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Indybay Feature
The new school and Farewell to capitalism
by Kerstin Chavent and Rudiger Dammann
Monday Aug 2nd, 2021 3:42 AM
"You can never solve problems with the same way of thinking that created them." That is why copyright reform, patent and property law, and many other regulations of the material "goods economy" that have grown up in the industrial age are not suitable for meeting the challenges of the information universe.
Farewell to capitalism
By Rüdiger Dammann
[This article published in July 2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.ossietzky.net/artikel/abschied-vom-kapitalismus/.]

In the digital world, with its exponentially increasing data streams that are taking more and more physical products with them, so to speak, the distinction between data and things is also beginning to blur - with significant implications for the property and exchange relationships that are fundamental to capitalism. Until now, things have been exclusive, unlike data, which can be reproduced and self-replicated any number of times. In order to produce them, costs are incurred through the use of raw materials, labor, machines and energy, and in order to use them, their ownership is the most common and indeed appropriate form, if there is to be no permanent dispute or negotiation; after all, there is only room for me on my desk chair. However, the things I surround myself with and own have a decisive disadvantage: they wear out with use and must be replaced at some point. Data, on the other hand, is in principle imperishable and does not get worse with use, but better and better.

This data dynamic and increasing networking mean that things will almost inevitably become more and more like information goods. A Tesla car, for example, is of course still a tangible object, but in reality it is no longer a vehicle at all, but a computer on wheels. Even a smartphone is - who knows for how much longer? - still a "thing," device-like. And there's no doubt that optical and haptic properties play a prominent role in Apple's iPhone, for example. Just as undoubtedly, smartphone manufacturers have followed the industrial logic based on economies of scale for years: They steadily expanded production and kept it going with short product cycles - a new, better model every two years, a new operating system and new apps for which the old models are no longer compatible.

However, this phase appears to be coming to an end. Both consumers and legislators no longer want to follow the dictates of supply without resistance. To be sure, the market is far from "saturated," as the saying goes, and the cell phone sales stands in electronics stores bear witness to this. But in view of the huge increase in the amount of electronic waste and the enormous consumption of resources (keyword: batteries) by cell phone production worldwide, a rethink has begun, especially since the leaps in improvement from one generation of devices to the next are becoming smaller and smaller. The first iPhone was without question a revolution, but all successor models are merely optimizations: faster processors, larger memories, better cameras.

In the meantime, so-called fairphones are on the market, which are created in modular construction from both recycled components and the use of "conflict-free" raw materials from certified mines. This is a fine example of responsible action, which certainly does not yet make the world a better place, but which shows trends of change that set new "standards" - and which raise the question in the background: Is it about use or about ownership? Is the device-like, thing-like quality of the smartphone its most salient and, in a sense, defining characteristic?

I argue: no, even if a look at our environment seems to suggest otherwise. Just as the car is slowly losing its significance and is increasingly being reduced from a status symbol with the promise of freedom to its mobility function, the functionality of their device is also becoming the focus for a growing number of cell phone users. The smartphone has long since ceased to be a telephone; it is a data-processing system, a kind of trouser or handbag workshop that can serve all kinds of purposes in the data world and whose concrete form, perhaps even its visible and palpable tangibility, is in itself possibly only a transitional form, at any rate not the decisive characteristic.

The thingness, the objectness of the world, the representativeness moves more and more into the background. There are no longer any printed universal encyclopedias, but there are thick encyclopedias of "disappeared things," enumerations and descriptions of products, objects, and devices that were once very popular but no longer exist as things, for example because they have been absorbed into the world of data. We could all easily, be it nostalgically, be it relieved, name some of them, from the typewriter to the telephone booth to the CD. Such disappearances may sometimes make us sad if we associate fond memories with these things. Overall, however, we have gained in quality of life as a result. The record converted to an MP3 file, for example, remains the music we like; it may have become obsolete as an object, but it is now available and audible at all times.

