Towards a Regenerative Economy

• Nathaniel Larson

We live by stories, stories about how the world works and our place in it, stories about who we are and why we are here, stories of power, justification, responsibility, solidarity. Our stories are full of hugely meaningful words like democracy, capitalism, freedom, justice, and politics. Together we bring forth these stories, we bring forth worlds. The world we inhabit, the story we live in is just one of an infinite number of possible worlds. A 21st-century first worlder lives in a much different world then an indigenous hunter gatherer.1 On a lesser level an evangelical Christian inhabits a different story then a cosmopolitan humanist or a hedge fund manager.2 Stories emerge organically and can be manipulated. We might call that manipulation propaganda but let us remember that the most potent propaganda comes from one fully propagandized (immersed in the story). Also a lot of this indoctrination is immanent, that is it’s in the landscape, whether we’re talking about the physical landscape of an urban ghetto or city skyline, a rural area dominated by monoculture farms, a suburban sprawl with its cookie cutter houses and Mcmansions, the ubiquity of commercial chain stores, the wasteland of deindustrialized areas or clear cuts, the schools that look like prisons or the prisons themselves. Or the technological landscape; the echo chamber that is the media using so called differences (think msnbc vs fox) to prop up a consensus3 that almost always benefits the elite. Or the internet in which we can marinate in our own perspectives, weaponizing narratives4, creating stories of us and them5. All of this contributes to the creation of what Vandana Shiva calls the monoculture of the mind. The TINA (there is no alternative) of Margarete Thatcher destroys difference and crushes the imagination.

Imagination is what we need right now. We live in a world where the top 1% richest people own more wealth then the bottom 90% (this divide is growing exponentially since Trumps inaugural year 2016). We are in the midst of the sixth great mass extinction where 150-200 species go extinct every day and it is estimated that 30-50% of all species will be gone or going extinct by mid-century. We are increasingly alienated from each other and the natural environment as the capitalist monster continues to eat into the future devouring whole forests and whole peoples, turning the natural world and our relationships into money. ‘Looking out upon the strip mines and the clear cuts and the dead zones and the genocides and the debased consumer culture, we ask what is the origin of this monstrous machine that chews up beauty and spits out money?’6 ‘In general the fine division of labor that accompanies technology has made us dependent on strangers for most of the things we use, and makes it unlikely that our neighbors depend on us for anything we produce. Economic ties thus become divorced from social ties leaving us with little to offer our neighbors and little occasion to know them.’7 Our community has become money.

The agricultural revolution forced us to redefine ourselves as peasants, the industrial revolution forced us to redefine ourselves as workers and the financial/technological revolution has forced us to redefine ourselves as consumers. What we need now is another revolution in which we again redefine ourselves. We need to step back from the story we inhabit first to see/feel that there are alternative stories about how the world works and our place in it and then to seek together a way to help birth a meaningful story in which we are defined by our relationships to our community and environment. A story in which more for me is more for you, where what grows is not the economy but happiness and health. In short I feel we have a choice to inhabit a story that will inevitably become for all of us what it already is for most of us: a capitalist dystopia, or transition to a story that will free us from the tyranny of the ego-self into a world where we see our self in the other-only then can a permaculture emerge.

The dominant story of our culture is complex with many threads spinning a multifaceted web. What I want to focus on here is an axial thread, political-economy, that I feel is vastly misunderstood due to deep invested interests and can be used as a lever to create meaningful change.

What is Politics? What is economics? How did we get to where we are? I like to keep to simple definitions so I define politics as, ‘how do we make decisions together?’, and economics as, ‘how do we procure and allocate use value?’8 These are fundamental questions that we should by no means leave to the ‘experts’, nor should we live our life like an ostrich with its head in the sand drifting in a current of others making. Politics, and especially economics are supposed to be too hard to understand, the language used is obtuse and exclusionary, the fancy titles of the ‘experts’ their coronation. In reality any person who can put together a decent fantasy football team, manage a family or build a dog house has the capacity to understand political economy. You might be thinking to yourself that you are not political but I believe it is impossible to be apolitical, as Howard Zinn said, ‘you can’t be neutral on a moving train.’ Now to the third question; ‘how did we get to where we are?’ The elite would like us to believe that the current economic order of things is natural and inevitable. In reality capitalism, like anything else, is historically embedded, it is contingent on a myriad of acts and ideas; many paths were and still are possible. Understanding the historical process9 is essential to understanding and changing really existing capitalism and really existing democracy.

The original economy is the gift economy. Humanity was a part of the Earth offering our uniquely human gifts toward the well-being and development of the world.10 We received gifts from our mother the Earth; ripe fruit, nut and seed, and the hunters themselves told us the animals gave themselves so that we may live, life was a gift and time immense11. A wealthy respected person was the person that produced a lot of wealth and then gave it away. If one person suffered everyone suffered. In some places of the world the feudal economy replaced the reciprocity, solidarity and generosity of the gift economy. Conquering warlords privatized the commons parceling off large sections of land for themselves. The roles of peasants, serfs and lords emerged. Now we have hoarding, mine and yours, self and other. Poverty emerges as most suffer and a few ‘live like kings’.12 The feudal lords inherited wealth, were unproductive and siphoned off a large portion of the value (usually grain) the peasants produced. In a sense this arrangement was ‘better’ then the later capitalist mode of grain production in which the landless peasant needed to take out a loan, at interest, to rent the lords land, procure seeds and tools. This outlay needed to take place well before harvest and reaping of profit. During the interval any number of tragedies (from the peasant’s point of view) could transpire that would bankrupt the farmer forcing him into a vicious cycle of debt peonage (which is and was the goal of financiers) or debtor’s prison. In the feudal system these losses would not be the sole burden of the peasant as the ‘payment’ in the form of grain was taken after the harvest.

Both the gift economy and feudalism were long lived conservative systems. The feudal system started to break down in Europe as ship technology advanced and long distance trade created the merchant class that brought luxuries; silk, spices est. to Europe. To obtain these goods lords needed to find a good trade item which (especially in Britain) was wool. This is the time of the enclosures when lords kicked off the peasants, whose family worked the land for many generations, and grazed sheep to produce a commodity (a good produced for sale not use) to trade to the merchants for the imported goods. The now landless peasants constituted a labor pool for capital to exploit. It is true that the peasant (now proletariat) was ‘free’ to choose who to sell his/her labor power to but he/she was also freed of the ability to produce a livelihood outside of the market and thus free to starve.

The modern intensification of the political and social rhetoric demanding jobs underscores the success of industrial capitalism redefining humans as workers. In a sense it is a rebellion against financial capitalism (which, since the 1970’s, has increasingly dominated) and its attempt to redefine us as consumers. The irony of the ‘jobs’ rhetoric is that humans fought hard against the redefinition of ourselves as workers for industrial capitalism. The historical literature13 is full of fascinating primary source material of ordinary people decrying the transition to an age where we are compelled to ‘attain wealth forgetting all but one’s self’, were we are an economic unit, a cog in a machine, a worker. For a human to be totally alive we need to be creatively challenged on several levels; emotional, intellectual and physical. It is necessary that we have the freedom and means to fully develop the gifts that we have to offer to the world; short of this we are not fully human. Not only were the peasants kicked off the land but the artisanal craftsman, the guilds, were destroyed as mechanization and industrialization advanced. No longer in control of what they made or how they made it craftsmen were now also alienated workers.

There is an interesting story of a British capitalist in the 19th century who set out for Australia with all the necessities for a capitalist venture; money, machines, tools and workers. The only thing he did not bring were the socioeconomic conditions of industrial capitalism; an alienated and exploited labor pool that had no access to the means of production. As soon as they got off the boat our poor capitalist was abandoned as ‘his’ workers settled newly available land (thanks to the recent genocide).

This is the time of the first economists, the classical economists like Adam Smith and David Ricardo who fervently tried to rid the economy of the burden of what they called the rentier class, the landed aristocracy, and the unproductive lords who siphoned off rent from the circular flow of capital. The classical economists saw these feudal lords as parasites on the real economy (producers of goods and services) and sought to ‘tax the income deriving from privileges that were the legacy of feudal Europe and its military conquests, and to make land banking and monopolies publicly regulated functions.’14 The thought was that the less money that goes to financial overhead (rent, interest) the more there will be for reinvestment into the production of goods and services. This was also the time of the growth of banks and finance. Loans, and thus debt, were needed to bridge the time gap in production as we saw with the landless peasant farmer above. Finance has a positive side in that it takes unproductive savings and moves it to where it can be productive. As we will see later modern finance has taken over the role of the landed, unproductive aristocracy, as it siphons of rent as interest from the real economy (producers of goods and services) creating debt deflation. It is a great irony that modern neoclassical economists turn the arguments of the classical economists on their heads as they insist on the necessity of financial rent (interest, monopoly rent) for a healthy economy. ‘Neoliberals15 have re-defined ‘free markets’ to mean an economy ‘free’ of government regulation or taxation of unearned rentier income (rents and financial returns).’16

Value is alienated labor. Surplus value, in a capitalist sense, is produced when labor produces more then it receives. That is why there is always a tension between the capitalist class (the owners of the means of production) and the labor class. At the very foundation of capitalism is exploitation. ‘A recent comprehensive Gallup survey in the USA showed that about 70% of full-time workers ether hated going to work or had mentally checked out and become, in effect saboteurs spreading discontent.’17 This exploitation leads to a surplus for the capitalist class that must find a profitable return on investment. ‘Each time capital passes through the process of production it generates a surplus, an increment in value. It is for this reason that capitalist production implies perpetual growth.’18 This is one of the reasons that the economy must grow, the other is compound interest. To understand compound interest a story is in order. Long, long ago in a land far away a woman invented chess. The king was so grateful that he offered the inventress any gift she choose. What she asked for was 1 grain of rice on the first square of the chess board to be doubled every square (there are 64 squares on a chess board). The king was happy to oblige as it seemed a modest gift. As the story goes the king had the lady beheaded as he realized that by the time you got to the 20th square there was not enough rice grains in the world. What this story illustrates is the absurd and viscous nature of compound interest when applied to the material world. ‘So let us take a 3% compound rate of growth as the norm. This is the growth rate that permits most if not all capitalists to gain a positive rate of return on their capital. To keep to a satisfactory growth rate would mean finding profitable investment opportunities for an extra nearly $2 trillion compared to the ‘mere’ $6 billion that was needed in 1970. By the time 2030 rolls around when estimates suggest the global economy should be more than $96 trillion, profitable investment opportunities of close to $3 trillion will be needed. Thereafter the numbers become astronomical. It is as if we are on the 21st square of the chessboard and cannot get off.’19 This is extremely important to understand, in really existing capitalism the economy must keep growing. Perpetual growth in a finite world would make a good definition of insanity. The only way to keep the economy going is to commodify more of the natural world (goods) or aspects of our relationships (services). ‘Because of interest, at any given time the amount of money owed is greater than the amount of money already existing. To make new money to keep the whole system going, we have to create more ‘goods and services’. The principle way of doing so is to begin selling something that was once free. The vast commons, whether of land or of culture has been cordoned off and sold-all to keep pace with the exponential growth of money. The imperative of perpetual growth implicit in interest based money is what drives the relentless conversion of life, world and spirit into money. Completing the vicious circle, the more of it we convert into money, the more we need money to live.’20 This conversion of the world to capital can take on absurd extremes; ‘villages in Bangladesh where half the people have just one kidney, having sold the other in the black-market organ trade. Usually this is done to pay off debts, prisons in China where prisoners must spend fourteen hours a day playing online video games to build up character experience points. The prison officials then sell these characters to teenagers in the west, old people in Japan whose relatives have no time to see them, so instead they receive visits from professional ‘relatives’ who pretend to be family member.’21

