Project Future: The Manifesto
Table of contents
- To Equals
- Society and Civilization: A Brief History
- From The Past to The Present
- The Present Day
- The Inevitable Change
- The Fight for our Future
- The First Few Steps
- An Easier Way?
- The Last Barrier of the Old World
We know how the endless drudgery of everyday life, filled with work and domestic problems, drags people into a familiar routine, draining their attention with a multitude of trivial matters. For most of us, the world and life itself in all its variety shrinks to a narrow path squeezed between the mountains of mundane existence and necessity, and interrupted only by a pitfall of yet another crisis.
There's no time to think, no time to sleep, no time to learn anything more that what is needed right here and now. All in all, no time to actually live. No strength and capabilities left to step outside the established bounds or even cast a glance there, to try and think - maybe life can be different?
Of course, not everyone faces the same predicament. Some people lead a much better life simply due to being born to the right parents. Some turned out to be in the right place at the right time, to climb up stepping on the heads of others. Some earned the gratitude of the powers that be by serving them and betraying their own.
Having taken their station in life, these ‘successful’ people soon realize that there isn't enough space at the top for everyone, and their position has to be jealously guarded. They consider themselves to be the chosen ones, and others born to be their servants.
Our words are not addressed to them.
Our words are for those who are deemed «losers» by the powers that be, for the majority that creates the prosperity of the whole civilization every day by their honest, diligent and often unloved toil. For those who, by the work of their hands and minds, provide the elites of the world with an uninterrupted feast in times of global disaster.
Our words are addressed to those like us - to those whose life depends on their ability to work, those who cannot rely on inheritance, capital, state privileges or connections.
We, the real creators of all the boons of modern civilization, the only real productive force, are constantly kept in a humiliating, powerless state.
Throughout our whole lives we are put to work for the benefit of a tiny minority, deceived into thinking that this is for our own good and any alternative is impossible.
Their strength is in our weakness, our inability to spot the root of all our common problems, and pluck it out with a united effort.
To maintain our disunity they constantly force us to fight and kill each other in their pointless wars.
To deprive us from time to think they force us to work from dusk till dawn even if this work could have been done easier and faster.
Through propaganda, advertisement and mass-media they force upon us their own values, their own ideas, their own contempt towards the working people - to ourselves. We are transformed into a crowd of alienated, selfish individuals, who despise one another and can only think about consuming more - the more to resemble «successful people».
The so-called elites tell us that this order of things is the only possible way in which a society can be organized, that we only have two choices: to accept our lot in life, or to «work harder» to get «up the ladder». The second option, though, is a myth for most, just another propaganda piece.
When deception fails, they suppress our entirely justified protest by force, claiming that they want to «preserve order» at any cost - their order, where we are reduced to mere cogs in a global machine that provides them with endless prosperity.
They try to prove to us, by lies and force of arms, that the only possible future for humanity is under the power of an «enlightened minority», whose privileges are justified by their «noble birth» or «natural talent» or «hard work», and that all we «simple people» can dream of, is to provide for their glamorous existence, drowning our own dreams, aspirations and ambitions in inevitable exhausting toil and primitive consumerism, a pitiful parody on the life of the true elite.
This is what their vision of our life and our future looks like.
But there is a different point of view. Another world is possible. We can create a different future.
A world of creative people. A society governed by the educated majority, where everyone has the right to become a fully-developed person, but no-one has the right to be a parasite. A future for everyone, stretching far beyond the limits of basic necessities and mundane fancies.
We offer our own project of a future, where there is no place for hatred, humiliation and war, where the majority will finally be able to feel like real people, develop their creative potential and lift the whole of humanity onto a new stage of civilization.
The path to this future is anything but easy, and understanding it requires a lot of study and effort.
We should start on it right now. To better understand a future that will correct the mistakes of the present, we have to understand how society formed and what caused its present-day ills.
To do so, we must go back to the very beginning and review the history of human civilization from antiquity to the present in general terms.
Society and Civilization: A Brief History
The first steps towards modern civilization can be traced back to about two million years ago. Back then, creatures who were not yet «homo sapiens», already had a primitive society - a group of individuals bound together by relationships regulated via an unwritten code of conduct that formed to facilitate communal existence.
The first humans crossed a barrier that proved to be impenetrable to most other animals: they started using stone tools on other stone tools, therefore improving them and consciously creating instruments of labor%(spoiler)_We have to note that toolmaking exists in the animal world as well, chimpanzees, dolphins, some birds and even rodents do it. But only human ancestors made tools by using other tools, and they also tended to save them for later, instead of discarding them after their purpose has been fulfilled._%. This resulted in better nutrition and living conditions, and the need to build tools, and pass along the knowledge on how to do it to their kin, led to a positive feedback loop that hastened evolutionary development of human brains and hands. As a result of better brains and hands, humans managed to create better instruments of labor, coordinate more complicated social activities, use fire and complex language, build dwellings and so on. It was labor - a conscious effort to alter their surroundings according to their needs - that led a relatively weak and unprotected creature towards complete mastery over the whole planet.
The first tools created by humans, and everything that was made with their help, were the first fruits of labor. But, at the same time, humans made non-material gains as well: knowledge on how to manufacture instruments, how to prepare food and make utilities, and the very skill of passing this knowledge onto future generations itself. All of this created what we now call civilization: a sum of humanity's technological and cultural advances, accumulated as history marched on.
The role of labor in the emergence of modern civilization is immense: its foundation contains not only the toil of workers and engineers that created modern industry, but the labor of thousands of generations of our ancestors. No modern factory can be made from scratch, by developing all the necessary technologies anew, building its own construction equipment, and so on. All of it was already created by previous generations of laborers who, in turn, built on the foundation made by their ancestors, and so on, and so on, up to prehistoric times...
This means that every cruise ship, every space satellite, every personal computer, sidewalk, fork - even water in your pipes and every kilowatt of electricity you consume - every movie, piece of music, and even «self-evident» social skills, are the aggregate product of labor that started more than two million years ago, by the very creatures that figured out how to improve rock tools by beating them with other rocks, thus making the first primitive instruments.
By creating and constantly altering civilization, humans have changed the world around them, and, in turn, changed themselves. The mind, psyche, knowledge and, in part, even body type of every individual human being, as well as society in general, are formed by civilization.
This means that a normal modern human being is more than just a living organism of the species homo sapiens. A human being is both the product and the creator of civilization and society. It is impossible, barring incredibly rare exceptions, for a human being to survive or reliably reproduce completely outside society.
Even in exceptional cases of prolonged social isolation, like in the case of Alexander Selkirk, the real-life prototype of Robinson Crusoe, a person remains a person only because he or she possesses material and non-material products of civilization. As a person molded by society, an able sailor and a tanner's son, Selkirk had the knowledge and skills that ensured his survival - knowledge and skills that humanity had accumulated in the ages before him. It would never have been possible for him to acquire all this knowledge on his own, outside society. The same can be said for the gun, the axe, and other tools he was left with on the island. At the same time, human beings deprived of social contacts from birth or very early childhood remain human in appearance only - they behave as their adoptive animal parents in almost every respect, and, as they grow up, their brains become physiologically incapable of normal human thinking, speech and basic social skills.
Human labor, therefore, created civilization, which in turn created us, modern-day people. But not just any labor can create and maintain a civilization. Should every member of a human society suddenly decide to work as they please without coordinating with other members of the same society, a collapse in material production is inevitable. Without stable production of material goods, non-material production will also fail very soon, making previous relationships between people unsustainable, and forcing this society to degrade to a more primitive model, or cease to exist altogether.
Humanity figured it out long ago, and, since then, organizes its activities into a system which we nowadays call the economy. It is, of course, impossible to create a single set of rules that would govern the organization of labor for the whole society until the end of time. Prehistoric peoples would have no need of information concerning the management of modern steel industry, even if they could somehow acquire it, and modern steel mills have no need of labor organization principles used by primitive tribal societies.
As time went on, humanity accumulated more and more fruits of its labor, changing the conditions of its existence along the way. After certain limits had been reached, it turned out that old organizational principles were no longer suitable to work with the new living conditions and available resources, and were slowing further development down. As people have to change their clothes and social skills while growing up, so does society during its development and growth needs to change the rules and forms of social interaction. Such moments in the history of society are called transitions from one socioeconomic formation to another. One of the most important results of such a transition has always been the rise in productivity of labor, the acceleration in accumulation of material wealth and knowledge. But it has never been the only result...
From The Past to The Present
More than two million years have passed since humans started using instruments of labor. During all those years, human society, consisting of various tribes, accumulated knowledge about the world around them, and honed the skills with which it could be altered according to their needs. This process was incredibly slow at first, before the invention of writing, because knowledge could only be passed on directly from one person to another, and all that people could rely on was their own memory, which made preserving and distributing knowledge rather difficult. Back then, people used to be hunter-gatherers and consumed their food with a minimum of preparation. There was no family in the modern sense of the word, every tribe was a prehistoric community. This socioeconomic formation is usually called the primitive communal system.
At first, prehistoric society lived in abundance of natural resources, which made feeding everyone a simple matter. The planet was populated with enormous herds of wild animals, prehistoric megafauna, which could be hunted relatively easily, and the forests and pastures were filled with easily accessible edible plants. Prehistoric people spent no more than 4 to 5 hours every day on procuring food, and spent the rest of their time resting and socializing. These conditions of abundance created little reason for everyday tensions and serious conflicts, and there was no need to force anyone to work more that was necessary.
Однако, не стоит идеализировать быт первобытных людей представляя его «потерянным раем». Наши предки существовали в условиях ужасающего физического травматизма, являющегося следствием неудачной охоты, конфликтов, болезней, стихийных бедствий и огромных физических нагрузок Подробнее об этом можно почитать, например, в книге С. Дробышевского «Достающее звено», изд. CORPUS 2017 г.. Свойственная человеческому обществу забота о попавшем в беду ближнем, судя по всему, являлась одним из важнейших факторов, позволявших нашим предкам выживать в столь «нечеловеческих» с современной точки зрения условиях.
However, we shouldn't idealize their hunter-gatherer lifestyle as some kind of «lost paradise». Our ancestors had to live with horrendous levels of physical trauma, resulting from hunting, conflicts, diseases, natural disasters and enormous physical labor. It seems that caring for vulnerable, injured and otherwise incapacitated members of society was one of the features that allowed them to survive in conditions that would be considered «inhuman» from a modern point of view.
