Its june 2020 now. its been five and half months since the start of the year. But it feels like decades now. Three months of being anxious and home-bound. Rising covid cases. Migrants dying of govt apathy. Cyclone ravaging parts of country. Police brutality everywhere. The inspirational Black Lives Matter struggles in US. Libya, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen in crisis. Mass unemployment across the world. Economy in tailspin even as stock market zooms up for god knows why.
Earthquakes. Mudslides. Oil spill in Russian arctic. Oil well burning uncontrollably in Assam. Wildfires in US, Canada, Russia. Warming planet. Wild life in peril.
World being led by idiots like Trump, Bolsonaro, our esteemed great leader. Only countries with women leaders fared better(Germany, NZ). That says something, doesn't it?
Trust in authority is waning. news is suspect. facts are questionable. conspiracies lurk around every corner. So misinformation rules and scapegoats get crucified even as the real players continue their reign of profiteering at the cost of planet/ people/ culture.
Now China is intruding in India. Nepal claiming Indian territory.
A possible battle/ war between India and China? well, increasingly likely since neither countries are open to their citizen about their failures and what better smokescreen than a war to hide their domestic failures?
And those idiots in north korea are angry with south korea for some reason.
Healthcare collapse > Economic Collapse > Inequality causing new divides protest> govt responding with heavy hand instead of empathy> street battles > battle on borders
The world is unraveling faster and faster. And I think it is not a co-incidence.
It is a fragile system that is falling apart due to one massive shock tipping over other fragile elements (climate change singed ecology, apathetic global political system, disintegrating global co-operation, traditional safety nets being rendered obsolete, rising inequality, platform economies, fake news destroying trust....) in the system.
So many things hitting us so often is not entirely co-incidental.
Covid led to collapse of livelihoods. It led to collapse of social engagement and entertainment. What's a person to do with such high uncertainty and having to closet oneself in house as savings dwindle? Collectively, most of humanity is now forced to reckon with our grim reality. In the past, the economic growth, careers, entertainment (soma) allowed us to dust under the carpet the big inequities, injustices. But forced in a corner, afraid and struggling to survive, we must confront the full force of reality now. We have never been made aware of the human condition's fragility before.
We are reacting to that bewildering sense of being cast away from our safety nets. We are gasping. The capitalist system had beguiled us to give up our tribal, familial safety nets in favour of paid-for impersonal safety nets. As these fail catastrophically and govt in turn wrings their hands off responsibility, we feel cheated and rightly so. Humanity wants certainty and semblance of control, especially in the form of burning police cars - fuck the system and their gatekeepers.
The powers that be now need to direct this energy elsewhere. hence, war. 'Look at that outsider trying to steal our land! forget about your inequality/ justice etc'.
Where do we go from here?
Well, capitalist system by its very nature is fragile. It prioritizes efficiency led cost savings over everything else. any system that is driven by just one factor/ one currency so to speak, is rendered fragile. Resilient systems have multiple currencies, multiple modes of being. In capitalism, every facet of our lives can be hedged, priced, sold, bought. it does so by externalising everything that it can't put a price tag on. Morality, social relations, cultures, traditions, knowledge systems... these things that enrich a social structures, are bound to be externalised, shrunk, annihilated, hijacked in capitalism. You see, these are not 'non-rival', 'non-excludable' goods, they are bound to be 'externalised'.
When your only concern is growth of a fictional thing - money, the reality of the social animal, will suffer.
2020 should be a year of reckoning. A year when we examine how we live and systems we interact with.
1. We need social safety nets with essential services and goods made available to all at seemingly zero cost.
Either with universal basic income.
Or by creating guaranteed jobs that put money in hands of people to buy what they need.
Or enabling self-sufficient cities where exchange is multi-modal (not just through money). With either barter, money, exchanges of other kind.
Uber, amazon, facebook, gmail.... these are essential services for the modern era. that essentiality is being weaponised and monetized in terms of attention economy. and with it we are descending into a hateful world driven with attention grabbing porn of sentimentality, fake news, hate mongering.
platform profits are directly responsible for the hateful world we live in.
we need to go to the source.
take charge of their algorithms.
the purpose of the algorithm cannot remain to maximise 'time spent', and 'attention'. It must enable societal exchanges without victimising anyone, without trivialising anything, without incentivising shallow opinionating. We must be better than this.
Here's a few ideas about how we can do better.
Economic growth comes through either increasing productivity or through consumption.
Increasing consumption is easier in a capitalist economy. It is short term positive. advertise, build desire, sell more and more. growth unlocked.
But it leaves in its wake devastated rainforests, scorched ocean beds, flotilla islands of plastic debris and climate change accelerating towards our annihilation.
Productivity is hard. It means educating people. broad basing skills. creating new IP.
this is a long term gain. needs patient capital. it needs kind visionaries, not robber barons.
but the richest people these days feel compelled to be robber barons - pumping moneys to obliterate small traders/ cab drivers/ retailers - a chemotherapy of traditional economy to gain monopolies.
The patient capital is being employed to build monopolies at the expense of creating greater inequality. Instead patient capital is really needed to enhance global productivity.
EDUCATION AND HEALTH are the only things that matter. any system (nation/ company) that don't prioritize these things is bound to fail in the long term.
The world is experiencing whiplash from an epidemic that spread because globalisation accelerated that spread. The dominoes fell sooner because the globalised world has dependencies that render individual nations/ companies/ social groups more vulnerable.
The search for specialism led efficiency brought us here. We can't afford to render ourselves vulnerable and dependent for the sake of efficiency. Imagine what will happen now if India goes to war with China? With factory of the world engaged in conflict and shady practices (can you really trust mi phones?) , what happens to our economy, our security integrity, our ability to produce medicines (a lot of APIs come from China), our ability to rely on IT (everything is made there)...?
Humans need to be prudent in balancing efficiencies and self-sufficiencies. our survival depends on it.