‘For something to become an object of commerce it must be made scarce first. As the economy grows, by definition, more and more of human activity enters the realm of money the realm of goods and services. Usually we associate economic growth with an increase in wealth, but we can also see it as an impoverishment, an increase in scarcity things we once never dreamed of paying for we must pay for today.’22 ‘Skills and services that people once provided for themselves and each other in a gift economy, such as cooking, child care, health care, hospitality, entertainment, advice and the growing of food, making of clothes and building of houses (have been commodified).’23 When economists or politicians talk about economic growth, or development, in the third world what they mean is a process in which rural populations are kicked off their land (land that has been worked intergenerationaly) so large corporations can have free reign to grow commodity crops for export (with little to no environmental or labor regulations) this forces the population to rely on imports for food and basic necessities and causes a wave of migration to cities to be exploited by sweetshops and other pernicious industries that have moved from first world countries to save cost. Calling this ‘development’ is as Orwellian24 as calling the weapons and money sent to third world dictators ‘aid’.25

We are reaching a crescendo. Clearly we cannot keep growing forever. ‘Indeed, when every forest has been converted into board feet when every ecosystem has been paved over, when every human relationship has been replaced by a service, the very processes of planetary and social life will cease. All that will be left is cold, dead money. We will be dead but very, very rich.’26 ‘Imagine you are the president of the world and receive the following offer from aliens: "Supreme Leader, a sustainable gross world product is $10 trillion a year. We would like to make you an offer: $600trillion for the entire earth. True, we plan to extract all of its resources, destroy the topsoil, poison the oceans, turn the forests into deserts, and use it as a radioactive waste dump. But think of it-$600 trillion! You’ll all be rich!" Of course you would say no, but collectively today we are essentially saying yes.’27 I feel that it is difficult for us moderns to understand how much of the Earth we have already consumed. ‘Were we to weigh the total human population plus our livestock and domesticated animals around ten thousand years ago we would find that this aggregate weight accounted for around a tenth of a percent of all the planets land animals. Today that figure is a stupendous 98%.’28 As David Harvey says it’s as if we are on the 21st square of the chessboard and nobody is noticing.

One could view the unpegging of the U.S dollar from gold in the early 1970’s as a necessary evolution of really existing capitalism. The real economy (goods and services) could not keep up with the necessary growth. There are only so many gadgets to buy and bigmacs to eat (of course the extreme polarization of wealth since the 1970’s limits the amount citizens can consume, this is a fundamental contradiction in capitalism; the tension between the capitalist class trying to extract as much surplus value from labor as possible while relying on labor for a large chunk of the consumption of its products). What took up the baton in the race for ever increasing economic growth was the financial sector. Up until the great depression the banking industry (finance), was largely unregulated, most fortunes were made on insider trading and monopoly acquisition from the commons (think railroad barons). Speculation was intense and the economy was a rollercoaster of boom and bust. The 1928 bust almost ended capitalism. In his diaries FDR says that his proudest undertaking was saving capitalism from revolution.

Often I get the question ‘who was the best president in history?’ I feel that is the wrong question, the right question I believe is, ‘what president was forced by the populace to undertake policies that helped people the most?’ My answer would be FDR. He, and the capitalist elite new they needed to do a big something to save their economic order, they had to redistribute some wealth or risk losing all wealth. I believe that the middle class can be seen as a cushion against revolutionary pressure by the disenfranchised.29 In dire times the middle class is inflated, but as soon as the majority of the populace has simmered down the elite erode the middle class, concentrating capital. Everything FDR did to employ people, and save the economy is anathema to modern neoliberal economists. He instituted capital controls, heavily regulated the financial sector as well as the economy at large, and spent large amounts of government money into the economy creating jobs, infrastructure and conservation projects. Before the Second World War was over new dealers met with their allies in Brenton Woods, New Hampshire to discuss the new world order. Considering the great influence of bankers in modern politics (former and future employees of Goldman Sachs30 and Citi group have been treasury secretaries from Reagan all the way to Trump, as one example) it is significant to note that no bankers or financiers were allowed at the meeting or future planning of the post war global plan. ‘The simple lesson that the global plan can teach us today is that world capitalisms finest hour came when the policymakers of the strongest political union on the planet decided to play an hegemonic role; a role that involved not only the exercise of military and political might but also a massive redistribution of surpluses across the globe that the market mechanism is utterly incapable of effecting.’31 The mixed (state and private), financially regulated economy that thrived (at the expense of the, indeed creation of the, third world32, and natural environment) in the global first world until 1970 was truly astonishing. It is ironic that so many Americans who are calling for ‘make America great again’ (excluding the ones who really mean ‘make America white again’) are calling for a return to an economic order that is a good definition of socialism. FDR, Truman and Eisenhower would see someone like Bernie Sanders as a center left politician (minus his modern social justice positions) not unlike themselves. What happened in 1970 is that the Brenton woods system fell apart.33 The U.S position directly after world war two was unprecedented. In short, new dealers new that a one tiered financial world was brittle so sought to create two more centers of capitalism, Germany and Japan. By 1970 the U.S had lost a considerable share of the global pie and could no longer sustain the Brenton Woods system, particularly the backing of the U.S dollar to gold and the ability for anyone in the world to trade their greenbacks for fort Knox gold. When Nixon unpegged the U.S dollar from gold the global order was turned on its head. Currencies were left to float, speculation increased, and the U.S was the main winner as, ‘the only currency in the world that is demanded for reasons that have nothing to do with economic activities occurring within its country of origin, is the US dollar. This privileged status empowers US authorities to run deficits that would cause other countries to buckle under in no time. Moreover it bestows upon US authorities another curious capability: both to engineer a crisis at the global level and benefit from it as foreign capital is bound to flood into the dollar zone at a whiff of such a crisis.’34 The financelization of the economy was under way. Bankers (and money in general) exerted much more influence, partly because of campaign finance policy and partly from the revolving door between regulatory positions, treasury secretaries and Federal Reserve chairmen with financial executives. ‘The whole regulatory framework that the new dealers put in place, after 1932, in order to prevent banks from speculating with their customers hard-earned money, had been torn asunder both by the Clinton administration in the 1990’s (with Larry Summers of Goldman Sachs at the helm) and, by the rise of the derivatives market; a market that is almost completely underground and shrouded in secrecy.’35

This increasing financialization of the economy is a function of the rise of the neoliberal ideology. How is it that an economic system that created the largest polarization of wealth the world has ever seen come to be accepted as dogma not only by governments and those it benefits, the 1%, but also by those that it has so disenfranchised? To win the hearts and minds of the nation, and indeed the whole first world, the neoliberal agenda; privatization, deregulation, tax breaks for the rich, and austerity (an eroding of any social services), has been conflated with freedom. ‘There are however two kinds of freedom, one good and the other bad. Among the latter his (Karl Poloney) listed ‘the freedom to exploit ones fellows, or the freedom to make inordinate gains without commensurable service to the community, the freedom to keep technological inventions from being used for public benefit, or the freedom to profit from public calamities secretly engineered for private advantage’.36 ‘Meanwhile capital demands the freedom to pillage resources from under the feet of local and indigenous populations to displace and despoil whole landscapes where necessary to stretch the use of ecosystems up to and in some instances well beyond their capacity to reproduce themselves.’37 The 1960’s saw a movement demanding freedom and social justice, the economic elite promised us the freedom and tried to convince us of personal responsibility38, annihilating any sense of solidarity. We are not supposed to care whether the kid across town gets a decent education or enough to eat. We are used to our ‘freedoms’ being circumscribed because we understand that no one should be ‘free’ to rob, cheat, murder, rape est. The elites lobbying for freedom from regulation is akin to the mafia lobbying to decriminalize their activities, and I mean that literally.