As time went on, human society grew and honed its hunting methods and tools. The anthropogenic impact on the environment became more and more pronounced. Little by little the initial abundance had been depleted. Food production became an uncertain, labor-intensive venture with no guaranteed result. Humanity found the solution to this crisis in the accumulated knowledge on plant cultivation and animal domestication: these food shortages forced the transition to an agricultural society. The productivity of agriculture back then was much lower that that of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and the toil itself was way more monotonous and tiresome. But the results of agricultural production were much more predictable, and it allowed to feed more people from the same land area, which dramatically changed human existence and turned humans from hunter-gatherers into farmers. This process is now known as the Neolithic Revolution, or, some say, the Agricultural Revolution.
Agricultural methods improved as civilization marched on, and soon started to produce a little surplus of food and other goods, which allowed some people to free themselves from exhausting physical toil and direct their attention towards organizing the work of others for the benefit of all, living off the surplus food produced by others.
The first of such groups probably consisted of ancient priests, whose main duty was to observe nature and deduce its laws to improve the effectiveness of communal agricultural efforts. Ancient Mesopotamia saw the rise of such proto-states, consisting of agricultural communities united by a system run by priests, who directed the large-scale irrigation projects that allowed agriculture in the Fertile Crescent to truly flourish.
If the crisis was over and humanity found a new, stable lifestyle, then why hadn't it returned to the traditions of universal equality common for its ancestors and lived happily ever after? This new distinctive social group, separate from common productive labor, had already realized its opportunities and advantages over the rest of society. If those who work can produce more than they themselves can consume, then it is possible to coerce them into producing more than they need to provide a living for themselves, by using accumulated authority and appealing to the «will of the gods».
As the economy developed, this group grew into a ruling class, composed of priest-administrators and their armed guards, who distributed and defended material wealth. Having realized their opportunities and interests, they saw that there was no more need to earn personal authority or put up religious appearances to maintain the distribution of produced goods in their favor. They could take as much as they wanted by force of arms, and coerce others into working even harder. The accumulated material wealth was now guarded against other members of the formerly equal community, instead of raiders from other tribes. This led to the formation of specific groups of armed men who defended the wealth appropriated by the ruling class and received a share of it in return.
This was the end for the prehistoric communal system with its relative material equality and personal freedom for every member of the community. It was replaced by the first states - organized groups of people imposing their will onto others through violence or threat of violence. The priest-administrators and war chiefs were later replaced by the slave-owning nobility, who ruled society by force of arms alone, and religion took its new place in the fabric of society as the legitimizing factor, where it stands to this day, explaining to each their social standing and lot in life with divine providence. Human civilization transitioned to a slave-owning system.
Progress in the fields of agriculture and division of labor allowed the ruling class to lead a relatively comfortable life. The desire to improve their surroundings and emphasize their status created a demand for objects of art and monumental architecture. Population growth, along with territorial gains, led to increasing complexity in government, production and society in general, which in turn caused the remote predecessors of modern scientists - philosophers - to emerge. But this was only the bright side of the new system. On the other side lay the complete deprivation suffered by slaves, who composed a significant part of the population and were considered to be living tools, mere property of their owners.
The slave-owning society had reached its peak in the Roman Empire, which ended up encompassing almost the whole «civilized world» of its time1. The resources and opportunities that it created soon surpassed the existing form of social organization and government. Slaves were incapable of using new implements of labor effectively, since they weren't interested in the results. The empire also required a constant influx of new slaves, expansion of its borders and maintenance of an ever-increasing army to protect those borders and maintain internal order.
The inability of the ruling class to effectively govern the empire led to its slide into decadence, which resulted in it being incapable of protecting itself against the military pressure of less developed peoples. The Roman Empire fell, and its demise signified the end of the slave-owning system as the leading socioeconomic formation.
The material basis of European civilization was partially eroded, causing it to lag behind the civilizations of the East for a time. For about four hundred years Europe was beset by the «Dark Ages», a time when progress had significantly slowed down. Their end was ushered in by the creation of better agricultural tools, which allowed society to transition into a new socioeconomic formation. Feudalism became the norm in the former Roman Empire.
Instead of the laborers themselves, the ruling class now held the land they worked on as their property, collecting levies and taxes in money, toil or any other form. The main social classes of this new society were armed feudal landowners and peasants, who worked the land that they owned.
Feudals had no need to constantly supervise the work of their peasants, they only had to collect their tolls on time and keep their lands safe from their neighbors. The peasantry, unlike slaves, had limited personal freedoms and even the right to own property. It has to be noted, however, that both the freedom and the property rights of peasants were very much uncertain. They could not leave the lands they worked on for long: their job both fed and constrained them. And the whole of their property had usually been limited to a meager hovel, agricultural tools, some basic necessities and livestock. Most of what the peasants produced they consumed themselves, apart from the share that their feudal liege took for himself. The exchange of goods on an open market was not very well developed, and subsistence farming was commonplace.
The growth of towns and cities and intensification of agriculture, coupled with the increasing demands of the feudal nobility, gave life to a new form of labor organization: the manufactory. One of its biggest divergences from traditional agricultural production was in its communal form: the production of material wealth was accomplished by large collectives of workers. The second distinguishing feature was its commercial orientation: unlike peasants, workers did not consume what they produced, instead, the commodities were sold on the open market, and workers received payment for their labor in monetary form.
Manufactorial production therefore stimulated the growing market exchange of goods even more. Competition amongst manufactories and oversaturation of markets with similar goods caused a demand for market expansion, that is, to try and find new places and new people to which to sell these goods. This led Europe into the Age of Exploration, which accelerated the growth of market exchange and manufactorial production.
Progress and the requirements of industry led to the creation of the first steam-powered machines, which dramatically increased the productivity of workers. Their implementation caused medieval guilds and manufactories to be replaced by plants and factories - and so, modern industrial production was born.
The Industrial Revolution completely changed the economy, introducing new methods and technologies that rapidly accelerated the increase in productivity of labor, which bankrupted small guilds and tradesmen who could not compete with highly efficient industrial production. Former manufactory hands turned into factory workers. Agriculture also intensified, since industry produced better agricultural tools and fertilizers. The peasantry stratified into well-to-do farmers who mostly produced market commodities, and their hired help who could not feed themselves off their own plots of land anymore.
In time, the role of industry grew. It allowed to implement new technology, improve agriculture and produce the amount of weapons that the state needed to protect its territory and conquer others. All of this made the life of the ruling class ever more luxurious.
The increasing volume of production expanded the capabilities of those who owned the means to it. They already exchanged medieval guilds and manufactories for large factories with mechanized production and industrial specialization of labor. Confident in their power, they wrenched the state out of the hands of the aristocracy, which was already spoiled with luxury and decadence, and was no longer fit enough to defend their station in life. During the XVII-XIX centuries most countries in Western Europe and America experienced bourgeois revolutions which finished the formation of a new system - capitalism. Society was once again transformed, and two new classes emerged: capitalists, who owned the means of production, and hired workers, mostly former peasants deprived of their land, who had to sell their ability to work to those who owned the new industries.
The new ruling class protected its right to own the means of production with new laws that proclaimed private property to be sacrosanct, freeing themselves from the necessity to directly control others and coerce them into working. Instead of a slaver‘s whip or a feudal’s inherited land grants supported by his sword, it was the turn of unemployment and competition for jobs to play this part, with any attempts to violate the «sanctity of private property» brutally suppressed by special armed forces, which became known as the police and its counterparts. On one hand, the hired workers had gotten more personal freedom than that of a slave or a serf. On the other hand, they were completely deprived of any property rights to the means of production that peasants used to have, which made any autonomous existence for them impossible and bound them to the new economic system better than any chains ever could.
In a way, the social standing of workers at the end of the XIXth century and the beginning of the XXth was even worse than that of peasants or slaves: the feudal‘s or slave-owner’s prosperity depended on the number of people that worked his land or belonged to him directly, which required to maintain at least a minimal number of serfs or slaves to keep the estate in operation.
Coal mining. A woman drags a coal basket. Picture from an official report of a British parliamentory commitee, mid-19th century
Hired workers faced a completely different predicament. Society was providing more able people than there were jobs in the industry. This situation created unemployment, which allowed capitalism to renounce even minimal concern for the fate of its employees: if a worker was killed, injured or fell ill, his or her place could easily be taken by someone from the growing army of the unemployed. These former workers were replaced and discarded, much like a cog in an industrial machine, and their subsequent fate did not affect the quality and quantity of produced commodities, and therefore held no interest for the factory's owner.
Despite all that, capitalism used to be the progressive system of its day, when it first emerged and came to power in the leading countries of the world. The rapid development of various industries steadily increased the proportion of material wealth per person. Competition and the growing scale of production required new markets which created economic links between even the most distant corners of the planet, and by the end of the XIX century famine ceased to be a regular occurrence in developed capitalist countries.
Industrial production required relatively educated employees who could work with complicated technical devices, which, for the first time in history, made the basics of science and culture available to the wide masses of industrialized countries, leveling previous feudal privileges on access to education. Laborers, united by their working conditions, gain a broader worldview compared to that of peasants or slaves and rise to a new level of development, starting to consider themselves fully-fledged human beings with common interests, problems and a need for self-actualization. A coordinated demand for social justice emerges.
The collectivist industrial workers have acknowledged the unjust distribution of wealth that was created by their labor, more than anyone else before them, and, at the same time, recognized their own strength. The ancient and profound conflict between social classes born out of the initial scarcity of resources came to the surface of society stronger than ever. Industrial workers were the first productive class that became aware of their standing in the social order and initiated a conscious struggle to improve their lives.
These enormous masses attempted to alter the order of things that persisted throughout millenia. Having reevaluated the «natural way», they opposed the state itself as a structure that preserves social inequality by means of violence for the benefit of a ruling minority. The ruling class has, for the first time, met an organized and conscious resistance from those it had not even considered to be real people before.
Haymarket square, Chicago, May 4th of 1886. A worker demonstration against child labor and for an 8-hour work day was brutally dispersed by police after a provocation
From the first half of the XIX century the most developed of capitalist countries saw the rise of a labor movement whose main demands were a shorter work day (which back then lasted for 12 hours or more), higher salaries, better working conditions, disability payments and pensions, and also democratic freedoms and rights: the right to vote, the right to form legal trade unions, the right to openly express their opinions. This labor movement was accompanied by a revolutionary one, with the main goal of conquering the position of the ruling class for the working class to build a more just society.
