How has the year 2024 started? Empty state coffers despite an increase in super wealth, rearmament, floods on an unprecedented scale. These are all things that are somehow connected.
Unfortunately, the cause is not being addressed by politicians and is being covered up. The market, this symbiosis of economic and financial system, is to blame. This symbiosis has led us to prosperity over the last 250 years, but it must now be ended because there is a risk of collapse if we continue to operate in this way. For 50 years, politicians and economists have been looking for alternatives to infinite growth, but we know that it is not possible to intervene in this system. We have enough evidence of this, because there are no signs of any easing.
Climate change is the best example to explain the actual contradiction. The warming of the oceans, which is causing ever-increasing amounts of precipitation, is due to the fact that the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere is increasing year on year as a result of emissions, particularly from industry and transport.
We should actually stop these emissions immediately, i.e. the economy should be reduced to perhaps 70 per cent as quickly as possible. We humans would be able to bear this without any problems, our standard of living would fall back to the level of perhaps 1980, but after all, we already had a sense of prosperity back then. Of course, we would keep all the technical achievements such as the internet or satellite navigation.
In this case, however, the financial system would panic, as it does on every much smaller occasion. The financial system lends to the economy and expects these loans to be honoured. If economic growth were to slow down, the economy would no longer be able to fulfil these financial services in full.
The financial system would then no longer provide the economy with funds and an economic crisis of unimaginable proportions would ensue. Of course, politicians want to avoid this at all costs, which is why we are continuing unperturbed with the attempt to maintain growth. The problem is, of course, that we would perceive it as a sacrifice of prosperity too if we had to reduce our consumption.
It should actually be the case that the economy is there to produce what we humans need. If we need a lot because a lot of people have been born, then more is produced and if we realise that we have to limit ourselves in order to preserve our planet, then we would simply produce less. This would be the ideal case.
My thoughts go in the following direction: everything we humans need, the raw materials and the energy required in the economy, are actually originally gifts from the earth and the sun. When we draw water from the well, we don’t have to pay the earth for it. It is the same with coal, ore or grain.Read MoreImagine that all people would also work voluntarily. Then all the goods produced could simply be given away as gifts. Then there would be no need for growth, everyone would only take what they need to lead a happy and contented life.Read More Because nobody is interested in giving away more than they need, there would be no advertising, no discount campaigns and no planned obsolescence. No one would be excluded.
One example that has worked in this way for many years is the people’s kitchens, the “kitchens for all” or “Küfas”, where the “raw materials” come free of charge from the supermarket containers.Read MoreVolunteers prepare the food, which can then simply be distributed. Those who only take a little because they are not very hungry do not perceive this as deprivation or discrimination. If, on the other hand, the food was given out at a fixed price, as is usual in today’s economy, then everyone would insist on getting the appropriate amount. That is the fundamental difference. If little food is needed, then people simply cook less.
So if everyone in the world worked voluntarily, we would receive the goods in the supermarket as a gift and in return we would give our labour back to other people the next day. The property of all people would not have to be touched at all, so it would be a completely peaceful revolution.
The most important thing is that the market system described above would not have to be intervened in, the change would come from outside, so to speak. The result would be that the financial system would no longer be needed and could simply dissolve, as it does not create any material value. The freed-up real estate would help to alleviate the housing shortage and the employees would go into the economy, so that a two- or three-day week would probably suffice.
To implement this programme, we would simply have to ask everyone around the world: “Are you prepared to work voluntarily if you are given everything for free you need for a contented and happy life?”
Because all the prerequisites are in place and no other preparations would be necessary, this principle could actually be implemented at any time. It would even be possible this year.
What is urgently needed now is to spread this idea and start discussing it.
Berlin, January 2024
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