The junk economics that was used to justify the neoliberalization of the economy was the so called trickledown theory. ‘Another fantasy of the time was the so called trickle down wealth effect; the idea that if the rich get richer then eventually some of that wealth will slip through the cracks downstairs; where the poor are. Well the country here this idea gained a large following in the 1980’s, the USA, is also the place where the hypothesis can be empirically dismissed. … the same period during which productivity rose by 16%, profits by a whopping 23% and the remuneration of management leapt by a stunning 85%… in fact median wages slipped steadily for more than 12 years.’39

To justify the tax cuts for the elite (the republican tax cut of 2018 being the most pernicious), the bailouts and subsidies, we are told that the financial institutions, as the theory goes, are supposed to either loan money to further the production of goods and services or directly invest in the productive economy creating jobs and prosperity. ‘What a realistic set of national accounts should show is that instead of using their wealth to invest in producing more to raise living standards the One Percent lend out their savings at interest to extract revenue from wage earners, real estate, industry and government, shrinking the economy instead of expanding it. Most financial transactions now take place with other financial institutions, largely in the form of computerized bets (derivatives) calculating risks on which way interest rates and exchange rates or stock and bond prices will move. One party’s gain is another’s loss, and the overall system ends up needing to be bailed out by government. But instead of simply creating the money to pay everyone off, central bank managers insist that labor and industry must pay by raising taxes on the ‘real’ economy to pay for the financial sector’s losses, on the pretense that the financial sector is what is making the economy richer not poorer and that austerity (poverty for the 99%) will be a ‘cure’-a cure mainly for the fact that the One Percent do not yet control all the wealth.’40 ‘Credit is increasingly predatory rather than enabling personal, corporate and government debtors to earn the money to pay. This pattern of debt is what classical economists defined as unproductive, favoring unearned income (economic rent) and speculative gains over profits earned by employing labor to produce goods and services.’41 ‘The aim of predatory lending in much of the world is to obtain labor to work off debts (debt peonage), to foreclose on the land of debtors and in modern times to force debt-strapped governments to privatize natural resources and public infrastructure.’42 ‘Today’s banks don’t finance tangible investment in factories, new means of production or research and development-the ‘productive lending’ that is supposed to provide borrowers with the means to grow the real economy and pay of their debt. Banks largely lend against collateral already in place, mainly real estate (80% of bank loans), stocks and bonds. The effect is to transfer ownership of these assets, not produce more.’43 ‘The aim of financialized economy is to make money for a narrow financial elite by establishing a credit stranglehold on industry and labor, and on the government itself. This reveres the direction in which classical political economy seemed to be moving to propel governments out of the feudal era by reforming the way society employs and accumulates wealth. In a modern version of the feudal epoch’s ‘primitive accumulation’ by military seizure, financial dynamics serve to concentrate wealth by means of debt leveraging and privatization loading down industry, real estate and infrastructure with debt.’44 ‘Historically, industrial capital waged a mighty struggle to free itself from the chains of the landlords who extracted rent, the usurious financers and the merchants who looked to rob or buy cheap and sell dear in unevenly constructed markets. Twenty-first-century capitalism seems to be busy weaving a net of constraints in which the rentiers, the merchants, the media and communications moguls and, above all, the financers ruthlessly squeeze the lifeblood out of productive industrial capital, to say nothing of the workers employed. I t is not that industrial capital disappears. It has merely become subservient to capital in its other more fantastic and virulent forms.’45 Money in the form of subsidies, tax breaks and bailouts to the elite does not trickle down but gives them even more money power to use as leverage to extract more rent and interest, buy up monopoly privileges and influence politics.

‘The story we hear everywhere repeated, from our classrooms to throughout virtually all the media is that the cheapest best and most efficient way to procure use values (what we need to use to live) is through unleashing the animal spirits of the entrepreneur hungry for profit to participate in the market system. For this reason, many categories of use values that were hitherto supplied free of charge by the state have been privatized and commodified-housing, education, health care and public utilities have all gone in this direction in many parts of the world. But it is a system that works for the entrepreneurs, who by and large make easy profits, and for the affluent but penalizes almost everyone else to the point of somewhere between 4 and 6 million foreclosures in the case of housing in the USA ( and countless more in Spain and many other countries). The political choice is between a commodified system that serves the rich well enough and a system that focuses on the production and democratic provision of use values for all without any mediations of the market.’46 ‘Financial lobbyists condemn public spending as deadweight even for roads, the post office and other basic infrastructure. They claim that privatization will provide these services at lower prices than government can match. Yet all the evidence points to the contrary. This is largely because in today’s world, privatization involves financialization adding charges for interest dividends and exorbitant salaries to managers. Over and above these costs, privatizers charge as high a price as the market will bear.’47 The relentless pressure to privatize the commons is another means in which the private sector parasitizes the public domain. Capitalists won’t stop until the whole of the natural world is privatized, in fact the newest domain of privatization is the genetic commons, and life is being patented! This is just the most obnoxious example of a hoarding and cordoning off of the commons for private enrichment. In a very real sense all human achievements are collective. As Luis Mumford said, ‘a patent is a device that enables one man to claim special financial rewards for being the last link on the complicated social process that produced the invention.’ The money incentive to hoard information, ideas and technologies reduces the creativity and ingenuity of the community.

Almost all major technological advancements, from aviation to communication technologies have been funded by the public and given away to the private sector. A Boeing 747 is basically a repurposed B-52, while the all pervasive media depends on an infrastructure and technology paid for and developed by the public sector. ‘Capitalism has always been a system founded on state power where wealth was collectively produced and privately appropriated.’48 We do live in a welfare state but it is welfare for the rich. Massive amounts of money, dwarfing social services, go to subsidize banks and corporations. Just take a look at Foxconn in Wisconsin or Amazons explicitly asking municipalities and states to bid for the privilege of having it create another headquarters. The exuberate cost and the relatively (compared to other ‘developed’ countries) horrible results of the health care industry is a testament to the failure49 of privatization. As the inspiring teacher strikes around the country, (both ‘red and blue’ states), demonstrate, the privatization of the commons only benefits the one percent.

The economic crash of 2007-8 took the mainstream economic community completely by surprise. Major economists, both public, as in the treasury department, and private economists insisted even into 2007 that the downturn occurring would be brief and that the remaining fiscal year and beyond was bright. Leading up to the crash mainstream economists were talking about ‘the end of history’, how their management had built a bust proof economy. How is this possible? ‘In Gerard Debreu’s (founder of neoclassical economics) own words: ‘the economic theory is logically entirely disconnected from its interpretations (reality).’50 ‘What we are left with is a profession churning out technical studies of fictitious markets which act as mere diversions from the real task of studying capitalism. Of course the utility of this feat, of those who have an interest to keep capitalism out of serious theoretical scrutiny, is immense. Capitalism appears in the publics eyes as a complex entity no less natural than the physical universe.’51 Early neoclassical economists were very clear that what they were doing should never be used for policy decisions, ‘whenever lesser neoclassicists tried to interpret their work with a view to making pronouncements on policy they were scolded for confusing that which is theoretically interesting with that which is practically useful.’52 ‘How did this type of economic theory, which (even according to its founding father Gerard Debreu) is entirely ill-equipped to interpret the real world, come to dominate economics? It did so on the back of its ideological utility in the context of the cold war. Its self-referential nature and total disconnection from the reality of the post-war world counted as an asset, rather than as the liability that it was at the scientific level. It passed the test set for it by the cold war environment because of its elegant depiction of capitalism as a timeless, ‘natural’ system founded on an implicit radical egalitarianism and an abundance of free individual choices.’53 The crash has forced many mainstream economists to rethink their profession; ‘A recent paper by the World Bank’s chief economist Paul Romer, entitled ‘The Trouble with Macroeconomics’… describes DSGE models as being so unrealistic as to deserve the moniker ‘post-real’, declares that they use ‘incredible identifying assumptions to reach bewildering conclusions’…. Oliver Blanchard, who was director of research at the International Monetary Fund and was once a staunch advocate of DSGE54 modelling, has also come to accept that DSGE models are seriously flawed: ‘They are based on unappealing assumptions. Not just simplifying assumptions, as any model must, but assumptions profoundly at odds with what we know about consumers and firms’. These assumptions include; ignoring the financial sector and thus debt, assuming that all consumers act identically, that a redistribution of capital will have no effect on the system since the capital one party losses is another parties gain, that governments do not affect employment by fiscal policy, and money itself is absent from these models. ‘The financial sectors greatest trick has been to convince the 99% that ‘the economy’ can be judged by how well it benefits the one percent.’55

‘Forty years of Neoliberalism-which is effectively introductory Neoclassical economics disguised as a political philosophy-have transformed the global economy so that on paper it looks much like the model world of a first-year economics textbook. Finance markets have been deregulated, unions have been destroyed, tariffs have been dropped worldwide, and competition policy is applied to basic services like health, education and transport. This is a world that was supposed to function like clockwork. Instead, it performed poorly (compared to the more regulated 1950’s and 1960’s) and its clock stopped ticking when the Global Financial Crisis hit, because this model world of Neoclassical fantasy omitted key elements of the real world that unfortunately cannot be expunged from the real world itself. Credit matters here; the real world is always in disequilibrium, and many to the so called ‘imperfections’ removed by Neoliberal reformers removed feedback effects that attenuated capitalism’s inherent instability.’56 The economy designed by neoliberals polarized wealth, predatory lending transferred assets to the 1% and debt skyrocketed as more and more fictitious capital flooded the market, by 2007almost $8 worth of derivatives corresponded to every dollar made in the real world. Capital degenerated into one vast Ponzi scheme in which last year’s years debts were retired by borrowing even more money today. If that wasn’t enough there was also plenty of downright fraud, ‘wall-street paid ratings agencies fortunes for pinning AAA labels attesting that the toxic financial waste was as risk-free as treasury bonds. When sued the agencies claimed that their grades were only ‘opinions,’ not culpable analysis.’57

‘The astonishment that this story (the financial crash of 2008) causes us every time we revisit its twists and turns can only be surpassed by the audacity of what followed. In an effort to prove that capital knows no restraint, and before the dust had settled from the nuclear explosion it had caused, the financial sector embarked upon a new project: how to recreate its private money using as raw materials the public money the hapless taxpayer sent it in its hour of extreme need.’58 The bankers were scared; ‘In a plush conference setting, on a cold December 2009 New York night, all the big Wall Street institutions were assembled to hear Paul Volcker address them. He lost no time before lashing out with the words: ‘I wish someone would give me one shred of neutral evidence that financial innovation has led to economic growth; one shred of evidence. As for the banker’s argument that the financial sector in the US had increased its share of value added from 2% to 6.5%, Volcker asked them: ‘Is that a reflection of your financial innovation or just a reflection of wat you’re paid?’ To finish the off he added: ‘the only financial innovation I recall in my long career was the invention of the ATM’.’59 ‘On January 20th 2009 the new president invited the executives of thirteen leading wall street institutions to the white house. Obama explained that only he could provide them with the political shield needed to forestall public pressure for reform not to mention prosecution of financial fraud. "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." One leading banker attending the meeting told Suskind (author of confidence men): "The sense of everyone after the meeting was relief. The president had us at a moment of real vulnerability. At that point, he could have ordered us to do just about anything and we would have rolled over. But he didn’t he mostly wanted to help us out to quell the mob." As Suskind summarized: "Obama had them scared and ready to do almost anything he said… An hour later, they were upbeat , ready to fly home and commence business as usual."’60 ‘Congress and the White House rewarded their leading campaign contributors by letting Wall Street put its defenders in charge of the key regulatory committees. Whistle blowers who complained to the securities and exchange commission and other agencies were harassed, ridiculed and forced to resign. The department of justice buried the few cases where the SEC recommended that it bring criminal prosecution. Another new term was coined: ‘regulatory capture,’ referring to staffing oversight agencies with representatives of the banks they were supposed to supervise.’61