The rebellious working class used a new and powerful «weapon» in its struggle: organized strikes on a massive scale that paralyzed whole industries and deprived their owners of their profits, endangering the very foundations of their power. One of the biggest blows to the old order came in 1917, when a revolution in Russia placed a completely new political and economic system in power. In these conditions the old methods of pacification through violence by the state were no longer viable, and the elites of the capitalist world realized, that, should they fail to stop this process, they would lose everything.
An archive photograph. The "Lieutenant Schmidt", an armored car captured by the Red Guards from cadets, Petrograd, October 25th/November 7th 1917
The ruling class had to parley, and to make some economic concessions: raise wages, reduce working hours and the working week, improve working conditions. In order to partially satisfy political demands of workers and bring them to compliance, a new, so-called «welfare state» arose in Europe, with paid medical leave, insurance, pensions, guaranteed healthcare and basic civil rights.
But this was not a victory for any side of the conflict.
Whether through lack of experience, political savvy or straight up dishonesty and bribery of its leaders, the labor movement started to decline. The welfare state satisfied the most basic demands of workers and successfully quenched the flames of interclass hatred. Some came to believe in the kindness and noble intentions of the ruling class that met their demands, some were broken or killed during the struggle, and some simply grew tired and decided to «live for themselves for a bit».
Meanwhile, the ruling class had way more reasons to resent the conditions of this «truce»: it felt defeated and disgraced, and the worst part was that it did not lose to «respectable equals», but to the despised «lower classes» that dared to stand up to them. Every boon that the workers received for free was a double blow for the capitalists' pockets: first, it was paid by the taxes which reduced the profits of business, second, everything a person gets for free can no longer be sold to them. Labor legislation, political parties that represented workers in the parliament, powerful trade unions that were ready to conduct large-scale strikes - all this put harsh limitations on the business elite and their governments. But the «higher-ups» can never come to terms with being under the «yoke of their inferiors», especially not when memories of almost unrestricted «entrepreneurial freedom» and the right to treat people as expendable material were still fresh.
From the moment of its retreat, capitalism had been waiting for the right opportunity to exact vengeance, and it finally got one. At the end of the XX century, the countries of the «socialist bloc» that served as the main «scarecrow» for the capitalist world were overcome with systemic problems, which were no longer possible to ignore or dismiss even for the proponents of socialism outside the bloc. The roots of these problems date back to the very foundations of these socialist states, but their precise nature is outside the scope of this text. With the decline and dissolution of the USSR and the Warsaw Treaty Organization, the labor movement of the whole world has weakened dramatically. Social guarantees, won at a hard price in the struggle of decades past, were gradually dismissed by the end of the XX century, and civil rights and freedoms for lower classes soon followed. The world entered an era of neoliberalism.
The Present Day
The modern economic system has successfully encompassed the whole world, but the position of various countries and peoples within it differs, and the gap in standards of living between them is enormous. This gap is usually explained by dividing countries into «developed» and «developing» ones, with the implication that «developed» countries have earned their place in the global division of labor by their own efforts during some process of development, that is common for all countries, and that «developing» countries are just lagging behind, and will inevitably reach the same level in time. This is nothing more than propaganda. Separate countries may indeed change their standing, but the system as a whole requires this division into «developed» and «developing» countries to function. It would be more accurate to say that they are divided into the central core, that governs and reaps the benefits of the system, the periphery that serves both as a resource base and as a dump for the refuse of the global economy, including pollution, and a group of nations that are somewhere in-between - the semi-periphery. An honest observation of the present state of affairs would inevitably lead to the conclusion that this system simply cannot function otherwise.
The fundamental principles of capitalism are profit and competition. Those who can extract more profits from their enterprise win the competition. But what does this profit mean for the proprietor, in the end? Liberal ideologists claim that profit is formed from a variety of sources: innovation, price differentials and so on. But these are just methods by which profit is redistributed between separate proprietors. The only true source of profit lays in the unpaid work of their employees, the difference between how much the workers actually produced and how much they were paid. The first number must always be higher than the latter, otherwise the enterprise‘s owner will bankrupt himself. This in turn requires a workforce willing to work under such conditions, and the lower is the price they sell their labor at, the higher the proprietor’s profits will be2.
Inside a Foxconn factory, China, where modern gadgets and computer components are assembled by hand, with people working 12-hour shifts for 20$ a day
The best example of this mechanism can be found in the modern consumer society. Its prosperity is based on the fact that the wages in «developed» countries are relatively high, and consumer goods are relatively cheap in comparison. This opulence, however, would be impossible without the cheap labor provided by the residents of «developing» countries, which in turn is caused by competition on the job market and low living standards in these countries. Should the Third-world workers, who assemble one of the newest gadgets by hand3, receive the same compensation for their work as do their counterparts in the country in which it was invented, as a corresponding amount of goods and services, if not money, the price of this device would soar, the average consumer from a «developed» country would not be able to buy a new gadget every few months, and the company that sells them would lose its legendary profits.
It is easy to notice that the modern structure of the global economy, with its division of countries into a capital-rich core, where high living standards cause labor to be expensive, a capital-poor periphery with low standards of living and cheap labor, and a semi-periphery that serves as an interface between them, basically copies the social structure of capitalism on a larger scale, where a small percentage of the population owns most of the property and forces the rest to work for them. Just as the capital owners could not exist and maintain their way of life without hired workers, whose labor creates all their wealth, the present-day prosperity of the so-called developed countries would be impossible without the miserable toil of those who live in the so-called developing countries in conditions of appalling poverty.
A shipbreaking yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh. About 50% of all decommisioned ships is dismantled here, where all standards of environmental protection and workplace safety are ignored, and child labor, fatal accidents and work-related disease is commonplace
This system exports most negative consequences of capitalist production from the core to the periphery and semi-periphery, including, but not limited to, environmental pollution and social ills, and imports manufactured products of labor (and sometimes even services). But during these last decades there had been ample opportunity to see that this is not a purely one-way exchange. Destruction of the environment by corporations inevitably impacts the climate and ecology of the whole world, and cannot be contained to the countries of the periphery. Intolerable living conditions in those countries, on one hand, and the demand for cheap labor in the countries of the core on the other, cause mass migration that leads to humanitarian crises and internal conflicts. In a truly global system the problems of one nation affect all other nations: the problems of Bangladeshi workers sooner or later are felt, in one way or the other, by the «middle class» of Britain or France. One of the best examples can be found in the prolonged systemic crisis that grips the countries of Southern Europe, where the configuration of the global system has led to a curious paradox: it is easier and cheaper to exploit Third-world laborers, and keep millions of your own citizens on unemployment benefits, than it is to provide them with jobs and wages on the level of «developed» countries. In a similar fashion, any peripheral country that increases its living standards due to industrial development soon finds out that its labor becomes more expensive, and therefore loses competition on the global market to those countries where living standards are lower.
The popular adages that it is enough to «work harder and earn more», and that «all countries follow the same path of development», are therefore proven false. The modern global economic system is founded on a historically caused difference in development and accumulation of wealth between various countries and social classes, and is incapable of functioning without this difference. All the social ills that people often complain about, whether it's growing unemployment and worsening social climate in the West, or miserable poverty and periods of bloody unrest in the so-called Third World, or environmental degradation and resource depletion - all of these problems are not tragic accidents or temporary setbacks, they are inevitable consequences and by-products of the system itself.
Migrant camp in Calais, France. The enormous human flood that caused a migration crisis in Europe is a consequence of the actions performed by the global system
Capitalism is incapable of solving these problems, since they require coordinated efforts from all the countries in the world directed at a long-term goal, and the competitive principles of the capitalist economy, that prioritizes short-term profit over everything else, precludes such a solution.
Many people all around the world hope that the current system, which, despite all its flaws, allows them to make ends meet, will improve given enough time. But this is nothing but wishful thinking and self-delusion. This system may only be improved by violating its most fundamental principles and, essentially, breaking it. Otherwise, people can only improve their own station here and now, sacrificing their own future, and that of their children and humanity in general.
The Inevitable Change
Global capitalism that binds the whole planet together in an interdependent economy is our present.
We do not deny the progressive role that it played in the history of humanity. Motivated by pursuit of profit, it has connected countries and peoples with robust economic ties. By demanding the creation and implementation of new technology, it has destroyed feudal restrictions on information, and has given many people the education they needed to perform complex work without regard for their gender or nationality. It has built enormous industrial complexes and commercial empires, developing new methods of communication and organization to manage their incredibly complicated production cycles. It produces colossal amounts of data during its operations, and therefore has funded the creation of mass data processing and instant data transfer technology.
But the closer capitalism got to its limits of growth, running out of space to expand and getting rid of ideological rivals, the more it lost its progressive traits.
Where it once freed the teeming peasant passes from their feudal chains to allow them to express themselves in new professions that increased its power, now it only strengthens the division between the tiny minority of capital owners and the rest of society that creates their wealth and prosperity. The social obstacles that bar the majority from having a decent life grow ever higher, and the success of a person becomes more and more dependent on the fortune of their parents, without which it is difficult to get quality education, a decent job or a suitable inheritance. The orientation of the government towards satisfying the needs of corporations, and the merging of big business and the state become more and more apparent. The way up this ladder is often closed for most people due to their lack of funds, starting with their inability to pay for prestigious education and ending with their lack of property, without which it is impossible to act as an equal amongst the elite of modern society.
With no competition from any other political or economic systems, whether feudalism or socialism, capitalism no longer has any large-scale goals to apply its huge potential towards. It has no need to invest enormous funds into developing advanced technology or create an illusion of a fair and just society or democracy anymore, to prove its ideological superiority and effectiveness as a system. Inequality and the rule of elites are the norm nowadays.
