The Climate X World Model

Not to be confused with this fabric company.

For my final blog post, I would like to cover an alternative to Neoliberal Capitalist Development that is an intriguing concept within the effect of climate change on Development. As I have mentioned in previous posts, many people believe that climate change will eventually become such a pervasive issue that the global political and economic structures will change to accomodate it.  As I have also mentioned in previous posts, one unique theory (Wainwright and Mann, 2012) is that climate change will catalyze two specific struggles that will define the global framework that emerges to address climate change: a global sovereignty vs. no global sovereignty, and capitalist vs. non-capitalist.  As my final alternative to Neoliberal Development, I am going to look at the result of these two struggles that Wainwright and Mann believe to be the most effective at addressing climate change, and the most ethical in considering issues of justice, but also the least likely.  This would be the Climate X World Model, a theoretical global system that both transcends capitalism and is void of political hegemony.

Wainwright and Mann do not specify what the Climate X World Model looks like, just that it is post-global sovereignty, and post-capitalism, which leaves plenty open to interpretation.  I see it as a global push to remove everything related to the patriarchal, whitewashed western colonialism of the past few centuries, and giving true power over one’s livelihood back to those who have it taken from them in this world system.  To accomplish this, I see a world that moves past globalism, colonialism, and capitalism to local autonomy – what many people would define as a traditional lifestyle – as the Climate X.

I have dedicated a large amount of this blog to the concept of post-capitalism, enough that I do not think I need to explain again why it needs to be a part of the equation in an alternative to Development.  I will instead present why the Climate X includes dissolving a global sovereignty.

Let’s look at the last major decision made by our current global sovereign.  At the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) on Climate Change, a majority of the world agreed to action against the use of carbon emissions that would cap global temperature increase at 2 degrees celsius compared to the preindustrial era, and with a strong effort to keep that as low as 1.5 degrees celsius (Paris Agreement, 2015).  The problem with this agreement, and a global sovereign as a whole, is how when working on such a massive scale, decisions work slowly and only affect a sliver of the issue at a time.  Even ignoring the concept of intersectionality, climate change is result of much more than just carbon emissions.  Deforestation, agriculture, and the meat industry are just as large of contributors, but those are left out both because of how difficult they are to address, and how tied in they are with global economics and politics.  You can start to see with this that a global sovereign stifles change and protects its own interests.  If local autonomy was restored, communities with a care for their environment would more easily be able to make the changes appropriate in preserving it, and groups without a care for the environment would not be able to force the rest of the world into an unfair system that helps them sustain an unsustainable lifestyle.

Another issue with a global sovereign is that there is no way that it can hold all interests in mind at the same time.  This is where Development becomes very relevant.  Education is a large part of Development, but a globalized education system teaches from the perspective of the sovereign.  Our global education system is built on European rationality and objectivity.  History is the same across the world, regardless of where you are from.  This is especially difficult for marginalized groups within a given country.  According to a Kurdish news source called Rudaw, it is only now, following the 28th anniversary of the Anfal genocide, that the crime against the Kurdish people will be taught at the schools in the Kurdistan region (Rudaw, 2016).  This is great news for the education of the region, but shows how long it took to add the curriculum, and begs the question how much more has been forgotten throughout history.  In relation still to a global sovereign not being able to keep all interests in mind, the Development Project often pushes an economic development agenda on places that do not want them.  Even in Western countries, this formula of Development is not completely representative.  For example, in New York City the Movement for Justice in El Barrio has grown to 954 members since its founding in 2004, and has been driving an anti-gentrification movement in New York that continues to pick up steam. In a statement showing the value of autonomy in the movement, member Diana Vega stated “We believe that those who suffer injustice firsthand must design and lead their own struggles for justice” (Davies, 2016).

Many people argue that this description of a global system is not possible because societies do not move backwards.  To this I ask why finally dissolving the racial and gender issues tied up in western colonialism and adequately fixing climate change has to be seen as going backwards.  I think if we were able to value anything other than economic growth as a society, then finally solving the issues of injustice that plague our world system would in fact be seen as progress.  I would go as far to say it would the most ethical way to facilitate the broad social progress that is the goal of the Development Project.