However, this availability in turn leads to new problems, which are related to the fact that the world of things has necessitated regulations that are no longer appropriate for a world of data. What is a capital good, what is common property? What of all the information, thoughts, images and sounds that circulate on the Net and multiply by the minute with and without my intervention may I use, how and for what? Am I allowed to upload a photo I've found, a video I've discovered elsewhere, a newspaper article or the poem of a young poet to Facebook - or elsewhere? It's already on the web, it can be found.
If the EU Commission and the EU Parliament have their way, I won't be allowed to do that - or at least only to a very limited extent. And as the author of this article, I would have to fully agree with this. Because under the given circumstances, what is happening in the network economy is not okay, even according to my sense of justice. Musicians, journalists, authors, photographers, programmers, for example - and the female form is always included here - must be able to make a living from their work. And if what they have created is subsequently "called upon" by many - viewed and heard, read and used - they must also be able to participate appropriately in such "success" of their achievements. At least, this has been the self-evident and comprehensible agreement up to now.

But how can this be guaranteed in the age of the Internet and social media, streaming services and reading platforms? By making the service providers, such as the operators of social platforms, "fully" liable for any copyright infringements by their users? And requiring them to use so-called upload filters that block out copyrighted content? Good heavens! That would mean that the state would be outsourcing some of its tasks resulting from its monopoly on the use of force to private companies, which would now be expected to take over law enforcement and even jurisdiction in these cases. This would be fatal, especially for smaller providers, such as the wonderful Perlentaucher, which provides an important service with its daily feuilleton press review.

We certainly don't have to see the freedom of the web in danger right away and fear the introduction of huge censorship bodies. But I am convinced that these measures point in the wrong direction. We should try to change the "given circumstances" mentioned above instead of insisting on the old property titles. There will be no easy solution there. I only see that we will not find answers to the questions raised by the network economy with the traditional concepts - property, performance-based labor income. In my view, it would be more appropriate in a transitional phase, instead of imposing bans, to enforce participation rules at least in the commercial expanses of the network, as is already practiced, for example, on YouTube or magazine portals; there, depending on the number of clicks or the length of stay, there are, as it were, royalties for the producers. The royalties are pathetically low, but that's something we'll have to talk about. But in contrast to material products (books, magazines, CDs), the potential number of consumers for "data goods" is almost infinitely larger.

However, the basic problem would not really be solved by such participation rules. In the final analysis, the network economy cannot be structured in market terms, but requires a new mode of distribution based on an open system (open source). The classic capital goods and property titles have had their day. The defensive struggle against this decommissioning will still rage for a while, but I would bet that it will end in favor of the commons. And as a consequence, we will all profit from it. For only in an open source system can the fundamental problems of humanity - climate change, poverty, hunger, disease - be brought closer to a solution. This is already evident today in the case of patents on medicines or seeds, for example, which may bring their owners high profits, but which clearly run counter to the common good, sometimes in a cynical way - as the patent wrangling over the Corona vaccines makes clear.

The companies profit from many common goods - including infrastructure, education, legal and contractual security - but insist on the exclusive use of their capital goods created under these conditions. That strikes me as neither timely nor fair. And I am not automatically advocating the expropriation of intellectual property. Of course, innovation and research should continue to be promoted in the best possible way. However, as in the case of copyright, we need to find new allocation rules when the pursuit of economic profit runs counter to the interests of society. This is a balancing of benefits.

Such a weighing and re-evaluation would also be necessary in the agricultural industry (see, for example, the articles "Bauernopfer: Kapitalismus tötet," Ossietzky 5/2021, and "Nährende Geschäfte," Ossietzky 8/2021). 97 percent of all seed patents are now in the hands of a few companies from the industrialized countries, which make billions in sales with them, although 90 percent of all biological resources actually come from the South. Anyone who thinks this quasi-colonial system, which literally fuels hunger, is right cannot seriously be called an economist. Already in 2018, for example, more grain was consumed worldwide than was produced. It is true that stocks are currently still well filled, but anyone who has even a basic grasp of arithmetic will quickly realize that the next catastrophe beckons.
Such distortions, no, aberrations, will be resolved by the network economy, I am sure, sooner or later. Because we will realize, must realize, what Albert Einstein already knew: "You can never solve problems with the same way of thinking that created them." That is why copyright reform, patent and property law, and many other regulations of the material "goods economy" that have grown up in the industrial age are not suitable for meeting the challenges of the information universe. And the tools for this are in fact already available and prove - still on a small scale - that it can be done quite differently.