This inevitably leads to the social benefits in «developed» countries being revoked: unsatisfied citizens have nowhere to run anyway, they have no real alternative to this new «free market fundamentalism». Even in the richest of Western countries, the divide between the elite and the overwhelming majority of the population widens daily. The so-called «middle class» rapidly stratifies, with the lesser part becoming «upper class», and the rest being forced to cut their expenses and move down the social ladder. The globalization of corporate business, being a natural and inevitable product of market competition between TNCs that now encompass the whole world, and own most of its production and financial capabilities, pushes small businesses out of the most profitable industries4. Excessive development of fundamental sciences became redundant: the reserves of discoveries made in the XX century during the standoff with socialism are enough to last for years to come. The only thing left to do, to ensure growing profits during the last few decades, was to invest in applications of existing research and its monetization.
High-quality education of the masses that was previously needed to participate in the global competition, also proves out to be redundant: no need for new technological breakthroughs means no need for people capable of developing and implementing them. In addition, educated people are less vulnerable to consumerist propaganda and political deception.
By rejecting in practice the principles of honest competition and free market that it employed in its fight with feudalism, and becoming one with the state that it constantly lambasted as «ineffective», capitalism has failed to overcome its own limitations and ascend to the new level of development that it has created. Having destroyed all its positive traits, it has multiplied all antisocial and irrational elements that have been present in its principles and structure from the very beginning.
Having assimilated the whole world and encountering the hard limits of further geographical expansion, capitalism has invented a new ideology of existence for the masses: consumerism.
Now people evaluate each other not by their skills and knowledge, and not by the importance of their work to society. Even the previous capitalist measure of material wealth became obsolete. The «success» of a person is now determined by how much and how often they consume various goods and services.
To implement this ideology, capitalism used all means that were available to it: the media, cinema, pop-culture, politics, aggressive advertisement and marketing. All of this allowed it to postpone its end by initiating a self-destructive mechanism of overconsumption, which increased demand, compensating for the inability to expand markets by traditional means.
But humanity had to pay a very high price for this.
Almost everything has been turned into commodities, that must be consumed as much as possible - not just material goods, services and labor. The information about our personalities, necessary to constantly increase sales even further, became a commodity. The privilege to live in acceptable environmental conditions became a commodity. Even relationships between people were reborn as virtual shadows of their former selves: profiles on social networks, whose social worth directly depends on the number of «likes» left by «friends» under photos and posts.
But capitalism did not limit itself to selling lovers and friends to each other. It has pervaded childhood, turning it into an investment by the parents. The education and development of a child nowadays is just as much of a commodity as anything else, and an expensive one at that. To provide a child with a higher probability of «success» in the modern world, if not a guarantee of it, parents have to participate in the consumerist race for a plethora of developmental commodities: from toys to educational services. The children also suffer. From preschool age they have to conform to multiple criteria that signify their future «success» and pass multiple tests that ensure their compatibility with these criteria. But this is the lesser of two evils - a more frequent scenario is when the parents don't have enough funds to make their children fit these criteria and their chances of building a successful career in the future become very low indeed5.
Scared of the powerful labor movement of the XX century, capitalism moved as much labor-intensive production as possible as far as possible from its «headquarters» - the so-called «developed countries. Those left without jobs by this relocation numbered in the millions, and capitalism had to make amends, which took form of numerous legislative initiatives aimed towards supporting small businesses, the foundation of the »service economy« of the »post-industrial society« in the West. Small business inevitably loses in competition with large corporations due to economy of scale, but to maintain social stability, capitalist governments used to support its development. By enthralling the descendants of industrial workers in the service sector, capitalism has mothballed the workforce of »developed" countries in uncountable office firms, most of which were (and still are) devoid of any creative or productive purpose.
These office workers no longer feel themselves a part of a larger collective, bound by common production process. They became individualistic members of the «middle class» who see their colleagues only as competitors that they have to beat to become «successful».
By separating significant portions of the population of «developed» countries from real productive labor, capitalism has deprived them of the most effective methods for collective economic resistance - large-scale strikes. Without this labor, the employees of the «post-industrial service economy» have lost their self-confidence and pride of a productive society member, who improves the world by his own efforts and makes the life of the whole society better. It is much harder for people to find the moral strength and justification for resistance, when their job is to «produce» more effective advertisement, design yet another rag that has to become a bestseller due to the ministrations of marketing, or groom pets belonging to their «betters». Without the opportunity to get any satisfaction out of work, people easily fall prey to consumerism and try to find the meaning of their lives in it.
By keeping the population of «developed» countries occupied, global capitalism has secured its homefront.
It has separated people, dividing once-gigantic working collectives into a multitude of competing small businesses.
Despite the fact that productivity constantly grows, the enforced ideology of consumerism and fear of losing their jobs coerce people into working the same hours they worked in the beginning of the XX century: 5 (or more) days a week, 8 to 12 hours a day. Real wages, however, do not increase - indeed, they actually decrease in some places, like the United States, where this process started back in the 70s.
The vast majority of the population in developed countries still has no time to ponder over the reasons of their problems and hardships, which include chronical exhaustion and lack of free time. Today, as almost a hundred years ago, their lives are consumed by work.
But there is another consequence of this process, which is no less important: by depriving the masses of meaningful productive labor, capitalism has taken away more than just their opportunities to create and feel themselves a part of something greater. Labor created modern humanity and modern humans, and therefore separating people from real labor and replacing it with consumerism leads to dehumanization. Modern capitalism turns a collective creator into a creature whose thoughts and actions are governed by advertisement, mass-media and «pop-culture» produced by transnational corporations.
Without even knowing, capitalism tries to reverse evolution and turn humans into primitive animals that are only capable of reacting to external stimuli with preprogrammed actions that serve to provide artificially-inflated demand for consumption.
Having made the insanely spinning wheel of consumerism a centerpiece of the whole system, capitalism can no longer put an end to it without destroying itself. Instead, it sacrifices in ever larger quantities the mineral resources, climate and biological diversity of our planet to this grinder. Even «human resources» are not spared and are spent as thoughtlessly as all the other riches of our world.
Here is but a fraction of examples that illustrate capitalism's irrational mismanagement of our planet:
- In the coming decades we are going to witness a deficit of our technological economy's most important resources. Nevertheless, despite ritualistic statements by various officials in the media, the rate at which our economy consumes these resources continues to grow.
- About half of global deforestation ends up providing raw materials for high-quality advertising materials, most of which are thrown away without even having been read.
- The productivity of agriculture in many countries has stopped its growth already. The degradation of arable soils caused by human activity will lead to them being exhausted somewhere around the middle of the XXI century, which will inevitably cause a severe food crisis.
- Environmental problems and global climate change increase the frequency of natural disasters, especially typhoons and floods, and turn millions of people into climate refugees.
Very little is actually needed to solve the issues of overpopulation and social unrest in the countries of the «Third world», which are such popular topics for discussion in higher circles: to provide people with water, food and at least a minimum of education. The amount of funds necessary for such a project is less than that which developed countries spend annually on makeup, icecream and pet food. But developed countries prefer their own luxuries to other people's water.
The introduction of free universal healthcare would save the health of millions, who could provide humanity with colossal human resources in the future. But capitalism prefers to make money in rich countries by developing cosmetic surgery that cripples people both physically and mentally, because it's twice as profitable.
Almost a whole billion suffers from chronic malnutrition and starvation. At the same time, about 30% to 50% of produced food in developed countries is thrown away, and a large part of it never even reaches the store because of its «non-marketable» appearance which the consumers may not like as much.
Office workers in a developed country spend 7 to 9 hours in a comfortable building and often doesn't even produce anything of value, whether material or intellectual, and yet they are paid several times more that denizens of a Third-world country who work 10 to 12 hours in harmful conditions, that shorten their lifespan by decades, producing all that supports the lifestyle of those office workers.
Modern achievements in information technologies are viewed purely as another venue to extract profits from and stimulate consumerism further. Instead of putting this colossal computing power to good use, solving the most pressing problems of science and economics, capitalism utilizes it to create tools for total surveillance over everyone and everything, so as not to miss an opportunity to trick people into buying their goods through targeted advertising.
Global pollution is another inevitable consequence of consumerism. Every year the volume of newly created garbage grows by 3%, which means that in 25 years humanity will throw away twice as much of it as today, and in 50 years - four times as much. Already the ocean is polluted to such an extent that enormous «garbage patches» form on its surface, killing marine wildlife and poisoning the water. All of the planet's ecosystems are to some extent infiltrated by pollutants that are dangerous to human health, such as DDT and pesticides, that cause a whole range of diseases including cancer.
Out of all armed conflicts that began in the XXI century proper, about two dozen are still ongoing. «Grey zones» with no centralized government, law or minimal social stability appear all over the planer, especially in the Third world where they encompass entire regions. This allows developed countries access to cheap raw materials and high profits for those corporations directly or indirectly involved in warfare.
The downside of this production cycle are the growth of international crime and terrorism, epidemics, and millions-strong flows of refugees.
If the current economic system, based on mandatory uninterrupted growth of production and consumption, persists, all these problems will only become worse.
Considering the actions of the capitalist system on a global scale, one might think that its rulers are insane. But this would be an incorrect assumption, since all that is happening is either necessary to preserve the privileged position of those who own the productive capabilities of humanity, or is an inevitable side-effect of this preservation. Only this way can they keep themselves in power, by controlling the population of developed countries that they are mostly based in: by dehumanizing them and turning them into insatiable consumers, who are willing to replace their gadgets annually, throw away enormous amounts of food, put up with kilometers-long traffic jams just to have their own vehicle, and, deprived of productive labor, suffer from the lack of any meaning in their existence, deceiving themselves with futile attempts to replace it with consumerism.
Still revering the ideological remains of the «invisible hand of the market», our rulers pay no attention to these global problems, and continue to hope that the solution will eventually present itself, born out of massive speculative dealings with financial capital and constant boom-bust cycles that regularly cause painful crises in the global economy. Escape from each such crisis is accomplished by larger and larger expenditures of non-renewable resources, which leaves less and less space for economic maneuvering in the future. But every time an accidental temporary solution is declared to be a permanent one, and, having repeated the mantra of «market solves everything», humanity, with the corporations at its head, starts a new consumerist race towards the next crisis.
At the end of the Roman Empire, the slave-owning society in Europe had fallen into decadence and was demolished by barbarians. Civilization as people knew it back then ceased to exist for a while. The similarly rotting feudal system was replaced in the West by a more progressive one with a wave of bourgeois revolutions, just in time to prevent a crisis in agricultural productivity that would have led to its collapse. The East failed to do so and, as a result of their stagnation and degradation, they fell victim to the colonialist depredations of a more developed West. The modern economic system approaches the limits of its development in a similar fashion, and the necessity of its radical transformation becomes so pressing as never before.
