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  •  feudalism was also a low-to-zero growth system (2+ / 0-)
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    Cassiodorus, ocular sinister

    The end of capitalism will open many doors, but very few of them will be worth walking through.  Most will lead back to feudalism, which will preserve the capitalist power dynamic - I own, you work, I take, you fight so I can own more, fuck you - but without the necessity of endless and accelerating growth that capitalism requires.  The fact that growing the pie will become impossible will do nothing to weaken the determination of the rich and powerful to grab as much of the pie as possible and begrudge even the crumbs they need to surrender in order to keep a workforce alive.

    A subsistence economy will not prevent the re-emergence of a feudal elite, since feudalism generated very little surplus anything.  Roads, castles, cathedrals, etc. were all built and maintained by conscripted peasants, who were also regularly pressed into combat service. Labor duties and the priority of the lord's crops (the demesne) could and usually did turn even a bumper crop into a mediocre harvest, and peasants routinely starved to death after a bad harvest since the aristocracy took in rents, taxes, user fees, etc. however much it needed to maintain its lifestyle regardless of how much was actually produced.

    Economics alone won't build a better world.  The aristocracy - the owners - need to go, period.

    Do you know why they call it the American Dream? Because it only happens when you're asleep.

    by Visceral on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 09:56:41 AM PST

    •  Right. (2+ / 0-)
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      Visceral, ocular sinister

      This is why the idea that capitalism will last forever needs to be so hotly contested -- it's the aristocracy's main ideological prop.

      "American money is a political commodity, backed by nothing except the willingness of collective holders of that money to believe in the American system of wealth production and trade." -- Matt Stoller

      by Cassiodorus on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 10:00:37 AM PST

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      •  but if they don't really need capitalism ... (3+ / 0-)

        Sure, they'll defend capitalism for as long as they possibly can, but when (not if) that becomes impossible, it's not as though the end of capitalism will magically result in egalitarian anarcho-communism living well within the Earth's carrying capacity.

        What Marx called the "Asiatic mode of production" - where you are all my slaves and you provide me with whatever I demand because I have demanded it - could easily survive capitalism.  It might even be strengthened in the absence of any glibertarian pretense to equitable and mutually beneficial transactions between buyers and sellers.

        I'm a big believer in the idea that economics is secondary to social structures - it's the means, not the end.  The proof lies in the fact that the oligarchs are willing to thwart any possibility of markets self-correcting and ultimately blow up their own system in order to get richer and avoid any oversight or consequences.  The owners won't care how they manage to suck the marrow from our bones, only that they can.  They won't care where their conspicuous consumption comes from, only that they can still do it.  They won't care how we're utterly dependent on them for our very lives, only that we are.  They won't care why we fight and die to protect their way of life, only that we do.

        They won't care why we put them up on a pedestal and orient our lives around their needs, only that we cannot conceive of doing otherwise.

        Do you know why they call it the American Dream? Because it only happens when you're asleep.

        by Visceral on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 10:16:18 AM PST

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        •  Sure... (2+ / 0-)
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          Visceral, ocular sinister

          I suppose that my idea here is that once we get past the idea of "capitalism will last forever," we can get to the idea of "what is coming next?" to the idea of "we don't want the 1% in charge of what is coming next"...

          "American money is a political commodity, backed by nothing except the willingness of collective holders of that money to believe in the American system of wealth production and trade." -- Matt Stoller

          by Cassiodorus on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 10:23:43 AM PST

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          •  won't matter what comes next if 1% still in charge (2+ / 0-)
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            Cassiodorus, ocular sinister

            My fear is that it won't matter what economic system we have if we don't first get rid of oppressive social structures, above all the ownership of the means of production by an idle class whose only concern is shameless indulgence and self-glorification.  Medieval agriculture might have easily fed everyone in Europe if not for the demands of the aristocracy.  Modern agriculture definitely could feed everyone in the world, but can't because the 1% demands their cut.

            Oppressive social structures will definitely make it harder to make the transition to postcapitalism.  People are trained to be passive and in awe of their "superiors", above all by the fact that they have power and you do not - i.e. "learned helplessness".  People are systematically denied information upon which to make sound decisions, denied avenues to voice their hopes and frustrations, and denied the means and opportunities to act on their needs and desires.  People are even taught to value the oppressive system in the vain hope of making it work for them.

            People may not even care about the particulars of postcapitalism, so long as it reliably meets their basic needs and is perceived as "fair", so a deep policy debate might not get very many people excited about the future.

            Do you know why they call it the American Dream? Because it only happens when you're asleep.

            by Visceral on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 10:45:31 AM PST

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            •  I think people dislike "deep policy debate" (2+ / 0-)
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              Visceral, ocular sinister

              because they really have no say in it.

              OTOH you can observe serious public participation in debate at any general assembly at an Occupy.

              "American money is a political commodity, backed by nothing except the willingness of collective holders of that money to believe in the American system of wealth production and trade." -- Matt Stoller

              by Cassiodorus on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 10:55:01 AM PST

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