food, stealing, begging, developing forms of production outside the capitalist system (sometimes called the solidarity economy) - very often a mixture of some or all of these. There is almost certainly no going back to a "normal" capitalism of full employment, no possibility of creating a friendlier capitalism. It is better to assume that capitalism has failed and we have to build something new. We have to find ways of making the structures of support the basis of that new society, rather than the begging and criminal violence. We must communise.
-Do you think that the present crisis is comparable to previous ones, like that in 1929, or you rather consider it as something much worst? Explain it.
The crisis of 1929 was eventually solved by the slaughter of about 100 million people. I think a solution to the present crisis would perhaps be much more drastic, and quite possibly there is no solution within capitalism, just permanent crisis. Greece is a very important testing ground to see what capital is capable of achieving. The struggles there are crucial for the whole world.
-As we have see it, rage can easily become a nationalist, even fascist rage. In Greece we' ve the rise of Golden Dawn, which is targeting immigrants. How can we transform this justifiable rage into an effective activity of resistance?
Yes, rage is in the air in all the world and growing in intensity. How can we channel it towards a dignified rage (as the Zapatistas put it) rather than a fascist rage? I don't know. By listening, arguing, respecting, assembling, by shining in the dark, being attractive, attracting: above all not by killing, not by adopting fascist methods.
- "The state is the movement of the incorporation of alternatives". As we fight cuts in state services with alternative visions of social provision, how can we resist this process?
I think that it can only be by fighting all the time to retain control of whatever it is that we are doing. Perhaps the key is to think of our movement as a process of communising based in the creation and re-creation of communal decision-making through assemblies. This means a form of organisation incompatible with the state, since the state is a process of excluding people from the determination of their own lives.
And if I may add a general comment. Your questions are terrific. I feel that they reflect the experience of the struggles of Greece over the last few years. But the problem with an interview is that the questions look for answers. And sometimes there are no answers to be given. Sometimes the only answers are more questions, the questions that are being forged in the struggles, of which you in Greece are at the centre. Sometimes all we can do is look in the sky and see the utopian star and say "that is the direction that we have to go in, because there is no choice". But to go in that direction we have to hack through the jungle, and hack and hack and hack, and experiment and find ways forward and sometimes not, and look to our friends and ask and learn. Asking we walk, as the Zapatistas put it, but all answers are questions.
John Holloway: Elevate 2014 Opening Speech
Friday, 24 October 2014
David Charles blogs about the events of the Elevate Festival, beginning with the opening speech by John Holloway.
'My opening speech has a title. The title is: Opening Speech.' John Holloway laughs with our laughter, stepping away from the Elevate podium and swiping at the air in front of him, as if he'd just thrown a frisbee. But the title is no whimsy.
Nor is his decision to speak in German. 'Mainly it's a protest against Englishification,' he explains. 'Not from a nationalistic point of view, but because of the social narrowness that is brought along with this Englishification.'
(Half a dozen sentences into the festival and already my spell-checker is choking on a new word. I love Elevate.)
Balancing the levity of the laughter, John justifies his carefully-chosen title: 'A speech that opens is just what we need in this world, a world that is closing.' He peers hopefully out at his three hundred friends in the Dom im Berg audience, out at his unknown audiences on Austrian national television, on the internet livestream and in smartphones hashtagging on international social networks. 'Maybe this is the speech that opens the festival that opens the world.'
For John, the cause of the closure is clear. 'A certain logic is being imposed on all aspects of life,' he says. 'The logic of money, the logic of profit, the logic of closure.'
'In the countryside, this logic tells us that you can't expect to live as your parents did, growing only the food that you need to survive. To survive under this new logic, you must farm mass production or you must make way for motorways, for dams, for mines. Or even better - why don't you just disappear altogether? Millions of people are forced off the land, to move into the world's slums.'