It is clear that the true constituency for both parties is the 1%. One way to understand what the goals of power are in this country is to understand what the political consensus is. One such consensus is the government’s deference to financial institutions. ‘If banking really provides services equal in value to the outsized wealth it has created for the one percent why does it need to be bailed out? When the financial sector obtains all the economic growth following bailouts how does this help industry and employment whose debts remain on the books? Why weren’t employment and tangible capital investment bailed out by freeing them from their debt overhead? If income reflects productivity, why have wages stagnated since the 1970’s while productivity has soared and the gains extracted by banks and financiers, not labor? The free lunchers (financial institutions) strategy is to sedate the host (the real economy which produces goods and services) to block these questions from being posed. Their logic is designed to make it appear that austerity, rent extraction and debt deflation is a step forward not killing the economy.’62 As real people suffered, ‘nearly ten million homes fell into foreclosure between 2008 and mid-2014. Cities and states found themselves so indebted that they had to start selling off their infrastructure to Wall Street managers who turned roads sewer systems and other basic needs into predatory monopolies’63 Wall Street boomed. Banks used trillions of dollars in taxpayer money to buy back their stocks, give exurbanite bonuses to their executives, reflate asset bubbles and purchase monopoly privileges either through privatization or takeover. The forced austerity, privatization, asset reflation and a debt overhead spiraling out of control just sets the stage for another collapse, this one bigger and more protracted64. The supposed trickle down turned into a flood up. The top 100 billionaires in the world added $240 billion to their coffers in 2012 alone (enough, calculates Oxfam, to end world poverty overnight 4 times over). Imagine that. Is this the kind of world we want to live in?

At this point there is no reason for the financial institutions to behave any other way. Predatory lending and risky investments pay, especially when they are insured by the taxpayer that they will be bailed out when the time comes. There is no reason for the government to not just do the same thing the next time around, further polarizing wealth, further yoking the future with debt. That is unless we don’t let them. First we need to understand what is going on, hence this small offering. We were told by both the democratic and republican leadership that ‘banks were too big to fail.’ Is this true? ‘Bankers depict their extraction of debt service as a necessary cost of production as if the economy would not work without their service of allocating resources to decide who best should receive credit (as a bank as public utility could do). In reality, banks push debt onto anyone with property to collateralize or earning power to sequester.’65 ‘The essence of modern monetary theory is that governments can finance deficit spending electronically on its own computer keyboards just as commercial banks do. The difference between public money creation and bank credit is that the public purpose is to promote economic growth not asset price inflation.’66 ‘Any government with a sovereign currency can create unlimited amounts of money without need for taxation, simply by printing it or forcing the central bank to buy zero-interest bonds. Yes, it would be inflationary… wages and prices would rise, and the relative worth of stored wealth would fall67. That governments instead use the mechanism of interest-bearing bonds to create money is a key indicator of the nature of our money system. Here, at the very heart of a governments sovereign powers, a tribute to the owners of money is rendered. Since ancient times, the right to issue coinage was considered a sacred or political function that established a locus of social power. It is clear where that power rests today. ‘permit me to issue and control the money of a nation and I care not who makes its laws,’ said Meyer Rothschild.’68

We have seen where our current banking and money creation system gets us. There is no good reason against banks being a public utility. The local small banks would not be affected just the large ‘too big to fail banks’ whose whole purpose is to defraud the public, cannibalizing the productive economy. Of course you will never hear this idea on CNN or FOX and any politician who runs on a platform advocating for a public utility option is bound to be blackballed, but this does not mean that it is not possible. The elite are terrified of the majority, terrified that through education, organization and solidarity the majority will demand a major restructuring of the economic and political order. This is why one of the biggest industries in the world is the propaganda industry (advertising). ‘Every economy is planned. The question is; who will do the planning: banks or elected governments? Will planning and structuring the economy serve short term financial interests or will it promote the long term upgrading of industry and living standards?’69 ‘The way that history was supposed to unfold was that banking would provide credit for capital investment. Public services were to be offered at falling prices (ultimately freely) to a widening population. But instead of evolving toward such ‘socialism,’ bankers and wealthy elites found rent extraction to be their major source of gain. Calling their opposition to a government strong enough to keep them in check ‘libertarian’ their aim is simply to replace democratic government with planning by bankers and bondholders.’70 It doesn’t have to be this way.

What is sacrosanct in our economy is debt. The bailouts filled the coffers of the elite financial institutions but left the debt on the books. The responsibility for the predatory lending, fraud and speculations in fictitious capital, all fall to the public. Assets were transferred from the public to the elite (home foreclosures being the most prevalent), debt strapped families barely get by. ‘In the workplace, many employees are so deep in debt that they are afraid to complain about working conditions out of fear of losing their jobs and thus missing a mortgage payment utility bill. This has been called the debt traumatized worker affect and it is a major cause of wage stagnation.’71 ‘Trying to rise into the middle class these days is a road to debt peonage. It involves taking on mortgage debt to buy a home of one’s own, student loans to get the education needed to get a good job, an automobile loan to drive to work and credit-card debt just to maintain one’s living standards as the debtor falls deeper and deeper in the hole. This is what debt deflation means. Income paid to creditors is not available for spending on goods and services. Debt deflation leads to defaults and foreclosures, while bondholders and banks get bailed out at government expense.’72 . This taking on of debt, the world-bank assures us, confers social stability or, as the old adage has it: debt-encumbered homeowners do not go on strike. ‘Money is the individualized claim upon the social labor of others in exactly the same way that debt is a claim over the future labor of those others.’73 ‘Even if the debts are successfully redeemed, the obligation to repay them forecloses on alternative futures. Debt peonage shackles the future for persons as well as for whole economies.’74

The debt to GDP ratio before the crash was a staggering 162%; in March of 2016 the ratio was at a still sky high 147% and growing. This level of debt is unsustainable, either we continue down the path of austerity and an ever widening gap between rich and poor with periodic crashes that accelerate the processes or we have debt write downs. This would be anathema to the financial elite but there is strong historical precedent for debt cancelation. In his book ‘and forgive them their debts’, Michael Hudson shows us that ancient near east cultures from the Babylonians, Sumerians, Assyrians and Hebrews all regularly cancelled private ‘agrarian’ debt. Bond servants were freed and land that had been lost was restored. Commercial debts among traders and merchants were not periodically cancelled. This is the Jubilee year, the Sabbath or sabbatical principle. The ancient near east cultures understood the deeply caustic nature of compound interest to society and sought to clean the slate periodically. When we understand the extreme perniciousness of debt it is easy to understand why Jesus’s only violent act in the Bible is to throw the money lenders out of the temple. This periodic debt cancellation ‘was not a utopian act, but was quite practical from the vantage point of restoring economic and military stability. Recognizing that a backlog of debts had accrued that could not be paid out of current production, rulers gave priority to preserving an economy in which citizens could provide for their basic needs on their own land while paying taxes, performing their corvee75 labor duties and serving in the army.’76 It was relatively easy for the state to cancel debts since most debts were owed to the state. In our world it would take some considered planning to clean the slate but it is possible with strong democratic will. Not all debt is the same and I would recommend that all student loan debt, the interest on homeowner debt and any health care debt be annulled immediately. Most Roman historians of the era blamed Rome’s demise and collapse to a rising debt overhead. The unraveling of the jubilee year traditions in the ancient world led to debt peonage and the feudal system, our economic system is heading in the same direction.

The financial elite insist that the blame lay with the borrowers. That if you can’t repay your debt you should not have borrowed in the first place77. I feel there is a resonance for that within the population simply because when we think of borrowing from someone we imagine they give us something they have expecting you to be true to your word and give it back in time. The problem with this type of thinking is many. First, as we have already seen the playing field is rigged, predatory lending practices are legion, fraudulent speculation on assets creates bubbles that the public unwittingly ride to their extreme disadvantage. Second, when the bank lends money to John Doe it does not debit any account when it credits John Does account! The bank simply enters the number into the new account without taking money out of any other account. The bank has let out far more money than it actually has in reserve. ‘If everyone in the world went to the banks to demand cash equal to their deposits then it would take several months if not years to print the notes required.’78

By keeping the debt on the books for the middle class, flooding the elite financial institutions with money, austerity policies (tax breaks for the rich and an eroding of social services), reflating asset bubbles (chasing debt with debt-the typical Ponzi scheme) and privatization, the first world responded to the global economic crash by cannibalizing the public domain and the middle class.79 The Chinese response was much different, no doubt because they do not have a middle class to squeeze, also upwards of thirty million Chinese workers became unemployed do to a drying up of their export markets. The leadership in Beijing needed to find a way to get out of the recession (grow their economy) and employ a staggering number of humans or face revolution. What they did was to tell their banks to lend, lend, lend. A tremendous amount of infrastructure has been erected in China from 2008 onwards (although it is slowing dramatically). They have built cities for 15 million people that lie empty, a city of 130 million people centered on Beijing is in the works, high speed rail now links all major Chinese cities, and the new Silk Road (high speed rail) now links china with Europe. This development is not limited to mainland China itself as massive investment in South America (building a highway to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean), Central America (were a canal through Nicaragua is planned) and Africa (where China spent more money in Angola alone in one year then the world bank lent out in ten years) attest to. But it’s one stat that truly stagers the imagination; China poured 1.5 times the cement, in two years, then the U.S did in the past 100!80 All of this because capitalism must grow, capital must find profitable investments or the system will collapse. ‘Capital is building cities for people and institutions to invest in not cities for the common people to live in. How sane is this?’81 We cannot go on pretending that really existing capitalism is a tenable system. We are on the twentieth square and need to find a way to get off.