Works Cited:

Conference of the Parties. Twenty-First Session. Adoption of the Paris Agreement. 11/30/2016, 12/11/2016.

Davies, Jessica. “Participatory Democracy Drives Anti-Gentrification Movement in New York’s El Barrio.” Truthout. 16 Apr. 2016. Web.

“Kurdish Children to Be Educated on Anfal Genocide.” Rudaw. 16 Apr. 2016. Web.

Wainwright, Joel, and Geoff Mann. “Climate Leviathan.” Antipode 45.1 (2012): 1-22. Web.

 

Feminism as an Alternative to Neoliberal Development

In last week’s post I discussed the extent to which the cooperative movement is an adequate alternative to Neoliberal Development as it rises from the cracks of Neoliberalism.  This week I tap into a school of thought that is in every way post-capitalist: Critical Feminism.

Critical Feminism looks at the social structures of the world, and examines the groups in power that created these social structures. This analysis then looks at who is oppressed or marginalized in the created systems, and how they are oppressed within those systems.  Feminist Critical Theory looks at the roots of today’s global Neoliberalism system, and sees an economic system fabricated by a white, male-dominated, European society, and perpetuated through the colonization of the world by Europe.  Clearly, with white, male, European (Western) people in power, a large portion of the world remains disadvantaged in the system (Gibson-Graham, 1996).  This is where the feminist belief of intersectionality becomes important to Capitalism.  Intersectionality is the belief that the oppression of every marginalized population, is interconnected and cannot be looked at separately from one another.  This pertains to capitalism because the same group of people who created capitalism and spread it across the world are the same group that has set up oppressive institutions, like sexism, racism, and homophobia, that marginalize so many people within the global Neoliberal economic system. Therefore, a Critical Feminist solution to this marginalization, and the way to facilitate the broad social progress that is Development’s goal (in this case equality), would be to remove the oppressive group in power and everything associated with it, including Neoliberal Capitalist Development.

You can see why a Feminist alternative to Development is truly post-capitalist; tearing down every cultural, economic, political system that has caused oppression would literally mean everything changing.  Now before we go further, I want to state that this type of shift is possible.  Capitalism became globally hegemonic above all traditional economic systems, so there is no reason why this global hegemony can’t change again.  A feminist alternative to Development, using this logic, is not utopian or impossible.  It would, however, have to be careful that when replacing the world’s systems, that a different group doesn’t rise to power and create the same oppressive systems that the western patriarchy has.  This is why, of the feminist alternatives visible in the world, most are socialist, and put incredible value on the equality of all humans and creating structures that will not exploit labor.

Let us use the Pan-african movement as a feminist alternative to Neoliberal Development.  It looks to remove the borders created during Western colonization of the continent, and institutions of racism and sexism along with it. A popular African news source called NewAfrican explains the importance of learning from Europe’s structural mistakes, and creating systems of collaboration, not competition, to avoid the structures of economic domination that the continent knows all too well (Schneider, 2015).  A movement such as this seems to be such a cure to the Development Project we have witnessed up to date, with such a focus on cooperation and justice, that issues like inequality, oppression, and environmental degradation appear to be fully addressed, but the issue rises that the current global system provides many obstacles.

Clearly, it will be very difficult to replace an entire world system, especially with the group in power strengthening their positions with the policies they make within the system.  An example of this would be the recent Panama Papers Scandal, which revealed that many of the most powerful people in the world were evading taxes by storing money in Panama banks.  The largest problem of scandal isn’t that they were evading taxes in the countries they govern, but that a large amount of it was completely legal (Harrington, 2016).  This means that those in power are creating laws that are flimsy enough that the same people who enacted them can legally perform the same action that they made illegal to everyone else.  This is an obstacle for a feminist alternative to Neoliberal Development; the group in power will continue to extend the level of inequality between themselves and everyone else, making a structural change incredibly difficult.