'In the cities, the logic of money tells us that you can't do what you want with your life. You must earn a living and that means you must do something that increases profits; that increases the power of the wealthy. And this is what is happening: an obscene concentration of wealth across the world; a huge growth in the power of the wealthy, in the power of money.'
'If you do not want to follow the rule of money, if you want to do something else with your life, you are either mad or a criminal and should certainly be locked up. The dynamics of money are shattering the hopes and dreams of youth; dreams that are broken on the reality of unemployment. Or, often worse, the reality of employment!' The laughter this time is not warm, it is edged with cold reality.
'It is not just that we live in a world of closure, but the enclosure is getting tighter all the time. Money cannot stand still. The rule of capital is faster, faster, faster. And this rule means out of the way to the people who are too slow. Out of the way with the people who are holding things up. Out of the way with the people who don't speak English. Out of the way with the protesters, into the prisons, into the mass graves. Out of the way with the forty-three students from Ayotzinapa in Mexico who disappeared a month ago.'
John pivots his speech to optimism, inspired by the words of Ernst Bloch, the author of 'The Principle of Hope', a book written in exile from the despair of Nazi Germany. John argues, like Bloch, that our future depends on hope - not on a silly, blind hope that things will just "turn out right" - but a hope founded and grounded in practice.
In Bloch's day, hope was still tied to the Party, to winning control of the state. 'But now the party is over,' John says, waving encouragement to the flickers of laughter for his pun. The room catches and thrills with three hundred rhythmic clappings. He thanks us: 'After the depression, this is what I needed!' John laughs, before delivering more depression. 'Hope lies not in building a party, not in winning control of the state, because the state is an institution integrated into capitalism and cannot be used to overcome it.'
But if we have not Bloch's hope, what hope do we have? John essays an answer.
'Hope lies now in the millions and millions of us who say: No, no. We will not accept, we will not accept your destruction of the world and your guns and your wars. No, not any longer. We will not accept the rule of the rich, the rule of money. Not any longer.'
'We shall do things in a different way and connect to one another in a different way. We do not want your totality of death and we do not want any totality. We saw in the last century what happens when one totality is replaced by another and now we say no.'
'We break away from the totality of capital death in a million different ways. We commonise. We force cracks in the system. We fight for our earth, the earth of people and other forms of life, before the capitalist system destroys it completely. We fight to open a gap between the future of capitalism, which can only be death, and the future of humanity, which can still be life.'
John takes a breath. Then adds, 'If it is not too late already.'
'Ernst Bloch pinned hope to the power of the "not yet", the power of that world that does not yet exist and therefore exists "not yet": in our refusals, in our dreams, in our pushing against capitalism. We have to learn to listen to the leaders of this world that does not yet exist and sing their songs with our full voices.'
John quotes Arundhati Roy's beautiful expression of Bloch's same idea: "Another world is not only possible, she's on the way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."
'Thus, in my opening speech, I want to open this world. My wish for the festival is that it will be an Opening Festival. That it sings the songs of the world that has not been born yet, that it sings these songs as loudly and as beautifully as possible. Thank you.'
The rising of this opening audience to this opening speech for this opening festival gives me a sniff of optimism that Elevate 2014 will jam a rubber sole against the slamming doors, hurl a tonne of dynamite at the thickening walls and prise a common crowbar into the cracks of capitalism.
Let's make it happen.
John Holloway is a Professor of Sociology at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades in the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico. He has published widely on Marxist theory, on the Zapatista movement and on the new forms of anti-capitalist struggle.
David Charles is a writer from England. He will be blogging throughout Elevate 2014. He wrote a book on last year's Elevate, which you can get here.
John Holloway: cracking capitalism vs. the state option
From: link to roarmag.org
By Amador Fernández-Savater On September 29, 2014
With left parties on the rise in Spain and Greece, John Holloway reflects on his influential 2002 thesis: can we change the world without taking power?
Interview by Amador Fernández-Savater. Translated by Richard Mac Duinnsleibhe and edited by Arianne Sved of Guerrilla Translation.
