What if we had an alternative to capitalism?

I’m taking a day off from my hundred word little fiction pieces, and adding this instead. Like it or hate it, see if you can understand it…

I’m a Mad Scientist.

I would be, at least, if I had lived anywhere between the 1700’s to the early 1900’s. I believe my ideas come from for the random stories I write. And lots of thinking.

So, what would an alternative to capitalism look like?

No, not communism, not socialism, and certainly not some sort of cult, whether it be religious, hippie, or otherwise. Just something that works just as well as capitalism, but does not require growth if growth is not required at that time, but can be actioned when needed, gives people work, regardless of their level of skill or age, and is always there for them if they just need a break from the capitalist world.

Are you confused?

My idea would give people an alternative to capitalism whenever they need it. Capitalism would still exist, but as a separate kind of working environment. The idea is that you can change between the two environments depending on who is offering the better deal (or if you just need a holiday from capitalism but still want to work and not dip into your savings).
This means you would have the two environments competing against each other to win over workers. That means that employers would not be able to treat workers like shit, they would actually have to pay them well and treat them with the respect they deserve. If they don’t, then the worker will simply say: Actually, I think the other working environment will treat me better. I’m going to go over there and work for them.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself. We need to establish what kind of working environment this place actually is and how we could even create something so different to capitalism.

First, I do not know if this alternative to capitalism will work outside of my theory, and I have not laid out all the details as yet. Plus, it will need initial money to set up.
Keep in mind, I am not anticapitalism. I actually think capitalism has many great qualities and is even necessary if the world is to grow in the realm of scientific research and improve us as a people.

The problem:
Capitalism has no viable competition. And in the world of capitalism, competition is what makes capitalism work. So it makes sense that capitalism needs competition.

At the moment companies and CEOs and governments can get away with a lot because we are at their mercy. Slashing jobs to keep share holders happy regardless of how it affects people and families and the economics of the country as a whole, paying CEOs more money in a year than a regular person sees in a lifetime, and treating people from underprivileged backgrounds as slack workers that obviously did not try hard enough, and that’s why they’re not CEOs themselves.

No! Not everyone can be a CEO. The system was created so that there are a small amount of CEOs, and many workers under them. So anyone who says to you: you didn’t work hard enough, or you’re not smart enough, they are wrong (as long as you do work hard, that is).
It’s not because you are a crap person, it is because there are a finite amount of positions that pay well. Not everyone can have these high paying jobs. The system needs people to serve in bars, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, without you the world would collapse.

First, a list of current issues with capitalism that make it a non-viable long term economical structure.

1) Capitalism requires growth. This sounds ok at first, but then when you look at the inherent problems of growth in detail, it becomes finite (we can only grow so far) before we stat to see tears in the fabric of our capitalism structure. Here is a list on that.

a) Growth as a company: This doesn’t necessarily mean that the company needs to expand, although often it does expand. And sometimes it does this without consideration to the employees, the company’s values, and the long term affects to the company and the country it operates from. For example, using overseas labour to increase profits. Yes, this will help in the short term. Share holders are happy, the CEO get’s a million dollar bonus, and their next quarter profits are through the roof. The side effects  are that there are more unemployed within that country. The government then needs to support these people (to a very small degree). Now taxes are going up. The rich and medium income earners cry foul, and all because companies are trying to get their next quarter profits up even further.

