* To establish feasibility, it is necessary to include some items in the energy invested term that are normally not thought of as investments. For example, the cost of sequestering such carbon dioxide as will be produced by the energy technology under investigation should be added to the energy invested term because feasibility requires that our society be sustainable (until astronomical events intervene). In this thought experiment, the support of an alternative energy technology would be the sole concern of every citizen.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Capitalism, Marxism, and Dematerialism
I don’t know if any of the latest statements about deaths and ruined lives under so-called communist rule are true or merely another salvo in an endless war against communism waged by both branches of the American Capitalist Party; but, this much is certain: communism is sustainable and capitalism, because it requires perpetual economic growth in a finite world, is not. Capitalism requires growth to retire debt incurred by fractional reserve banking, to justify economic inequality by telling the poor they will not grow poorer as the rich grow richer, to provide new jobs for workers displaced by improvements in productivity due to technological progress, and to finance industry in a stock market that would collapse if it did not grow. None of these is necessary in a communist economy despite the undeniable fact that many regimes that call themselves communist whether they are or not have encouraged economic growth. (Of course, many (undeveloped) nations should grow economically, but new growth in the poor nations must be accompanied by even greater shrinkage in the rich nations to more than compensate for it.)
It is necessary to divide the community dividend equally among the members of the community for a number of reasons:
1. Whatever advantages of intelligence, strength, ability, character, appearance, breeding, or connections one is able to exploit to acquire wealth, they are accidents of birth that are normally disallowed as justifications for worldly success.
2. It is impossible to evaluate a person’s contribution to the community until hundreds of years after that person’s death, if then.
3. Suppose that one potato in the Mark I Economy represents the amount of emergy that is required to keep one person alive for one day. The ability of the earth to provide emergy for consumption is already so limited that people are starving to death because we do not share wealth.
Thus, wealth sharing is reasonable, beautiful, and practical. However, without wealth sharing, society is vulnerable to very serious problems:
1. Differences in wealth spawn covetousness, envy, resentment, anger, and, finally, revolution if they grow sufficiently steep or if they are perceived as patently unfair.
2. If there are differences in wealth, we have materialism with all of the horrible things people do to acquire greater wealth because of greed, because of fear of losing what they have, or to remedy personal poverty. In Chapter 9 of On thePreservation of Species, I showed that materialism is Pandora’s Box.
Materialism is the perfect transition from the debate between communism and capitalism to the debate between Dematerialism and Marxism:
Marxism was supposed to have remedied the problems caused by differences in wealth; but, inasmuch as it requires people to work to earn a living, it still permits competition for wealth. Also, it does not address competition for power except by preventing huge concentrations of wealth that make fair competition unnecessary for many aspirants to political power. Even supposing a meritocracy in the distribution of jobs, political positions, and incomes, almost all of the problems of materialism will arise.
1. Dematerialism requires each person to have an equal share of the community dividend regardless of what he does or doesn’t do, which prevents all of the evils of materialism discussed in Appendix II of On the Preservation of Species.
2. It is important that people who do not work be compensated the same as those who do (except that the portion of their energy budget that was expended solely because of their employment) because most of the workforce will have to be furloughed to reduce the energy budget to that which can be supplied by renewable energy technologies only. Please see the three energy papers hyperlinked to http://dematerialism.net/ where this is explained and proved.
3. Dematerialism avoids punishment of misbehavior as well as punishment of sloth. People will do something interesting and/or useful because they need to be effective to be happy. Since Dostoevsky wrote Crime and Punishment 150 years ago, we have suspected that punishment exacerbates anti-social behavior. Dematerialism lets go of punishment and revenge as well as other irrational and maladaptive behavior peculiar to Western culture or learned during out Era of Evolutionary Adaptedness.
Indeed, Marx, apparently, was not familiar with the Sermon on the Mount and the many fine sentiments expressed there by Jesus. We could say that Dematerialism is the New Testament of Communism and Marxism is the Old Testament.
July 26, 2007
* In this paper, the word “communism” refers to any system of wealth distribution that does not depend upon (i) dog-eat-dog competition or (ii) the hazards of a marketplace in labor , or (iii) any system that favors economic inequality whether dynamic or static and, if dynamic, whether unbounded or not. By “communism” I mean some system of sharing the community dividend. I could replace the term “communism” by “wealth sharing” without the loss of very much except the opportunity to show respect for the great communist writers, thinkers, and leaders of the past. Normally, I think of “communism” as referring to equal or nearly equal wealth sharing. Varieties of communism are sometimes termed “socialism”, “syndicalism”, “dematerialism”, etc.