An obstacle even larger for the feminist movement, however, is how inconsistent the meaning of feminism is around the world.  A popular American news source, Mic, explained the problem with much of the First World feminist movement, or ‘White Feminism,’ is that it ignores intersectionality, and therefore cannot fully comprehend the systems of oppression that affect the world (Zeilinger, 2015). White Feminism is the type of thinking that would find no problem attempting to find gender equality within the capitalist system, while never fully fixing the oppression of women, or anyone else.  For a feminist alternative to Neoliberal Development to occur, the first step would be a universal acknowledgment of intersectionality, and the consequential realization that a post-capitalist system change is the only solution.

Works Cited:

Gibson-Graham, J. K.. The End of Capitalism (as We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy. University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Harrington, Brooke. “Panama Papers Scandal.” The Atlantic. 6 Apr. 2016. Web.

Schneider, James. “Africa Must Learn from Europe’s Structural Failures.” New African Magazine. 16 Sept. 2015. Web.

Zeilinger, Julie. “The One Brutal Truth That Every White Feminist Needs to Hear.” Mic. 11 Sept. 2015. Web.

Cooperatives as an Alternative to Neoliberal Development?

Yes a question mark.  As we will discuss, the global cooperative push is a legitimate alternative to Neoliberal Development, with a strikingly different value system, but the uncertainty in the title surrounds whether or not it is an adequate solution.

Cooperatives are companies that are owned and run by the employees that work in them.  Often, especially those in South America as we saw in the film The Take, they are factories that were shut down by their owners, and then occupied by the past workers.  They win the legal rights to the factory and then run it how it functioned before, but share decisionmaking responsibilities, management, and pay in a more equal way.  In the United States, they are more often companies founded as cooperatives than occupied ones.  The seven values of cooperatives, whichever way the cooperative is conceived, are voluntary and open membership, democratic control, member economic participation, autonomy, education and training of members, cooperation of cooperatives, and concern for the community (NRECA.coop).  This basically means that cooperatives are democratically run companies that share profits and responsibilities and collaborate with other cooperatives.

The cooperative movement has gained enough momentum across the world that it now can be considered a legitimate alternative to Neoliberal Development.  An Argentinian newspaper named La Nacion showed that the cooperative sector grew by 239% in 2012, which has helped provide work to many members of the 60 percent of the population that are below the poverty line (La Nacion, 2013).  A separate American news source, which is just as uniquely named The Nation, claimed worker cooperatives are more productive than typical companies, because maximizing profits is not the top priority, and the friction between boss and employee does not exist (The Nation, 2016).

Neoliberalism values profit above all other things. While the cooperative movement values many things in addition to profit, they still need profit to survive in a capitalist system.  Using cooperatives as an alternative to Neoliberalism fixes many social issues, including economic inequality and unemployment, and has the ability to address gender and racial inequalities.  The one issue however, is still climate.  In a world dominated by the cooperative movement, most social issues that can be exploited to create profit, as discussed in my last blog post, are erased since cooperatives are run by those who it would exploit.  That leaves the climate left to exploit to gain a profit, or labor, just with a more equal exploitation.  Cooperatives that work within the capitalist system still must keep their products competitive, and therefore are no better at addressing climate change.  There is another option, which is far more common in the United States, that cooperatives run as non-profits, and consider climate protection as one of its central principles.  The question is if an economic system of cooperative companies would extend their “concern for the community” to the environment and dissolve the competition between them.