On a side note, if the government doesn’t support its people, then they live on the streets and crime goes up and people (share holders included) suddenly don’t feel safe on the streets. Maybe one of these shareholders gets mugged or killed. That old saying, what goes around comes around, comes to mind. So we do need support to the people looking for work.
That is just one example of what companies may do. There are obviously others. Companies have to increase profits each quarter otherwise shareholders aren’t happy. Plus share prices drop when profits are low. This is in part the way the system works. Therefore, the CEO must do what ever he/she can to increase profits… this again may be to the detriment of the company. Shareholders don’t care how the money is generated, as long as it is done. This may mean cutting corners in production, which may mean recalls down the track. This means that again the company may be in trouble. However, by that time the CEO has already collected his bonus and is now working for a different company. He then blames the next CEO that took over because shares were up when he was running the company, so the next CEO in line must be at fault. Now that CEO does the same to the next company, and so. This can have the effect of companies failing, or bailouts from the government… yes, our money bailing out companies where CEOs collected lovely bonuses. Still, you can’t blame the companies or the CEOs, this is how the system was created. Later I will explain why a system that runs alongside capitalism will work… ok, a hint: The CEO may think differently if suddenly people have an alternative system. The CEO now has to work to make the company work well and make the environment pleasing to employees. If employees are worried about losing their jobs, they won’t work there. And because they have an alternative to a capitalist company, they can pick and choose. Companies will have to attract even a bar tender to work for them, otherwise they won’t have any employees at all. More later.

b) Capitalism can also only work if there is an increase in population in that country. If it was to stay at zero population growth or go into negatives it would mean a few things. First, that there would be a zero increase in consumers. Companies need to continually grow, so for them, therefore, this is a bad thing. This is partly why we need immigration and also why some governments pay money to families to have extra babies (baby bonus, is what it is called in Australia). The second issue is that we are an aging western world. And the elderly need to be looked after. In the countries where the elderly are supported in part by the government, this is a growing cost. Therefore, we need more people to drive consumerism etc., to bring in more taxes to pay for these growing costs.

What’s wrong with more people? We are already a full load of people. Maybe if we had a sister planet nearby and could inhabit that, we would be ok, but this is not the case. Already our farming practices and our expanding habitat is destroying the air we breath, the water we drink, and the food we eat. I know this has been said by many and disregarded as a fairy tale, but do a little research and you’ll find that many things are depleted within this world, food from the sea is a big one. Schools of fish have been fished out and have never returned. We only have so much metal in the world. We only have so many nutrients in the earth before they are used up. Yes, this does go back to the earth after being used, but it can take years. Hundreds of years in the case of many things we have used and then put into landfill.

If the above is not a concern to you, then the fact that the western world already is slowing baby production, should be. We have gone from 2.3 children, to 1.2 children on average per family. This is negative growth in children. Capitalism will struggle in this environment.

2) Greed. I know this is common with many everywhere, but with capitalism it is inherent. “Mine” and “yours” problems. People at the top having more than others – whether it be government or private. Stealing because it is easier than working for it. Having no alternative. Being part of the system or living on the streets is your alternative. People unhappy in their jobs.

None of this is new to you, and we have all just dealt with it. In caveman times this may not have been much different. The animal I caught is the tribe’s, we must protect it from other tribes and eat it ourselves. I am the leader of our tribe so I get to mate with all the people of the opposite sex. So, yes, the system we have currently, can be said to be better than that.

3) New technology that would benefit people or the world can be suppressed by the highest bidder.

Unfortunately, when technology is created it doesn’t need to be released. You’ve all heard of the conspiracy theories that range from clean fuel to the cures of cancer. Maybe they exist, maybe not. However, if a company is able to make money from keeping a technology a secret, then they may just do it. I would like to believe that humans are in the most part good, not evil. Therefore if there was a cure for cancer then it would be out there amongst us. But this blog is not about conspiracies, it is about capitalism and its flaws. So let’s move on.
4) It has no competition.

Capitalism is built on competition, so it would make sense that capitalism have competition to its own design. Why not? If it’s such a good a structure in many countries, then it’s going to thrive with competition, right?

To have a viable alternative it needs to be beneficial to the people who work within it, the people who run it, and the people who benefit from it.

This brings me to my next point. The idea of the alternative to capitalism.

The initial idea to non capitalism is something along the lines of a university. As mentioned previously I want to avoid anything that is religious (mostly because it follows faith and therefore can manipulate people into believing something that may not be true or real), avoid anything where there can be a dictator, monarchy, council, leader, or anyone or group with power to change a person’s life. This is very hard to do. In all of our history we have had someone that ruled us, governed us, told us what to think or do, and who to fight. To eliminate this seems impossible… but maybe not. Maybe something akin to a university is the answer. Maybe a knowledge school is something that can appeal to the people that have become so disillusioned by the current capitalism format?