The Fight for our Future
Global consequences of human activity necessary to maintain the current economic system have already made it difficult to preserve the achievements of civilization for future generations. Having reached the limits of its potential, market economy rapidly loses stability and becomes a hazard for its own participants, as does any system that reaches its breaking point.
We are already facing the need for an economy and a society of a new type, if only to prevent our common future from becoming a dystopia previously only seen in fiction. Its foundation has to account for global capabilities of humanity and modern scientific concepts about the world.
By refusing to consciously change the current state of affairs today, humanity may reenact the fate of the Roman Empire on a global scale tomorrow.
A sustainable global economy and a prosperous society can only be achieved by combining the scientific method with free cooperation of all people on the planet.
Practical implementation of these principles, however, is impossible when economic power is in the hands of competing corporations, when mutual hatred spreads and whole nations loathe each other, the oppressed resent the oppressors and the ruling class openly despises those who have to work for a living.
Free cooperation of all the people in the world requires universal access to civilization's basic achievements: quality education, healthcare, nutrition, accommodation and at least a minimum of everyday necessities and clothing.
The creation of an economy that satisfies these criteria will inevitably abolish old principles of management, destroy religious, national and gender-based prejudice, and a lot of «traditional» social stereotypes. It will demolish everything that supports and cements the right of a tiny minority to use the labor of the majority in their personal interests. Which means that it will provoke severe resistance. To overcome this resistance, it might be necessary to fight those devoted to the old order, which has become obsolete and dangerous to humanity, for years.
Therefore, in present-day conditions the fight for a sustainable future of all mankind becomes primarily a fight against the current ruling class and its adherents.
This fight, in one form or the other, goes on from the times when the state first appeared. The winners were always the oppressors of old, or new groups that entered the fray only to remove the old ruling class and grab the right to live off the rest of society for themselves.
But during all these centuries, the struggle of the majority, which had entirely different goals and ideals in mind, never ceased.
From the time when severe food shortages were softened by the agricultural revolution, humanity has always been attempting to return to the natural state of universal equality. Every time when the contradictions within a given society had reached their peak, this struggle manifested as open warfare. The memories of largest of such conflicts were preserved in history.
From antiquity we can recall the slave rebellion led by Spartacus, who enforced equality in his army and for a pretty long time fought professional Roman troops quite successfully.
Feudalism saw multiple peasant rebellions, including an English one led by Wat Tyler, who demanded the abolition of serfdom and feudal privileges, and asked for the people to be able to directly address their king whom they naively considered a protector of the «common folk».
The Russian socialist revolution of October 1917 is the most recent such event in our memory, based on the ideas of universal material equality and the fraternity of all laborers of the world. We receive the fruits of this struggle even now, often without realizing it, in the form of various social benefits, «gifted» by the ruling class to the masses in all the world's developed countries out of fear that it might resume again.
The memories of this constant struggle were also preserved in culture created by the common people, as fairy tales, ballads and legends about those who enter an uphill battle for equality and freedom against those who had been living off others' labor for centuries.
Even now, in the era of individualism and the worship of wealth that have been enforced by the market economy, the idea of a hero who fights for justice preserves its attractiveness for most people. The best proof of this is its active utilization in modern cinema and other mass-culture. People are willing to pay money to the very system that humiliates them daily for the opportunity to see the victory of justice, at least in fiction and for a little while.
And yet, these uprisings were sooner or later defeated and the old order of coercion and humiliation triumphed again. In the past, there were several reasons for this:
The ruling class has always aspired to deny the oppressed access to knowledge, allowing them to study only to the extent necessary to perform their designated social role - that of a slave, a peasant or an industrial worker. Because of that, the rebelling masses could never have had a full understanding of their role in the production process, and develop a more or less cohesive project of a more just and fair society. Because of that, in practice these uprisings usually resorted to the simplest of equalizing measures, often reduced to simply pillaging the estates of the wealthy.
Being illiterate, deprived of effective self-mobilization skills and reliable communications, the rebels usually had very poor coordination achieved through rather hard efforts, which allowed the ruling class to suppress the rebellion by force, deception or intimidation, often right at the start.
Those who managed to launch an active movement often suffered from self-defeating indecisiveness born out of social stereotypes. After all, they were fed the lies about the inherent nobility, superiority and divine mandate of their oppressors since childhood. This created moral obstacles in the way of decisive military action against the ruling class. The oppressors, in turn, had always been assured in the inferiority and subhuman status of their subjects, which is why they always drowned such rebellions in blood with very little qualms.
Paris, 1871. The execution of unarmed members of the Paris Commune, with attendance and participation from "respectable citizens"
When the movement reached a serious scale and the rebels tried to make some demands of their oppressors, it often turned out that their «political program» had been very primitive. Since they usually lacked the opportunity to even think about a practical implementation of a social order better than the current one, their program was usually limited to stripping the ruling class of a part of its privileges and replacing a «bad king» with a «good» one. The rebels persisted in their naive delusion that cancelling unimportant but spectacular privileges and replacing the most odious personas in government could somehow ease the plight of the common people. The very same delusion, by the way, is preserved in modern voters by democratic politicians, who always promise that it is enough to simply fix a couple of laws, and replace a bad party in power with a good one, to bring prosperity to the people.
But history has always shattered these illusions, proving that, if a system that was built to provide prosperity to the few by debasing the many stays in place, it will sooner or later return to the status quo. Given enough time, cosmetic corrections that were made by the rebellious masses were cancelled, and «good rulers» became ordinary tyrants. Often the oppression had gotten even worse: the renewed elite learned from the mistakes of their predecessors and attempted to prevent such a dangerous precedent from ever happening again.
It is important to note that not any armed struggle within a given country, aimed at overthrowing its current government, can be considered a popular uprising or a revolution. A struggle that replaces one oppressor with another, while preserving the existing system of social interactions, is nothing more than an ordinary coup, even if it hides behind the slogans of social justice and calls itself a revolution. The real purpose of this event is to solve the contradictions that arose within the ruling class, and its practical consequences are just a change of faces in power and ownership rights effected by force of arms.
A revolution, in contrast, is always more than just a coup. Not only does it change the composition of the government in a country, but also its social structure and the principles of social interactions.
For a revolution to happen, society has to «ripen», meaning that its productive forces have outgrown existing social relations, and a critical mass of contradictions between the ruling class and the rest of society has accumulated. The resulting destruction of previous societal structure has to be supported with force, or at least passive consent on part of the majority of the population. If the breaking point has not been reached, and if society is still willing to cope with the existing order of things, no propaganda, whether from inside or outside the country, is capable of stirring an actual revolution.
Nevertheless, the existence of political groups that defend the interests of the oppressed can help them better understand the collective nature of said interests, and the fact that they can only be served by a collective struggle for a radical change in social structure. At the start of a revolution the existence of a political force that is respected by the people allows them to act in a more organized manner and pursue goals that have been outlined in advance, instead of improvisation and spontaneous demands, that may lead the uprising to an early defeat.
It has to be noted, that the labor and revolutionary movements of the XIX and XX centuries, including the Russian socialist revolution of 1917, have advanced far beyond their predecessors' reach in this matter.
The working class, concentrated in huge masses to satisfy industrial demand in manpower, was formed into collectives by the very nature of their work, and felt great power in its actions. At the same time, society produced a sizeable strata of intellectuals, and its most progressive part assisted the working class in understanding its interests and opportunities to fight the oppressors. This allowed to create political organizations that pursued the interests of workers in advance and account for most of the mistakes made by their predecessors.
Not all of these mistakes were successfully avoided or corrected, though.
At the start of the XX century, the consciousness of the working class, as well as that of many revolutionaries, proved to be lacking, as not everyone by far understood the necessity of complete and utter destruction of the existing system of exploitation, which led to the defeat of the revolutionary movement in Western Europe. Its victory in Russia was not nearly enough to create a stable socialist society, due to the fact that Russia was still a rather backwards agro-industial country at the time. After the revolution this created a whole plethora of problems that seemed completely new at first look, but their roots went back to the same reasons that doomed prior popular uprisings to defeat throughout history.
But let us get back to the present, namely, to the issue of fighting for a sustainable future that provides a decent life for the majority. This requires an assessment of how the situation has changed over the past 100 or so years.
Let's start with the negatives.
The aforementioned reasons caused huge masses of workers in developed countries to be separated from each other by the «service economy» and morally enslaved by consumerism.
Modern technologies provide the state with more effective means of control and propaganda, which are used to preserve the status quo. The same technologies are utilized by the ruling class directly to enforce their own system of values and point of view through mass-media, advertisement and culture.
Developed countries have succeeded in creating an illusion of similarity between their workers and the ruling class: nowadays they are more or less dressed, fed and can even possess some attributes of «success» that were previously only available to the ruling class. This somewhat masks the difference between those who earn a living by their own labor and those who live off the toil of others.
But every cloud has a silver lining. The positives of these changes seemingly outweigh the negatives.
The relocation of massive industries into the Third world has dramatically increased its productivity. This leads to a gradual increase in the qualification and self-consciousness of its workers, which is manifested, for example, in their labor becoming more expensive, and in turn leads to the return of some industries back to developed countries.
The significant rise in complexity of production processes that took place during the XX century demands a lot more highly qualified workers with extensive knowledge on various topics, which increased the general educational level of the population.
Modern technology, especially in the fields of data processing and communications, make self-education accessible for a huge number of laborers, which broadens their worldview and increases their intellectual level. Potentially, this gives them the opportunity to effectively organize themselves on a massive scale to solve their collective problems.
The external trappings of «success» that are easily available to laborers in developed countries take, amongst other things, the form of free access to information and free time to process this information. Some of us can understand their place in the social order and their interest as a part of the whole class because of this, and communicate this knowledge further. A hundred years ago this was only possible for a relatively small strata of intellectuals who had almost no natural social links to the workers.
The productivity of labor, which has dramatically increased during the XX century, is worth a special mention. It has grown so much, that if a fair scientific approach is applied to the distribution of all that is produced today in the world, it is possible to provide everyone with basic social necessities, including healthcare and education, therefore removing some of the major sources of humanity's social ills.