In 2002, John Holloway published a landmark book: Change the World without Taking Power. Inspired by the '¡Ya basta!' of the Zapatistas, by the movement that emerged in Argentina in 2001/'02, and by the anti-globalization movement, Holloway sets out a hypothesis: it is not the idea of revolution or transformation of the world that has been refuted as a result of the disaster of authoritarian communism, but rather the idea of revolution as the taking of power, and of the party as the political tool par excellence.
Holloway discerns another concept of social change at work in these movements, and generally in every practice—however visible or invisible it may be—where a logic different from that of profit is followed: the logic of cracking capitalism. That is, to create, within the very society that is being rejected, spaces, moments, or areas of activity in which a different world is prefigured. Rebellions in motion. From this perspective, the idea of organization is no longer equivalent to that of the party, but rather entails the question of how the different cracks that unravel the fabric of capitalism can recognize each other and connect.
But after Argentina's "que se vayan todos" came the Kirchner government, and after Spain's "no nos representan" appeared Podemos. We met with John Holloway in the city of Puebla, Mexico, to ask him if, after everything that has happened in the past decade, from the progressive governments of Latin America to Podemos and Syriza in Europe, along with the problems for self-organized practices to exist and multiply, he still thinks that it is possible to "change the world without taking power."
Firstly, John, we would like to ask you where the hegemonic idea of revolution in the 20th century comes from, what it is based on. That is, the idea of social change through the taking of power.
I think the central element is labor, understood as wage labor. In other words, alienated or abstract labor. Wage labor has been, and still is, the bedrock of the trade union movement, of the social democratic parties that were its political wing, and also of the communist movements. This concept defined the revolutionary theory of the labor movement: the struggle of wage labor against capital. But its struggle was limited because wage labor is the complement of capital, not its negation.
I don't understand the relation between this idea of labor and that of revolution through the taking of state power.
One way of understanding the connection would be as follows: if you start off from the definition of labor as wage or alienated labor, you start off from the idea of the workers as victims and objects of the system of domination. And a movement that struggles to improve the living standards of workers (considered as victims and objects) immediately refers to the state. Why? Because the state, due to its very separation from society, is the ideal institution if one seeks to achieve benefits for people. This is the traditional thinking of the labor movement and that of the left governments that currently exist in Latin America.
But this tradition isn't the only approach to a politics of emancipation...
Of course not. In the last twenty or thirty years we find a great many movements that claim something else: it is possible to emancipate human activity from alienated labor by opening up cracks where one is able to do things differently, to do something that seems useful, necessary, and worthwhile to us; an activity that is not subordinated to the logic of profit.
These cracks can be spatial (places where other social relations are generated), temporal ("Here, in this event, for the time that we are together, we are going to do things differently. We are going to open windows onto another world."), or related to particular activities or resources (for example, cooperatives or activities that pursue a non-market logic with regard to water, software, education, etc.). The world, and each one of us, is full of these cracks.
The rejection of alienated and alienating labor entails, at the same time, a critique of the institutional and organizational structures, and the mindset that springs from it. This is how we can explain the rejection of trade unions, parties, and the state that we observe in so many contemporary movements, from the Zapatistas to the Greek or Spanish indignados.
But it isn't a question of the opposition between an old and a new politics, I think. Because what we see in the movements born of the economic crisis is that those two things come to the fore at the same time: cracks such as protests in city squares, and new parties such as Syriza or Podemos.
I think it's a reflection of the fact that our experience under capitalism is contradictory. We are victims and yet we are not. We seek to improve our living standards as workers, and also to go beyond that, to live differently. In one respect we are, in effect, people who have to sell their labor power in order to survive. But in another, each one of us has dreams, behaviors and projects that don't fit into the capitalist definition of labor.
The difficulty, then as now, lies in envisioning the relation between those two types of movements. How can that relation avoid reproducing the old sectarianism? How can it be a fruitful relation without denying the fundamental differences between the two perspectives?