One way to look at this question is through Wainwright and Mann’s Climate Leviathan (2012).  Their argument is that eventually climate change will become such a pervading issue that the global political and economic structure will completely change to address it, with struggles between a capitalist and non-capitalist economic structure, and a global sovereign and non-global sovereign political structure.  (a quick clarification: a political system with a global sovereign is like what we have today with international structures like the UN). According to the paper, there are four ways these struggles could go: Climate Leviathan (capitalist and global sovereignty), Climate Behemoth (capitalist and anti-global sovereignty), Climate Mao (non-capitalist and global sovereignty), and Climate X (non-capitalist and anti-global sovereignty).  The cooperative economic model as it stands now remains supportive of a global sovereignty, like the decisions made at the 21st annual Conference of the Parties in Paris (2015), where there will be a nationalized push to reduce carbon emissions based on what would be needed to cap the maximum temperature growth of the globe to 2 degrees celsius. In a cooperative economic system then, the question comes back to whether or not cooperatives will continue to compete and be profit driven, which will lead to either Climate Leviathan or Climate Mao.  The Climate Leviathan, which is profit based, will most likely not be able to fully address climate change, while the Climate Mao, which is not profit based, has the possibility to do so.

Works Cited:

Chen, Michelle. “Worker Cooperatives Are More Productive Than Normal Companies.” The Nation. N.p., 28 Mar. 2016. Web.

Conference of the Parties. Twenty-First Session. Adoption of the Paris Agreement. 11/30/2016, 12/11/2016.

Serra, Laura. “Crecen Sin Control Las Cooperativas Sociales Y Abundan Las Quejas.” La Nacion, 3 Oct. 2013. Web.

“Seven Cooperative Principles.” NRECA, 2016. Web.

Wainwright, Joel, and Geoff Mann. “Climate Leviathan.” Antipode 45.1 (2012): 1-22. Web.

Why Post-Capitalism?

In my introductory blog post, I briefly mentioned that a large part of the international dialogue surrounding Neoliberal Development argues that free-market capitalism is flawed and a global economic system change is needed to continue the “broad social progress” that the Development Project attempts to facilitate around the globe.  Let’s take a closer look at this part of the conversation, the problems faced by the capitalist system, and why capitalism cannot be part of the solution.

Capitalism, as a whole, values profit and growth over all other things.  In Marx’s critique of capitalism, he explains that this profit comes from an exploitation of surplus value, or the exploitation of labor (Marx, 1867).  Mathematically, this is obvious.  For a profit to exist, some aspect of production needs to undervalued according to the market, and the easiest thing to undervalue is labor because it is not a physical resource.  My personal opinion is that social and environmental factors are just as much of the production process as labor, and the more they are exploited, the higher profits are.  This is why a system driven by profit cannot possibly address all the social, economic, and environmental problems facing capitalism.  If in someway a form of sustainable capitalism was able to address climate change (which is highly unlikely already), it would would just exploit a different aspect of the production process.  For example, the profit lost by reducing carbon emissions or adequately dealing with waste would very likely be made up by further exploitation of labor, or by raising costs and adding stress to the social class structure.  This is the opposite of what Development hopes to achieve, which should be means enough to support the idea of an economic system after capitalism, but if it does not, many believe the philosophy of profit in capitalism will result in increasing economic instability.

In his paper, Contradictions of Finance Capitalism, Richard Peet argues that three inherent contradictions within capitalism will eventually lead to its demise.  The first, finance, is a cause of the speculation of growth within capitalism, which leads to the inflation of prices to unsustainable heights and consequent economic downturns.  The second is a disarticulation of the economy, which we are already witnessing in the United States, where all manufacturing is outsourced, leaving the economic base of a country with low-wage work, and high-wage finance/real estate/investment jobs.  The final contradiction is the need to exploit the environment, which we have discussed.

So clearly to fix problems of social justice, economic inequality, and environmental degradation, an economic system based on something other than profit and growth must succeed neoliberal capitalism.  When looking at alternatives, often the idea of an economic relativism comes into the picture, where capitalism exists, but societies have the ability to function off of any other type of economy, thus dismantling the global hegemony of capitalism, which is much of the problem.  This is a theoretical solution of course, and an impractical one, as I will now show you that capitalism cannot exist in a post-capitalist (post-capitalist hegemony) world.