The modern social structure, which is humiliating to many, has become obsolete and dangerous to humanity. It persists purely on the mechanisms of social translation (e.g. people are accustomed to living as they have always lived), using the fact that the majority does not understand its place in the social order and its opportunities, and, of course, on the economical, ideological and armed coercion by the ruling class.
This means that today the main task in the fight for a sustainable future worthy of human beings is to create the conditions, under which the majority will realize, that their interests and problems are a part of common interests and problems, and understands the real power of organized collective action.
The First Few Steps
Prophesies are better left to the clergy, and sweet promises of a simple and happy life - to «professional» politicians. However, we have to outline the main steps that humanity will have to take on its way to a new society. At the same time, we will describe the major traits that it will acquire on its path to a higher stage of development.
The foundation of any society is the economy that sustains it, and the principles of distribution on which this economy is based. Which means that a new society may only be built by restructuring the modern global economic system with its market principles into an economy that is oriented towards sustainable development and the well-being of the vast majority of people.
As we mentioned several times before, the implementation of these new principles will be met with severe resistance by the current ruling class. The situation is confounded further by the differences in development of various countries, which makes a simultaneous transition to a new economic system on a planetary scale impossible. This will significantly decrease its effectiveness at the start in those countries that will have already made this transition.
The countries that will make the first step in the right direction will be the ones where several obligatory conditions are met:
- A critical level of contradictions in society between those who produce its boons and those who distribute them. The wider the gap in material wealth and real opportunities in life between the laborers and the ruling class, the higher this level is.
- A collective self-awareness developed amongst the laborers, that is, the understanding of the shared nature of their interests and problems, and the necessity of collective action to bring about the solution of said problems.
- The existence of a progressive project about the transformation of the economy and the whole society that serves as an ideological beacon that unites the most active and respected members of the working majority.
- The existence of an organization that is ready to take charge of implementing this project in the event of a crisis.
The completion of the first condition always rests completely on the ruling class: the more profits the owners extract, the more political power they have, the worse the economy is for everyone else in the country - the higher is dissatisfaction in society, the stronger are the contradictions between the productive majority and the ruling minority. The usual attempts of the ruling class to pass the blame for «rocking the boat» onto revolutionaries and other malcontents is nothing but a distraction from their own greed and blindness.
The second condition also partially depends on the ruling class and its actions: a significant part of the self-awareness of the working people is formed by their participation in a collective production process, which means employment in enterprises that belong to the ruling class.
The rest of these conditions depend upon the coordination and effectiveness of those who have made building a new society their goal. Which means that we can and must strive to reach these particular conditions.
Those countries that reach the necessary combination of conditions first will have to implement a series of radical and interconnected transformations in all spheres of life. The most important steps on this road are as follows:
First of all, the political system and the apparatus of state will have to be remade completely.
The old system that was devoted to satisfying the interests of the minority at the expense of the majority and keep said majority in a humiliated state has to be completely replaced by a new system. This means that, instead of a simple change of faces in government, the very principles of governing and state structure have to be changed.
The conditions for the right to vote in any political election will have to change:
Citizens only have the right to vote if they personally participate in a socially beneficial production process.
The usual universal suffrage becomes history along with the political and economic systems that created it.
At first it may seem that this would deprive a huge number of citizens from the right to vote. But it has to be noted that, firstly, the vast majority of citizens today are de-facto already deprived of the right to decide anything. All candidates eligible for election in a capitalist system during its ritualistic «free elections» are either representatives of the ruling class, or its puppets, and the only difference between them is in their rhetoric. The rare exceptions almost never change the balance of power in government. Secondly, as a result of the economic transformation that are outlined further in this text, the majority of the population will become participants in a socially beneficial production process, which makes them eligible to vote.
The conditions for the right to be elected will also have to change:
Citizens only have the right to be elected if during their personal participation in production they have proven themselves to be qualified professionals and organizers, and their nomination is initiated by their collective.
This allows to form a government out of people with practical, and, therefore, easily verifiable, results in the field of socially beneficial work.
Of course, there can be no infallible filter protecting government from those who would want to join it to satisfy their personal interests. This is why their activities will have to be strictly monitored and regimented, and the elected officials themselves will have to report regularly to their constituents on their actions. At the same time, the voters will be given the right to recall their representatives at any moment.
The introduction of these principles in the political system solves two major goals:
We, the people who produce all the amenities of civilization, gain exclusive rights to distribute the fruits of our labor as we see fit. This creates a political foundation that helps solve the ages-long conflict between the working majority and the ruling minority.
The representatives of the former ruling minority, who will inevitably try to return to power by any means necessary, are kept out of government by law.
Simultaneously with these changes in voting rights, conditions to implement direct democracy have to be created. The people must have a direct hand in governing their country without the mediation of elected representatives.
Today there are no technological obstacles to direct democracy, unlike in the past. But social obstacles remain: direct democracy requires citizens to have a high educational level and political consciousness, as well as developed collective decision-making mechanisms, and a stable political and economic situation that leaves everyone enough time to make these decisions.
It is impossible to satisfy all these criteria in a country that has just started to move towards a new society, therefore, the mechanisms of direct democracy have to be introduced gradually, as conditions for them are met.
The material infrastructure of government also changes. The ever-rising complexity of production processes and society forced people to aggregate into huge capital cities and regional centres. Due to their distributional functions, these urban centres started accumulating material wealth, which created a special economic and social environment within them, one more comfortable than in the rest of the country. Having lived for some time in such luxurious conditions, even the most honorable representatives of the people's interests tend to lose the comprehension of the actual state of affairs in the country and the motivation to stick to their promises to the voters. Not to mention those people who made it their goal to profit from power in the first place.
This geographic centralization of power, which had once been necessary to rule a country effectively, becomes history right alongside the economic system that brought it to life.
Modern communications allow us to replace it with a decentralized system of government. There will be no more need to create large and expensive administrative complexes, that have to include not only the administrative buildings themselves, but also supporting infrastructure and security.
Those elected to govern the country continue, both in form and in practice, to be members of the collectives that nominated them, and may only leave them in case of dire need and for a limited amount of time. Their wages are paid by the organization that nominated them and may not be higher than the limit designated by the collective.
This solves several problems concerning elected representatives:
They constantly keep in touch with their constituents.
They gain no privileges that put them into an advantageous position in comparison to their constituents, and therefore do not form a separate group of people that may put their interests above those of the rest of society.
They retain their place in the production process if possible, which prevents them becoming «pure bureaucrats», who try to stay work-free for as long as possible and become a privileged group. This can also be prevented by collective oversight.
They remain in their usual social environment, under the eyes of their working collective, friends and acquaintances, which in and by itself makes illegal profiteering harder.
A geographically decentralized system is much less vulnerable to decapitation strikes in case of armed conflict, since there are no large obvious targets in form of administrative centres.
Of course, these are the very preliminary outlines of the general political principles and mechanisms of the new society, based on the main goal of gradually involving all economically active citizens in government. In time this will minimize the number of elected representatives, who are indispensable at the start of the process.
The New Economy
Political transformation is only the first, and the easiest, of revolutionary changes necessary to construct a new society within a given country. The work of rebuilding its economy based on completely new principles is no less important, and much more difficult.
The old economic system, being a part of the global capitalist economy, will inevitably suffer the wrath of the global ruling class. In the very first days of the new regime we're going to see a sharp dive of various stock exchange indexes and stock prices of companies based in the country that started its way towards a new society. Financial capital is likely to flee this country on a massive scale.
The governments of «developed countries», directed by transnational corporations, will do everything that is in their power to crush those who dared to challenge the global system, at least, economically. Major economical and political sanctions are likely to be brought against it, since the very existence of such a country questions the legitimacy of the current world order and the prosperity of the ruling class.
These conditions make building a self-sustaining economy the first priority, especially concerning the means of production and everyday amenities. The new economy will have to provide the population with everything they need, from soap, food and personal computers to industrial equipment, steel foundries and electrical generators.
The press of international sanctions will leave very little time to restructure the economy, since those resources that were previously imported from abroad will no longer be available, and their existing stocks will sooner or later run out.
At the start the new political system will have to deal with the legacy of market economy, which will have retained all its worst traits: chaotic production of profitable goods instead of cheap and necessary ones, a tendency to lower the quality or longevity of goods to increase profits, excessive use of resources up to their complete exhaustion, a huge number of intermediaries and traders who make a living out of pure resale, a bloated body of «sales managers», marketing specialists, promoters, lawyers, accountants and other «office clerks» who produce nothing yet consume a lot.
The property rights of capital owners on the means of production, the right to distribute the product of communal labor as they see fit to satisfy their personal and business interests, the very right that serves as a basis of the old political system that oppresses the majority and causes most modern social ills, endangering our common future on a scale of the whole planet, will still be there.
In these conditions of international sanctions and massive flight of capital out of the country, market economy will prove to be unable to mobilize the productive forces of society at a necessary pace. Moreover, the capital owners themselves will sabotage any economical transformations to get political power back.
These new conditions will show ever more convincingly the inadequacy of the market-based economic principles in the context of existing productive forces and political situation.
All major means of production, including enterprises in the field of IT and telecommunications, will have to be socialized. A centralized system of economic planning will be introduced to implement the transformations according to the political will of the majority of the population.
This will free gigantic human and computing resources from useless tasks made up by business to increase sales. This will allow society to create data collecting and processing systems that are capable of tracking and analyzing all important economic statistics in real time.
Dynamic planning will be introduced on a country-wide scale to create a self-sufficient, sustainable economy that has to satisfy the needs of the majority. Existing technologies allow to collect data from all significant economic actors, and process it in a centralized system at a moment's notice, which in turn allows this system to react to fluctuations of demand, unexpected events and innovations without delay. Such an economic system, built upon the achievements of modern information technologies, will have much more foresight and flexibility than the free market economy, or any of the variations of command planned economy that appeared during the XX century and were based on «manual» labor of intellectuals and bureaucrats. One of the other indisputable advantages of the new economy will be its transparency to the population: everyone will be able to see and control how the produced goods and services are distributed and utilized, which will put additional obstacles in the path of any possible corruption.
The first goal of this new economy is obvious and predetermined: it has to provide the population with all necessary amenities and social benefits.
Its second goal should be comprehensive automation of both work and home. The new society can only dispose of the underlying economic causes of social inequality and clear the way to creative and evolutive labor for the majority, if it can rid the people of regular menial labor that dulls the mind and the senses. Solving this problem will provide a guarantee of long-term sustainability of the new social order.