Let’s explore this. A university has teachers and students. Those are primary. People that want to learn and people that want to teach. But what drives them? Is it money? Is it because they enjoy the subject they teach and want to share their knowledge? Do people only learn about things because they want to make money – probably yes most of the time. However, what if money did not exist, would people still enjoy learning. I think yes.

Mostly, teachers want to teach and enjoy it. If they won the lotto and never had to work again, then sure, some might continue to teach, but most would probably not. They would holiday forever. Regardless, my belief is that most teachers enjoy teaching. And that the money they get for teaching is just a means to pay their bills. Therefore, (again) what would happen if the need for money was taken away? Would many of those teachers still teach? They have all this knowledge in their heads and enjoy teaching, so why wouldn’t they continue to teach people?
I would like to create a place where people come to teach and learn. And that they want to be there because they enjoy it, not because they want to make money.

Teachers: The people who want to teach others. The majority of people, including myself, like to teach others what they know. It just makes it that much simpler when money isn’t a factor. Teach for the sake of teaching (it’s the way is used to be).

Still, there are many that will want to make money from teaching. And that’s perfect, we don’t want everyone leaving the capitalist system. We will still need people to want to make money from every industry. The majority of people in fact!

In our current system you need to grow, expand, contribute to the capitalist world to be known and appreciated. So, there won’t be many that want to be a part of the “new” alternative system. The elderly may like the new system, and the people that went to university, but never became teachers. These are the ones that could teach the people in the non capitalism situation.

I’ve been going on about teachers and students for a long time without showing you much of the non capitalist system, but please bear with me, we’ll get there.

Some people may be interested in the development of the world and the human race. They would be the main students that would be attracted to this “free” system. It would be somewhere that would be like working at Google, but for non profit. A place that would want the best and brightest, and create technology that would be free and available to all without selling it off to commercial companies. (This doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be picked up by commercial companies – if they can create a more dynamic product in some way, then power to them. But the technology that can make it happen should be readily available to all that want to make it into what they want, no matter what system they are existing under.)
You’re now thinking that this university is only for the elite. No, but attracting the elite away from the commercial universities and companies would be a fantastic thing – if they saw the potential. However, if the commercial universities offer a better place or better conditions, etc, then great, they deserve them. Do you now see why competition to capitalism is a good thing? It certainly can’t hurt!

This university campus would be for everyone of every learning level. If you want to learn, then great, all you have to do is attend the classes and exams, and do a little work each day: 3 hours of work a day at the university compound.
You’ll soon learn if you are suited to one course or another. Maybe you just like the idea of learning. Whether it be chemistry, dance, woodwork, engineering, medicine, etc., you will have the opportunity to try them all!

Now, we have the non-students and non-teachers. They are just as important. There are many people that enjoy the idea of working a job that is just a job. Within this alternative system the people would work less, as well as less often. All they would  need to do is fill their shift. Do what needs to be done and then finish their day. These people would not be working to further their career (unless they want to), they would not be trying to get a raise (there is no money), they would not be working to kiss anyone’s ass (there is no ass to kiss). They are working so that they can finish the day and have some people to catch up with at the end and eat and drink with them. A simple day for a simple life.

This may sound boring to many. But bear in mind that there are people that like this kind of work, while there are other people that will just need a break from being in a capitalist world, and will want simple work.

Either they got burned out from working in an office, or they  find that the stresses of their day job need to be put on the back burner for a while so they can go on vacation. This vacation may be that non capitalist  place.

The final part.
So what is this place? And how does it work?
I’m going to be brief. It is going to be a place where anyone can go to and work 3 hours each day, and in return have their own place, have food, and the company of many others.

Does it sound like a commune? Well, that’s why I have put you in the mind of a university. I don’t want it to sound like a hippy commune. I’m not talking dorm like housing either. However, there would be large buildings that house everyone in rooms that are connected.
Where does all this all come from, where’s the money, you ask?