The reason that perpetual economic growth is baked into the system has everything to do about how we view money. ‘Money is a system of social agreements meanings, and symbols that develops over time.’82 Most economists define money by its functions such as medium of exchange83, unit of account and store of value. ‘When the primary function of money is as a medium of exchange, it is subject to the same limits as the goods for which it is exchanged, and our desire for it is limited by our satiety. It is when money takes on the additional function of store of value that our desire for it becomes unlimited. One idea I will therefore explore is the decoupling of money as medium of exchange from money as store of value, this idea has ancient roots going back to Aristotle who distinguished between two kinds of wealth getting: for the sake of accumulation and for the sake of meeting other needs. The former kind of wealth getting he says is ‘unnatural’ and moreover bears no limit.’84 Not only does accumulating money for accumulation sake ‘bear no limit’, in today’s world interest compels growth. Again, the need for perpetual growth in a finite world is insane. The relentless conversion of life and relationship into money is largely due to interest. A powerful lever of change would be to transition from positive to negative interest85. The ripple effect of this single move would be immense. In a negative interest system one would have to pay a fee to update their money every month. This fee would replace a large proportion of other taxes. A negative interest economic system developed in Austria in the early 19th century and is detailed in Charles Eisenstien’s book ‘Sacred Economics’. In Austria citizens purchased stamps to place on their money to keep it active, in a modern system this could mainly be done electronically.

‘Combining these two functions (money as medium of exchange and money as store of value) into a single object begs trouble because a medium of exchange needs to circulate to be useful, while a store of value is kept (stored) away from circulation. This contradiction has, for centuries or more, created a tension between the wealth of the individual and the wealth of society.’86 No longer would hoarding pay off. Hoarding stifles the flow of money, not allowing it to go where it is needed. ‘In a world where the things we need and use go bad, sharing comes naturally. The hoarder ends up sitting alone atop a pile of stale bread, rusty tools and spoiled fruit, and no one wants to help him, for he has helped no one. Money today, however, is not like bread, fruit or indeed any natural object. It is the lone exception to nature’s law of return, the law of life, death, and rebirth, which says that all things ultimately return to their source. Money does not decay over time but remains changeless or even grows with time, exponentially thanks to the power of interest.’87 In a negative interest system money would circulate much more freely moving to places and people were it is needed. ‘In today’s system it is much better to have a thousand dollars then it is for ten people to owe you a hundred dollars. In a negative interest system, unless you need the money right now, the opposite is true. Since money decays with time, if I have money I’m not using, I am happy to lend it to you, just as if I had more bread than I could eat. If I need some in the future, I can call in my obligations or create new ones with anyone within my network who has more money than he or she immediately needs.’88 ‘Whereas security in an interest based system comes from accumulating money, in a demurrage (negative interest) system it comes from having productive channels through which to direct it… that is, to become a nexus of the flow of wealth and not a point for its accumulation. In other words, it puts the focus on relationships not on ‘having’. It accords with a different sense of self, affirmed not by enclosing more and more of the world within the confines of me and mine but by developing and deepening relationships with others. It encourages reciprocation sharing and the rapid circulation of wealth.’89

Imagine a healthy old growth forest teeming with life, the ‘value’ of this forest to life, including humans, is immense. Beyond its practical services such as clean air and water, carbon sequestration, habitat for pollinators (who also pollinate our crops) and its diverse pharmacopeia, is quality of life, meaning and fulfillment of what it means to be human, to be in relationship with beings modern humans know so little about. This ecosystem is seen by our modern economy as board feet and cordwood. Because money makes more money (via interest) the value of the forest is maximized by liquidating it, clearcutting it destroying all natural capital and meaning. This liquidated capital can now flow to new productive investments (devouring more of the Earth and relationships) with the goal of perpetually making more of itself. In a negative interest economy the value of the forest is not in liquidating (clear cutting) it, because the money obtained could not make more money via interest, it would decay (devalue) with time. Within this system the regenerative stewardship of the forest would be the most economic thing to do. Selectively cutting a small portion of the forest every year would provide a means of exchange for the steward to purchase that which the forest does not provide her. The forest becomes the bank account. A different relationship develops between the steward and the forest then existed between the logger and the ‘section’, now all the value the forest has to offer is fulfilled from the ecological services to the spiritual ones as well as other use value such as mushroom, nuts, fruits, vegetables, meat, recreation, medicine, and fiber just to name a few. A new story opens up to us, one were relationships are primary, were humans are not the masters having dominion over all things but a relative, a humble learner.

No longer would decisions be made, projects undertaken or rejected on the basis of money accumulation. In today’s world capital creates spaces for capital to grow not for people to thrive. In cities around the world real estate prices a sky high thanks to speculation and gentrification. Vast tracts of billionaire apartments in New York City sit empty while folks who clean, cook and otherwise service the city must commute from crowded unhealthy homes. Whole urban areas have been deindustrialized because capital found a more efficient way to grow somewhere else. How much more concreate will capital have to pour to keep up with its necessary growth when we get to the 22nd square? In a negative interest system money would go to where it is needed. The economy would be about what it should be about; the procurement and fair distribution of use value while creating the conditions for ecological, spiritual and material health.

Libertarians would have us believe that a government’s only responsibility is to protect the sovereignty of the state using its monopoly on violence to do so.90 Indeed this may be a better system then really existing capitalism, the ‘too big to fail’ banks would have crashed and burned allowing the opportunity for the phoenix to rise from the ashes. Capitalism could not exist without a state, if the state or something like it did not exist capitalism would have to invent one. Private property privileges need to be maintained, trade routes and access to markets protected, research and development paid for by the public and given to the private sector, periodic bailouts and massive and ubiquities subsidies are just some of the reasons why. I do sympathize with libertarian ideas. In fact I would put my own ideas of an ideal political economic system in the libertarian left category, specifically anarcho-syndicalism. Libertarian right ideas are celebrated in this county by the elite because they can be retooled to double down on neoliberal policies of austerity, privatization and deregulation while anarchism is demonized precisely because anarchism rejects capitalism as a system in which human freedom and dignity can flourish. The problem with the libertarian right, in my opinion, is its insistence on a ‘pure’ form of capitalism where the markets will solve all of our problems. Unregulated ‘free’ markets are gamed, that is they are wide open for fraud, predatory practices that inhibit real wealth formation, and all the other problems associated with capitalism shown in this treatise. The absolute freedom of the individual is severely curtailed in a ‘free’ market capitalism because, among other reasons, of the dispossession of the mass of the population from direct access to the means of production (land in particular). Somehow or other the mass of the population has been put in a position of having to work for capital in order to live. ‘As long as individuals are compelled to rent themselves on the market to those who are willing to hire them, as long as their role in production is simply that of ancillary tools, then there are striking elements of coercion and oppression that make talk of democracy [and freedom] very limited, if even meaningful.’91 How can we bring forth our skills and creativity in a system where there are such inherent injustices and exploitation? The Libertarian left is also fiercely against any coercive power that limits individual freedom including that of the capitalist system. The libertarian right and left agree in the fundamental necessity of human freedom, the difference is what system that freedom would best be found. I hope that by now we can see that human freedom and dignity cannot be found in capitalism. The kind of libertarian left that I would like to see emerge is not a lawless chaotic ‘anarchy’ but an anarchy that is ‘a highly organized form of society, but a society that is organized on the basis of organic units, organic communities. And generally meant by that the workplace and the neighborhood, and from these two basic units there could derive through federal arrangements a highly integrated kind of social organization, which might be national or even international in scope. And the decisions could be made over a substantial range, but by delegates who are always part of the organic community from which they come, to which they return and in which, in fact , they live.’92 These organic units would be self-organizing and self-actualizing.

Libertarianism and other neoliberal ideologies have painted a picture in which any form of regulation is seen as an impediant to free markets, which it is said, will bring prosperity to all. But it is precisely the ‘natural’ market mechanisms that were allowed free reign both in pre (before the crash of 1929) and post (after 1970) new deal America that nearly brought the whole capitalist world down and is in the process of devouring the natural world and our humanity. All economies are planned.93 The question is would we rather the economy be planned by Wall Street or a democratically controlled government. I’m no big fan of big brother but mainly because Wall Street and other lobbyist have captured it for their own benefit. What neoliberals are saying is we should just cut out the middle man (government) and allow them to have free reign. Luckily there are other options then an oligarchy (state run by the ultrarich), or a regulatory captured government. The ‘socialism’ of the 1930’s through the 1970’s (and Bernie Sanders) in the U.S with its mix of public and private enterprises, heavy regulation of financial speculation and fraud, labor rights, a progressive tax code, increase in social services and direct spending by the government into the economy creating jobs and public works, along with progressive subsidies (transferring money from fossil fuel and banking subsidies) for ‘green’ technologies and protection of the commons, amongst other measures would be a good start. A true ‘Make America Great Again’. I do not want to idealize, there certainly was a lot wrong with the 1930 to 1970 period but economically it was a lot better.

I know a lot of us when we hear the word socialism think to ourselves of the cold sterile concreate cities of the former USSR, of a despotic totalitarian government taking away our freedoms, creativity and humanity and replacing it with top down orders, or of the ‘100’ million people that the communists killed. This is completely understandable to conflate socialism with the very real problems of the former USSR (a totalitarian institution in no way socialist) as it is an ideology, if implemented, which would completely crush the elite privileges in the media, politics, banks and corporations, the same people who work so hard to confuse us and keep us complacent. They certainly wouldn’t want us to believe that the U.S could EASILY make health care, higher education and a universal basic income an American right not a privilege. The elite spend so much money to confuse us because they know most of us would support socialism; In a 2005 survey respondents irrespective of political party or of income said they believed on average that the top 20% should own no more than 32% of the wealth. When shown wealth distribution from Sweden, a social democratic country, (where 38% of the wealth is owned by the top 20%) and parallel data from the U.S (where 84% of the wealth is held by the top 20%) 92% of respondents preferred the Swedish distribution. And today that distribution is much more polarized with the top 1% in the U.S owning 90% of the wealth!