The third goal is to create environmentally-friendly enclosed production cycles and find alternative inexhaustible or renewable sources of energy and raw materials.
Reaching the first goal requires rapid production growth which will be achieved by directing liberated labor into new industries. The socialization of production and liquidation of excessive structures of market economy will leave a whole army of former office workers, sales managers and security guards without a job, and their reeducation will allow to cover for the needs of these new industries, and at the same time involve former consumers in socially beneficial labor, completely solving the problem of unemployment.
The second and especially third goals require the development of fundamental sciences, which is impossible without universal quality education. This makes it necessary to to direct a significant portion of resources of the new economy into education and science, to guarantee the sustainability of civilization in the future and increase the productivity of labor even further.
The Transformation of Society
Despite all the decisive political and economical transformations undertaken in the country that chooses the new path of development, its society, as well as the economy, will bear all the traits of the previous order.
The old society is deeply marked by the economical and political structures of centuries past: by all the humiliation, limitation and coercion of the majority for the sake of a minority. All social relationships are infested with it in one way or the other, which we can easily see in the arrogant attitude of the government towards its people, in the contempt that the well-off hold for the poor, in the dictatorial manners of managers towards their underlings. Even the family and relationships between members of the same household are often based on coercion to some extent: seniors lord over minors, husbands over wives (though sometimes it's reversed) and the strong dominate the weak.
People always perceive their personal surroundings as a natural habitat and rarely ever think about how it came to be like this and when did it all go wrong. The influence of previous socioeconomic formations is so ingrained in the public consciousness, that it is considered to be natural and self-evident, and is often entrenched in society as traditions and customs.
We understand that it is impossible to build a new and just society based on cooperation and rationality without getting rid of the prejudices and problems of the old society. Left unchecked, they will resurrect the old order and destroy all achievements of our common struggle even after successful implementation of political and economical measures. The history of the XX century provides ample proof of that.
But, unlike in the case of politics and the economy, the transformation of relationships within the society cannot be achieved simply by passing a law and enforcing it. Moreover, an attempt to legislatively «fix» some areas of social life, such as family life, will probably produce a negative result and cause people to resent the new political system entirely.
The main tool with which to combat the ruinous legacy of the past is the deliberate orientation of production towards completely new material conditions of everyday life, which will serve as a foundation for the new social order, and prevent the conservation and distribution of the old one.
The economy, which no longer has to squeeze profits out of every sphere of life, will be able to provide the people with all the necessary amenities.
First of all, housing. For modern people, housing is not a luxury, not an investment or a flight of fancy - it is a natural condition that has to be met to maintain their ability to work. Therefore, the right to shelter has to be satisfied unconditionally and free of charge for all participants of the socially beneficial production process as one of the first measures of the new system. The modern productivity of labor is so high, that economically active citizens will cover the cost of their housing in an indirect way in a very short period, without having to submit to the yoke of mortgage payments for decades.
New housing will be built with problems of old housing in mind, based on the latest achievements in construction technology and automation. Each new housing block will be equipped with automated domestic services complexes, such as laundry, janitorial and cleaning systems, public catering and so on.
By resettling people from overcrowded old apartments and into new automated housing located near their workplace we will free millions of people, especially women, from everyday domestic toil, which in and by itself will solve a lot of social problems that were caused by overcrowding, dulling domestic work and despondency.
While providing all citizens with work and housing is important, we also have to address the issue of giving proper education to future generations. This is one of the most important tasks, which has to be completed to achieve sustainability and further development of the new society. Unsolved, it can later cause the loss of all that will have been built and the degradation of political and economic systems.
Therefore, the new economy has to provide the country with a complete system of education and upbringing, built according to the new principles of social order.
A citizen of a country that has chosen the revolutionary path of development has to become a member of a new society in all respects. His or her knowledge, social skills, customs and motivation have to be clean of the shameful stains of violence and coercion that marked the previous generations.
To solve such a monumental problem, the new educational system has to encompass people's lives from their very first years up to the most advanced age. For people liberated from routine toil the educational process, once started, has to remain uninterrupted, and become as voluntary and indispensable a part of life, as nutrition, relaxation and personal hygiene.
The educational process will have to achieve two goals, that may, at first, seem at odds with one another. On one hand, it has to foster collectivism, a sense of belonging and the understanding that all of humanity's achievements are only possible as a result of coordinated labor of the many. On the other hand, every person has to be brought up as an adequate, independent human being. Every person has to possess critical thinking and an ability to understand themselves and the surrounding society, be ready to take responsibility and action if necessary, and never fear going against the opinion of the majority if it proves to be wrong. Without fostering collective solidarity, the educational system, even with a high level of general education, will turn future generation into crowds of individualist consumers who ignore the common good (which is their own good too in the future) in order to satisfy their egotistical urges.
Without fostering an independent personality in every child, the educational system will, instead of a society composed of people who live in conscious mutually beneficial cooperation with each other, produce a compliant human herd that will obey enforced commands and obviously obsolete «established norms», creating a great opportunity for some group to seize power.
Both scenarios inevitably cause degradation of social order and return society to the previous stage of development, which makes the issue of educating the future generations even more important.
By providing everyone with necessary amenities, solving the problem of outrageous material inequality, laying down the foundation of rapid scientific and technological progress, and creating an educational system that will support the reproduction of a new type of people, society will finally be able to ensure freedom for the vast majority of its citizens.
When we say «freedom» we mean, first and foremost, the freedom of self-expression and self-actualization through work and movement, and never the «freedom» of coercion and violence that forms the basis for market economy and is nowadays called «freedom of commerce».
By introducing new technologies into production in a centralized and planned manner, the economy will constantly increase the productivity of labor, which will allow to gradually decrease the necessary length of an average workday and the number of working days in a week. People will have more and more control over their time, which they will be able to spend on self-development, socializing with other people or trying out interesting new professions.
Real freedom of self-expression can only exist in conditions of universal material equality. People can only truly express themselves and realize their full potential, therefore positively distinguishing themselves, when they and others understand that all they have created is the product of their own development and that of their collective, and does not depend on their inheritance, social origin and other attributes that can often be found in various «success stories» of capitalism.
A harmoniously developed economy will allow people to work in different geographical regions and have material goods available wherever they are needed, therefore ensuring true freedom of movement that is no longer restricted by the necessity to carry a load of personal luggage and fit into strict boundaries of vacations, which are usually both rare and short.
The liberation of human consciousness from constant pressure of direct and indirect advertising will break the chains of consumerist slavery and provide true freedom of choice.
Universal implementation of information technologies and the ability to directly control the government will ensure true freedom of information and exchange of opinions.
The new automated housekeeping and a developed educational system that fosters children from a very early age will finally abolish «domestic slavery» and provide true gender equality. The relationships between people will be absolved of their economic roots and, being economically independent from one another, people will be able to build relationships based on sincere feelings and not on the need to pay for mortgage or provide a decent education for the kids.
Even now we can see that the new society will seriously differ from the current one, which means that the people of the new society will also be different from us. Therefore, we should note that it is wrong to assess the consequences of the future social transformations based on the widespread stereotype of «the best is what's familiar».
Any attempt to build a new society always leads to the abolition of many outdated stereotypes and customs, or else it fails. If we really want to build a more just, rational and free society, we have to start critically assessing our own social stereotypes now. We have to learn to see our modern lives and ourselves through the eyes of the people of a new society.
Here we have addressed only the first, and most pressing, matters.
We know that after they are finished, politics, the economy, society and all their elements - including separate people and their families - will be profoundly changed, and the world of «prosperity through violence» and «labor through coercion» that we're accustomed to will become a world cleansed of the ruinous legacy of centuries of universal destitution, want and disunity.
A world free of thousand-year-old social ills that divide it into warring factions. A world where people can enjoy the fruits of their own labor without becoming slaves of other people. A world where people improve, learn and express themselves through interesting creative labor, gifting it to society and receiving recognition and respect in return. A world where people have abolished the borders built by petty hatred born out of the resource scarcity of the past, to preserve and multiply the best traits of all the nations in a new society.
The first steps towards the future are the beginning of a new era for all of humanity.
An Easier Way?
We realize that the measures we propose are incredibly difficult to enact, and require us to sacrifice the familiar old world to do so. This world will be defended by those who have no place in the new world - the «elites» who live off our labor. Therefore, the way to the new world will be hard and the results may not be immediately visible.
In such a predicament, any normal person would ask themselves a completely natural question: «Is there an easier way?»
So did we. We couldn't give ourselves a simple and convincing answer, which is why we went through various options and adopted the experience of those close to us.
Everyone is free to go through (and maybe already did so) the same motions that we did, and find the answer to this question on their own, just by spending a few years of their life. We, in turn, will outline several of the «easy» options that are usually offered by the familiar old world to those who want to change it.
Everyone probably knows the saying «If you want to change the world, start with yourself».
We concede that there is some truth and common sense to it. A drunkard preaching about the evils of alcohol does not look very convincing. A fighter against consumerism looks ridiculous in a queue for the latest model of a fashionable gadget. Even more ridiculous are those who proclaim to «fight for a better world», yet cannot get a normal life, and have to live off their relatives while sermonizing about great deeds through a blog.
Many people take the idea of starting with yourself to heart, and, sometimes, it actually helps them solve their personal problems, whether it's being overweight, having a low-paying job or a bad neighborhood.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with people wanting to clean up their neighborhood, take care of their health and do sports to look better and get sick less often. This sort of thing is always welcome.
But even here the universal duality of our life leads us into a trap. Having achieved a promising result rather quickly, people try to apply the same method to the whole world, without concern for the difference in scale between personal and global problems and the multiple variations between their own living conditions, and those of the rest of the world.
This is how the «thinking small» concept is born.
For instance, being overweight may be a consequence of a person's own laziness in a particular case, when said person has all the conditions to fight this problem. At the same time, mass obesity that became a serious issue for some developed countries is a general social problem caused by the lifestyle enforced by the global economic system. Many of those who suffer from it objectively have no time, motivation or strength to overcome it without extra help.
In this situation, those who have solved their personal problem may convince others to follow their example as much as they want to: the majority is unable to do so, even if they agree with what they have to say.