Where everything will come from: the people that want to live there. Builders, plumbers, electricians, engineers, software experts, etc. There are always many of these people out of work, or otherwise sick of working for corporations that work them to the bone, or give them dumb-ass jobs they hate.

So the basic construct would be how a large university would look, as well as how Google or Facebook, or Apple looks on a large compound. You get the idea, I think. If not, search on… you guessed it, Google for images.

You would then have hospitals, shops, and everything else you need. Many people would be learning, some would be teaching, and there would be ongoing building until the compound reached a maximum limit for people and size. Once this happens, a second one would need to be built, and so on.

What jobs would be available?
Anything and everything that’s required: Farmers, cooks, software people, builders, lawn maintenance, etc. Three hours work each day for every person. You can work more, of course, especially if you enjoy it. But no one will ever make you work more than your three hours each day.

In closing, many great ideas come from universities, some that go beyond expectations and beyond the influence of money or career. The people that create these ideas may be the people who cure cancer (free), although it would be the retailers in the capitalist world that possibly put a price to it. Or planetary travel, so we could inhabit other places. Unlimited energy. Teleportation. Without constraints of capitalism, the possibilities are endless.

However, capitalism is also currently necessary. You can’t just delete it. It is here to stay for as long as is required.

Sounds like a fantasy. Who’s paying for it. As the compound rolls along it will rely on new technology, but it will definitely need an initial injection of cash to get it going.

I think once the government learns of the positives, then they would get involved. The idea would get people off the streets and into a real job. Unemployment benefits could still exist, but some people may choose to live in the non capitalist world while they look for work. This would give them all the food and shelter they need.

There are rich people out there that do like to help, so petitioning them would be a great idea as well. Once the “university” was running, it would continue to be run by all the people that attend, and also contribute greatly to its own society as well as the capitalist world.
Technology currently has developed far enough to make life easy. In the capitalist world we don’t get to reap the benefit because instead of working less and having an easy life like we were told we would get when computers got quicker etc., companies instead made more profit and fired redundant ppl. Profit comes first. People last. But in a non capitalist system we would only need to work a fraction of what we are currently. Leaving more time for our hobbies.

If you have any thoughts or improvements, let me know and I’ll add to it.
Thanks.
Mat Clarke.

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About matclarke

Writing became a hobby at the age of ten, boredom being a great catalyst. Whenever I had an idea I would put words to paper until something interesting was produced. I have always loved dreaming up and writing new stories. I wrote from the age of 10 and also built or designed unusual contraptions and created tools for working with assorted wood products. Creativity has always been my thing, however, no other person within my extended family harbours this same creative gene, so I always assumed I was odd rather than artistic. My non-fiction work has been inspired by my letter writing to government bodies and assorted companies, either to request information on a current associated issue or to offer a solution to an ongoing problem with (if a local government) traffic, public transport, spending, banks, etc. And (if a company) an idea for the product so that it could become better accepted by consumers, or in some cases, healthier for consumers. In December 2009 I came across a story I had begun a month earlier but so far written only a single page. I read it again and realised the story was not only interesting but also had the effect of creating excitement as to what would happen next. I immediately decided this could be a great beginning to a piece which could become my first full length novel, Wake (working title). The idea for Wake was born from a writing retreat on the outskirts of Bendigo, Australia. I had taken a break from punching keys on my laptop and walked from the small cabin into the night. Now standing in the silence with the tree canopy looming above, I watched the breeze adjust the leaves ever so slightly—barely enough to create a rustling. It was a creepy, lonely night; isolating beyond anything I had experienced. I smiled. An idea seeded: What would it be like to wake in the middle of nowhere with no memories and no idea of how you came to be there. Wake, is my first completed novel and I am currently 45,000 words into its sequel. I am also editing, Citylife, my second completed novel, and finished writing my third novel, Blue, whilst on a return trip from the US where I visited for book research. You’re welcome to have a read of some of my short stories on my website. Let me know if you liked them. In addition, my writing group and I have completed two anthology of short stories, with another to be completed in April. See my website for more information.
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