The G20 convention took place recently, and SleptOn Magazine did a good job of providing some commentary and analysis. Basically, the G20 is the group of countries that rule the world and get together every now and then to discuss the global economy. What’s interesting now is how America’s role in causing the global financial crisis has emboldened some countries to be much more vocal with their criticisms of the US. I mean, damn, President Lula of Brazil straight up said: “This crisis was caused by the irrational behavior of white people with blue eyes, who before the crisis appeared to know everything and now demonstrate that they know nothing.” Gangsta!
There were a lot of anti-capitalist protests at the latest convention, and I appreciated one SleptOn article by radical economist Robin Hahnel, who states that contrary to what the mainstream might think, these protestors aren’t all just a bunch of granola eating potheads stirring up trouble and dancing around in their hemp clothes. In fact, there are a lot of very well-respected folks in academia, policy and organizing circles who have a very solid analysis of what’s wrong with the global economic system of today and how we might get to a better world.
Now, I’m pretty nerdy and have been trying to educate myself on economics a lot recently, but most of the current talk about “derivatives” and “toxic assets” goes way over my head. Even Hahnel starts to lose me at points throughout his article, but I appreciated what I felt like his main point was:
“Our slogan “a better world is possible” means that we reject the economics of competition and greed as a human necessity and embrace the possibility of an economics of equitable co-operation. These approaches to solving our economic problems are fundamentally different. One way motivates people through fear and greed and pretends that market competition can be relied on to bend egotistical behavior to serve the social interest, when too often it does not. The other way organizes people to arrange their own division of labor and negotiate how to share the efficiency gains from having done so equitably. This way motivates people to work at tasks that are not always pleasant, and to consume less than they sometimes wish, because they agreed to do so, secure in the knowledge that others are doing likewise. The driving force behind our economic world is participation and fairness, no longer fear and greed.
There is agreement among us that economic decisions should be made democratically, not by an elite or left to market forces. We would also give workers, consumers and localities more decision-making autonomy than traditional approaches to economic planning have allowed.”
Bam, I could definitely dig that. It was also dope to me that he doesn’t just make lofty hopes, but actually goes on to point to specific models being utilized in the world today that could move us towards a much more equitable economic system. Peep:
“More importantly, ideas on how to engage in equitable co-operation have been tested in various real-world experiments over the past few decades. Worker participation and partial ownership in capitalist firms, producer and consumer co-operatives, community-supported agriculture, participatory budgeting (pioneered in Kerala, India, and Porto, Alegre, Brazil), egalitarian and sustainable “intentional” communities, solidarity economics, alternative currency systems and other developments have been stimulated by networking at world and regional social forums, by friendly governments in several Latin American countries , and now by an economic crisis that has abandoned billions to fend for themselves. Most of this has gone unreported in the mainstream media, partly because it does not fit neatly into the framework for economic debate defined by the Cold War so badly, for so long.”
Add to this the fact that countries once forced into ridiculous debt through all the US-controlled global financial institutions have woken up and are resisting in very interesting ways, like the gangsta South Korean labor unions suing the IMF or Venezuela and Iran forming their own financial agreements to avoid having to deal with the IMF, World Bank, etc.
Pretty interesting times we’re living in, y’all. Who wants to start a co-op with me?