I fear we will either transition into the above ‘socialism’ or to a neofascism as people become increasingly impoverished, alienated, disempowered, disengaged and disgusted with the dominant system (neoliberalism). ‘The pull of fascist politics is powerful. It simplifies human existence, gives us an object, a ‘them’ whose supposed laziness highlights our own virtue and discipline, encourages us to identify with a forceful leader who helps us make sense of the world, whose bluntness regarding the ‘underserving’ people in the world is refreshing.’94 Empires in decline, as the U.S is now, are especially susceptible to fascist ideology. ‘Empires legitimize their hegemonic enterprises by a myth of their own exceptionalism. In the course of decline, the population is easily led to a sense of national humiliation that can be mobilized by fascist politics to serve various purposes.’95 Fascism is a politics of ‘us’ and ‘them’, were the ‘us’ is the in-group that is the heroic protagonist in a mythic narrative of national history. ‘The function of the mythic past, in fascist politics, is to harness the emotion of nostalgia to the central tenets of fascist ideology … authoritarianism, hierarchy, purity, and struggle.’96 The in-group in the mythic past is always seen as pure, whether religiously, racially, culturally or all three. Fascism is always patriarchal with the leader seen as the ‘father’ of the people and as such is the source of morality and truth. ‘It is typical for fascist politicians to represent a country’s actual history in conspiratorial terms, as a narrative concocted by liberal elites and cosmopolitans to victimize the people of the true nation.’97 The in-group in an American fascist mythic narrative is the white male. The ascendance of neoliberalism has created such economic disposition and polarization that every subgroup in the U.S has suffered, including white males. Real wages have stagnated, stable jobs have been lost, whole industries wiped out and the culture that went with them, even the life expectancy of white men has shortened. Depression, drug abuse and suicide rates have jumped as men find it hard to fulfil their duties to their families and community. In such an environment it is easy for politicians to use fascist rhetoric victimizing the once dominant group at the expense of minorities. Blaming the real plight of the white man on immigrants, blacks, homosexuals, in short anyone different from them is far more likely to maintain the system of power the elite have then focusing on the real reasons for their suffering, neoliberalism. Any understanding of the class nature of their plight might lead to a solidarity amongst dispossessed that would threaten elite privilege (I am not calling for a weaponization of class, a type of class fascism in which we demonize the ‘other’ in this case the economic elite, but rather I am calling for a creation of a system that works for everyone.) The divide and conquer motive employed by fascist is self-reinforcing, the vast disparities of wealth create the conditions for fascism to emerge while fascism maintains those wealth disparities through its own policies. ‘Democratic citizenship requires a degree of empathy, insight, and kindness that demands a great deal of all of us.’98 This is very difficult in a world where people struggle to just get by. To create and maintain an inherently unjust system fascist ideologues need to do more than just blame the out-group. ‘Fascist politics exchanges reality for the pronouncements of a single individual, or perhaps a political party. Regular and repeated obvious lying is part of the process by which fascist politics destroys the information space. A fascist leader can replace truth with power, ultimately lying without consequence. By replacing the world with a person, fascist politics makes us unable to assess arguments by a common standard. When propaganda succeeds at twisting ideals against themselves reality itself is cast into doubt. Fascist politics replaces reasoned debate with fear and anger.’99 The system, democrats, republicans and the mainstream media have paved the way for fascist ideology by trying to create the impression of adherence to altruistic goals of freedom, opportunity and health for all while serving the elite. We are given the impression that we are ‘progressing’, that the problems inherent in healthcare, education, justice, to name a few areas, are reflections of their complicated nature and that we are refining them to the benefit of all, when in reality these systems are designed to create inequality, they are successful! This hypocrisy inherent in the American echo chamber is why so many Americans view Trump as authentic. ‘By giving voice to shocking sentiments that were presumed to be unsuitable for public discourse, Trump was taken to be speaking his mind. This is how, by exhibiting classic demagogic behavior, a politician can come to be seen as authentic, even when he is manifestly dishonest. Trump is a breath of fresh air in a political culture that seems dominated by real and imagined hypocrisy. Trump is especially compelling when he demonstrates his supposed authenticity by explicitly targeting groups that are disliked by the voters he seeks to attract. Such open rejection of democratic values would be taken as political bravery, as a signal of authenticity.’100 This is one of the ways in which we get a narrowing of discourse to a simplistic narrative that centers on nationalism, traditionalism (a mythic history) and religion that is increasingly intolerant of any views outside its narrow domain and increasingly reacts with violence. A violence that is a righteous means to an end that includes the ‘chosen people’ in a paradise like narrative and the ‘others’ in a hell of their own making. Neofascism is radically irrational, in fact scorning of rationality and a movement towards an emotionally spontaneous action that is intolerant and violent. Truth becomes synonymous with ideological acceptance. A continued loss of freedoms, especially the right to privacy, as the state becomes increasingly policed (we already have 5% global population with 20% of the worlds prison population), and the police become increasingly militarized. The patriot act, that passed in the aftermath of 9/11, is a good example of neofascist legislation; to protect our freedoms we must give them up, we can now be jailed with no charge and held indefinitely as one example.

We are on a razors edge between the two possibilities and only education, organization, compassion and solidarity will bring about a just and equitable world. I don’t believe this transition to ‘socialism’ would be a ‘permanent’ stage but rather a step to a more just and equitable world were freely associated people seek to provide their own livelihoods in a network of such communities that maximize individual freedom, connectivity and a sense of solidarity with each other and the natural world.

Our ideas, hopes and imagination spring from the ground of our culture. In today’s world we are increasingly alienated, disempowered and propagandized. What it means to be human is much different now then what it will mean when we reconnect with each other and the natural world in a meaningful way, when we are empowered and our creativity is allowed to emerge. In this fertile soil a new world will emerge, a world we have a hard time even conceptualizing myriad as we are now in the fetid waters of capitalism run amuck.

‘Capitalism will never fall on its own. It will have to be pushed. The accumulation of capital will never cease. It will have to be stopped. The capitalist class will never willingly surrender its power. It will have to be dispossessed.’101 It is certainly an uphill battle as not only is the government captured by the elite but so is the mass media102, and let’s face it the hearts and minds of many citizens. But more than ever now people are not accepting the dominant narratives feed to us from the echo chamber. This is the ‘noise’ before the shift, the chaos before the attractor, the space outside of story before reintegration and transformation. It is my hope that these times are the labor pains before the birth of a story of interbeing.

I feel that both Obama and Trump are a reflection of this ‘antisystem’ narrative that is forming collectively in our consciousness. Having conversed with many Obama and Trump supporters, (and not being a supporter of either one, the Republican Party or mainstream democrats), I have come to the understanding that a lot of what their saying is the same. What is the same is that people are fed up with business as usual; they see that the system is bought and they feel powerless. Both groups feel that their guy is different, that he represents ‘hope and change’ or ‘will make America great again’. Sadly both groups were dearly mistaken but, oddly, when confronted with well-established and accepted facts that contradict their position both Trump and Obama supporters respond with disbelief, a ‘well that doesn’t matter cause the other guy is worse’ attitude, or seem not to hear entirely. I can empathize, when we put our hope in an individual and they don’t come through it is hard to accept. There is far too much to cover here but let it suffice to say that Obamas bailout should speak for itself and his lukewarm attempt to regulate a portion of gross financial speculation (only after some of the financial industry threw their allegiance to a different horse) was taken off the books by his successor Donald J Trump. Trump’s further deregulation, tax cut for the wealthiest Americans whose stated purpose was to raise the deficit so as to convince Americans of the need to further cut social services, while giving billions back to the donor class and opening up of the commons for exploitation has been a neoliberalists wet dream.

The current economic system is a system that is evolving in exactly the opposite direction of natural evolution. Natural evolution turns simple systems into complex systems; from quarks to atoms to molecules, life and ecosystems and social systems, increases diversity, optimizing elements into a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. Really existing capitalism takes complex systems and turns them into the simplest possible thing, bits on a computer screen. The complexity of a forest with its hundreds of species and millions of relationships acting in such a way that it grows more complex more resilient and more novel is chewed up and spit out as so many bits on a computer screen. Now you may argue that this same system also produces wonders, from airplanes to communication technologies. This is true but what are we using them in service for? Sure we can communicate with our loved ones across the world, while at the same time our families are scattered apart depending on the system for their livelihood. These communication technologies are commodifying what once was free, connection, and what is worse, these connections are trivial compared to the connections that develop when people live together and truly need each other. The technologies of today are in the service of really existing capitalism, from the social media platforms with their algorithms that act like little demons finding your weaknesses and exploiting them to squeeze as much money from you as possible, to artificial intelligence that serves us a hollow, dead caricature of the unalienated embeddedness we can find in community.103

At every major stage of human existence (excepting that of industrial and financial capitalism) some humans were able to live in harmony with each other and the natural world. Many indigenous hunter gathers co-created diverse bountiful landscapes with healthy loving people while some exploited the Earth and people. There are great examples of agricultural cultures that stewarded their land creating abundance, diversity and health, as there are too many examples of agricultural communities exploiting their environment leaving deserts in their wake. These major transitions; hunter-gather to agriculturist to feudal than industrialist and finally to a financial-technological capitalism are simple transitions compared to the epistic or paradigmatic transition from homo habulis to homo Saipan; were a conscious ape rose up becoming aware of herself and brought forth her gifts of heart and hand in the form of fire and stone tools forever shaping the nature of evolution. This monumental transition from an elementary unconscious evolution to a conscious one, an eating of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, is on the level of the transition we face today. Do we go the way of the dinosaurs (a distinct possibility) or do we undergo another paradigmatic transition to a conscious co-creator. Do we transition from a relationship with ‘mother earth’ were we take what we need as is appropriate for mother child relationship, to a relationship with ‘lover earth’ were we co-create something that is more than then both of us?104105

Let us see it clearly; the only possible way for us naked apes to join the dance is to know that though art that, when we look into the eyes of the ‘other’ we see ourselves. A deep listening and resolve; humbleness, empathy, and wisdom in equal measure are needed to bring our gifts forward.

I am not arguing that we go ‘back’ (as if that were even possible) to some ‘simpler’ time, I believe that we need to be fully human which includes the gifts of our hands and hearts. What we need to do is develop a system(s) that put those gifts to the service of life. It is clear what the work of humans is for the next seven generations plus; restoring the regenerative capabilities of the land, waters and people. Let us not be naive, we do not have much time left to continue to take, take, and take without reciprocity.106 There will always be a choice to radically reorient ourselves, to transition from a story of separation to a story of interbeing; the question is how much are we willing to lose?

Postscript: You might be asking yourself, ‘What can I do? The system is so big and so entrenched and I am so entrenched in it what could I possibly do that makes any kind of difference? There are many ‘things’ we can do such as using our dollars in thoughtful ways (buying locally and organically), reducing our ecological footprint (energy efficiency etc.), extending the gift economy by helping each other and sharing, ecological regeneration, creating more use value ourselves (growing our own food for example), voting for the ‘right’ folks etc. but I do not feel that there is a ‘one’ thing that people need to focus on in order to turn the tide, but here are some thoughts.