And I am not trying to paint a pretty picture of the future, but merely to describe what is already happening everywhere: The moment the technical possibilities became available - cheaper computing power for computers, access to the network, modularization of tasks - to offer things or services without the market and without companies, people started to do exactly that. Wikipedia is just one of many examples. This is both wonderful and frightening: wonderful because it holds out the prospect of a new, sustainable mode of production that benefits many people without accepting the disadvantages of the classic market system - unequal distribution of power and wealth, health and knowledge; frightening because, in a transitional phase, the digital economy will force many workers out of the production process, depress the market price of goods, destroy conventional profit models and create consumers who demand free goods. And rightly so.
The latter effects will, of course, produce losers who will resist such loss with all their might. And since it is precisely those who are powerful today who will be among these losers - for example, the large, immobile car, pharmaceutical and food corporations that rely on control and standardization, as well as their political supporters - turbulence is inevitable.

Many business models are no longer fit for purpose. More and more human activity will be replaced by machines and assistance systems. In less than ten years, billions of new "machine-to-machine" connections in the so-called Internet of Things will have rendered superfluous a number of professions and business fields that are barely imaginable today. This will bring with it as many upheavals as opportunities. So far, unfortunately, only the anticipated problems have been conjured up for the most part, but they seem so threatening primarily because we cling to the old coordinates - work and wages, money and property - and do not like or are unable to imagine the new.
The decisive area that directly affects us all and that will change radically in the course of digitization is the labor market. At the same time, the field of "work" in particular is characterized by countless ambivalences, as anyone who works can spontaneously understand. Work is meaningful and/or is perceived as torture, work is a necessary evil to secure one's livelihood but also a way to social participation, work makes me the person I am but also prevents me from becoming the person I want to be. In short, what we call work is one, perhaps "the" central aspect of our lives so far.

Anyone who now comes along and says "tempi passati" will naturally have to reckon with fierce backlash. Which is why I prefer not to say it that way, but would nevertheless like to recommend allowing the thought. What happens when we run out of work? How will that change society and my individual life? It is true that the end of the working society will certainly not be proclaimed tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, and in a somehow final sense this is not foreseeable at all. But for millions of people working today, the end of the line is probably already visible. What then?

To be honest, an answer to this question is beyond my current imagination. But it is not only worthwhile but will be crucial to continue thinking about it, since the hope of perpetual growth and full employment is illusory. We should finally put such notoriously stoked expectations of salvation to rest and take note of what is happening in our very concrete present. And this already has little in common with the events as described by politicians, economists and business economists in their almost reality-resistant attitude.

The world is changing rapidly right now, and with it our tools, our clocks and our consciousness. This can have a good outcome, but it is not likely. It therefore remains essential to continue fighting for peace, freedom, justice and an environment worth living in.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The new school
Let's be both teachers and learners in a co-development process.
By Kerstin Chavent
[This article published on 7/23/2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-neue-schule.]

The upcoming new school year gives us all reason to ask ourselves what we want to learn. If you don't think you already know everything, now is the time to start thinking about the content that really matters in times of fundamental change. More information? Even more abstract knowledge? Even more false trails? It is time to do things differently. Let's break away from what keeps us in line and look for new teachers.
The time has come. Those who want to see can see. It is no secret in which direction the brave new fully supervised techno-world is developing. May the obedient, the righteous and the believers in authority still think that the greatest danger comes from the "right". May they still stare at the red cloth waving in front of their eyes and not see the matador next to it, who is preparing for the final stab in the bent neck, whose tendons were already severed at the beginning of the spectacle. The bull can no longer lift its head. Blinded by pain and rage, by sweat and blood, he scuffs his feet and runs towards death.
I have left the arena, have not marched along in the paso doble, in the warlike double step that divides society and splits it into hostile camps: right - left, left - right, young - old, poor - rich, black - white, yellow - green, vaccinated - unvaccinated, male - female, politically correct or not, with an internal I or without. I sit in my garden and listen to the cicadas that make the summer air shimmer in a nature that doesn't care about trench warfare, about what opinion we have and whether we are too many on this planet.

The tree does not wonder if it is home to too many leaves. The flower gives off its fragrance and the fruit ripens, not worrying if someone might not like it.

Nature is generosity, circulation, cooperation. Here there is no war, no enmity, here is diversity, liveliness, beauty (1).

If you look closely, you will see: Nothing ugly can be produced by nature. Only brains that have separated from the heart see in nature, in what they themselves are, a merciless opponent, cold indifference, dangerous threat.