Throughout history, capitalism has not been able to exist with any other type of economy on the planet.  During colonialism, capitalism pulled most of the world into the capitalist system from a traditional system.  During the Cold War, politics and the Development Project were significantly influenced by capitalism’s war with communism.  To many, capitalism prevailing at the end of the Cold War was the inevitable end of history, and there would be no more conflict over which economy should encompass the globe, because capitalism had won (Fukuyama, 1992).  The fact that these conflicts even existed though, were the result of capitalism’s drive for profit and growth, and show that the system cannot exist with another.  This is often explained by capitalism’s need for an “outside” (Luxemburg, 1913), where, since increased capitalization of an area eventually leads to rising wages and greater social and environmental backlash to the means of production, capitalism must find a non-capitalized region where labor and resources can be exploited as much as possible, again showing that the need for profit will push capitalism across the globe and replace whatever is in its path.

So what does a system change entail?  Post-capitalism seems to imply that everything related to capitalism must change.  Authors like Naomi Klein create that same sense of urgency.  Post-capitalism, however, does not necessarily mean that the standard of living associated with capitalism needs to disappear, just that the system of production and values of profit and growth do.  The next three blog posts will focus on alternatives to Neoliberal capitalist Development and what needs to change to accommodate those systems.

References:

Francis Fukuyama. The End of History and the Last Man. Free Press. 1992.

Klein, Naomi. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. 2014. Print.

Luxemburg, Rosa. The Accumulation of Capital. London: Routledge and Paul, 1913.

Marx, Karl, Friedrich Engels, and Samuel Moore. Capital. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1867.

Peet, Richard. “Contradictions of Finance Capitalism.” Monthly Review Mon. Rev. 63.7 (2011): 18. Web.

What’s Next: Alternatives to Neoliberal Capitalist Development

If you engage in the dialogue surrounding Development and Neoliberal Capitalism, you would be aware of a large number of very influential people who believe that capitalism either already has failed, or has inherent flaws that will inevitably lead to its failure.  If you align with this perspective, you would also believe that more sustainable forms of capitalism, like any type of “green economy,” could never completely address the problems of climate change, inequality, and injustice that are caused by Neoliberalism. An overarching structural change to an economic system that does not value profit and growth above all else would be needed to fix these problems.

The primary reason for this type of argument falling flat in the dialogue, however, is the lack of a solution.  The bear of system change is that it requires a new system to change to, which does not currently exist.  This blog aims to examine the alternatives to Neoliberal Capitalist Development, and give many valid critiques of capitalism the part of the equation needed to make a larger impact in the overall discussion on the global economy and Development: what comes after capitalism.

This blog will be structured in a way that looks at multiple aspects of what a world after capitalism looks like, and what changes that entails.  To fully understand this picture, the first blog will discuss why a version of capitalism cannot continue to exist with other economic systems on a planet where it is not a hegemonic system (why capitalism cannot exist in a post-capitalist world). The other three blogs will discuss three different alternatives to Neoliberal Development that come from different types of thought around the world.

I will look at many different types of sources to address the questions in this blog.  Among them will be scholarly works like Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man and Wainwright and Mann’s Climate Leviathan to understand why capitalism cannot coexist with other economic forms, popular Western Journalists like Paul Mason and Naomi Klein for their view on post-capitalism, non-western journalism, like the newspaper Bolivian Thoughts in an Emerging World, for another perspective on post-capitalism, and policy reports like the Paris Agreement of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to better understand the discussion of Capitalism and Development on a global scale.

Please feel free to comment with any suggestions, critiques, or comments!

Works/Authors Cited

Bolivian Thoughts in an Emerging World: Daily update: economic, business, political, environmental issues

Conference of the Parties. Twenty-First Session. Adoption of the Paris Agreement. 11/30/2016, 12/11/2016.

Francis Fukuyama (1992). The End of History and the Last Man. Free Press.

Klein, Naomi. Author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, 2014.

Mason, Paul. Author of PostCapitalism: A Guide to our Future, 2015.

Wainwright, Joel, and Geoff Mann (2012). “Climate Leviathan.” Antipode 45.1.