We all have gifts to offer. We were not put on this Earth to service the life devouring machine we call capitalism. We need to give ourselves time, time for reflection, time for forgiveness. An understanding of the story that brought forth the present reality and is desperately trying to hold on, maintaining its death grip on our minds, will allow us to step into the space between stories. In this space is tension, the creative energy of destruction and creation. As we navigate this space we encounter our past, present and future from a new perspective, a perspective that we didn’t even know was possible. A freshness and peace emerge that invite us to bring forth our gifts. This new perspective, this new story is delicate and needs constant reassurance, it can vanish leaving behind a shimmer in our soul. To keep it strong, to grow it, we need to cultivate the experiences, relationships and practices that allow for its fulfillment, in so doing we bring forth our gifts. As we engage within this new story we realize that others are navigating the space between stories and still others are nurturing their new found gifts. Coming into relationship with them is as inevitable as the attraction between the butterfly and the flower. We began to realize that the dominant cultures story, while seeming so strong and powerful is brittle, it is fracturing on many planes, it is hollowing out. These stories are alive, our waking up in the story of interbeing makes it stronger, allows it greater range. As more and more of us bring forth our gifts, live our life through the story of interbeing, there comes a watershed moment when what was impossible is now inevitable, what was once unthinkable is now spontaneous and immanent. In the story of interbeing we move through a universe saturated with meaning, a universe eternally reaching out into novelty. We participate as a fully autonomous emergent being interconnected into a coherent system that is itself a fully autonomous emergent being. As an enlightened cell sees itself as an autonomous actor within a whole that is more than the sum of its parts so do we see ourselves as a part of a family, community, ecosystem and planet that is striving to actualize its potential. Only when we look into the other and see ourselves will our gifts bring forth a world that we can be proud of.

Nat Larson winter 2019.

Further Reading


  • *David Harvey; *‘The Enigma of Capital’, ‘Marx, Capital and The Madness of Economic Reason’, 17 Contradictions and the End of Capitalism’, ‘The Limits to Capital’, ‘A Brief History of Neoliberalism’, ‘The Ways of the World’
  • *Michael Hudson; ‘and forgive them their debts’, and *‘Killing The Host’, ‘J is for Junk Economics’
  • L Randall Wray’ ‘Modern Money Theory’
  • Mehrsa Baradaran ‘The Color of Money; Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap’
  • Nomi Prins; ‘Collu$ion’
  • Yanis Varoufakis;’The Global Minotaur’, ‘Talking to My Daughter About The Economy’, ‘Modern Political Economy’
  • *Charles Eisenstein; ‘Sacred Economics’
  • Steve Keen; ‘Can we avoid another financial crisis?’
  • *Noam Chomsky; ‘Manufacturing Consent’, ‘Hegemony of Survival’, *‘Requiem for the American Dream’, American Power and the New Mandarins’, *‘Chomsky on Anarchism’ to start.
  • *Howard Zinn; ‘*A Peoples History of the United States’, ‘You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train’, ‘Voices of a Peoples History of the United States’
  • Alfred W McCoy; ‘In the Shadow of the American Century’, ‘The Politics of Heroin’
  • *Jason Stanley; ‘How Fascism Works’
  • Rudolf Rocker; ‘Nationalism and Culture’, ‘Anarcho Syndicalism’
  • Chris Hedges; ‘America; The Farewell Tour’
  • Edward Bernays; ‘Propaganda’
  • Stuart Ewen; ‘Captains of Consciousness’
  • Ralph Nader; ‘Breaking Through Power’
  • James W Loewen; ‘Lies my teacher told me’
  • James Madison; ‘Notes of debates in the federal convention of 1787’
  • David Montgomery; ‘The fall of the house of labor’
  • Morton J Horwitz; ‘The Transformation of American Law’
  • Ware; ‘The Industrial Worker’
  • Yanis Varoufakis; ‘Adults in the Room’
  • *Juan Gonzalez; ‘Harvest of Empire’
  • *Michelle Alexander; ‘The New Jim Crow’
  • Dana Frank; ‘The Long Honduran Night’
  • Finkelstein; ‘Gaza an inquest into its martyrdom’
  • Nia Abouzeid; ‘No Turning Back; Life, loss, and hope in wartime Syria’
  • Charles Eisenstien; ‘The Ascent of Humanity’

Anthropology/Indigenous Wisdom/Spirituality

  • *Charles Eisenstien; ‘The more beautiful world our hearts know is possible’
  • *M Kat Anderson; ‘Tending the Wild’
  • Charles Mann; ‘1491’ and ‘1493’
  • Aldo Leopold; ‘A Sand County Almanac’
  • Helen Norberg Hodge; ‘Ancient Futures’
  • Colin Turnbull; ‘The Forest People’
  • Thomas; ‘The Harmless People’
  • Bill Gammage; ‘The Biggest Estate on Earth’
  • *Arkan Lushwala; ‘Deer and Thunder’, ‘The Time of The Black Jaguar’
  • Theodar Kroeber; ‘Ishi Last of His Tribe’
  • Wolff; ‘Original Wisdom’
  • Reader; ‘Man on Earth’
  • *Stephen Harrod Buhner; ‘Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm’, ‘The Secret Teachings of Plants’, ‘The Lost Language of Plants’
  • Sogyal Rinpoche; ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.’


  • *Bill Mollison; ‘Permaculture, A Designers Manual’
  • David Holmgren; ‘Permaculture, principles and pathways beyond sustainability’
  • Martin Crawford; ‘Creating a Forest Garden’
  • David Jacke; ‘Edible Forest Gardens’
  • Paul Stamets; ‘Mycelium Running’
  • Odum; ‘Fundamentals of Ecology’
  • Perry, Oren, Hart; ‘Forest Ecosystems’
  • Brad Lancaster; ‘Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and beyond’
  • Alexander; ‘A Pattern Language’
  • Tao Orion; ‘Beyond the War on Invasive Species’
  • James Lovelock; ‘The Ages of Gaia’
  • *Stephen Harding; ‘Animate Earth’
  • William Irwin Thompson; ‘Gaia a way of Knowing’, ‘ Gaia 2 Emergence’
  • Pollack; ‘The Fourth Phase of Water’
  • *Laszlo; ‘Science and the Akashic Field*’
  • Grof; ‘The cosmic Game’
  • Sheldrake; ‘Morphic Resonance’
  • Prigogine; ‘Exploring complexity’
  • *Capra; ‘The systems view of life’, ‘The web of life’, ‘*The Hidden connections*’
  • Meadows; ‘Thinking in Systems’
  • Brian Goodwin; ‘How the leopard changed its spots’
  • Mae wan ho; ‘Living Rainbow Water’
  • Verala; ‘The Tree of Knowladge’
  • *Lynn Mctaggart; ‘The Field’

If you have not read any of these books or just a few I would recommend starting with the * ones.

  1. And I’m not talking only physically. 

  2. It is important to see where these stories are the same. 

  3. The unraveling of this consensus is part of what this treatise is about. 

  4. Polarization has gotten so bad that even listening to the ‘other’ side can be considered an act of treason. Information that doesn’t fit into our narrative often times does not even get past out sensorial filter and into consciousness, and even when it does we dismiss it out of hand. We seldom have conversations where we practice nonattachment to ‘our’ ideas and try to find the truth of what the other is saying, instead we have debates were we try to prove that we are right. When we define ourselves by our ideas, our narrative, then a disagreement with our ideas is a shaming of ourselves and we shut down, become emotional and try to defend ourselves, and our community that shares our narrative. If you feel yourself being triggered please take a moment to feel the emotion and try to understand where its coming from, its complexity, and then go back to the material and try to understand the wholeness of what I am offering, I am not saying that you will agree with me but rather from a nontriggered emotional state an understanding has the chance to unfold were a conversation then becomes possible. I’m offering this narrative in the spirit of a conversation in which I welcome feedback, criticism and an evolving conversation that can bring us together to a metanarrative that articulates a basis for a healthy shared reality. There is also the distinction between dichotomy and dialectic that I feel is important to understand this treatise, and reality. A dichotomy is a simple opposition, where one thing, idea, concept will exclude its opposite, an I’m right your wrong position. Were as a dialectic realizes the subtitles and complexities inherent in reality, the tension between opposites that is evolving. Many false dichotomies are presented to us from the dominant culture, for example, the dichotomy of jobs versus the environment. If this were a true dichotomy then we all would be screwed! Thankfully it is a dialectical position were the tension within is the creative energy inviting us to find a synthesis that works for everyone. In this case the synthesis could be meaningful long term work that increases ecosystem resilience while at the same time producing use value. Examples of this type of work are endless. 

  5. In this treatise I will often refer to the ‘elite’ as a social group that exhibits coordinated (and not so coordinated) nefarious interests that undermine democracy and any decent sense of humanity but I do not see this group as the other. Rather I feel that the current story/system is not working for them either. 

  6. ‘Sacred Economics’ Charles Eisenstein pg. 51 

  7. ‘Sacred Economics’ Charles Eisenstein pg. 73 

  8. Use value refers to what we need to thrive. Housing, food, water, clothing EST. 

  9. Admittedly in very broad strokes. 

  10. I do not want to idealize indigenous hunter-gathers nor am I a primitivism that thinks we should ‘go back’ to a time that no longer exists. A full treatment of this topic would cover many volumes and many volumes have been written that verify the above account. See; ‘Tending the wild’ by M kat Anderson, ‘the forest people’ by Collin turnbull, and ‘the harmless people’ by Elizabeth marshal Thomas for a start. 

  11. It has been reported by numerous anthropologists that the work required of an average hunter gather was much less then modern people with all of their ‘time saving’ devices. Even in harsh environments (where we find the last remaining indigenous communities) such as the Kalahari desert of South Africa the average work week for an adult is just 15 hours. Also work was not abstracted from life, often time there was not even a word for work. 

  12. What is civilization? Most accounts put the start of civilization some 10,000 years ago in Mesopotamia where the first cities were built (this isn’t exactly true as recent archeological evidence confirms the existence of large Neolithic structures), the first writing developed, and the first division of labor. The ‘cities’ were walled enclosures to protect grain stores (hoarded wealth), the first writing were invoices keeping track of debt, and the division of labor included the first standing armies to protect the warlords expropriated wealth. Was this such a good step? 

  13. ‘The Industrial Worker’ Ware and ‘Selling Free Enterprise’ Fones-Wolf to start. 

  14. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson, pg 37 

  15. Understanding neoliberalism would be a whole treatise (and an important one) in itself for now let us equate a ‘neoliberal with a believer/proponent in really existing capitalism’. It has nothing to do with the political term liberal as the origin of neoliberalism is with Reagan and Thatcher, although democrats readily embrace it. 