Argentina in 2001 and 2002, the indignados in Greece and Spain more recently. At a certain point, bottom-up movements stall, they enter a crisis or an impasse, or they vanish. Would you say that the politics of cracks has intrinsic limits in terms of enduring and expanding?
I wouldn't call them limits, but rather problems. Ten years ago, when I published Change the World without Taking Power, the achievements and the power of movements from below were more apparent, whereas now we are more conscious of the problems. The movements you mention are enormously important beacons of hope, but capital continues to exist and it's getting worse and worse; it progressively entails more misery and destruction. We cannot confine ourselves to singing the praises of movements. That's not enough.
Could one response then be the option that focuses on the state?
It's understandable why people want to go in that direction, very understandable. These have been years of ferocious struggles, but capital's aggression remains unchanged. I sincerely hope that Podemos and Syriza do win the elections, because that would change the current kaleidoscope of social struggles. But I maintain all of my objections with regard to the state option.
Any government of this kind entails channeling aspirations and struggles into institutional conduits that, by necessity, force one to seek a conciliation between the anger that these movements express and the reproduction of capital. Because the existence of any government involves promoting the reproduction of capital (by attracting foreign investment, or through some other means), there is no way around it. This inevitably means taking part in the aggression that is capital. It's what has already happened in Bolivia and Venezuela, and it will also be the problem in Greece or Spain.
Could it be a matter of complementing the movements from below with a movement oriented towards government institutions?
That's the obvious answer that keeps coming up. But the problem with obvious answers is that they suppress contradictions. Things can't be reconciled so easily. From above, it may be possible to improve people's living conditions, but I don't think one can break with capitalism and generate a different reality. And I sincerely believe that we're in a situation where there are no long-term solutions for the whole of humanity within capitalism.
I'm not discrediting the state option because I myself don't have an answer to offer, but I don't think it's the solution.
Where are you looking for the answer?
Whilst not considering parties of the left as enemies, since for me this is certainly not the case, I would say that the answer has to be thought of in terms of deepening the cracks.
If we're not going to accept the annihilation of humanity, which, to me, seems to be on capitalism's agenda as a real possibility, then the only alternative is to think that our movements are the birth of another world. We have to keep building cracks and finding ways of recognizing them, strengthening them, expanding them, connecting them; seeking the confluence or, preferably, the commoning of the cracks.
If we think in terms of state and elections, we are straying away from that, because Podemos or Syriza can improve things, but they cannot create another world outside the logic of capital. And that's what this is all about, I think.
Finally, John, how do you see the relation between the two perspectives we've been talking about?
We need to keep a constant and respectful debate going without suppressing the differences and the contradictions. I think the basis for a dialogue could be this: no one has the solution.
For the moment, we have to recognize that we're not strong enough to abolish capitalism. By strong, I am referring here to building ways of living that don't depend on wage labor. To be able to say "I don't really care whether I have a job or not, because if I don't have one, I can dedicate my life to other things that interest me and that give me enough sustenance to live decently." That's not the case right now. Perhaps we have to build that before we can say "go to hell, capital."
In that sense, let's bear in mind that a precondition for the French Revolution was that, at a certain point, the social network of bourgeois relations no longer needed the aristocracy in order to exist. Likewise, we must work to reach a point where we can say "we don't care if global capital isn't investing in Spain, because we've built a mutual support network that's strong enough to enable us to live with dignity."
Right now the rage against banks is spreading throughout the world. However, I don't think banks are the problem, but rather the existence of money as a social relation. How should we think about rage against money? I believe this necessarily entails building non-monetized, non-commodified social relations.
And there are a great many people dedicated to this effort, whether out of desire, conviction or necessity, even though they may not appear in the newspapers. They're building other forms of community, of sociality, of thinking about technology and human capabilities in order to create a new life.
John Holloway is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Autonomous University of Puebla in Mexico. His latest book is Crack Capitalism (Pluto Press, 2010)
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