The same can be said about those who fight traffic jams and reject personal automobilism, when population is concentrated in large urban aglomerations and automotive corporations conduct aggressive marketing campaigns to present cars as indispensable elements of a successful lifestyle.
In a similar fashion, environmentalists can fight for preservation of the planet's ecosystems as much as they want, but even their regular local victories look hollow, due to the fact that the modern economy demands constant growth of consumption, which leads to an ever-increasing environmental footprint.
Those who fight for sobriety and promote «sober holidays» are doomed to defeat, when compared to established social norms and the influence of corporations who profit from selling alcohol.
The supporters of a healthy lifestyle cannot provide the majority with healthy food, and, which is even more important, with a healthy environment to live in. They have nothing that could counter the influence of the modern economy that destroys entire ecosystems and deprives people of their healthy habitat.
Those who fight corruption will always lose, so long as money and profit rule the global system. While they can sometimes defeat small-time corrupted officials, they cannot fight «official» corruption that works on an international and countrywide level and is called lobbying.
Such examples are without count, and they all tell the same story: people who sincerely struggle to implement socially beneficial ideas are doomed to defeat.
Thinking small can benefit people - namely those who profit from it, selling self-help books to naive people. The author is a president of a consulting firm, a professional chatterbox and businessman. He definetly knows how to change the world for the better - for himself
The reasons of this are twofold. Firstly, in most cases people try to fight the consequences, because they feel that fighting the actual source of the problem is outside their power. Secondly, even fighting the symptoms usually fails due to a massive inequality between the sides of this struggle. On one side we usually see a small group of desperate idealists, on the other - billions of dollars provided by international corporations. A small group of heroes can only win against all odds in fairy tales and Hollywood movies. Real life produces no such miracles.
And still they continue their desperate struggle. Thousands of modern Sysiphuses push their stones up the hill with no real chance of winning, only because, despite their imminent defeat on a global scale, they often achieve small but satisfying local victories: a harmful factory is closed down here, someone quit alcohol and took up clean living there, a corrupt official was sent to jail somewhere else, and so on.
The natural and noble desire to do some good to the society that fostered them is expressed in these actions. Life finally has a meaning, they get the gratitude and sincere respect from those around them. They gain personal satisfaction and serenity: they did not remain passive, they are doing what they can to make life better.
If something goes wrong, they conclude that they don't put enough effort into it, which means they have to work harder. This drowns such activists in their struggle with the consequences even more, depriving them of the free time they might have needed to critically assess their actions.
If we take an unbiased look at the situation, we can see that such organizations have no quantitative or qualitative growth over the years on a global scale, which proves the very low effectiveness of their efforts.
This is why the idea of «thinking small» is supported by the existing system and is distributed via its propaganda machine. It captures the minds of the most active, sincere and conscious people and directs their efforts towards a hopeless struggle against the consequences, and not the source. This way their collective potential is safely disposed of by the system. The more problems the system creates, the more consequences there are for the «thinking small» activists to overcome, and the deeper they sink in their concerns, which makes them even safer.
It is indeed correct to assume that you should start changing the world with yourself, as a part of it. And at that stage it is important to evaluate the situation properly, and separate the causes from the consequences, to choose the right methods for each case.
Since we have to solve some very large-scale problems, we have to concentrate our efforts on beating them at the source, and not expend them in a hopeless battle against the consequences.
Those unwilling to limit themselves by «thinking small» often get mired in the swamp of official politics, which is marketed by the establishment, and often simply enforced, in the form of liberal democracy. This theory postulates that citizens can rule their country by means of universal suffrage that allows them to choose from competing political parties, coalitions and politicians. As the apologists of this system claim, it is the best one of all, and the only way for those in power to at least consider the plight of the common people. And if it doesn‘t solve your problems for some reason - then your country simply «isn’t democratic enough».
Since the period when this system first propagated through developed countries in the end of XIX and beginning of XX century, millions time and again buy into its promises, thinking that their choice in favor of one party or another actually means something. But nowadays disappointment and dissatisfaction builds up even in the most prosperous Western countries, where prosperity and consumerism once allowed common people to close their eyes to the true state of affairs. Voter turnout decreases, traditional parties lose their supporters, the electorate falls into apathy. This is not surprising: in practice, choosing democrats over socialists, liberals over conservatives, centrists over «greens», and any other change within the official political spectrum produce no actual results. The «socialists», who yesterday promised social justice to their voters, once elected, immediately bend their knee to those who have real power and enforce their will on the people, forgetting about all their promises and covering it with cheap rhetoric. As an American proverb says, «the dollar votes more times than the man».
There is a great deal of political parties and movements that dream of coming to power within the system and promise to change everything: from conservatives to populists, from moderates to radicals and so on. Either ones or the others get the upper hand and this swing is going on for decades. All these parties can be classified into those that openly enact the will of capital owners, no matter their name - Republicans in the US, or liberal democrats in Europe, - and populist parties that attract voters by answering their call for justice and a decent life, calling themselves social democrats, people's parties and in some countries - even communists. Voters, disappointed by the inhuman politics of the first group, turn to the second and then inevitably get disappointed in it as well, returning to the first one that by that time would have already bombarded them with a stream of propaganda, convincing voters that they only have to get them back in power and put their trust in the invisible hand of the market for everything to go back to normal. The demand for populism during a global crisis is always high, which means that this pattern will repeat again and again.
The modern political system of developed countries serves first and foremost as a tool for the elites to keep their power and continue their parasitic existence at the expense of the working majority. All opportunities to «legally» change the system in favor of people who work for a living are deliberately closed.
Any activists, no matter how sincere in their convictions, having entered the machine of official politics become a part of this endless pendulum. Any party that wants to represent «the common people» and tries to come to power by «legal» (meaning permitted by the real powers that be) means finds itself incapable of enacting really radical transformations that may harm the prosperity of the elite, even if such party does make it into government somehow.
The United States Senate
Sabotage by the old government apparatus and businesses, vicious slander in the media, treason and ideological decomposition within and, finally, degeneration - this is what awaits any party that tries to go the parliamentary way and does not want to submit to the will of the elites. There are many examples of this process, both in relatively distant past and in the immediate present.
In these conditions the official political establishment is just a bunch of figureheads that serve as a mouthpiece of their real masters - the owners of corporations and major financial institutions. This is why the hope of a radical change of the existing social order by means of official politics is as naive as the hopes of medieval peasants, who wanted to improve their lives by exchanging a «bad king» for a «good one».
For those who fight for a just society official politics may only serve as an auxiliary instrument. Official parties often have regular access to mainstream media, which can be used to publicly denounce the existing system and offer a real alternative to it. But it is worth remembering that, as soon as the real powers that be see an actual threat to their prosperity, they will quickly find a pretext to ban such a party from official politics.
This system, created by capitalism, is unfit to work for the common good, just as the capitalist economy itself. It cannot be improved by acting within it and abiding by its rules and laws.
This is why it is useless to wait for the parliamentary parties, presidents, national leaders and other figures of official politics to «see the truth» and start «working for the good of the people». Despite their constant propaganda chatter «for all that is good» they will always act in the boundaries and by the rules of the existing system, doing all that is possible to preserve it.
Only we ourselves, guided by our own interests and making our own political rules that answer the interests of the majority, can free ourselves from the choking grip of the decaying old world.
The Last Barrier of the Old World
We proclaim that our goal is to create a new world.
Does it sound grandiose? Yes it does. But we should not settle for less. Today society approaches the limits of its development in its current form, which can no longer be postponed by stop-gap measures. There are only two paths beyond this point: decline and extinction, or a step up onto a new stage of development for humanity. We choose the latter.
The old world has given us all that it could and can do no more.
Having proven its ability to satisfy people's needs, it failed to provide everyone with at least the bare necessities.
Having created communication networks that reach all corners of the globe, it failed to teach people how to understand each other.
Having developed and perfected the tools to collect, process and transmit knowledge, it failed to make this knowledge available to all of humanity.
Having built gigantic cities with tens of millions of inhabitants, it has only made people farther away from each other.
Having learned how to transform nature on a global scale, it has refused all responsibility for its own actions and became a global force of destruction.
Having defeated gravity and reached other planets of our solar system, it made space an object of commerce and entertainment for a tiny minority.
Having awoken the abilities of the working people that created our current world, it became afraid of their power and turned creators into slaves to the very things they create.
Having reached its limits, the old world starts to devour and destroy itself.
We can see its limitations, its circularity and the danger it poses. We are ready to fight for a new world.
We consider it necessary to provide decent living conditions to everyone.
We must and we will learn how to understand each other.
We know that the achievements of nature and culture are the fruits of labor and the wealth of all humankind, and the more we share them with others, the more we gain ourselves.
We understand that people must free themselves from their voluntary imprisonment in concrete jungle and become a rational creative force.
We are sure that humanity, having overcome its contradictions and division, united by the forces of labor and reason, will become an explorer, inhabitant and creator of worlds beyond our home planet.
The task that stands before us is unusually global, very few people attempted something at this scale before us. But our modern-day capabilities have grown several times, maybe even several orders of magnitude more than the capabilities of humanity just a hundred years ago. During these years we, the people who work for a living, have learned much and understood much.
We have freed ourselves from our former intellectual dependency on those who live off our labor.
We have seen that there are no people on Earth more talented, numerous and stronger than us.
Now we can see into the future ourselves, and offer humanity our own project of the future that would belong to everyone in the world.
We are the creators of all humanity's wealth, and this is our reason for pride, the source of our right to enforce our will and build a new just society.
It is time to stop cowering in fear and waiting for others to tell us how to live. We have surpassed our oppressors in everything else but for the awareness of our own power.
The last barrier of the old world is in our minds. It is time to find it in ourselves to overcome it.
The world is in our hands
1 We realize that there were numerous other civilizations at the time, but the Roman Empire lays in the foundation of Western civilization that dominates the globe nowadays, which is why we concentrate on it so much here.
2 This is one of the fundamental contradictions between labor and capital: the lower the wages, the higher the profits.
3 Yes, by hand, automation of such processes is still a long way away in these countries, especially since human labor is so much cheaper there.
4 It is worth noting that small businesses are not capable of fundamental innovation anyway, but they can and do successfully implement new technologies on a minor scale.
5 Although it has to be noted that in the West this simply returns people from the social-democratic pipe-dream of the XX century to the conditions of the XIX-century capitalism.