  16. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson, pg. 37 

  17. ‘Marx Capital and the madness of economic reason’ David Harvey Pg. 271 

  18. ‘17 contradictions and the end of capitalism’ David Harvey pg. 11 

  19. ‘Marx Capital and the madness of economic reason’ David Harvey pg228 

  20. ‘sacred economics’ Charles Eisenstien pg. 101 

  21. ‘Sacred Economics’ Charles Eisenstien pg 10 

  22. ‘Sacred Economics’ Charles Eisenstien pg. 30 

  23. ‘sacred economics’ Charles Eisenstein pg. 76 

  24. George Orwell author of 1984. A propagandist’s term. 

  25. Sisi in Egypt, Columbia, Honduras, El Salvador and Saudi Arabia for starters (the list is long). 

  26. ‘sacred economics’ Charles Eisenstien pg. 79 

  27. ‘sacred economics’ Charles Eisenstien pg. 233 

  28. ‘Modern Political Economy’ Yanis Varoufakis pg72 

  29. And this is true right from the beginning, in pre revolution America the large class of poor whites, some of whom were slaves and most who were indentured servants (slaves until they worked of the exorbitant charges of crossing), often joined forces with blacks and natives fomenting rebellion. The elite saw this as a serious challenge to their way of life and sought to racially divide them. Whites were given privileges coloreds lacked placating the whites and souring their former solidarity with their fellow oppressed. 

  30. ‘The Goldman Sachs story has been well-told by Matt Taibbi, describing the company as "a great vampire squid, wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." The banks idea of a free market is non-enforcement of regulatory checks on investment bankers.’ ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson Pg. 101. 

  31. ‘Modern Political Economy’ Yanis Varoufakis pg 318 

  32. The Marshall Plan divided up the globe deciding its fate. Africa was to supply Europe with raw materials for its reconstruction, China and southeast Asia were to both supply Japan with raw materials and be the main outlet for the products est. 

  33. I am tempted to expand on the reasons for this and also the success of the Breton Woods’s agreement but feel it would make this treatise longer then I want. For a good primer see, Yanis Varoufakis ‘the global minotaur’. 

  34. ‘Modern Political Economics’ Yanis Varoufakis pg 329 

  35. ‘Modern Political Economy’ Yanis Varoufakis Pg 371 

  36. ‘A brief history of neoliberalism’ David Harvey pg 36. 

  37. ‘Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism’ David Harvey pg 207 

  38. Of course personal responsibility is vital but the mantra of neoliberal ideology would have us believe that there is no current or past systemic bias. To begin with this country was founded on the complete annihilation and then assimilation of native peoples and the enslavement of countless Africans for over ten generations. Slavery morphed into Jim Crow (often worse than slavery) and Jim Crow morphed into mass incarceration (the war on drugs were 1 in 14 black men are in prison (primarily for petty drug offenses while 1 in 106 white men are in prison (also mainly for petty drug offenses, still far too many) even though, according to the national institute on drug abuse, white students use cocaine at seven times the rate of black students, use crack cocaine at eight times the rate of black students, and use heroin at seven times the rate of black students, and that white youth aged 12-17 are more than a third more likely to have sold illegal drugs than African American youth.) Those arrested no longer can vote, receive federal benefits and often find it impossible to integrate back into society. Many books have been written detailing systemic racism, sexism and classism that occur to this day. It is possible to hold the necessity of personal responsibility while at the same time embracing the tremendous amount of work that needs to be done to create a just world. 

  39. ‘Modern Political Economy’ Yanis Varoufakis pg 347 

  40. "Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson pg 96 

  41. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson Pg 11 

  42. "killing the host’ Michael Hudson Pg 66 

  43. "Killing the host’ Michael Hudson Pg 24 

  44. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson pg 114 

  45. ‘Marx, Capital and the madness of economic reason’ David Harvey pg 179 

  46. ‘Seventeen contradictions and the end of capitalism.’ David Harvey 

  47. "Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson Pg 412 

  48. ‘Modern Political Economy’ Yanis Varoufakis pg 429 

  49. In a sense ‘failure’ is not the right word because the intention all along for privatization was to make money for the insurance and pharmaceutical companies amongst others, and in that regard privatization is a resounding success! 

  50. "Modern Political Economy" Yanis Varoufakis Pg 247 

  51. "Modern Political Economics’ Yanis Varoufakis 

  52. ‘Modern Political Economics’ Yanis Varoufakis pg 253 

  53. ‘Modern Political Economics’ Yanis Varoufakis Pg 254 

  54. Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium models. Complicated mathematical models of the economy which dominated economics for decades. 

  55. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson’ Pg 159 

  56. ‘Can we avoid another financial crash’ Steve Keen Pg 112 

  57. ‘Modern Political Economics’ Yanis Varoufakis 

  58. ‘Modern Political Economics’ Yanis Varoufakis pg 406. 

  59. ‘Modern political economics’ Yanis Varoufakis pg 364 

  60. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson Pg 253 

  61. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson pg 175 

  62. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson Pg 23 

  63. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson pg 73 

  64. Accelerated due to Trumps repeal of the Dodd-frank legislation, and major economic instability in China, Australia and Brazil to name just a few. 

  65. "killing the host’ Michael Hudson pg 385 

  66. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson pg 411 

  67. This is the reason that the elite, and by extension the government, is so concerned with inflation, it redistributes wealth from the rich to the middle and lower class. 

  68. ‘Sacred Economics’ Charles Eisenstein pg 120 

  69. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson pg 26 

  70. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson pg 403 

  71. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson pg 30 

  72. ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson pg 29 

  73. ‘17 contradictions and the end of capitalism’ David Harvey pg 176 

  74. ‘17 contradictions and the end of capitalism’ David Harvey pg 93 

  75. Communal work responsibilities such as digging irrigation ditches or building temples. 

  76. ‘and forgive them their debts’ Michael Hudson pg x 

  77. The world is not black and white, of course there are instances when people recklessly borrow, but for every reckless bowerer there are dozens of reckless lenders. 

  78. ‘17 contradictions and the end of capitalism’ David Harvey pg 176 

  79. The elite are very good at turning crises to their advantage. In her book ‘The shock doctrine’, Naomi Klein details how banks and corporations turn catastrophic suffering, (hurricanes, earthquakes or economic crises) into huge profits. 

  80. ‘The Ways Of the World’, David Harvey pg 1 

  81. ‘17 contradictions and the end of capitalism’ David Harvey pg 189 

  82. ‘Sacred Economics’ Charles Eisenstien pg 2 

  83. Money makes it easier to barter. Instead of having to strike a deal for nails with the blacksmith who doesn’t need my chestnuts we use money to mediate the process. 

  84. ‘Sacred Economics’ Charles Eisenstien pg 46 

  85. Details of this transition can be found in Charles Eisenstein’s book, ‘Sacred Economics’ 

  86. ‘Sacred Economics’ Charles Eisenstien pg 242 

  87. ‘Sacred Economics’ Charles Eisenstien pg 203 

  88. ‘Sacred Economics’ Charles Eisenstien pg 243 

  89. ‘Sacred Economics’ Charles Eisenstien pg 246 

  90. I think it is important to note a distinction in two forms of authority, one is impositional authority, an authority that is imposed upon you without your consent, this is the type of authority that is fought against in all factions of libertarian thinking and is common in capitalism. The other form of authority is authentic authority, this authority is something we seek out, such as when I built my house I sought out the opinion and guidance of people that I had a respect for in engineering and architecture and was able to take or leave the advice. This type of authority would flourish in freely associated communities sought after in anarchist traditions. 

  91. ‘Chomsky on anarchism’ Noam Chomsky pg 168 

  92. ‘Chomsky on Anarchism’ pg 186 

  93. ‘Spouting ostensible free market ideology the pro-creditor mainstream rejects what the classical economic reformers (Adam Smith, David Ricardo) actually wrote. One is left to choose between central planning by a public bureaucracy or even more centralized planning by wall street’s financial bureaucracy, the middle ground of a mixed public/private economy has been all but forgotten-denounced as ‘socialism.’ Yet every successful economy in history has been a mixed economy.’ ‘Killing the Host’ Michael Hudson pg11 

  94. ‘How Fascism Works’ Jason Stanley pg 183 

  95. ‘How Fascism Works’ Jason Stanley pg 90 

  96. ‘How Fascism Works’ Jason Stanley pg 5 

  97. ‘How Fascism Works’ Jason Stanley pg 15 

  98. ‘How Fascism Works’ Jason Stanley pg 184 

  99. ‘How Fascism Works’ Jason Stanley pg 57 

  100. ‘How Fascism Works’ Jason Stanley pg 76 

  101. ‘17 contradictions and the end of capitalism’ David Harvey pg 265 

  102. From CNN and the NY times to Fox and Brietbart. Now to be clear the reporters are themselves so thoroughly indoctrinated with neoliberalism and American Exceptionalism that they are being genuine (for the most part), in fact the only way to get to that kind of position is to demonstrate, on an ongoing basis, your complete entrenchment in the system. 

  103. ‘We don’t really need each other … what better description could there be of the loss of community in today’s world? We don’t need to know the person who grows ships and processes our food makes our clothing builds our house, creates our music, makes or fixes our car; we don’t even need to know the person who takes care of our babies while we are at work. We are dependent on the role, but only incidentally on the person fulfilling that roe whatever it is , we can just pay someone to do it (or pay someone else to do it)as long as we have money. And how do we get money? By performing some other specialized role that, more likely than not, amounts to someone paying us to do something for them. The commoditization of social relationships leaves us with nothing to do together but to consume.’ Charles Eisenstien ‘Sacred Economics’ Pg 77-78 

  104. This idea of ‘mother earth’ and ‘lover earth’ comes from Charles Eisenstein. 

  105. ‘Wilderness’ to hunter gathers was a bizarre concept at best; often no word even existed in their language. 

  106. For a number of reasons; economic (serious asset bubbles in China, Australia, South Africa and Brazil to name a few as well as the escalating debt and speculation in the first world including the U.S, especially since the Trump tax cuts and further deregulation), geopolitical (a whole treatise in itself), social (such extreme polarizations can only last so long) and environmental lead me to speculate that by 2030 the Earth will be a very different place. 

Nathaniel Larson is a father, brother and husband at The Draw, a land-based community on the south shore of Lake Superior, where he does his best to live a life in service to Gaia.