He who opens his eyes and heart recognizes in the cyclic becoming and passing away, in the continuous breaking up and withering away, dying and being born again, the great, the sublime, the perfect. The living closes itself to the hard, judging, dissecting look that tries to capture it. It flees the scalpel, it hides from the one who hunts for it. We can grasp it only in the whole. To experience this, to direct the antennas to this, shall be the content of my upcoming school year.
I am a teacher. For more than thirty years I have been helping people of all ages to uncover the potential that lies within them. In adult education, I have learned to break down blockages and prejudices and to get fixed ideas and limiting thoughts out of the way in order to develop confidence in one's own abilities. Thus, teaching first needs a certain emptiness. Nothing fits into a full glass. Those who believe they know can only offer a sterile soil on which the same things always grow.

On the move
The current change confronts us with the need to separate from old ideas, habits and behaviors. There is confusion and uncertainty. The old has not yet passed and the new is a crossroads where we have to decide: new normality or new consciousness (2)? It feels to me like being in a birthing process with the end of the tunnel not yet in sight. I don't know what is coming. Painfully the wall of the too narrow cocoon tears open. The butterfly is still only a hunch. There is still chaos.
It is uncomfortable and frightening to be a passenger of this time, a traveler between technocracy and freedom, machine and man.

The masks have not yet fallen and the weapons have not yet been laid down. The lie is still only visible and has not been replaced by truth. I cannot change that. I cannot accelerate the process of becoming. It needs its time. What I can do is accept that and think about what I can do during that time.

I want peace within myself. I want to see what is there and bring to light what keeps the war festering. I want to be fully present, with me, whatever I give myself to discover. I want to gather the fruits of the earth and swim in clear water, I want to embrace trees, talk to animals and open my senses also to the invisible life. I want to read the stars and study the language of birds. I want to remember what a human being is, what his role is in this world and what we are capable of. I want to learn from others, learn with others, experience together what helps. I want to be part of a new school.

With head and heart
The new school is for people who ask questions. Who am I? What is man? How does he stand in the universe? How does he find truth? Common ideas and beliefs are touched and examined, the prerequisite for approaching the truth. Is it really so? Did it really happen that way? What really happened back then, during the war, when the wall fell, when the towers collapsed, when Corona entered the world stage? Is what we think is our reality actually a gigantic labeling hoax? A deceptive package that doesn't contain what it says?

In order to survive the change, we have to get back to the fundamental questions, to things we take for granted. Honestly, what do we already know? How old are humans? How long have we lived on this planet? How did we get here? Did we really emerge from the ape and evolve into a more highly evolved being? Is the idea correct that we have "improved" ourselves, so to speak? Or, on the contrary, have we forgotten what our original abilities were? Were we once able to do things that we now only dream of and have left to machines that are increasingly taking control of us?

Our technical understanding has made enormous progress. Our left brain has become more and more developed and has taken over complete leadership. Ratio, logic, analysis - this is what we know well. So well, in fact, that we are in the process of creating a world in which humans will become superfluous because the machine can do it better. But we have not developed our right brain hemisphere, which is responsible for intuition, feeling and networked thinking. Here we have stopped at the level of a Cro-Magnon.

The liberated mind
Who of us is capable of recognizing, naming and interpreting his emotions? Who of us knows who he is and where he comes from? Who can read in his dreams? Who knows about telepathy, clairvoyance, magic? Who has connection with the spiritual world? What if we were once able to do all this, that is, if what transcends our five senses has been lost to us because it does not fit into a world dominated by rational thought? What if there are powers that have long been out to make us small and our lives meaningless? What if we have become the fodder, so to speak, of energies whose existence depends on the fact that access to our inner source is blocked?

He who is free in spirit does not allow himself to be subjugated. So spirituality had to be talked out of us and man had to be degraded to a speck of dust.

Who can say with certainty that it is not so? Can it not be so that he who claims that there is no spiritual world is in reality only not able to grasp connections and to think networked? That ultimately he is "out of his mind"? The intuitive knowledge is lost to him and he cannot see what reality is. He worships the god of technology and cold reason and has let himself be taken out of hand what he once could. He has lifted the tool to heaven and made himself a slave to a machine.

If we understand where the faith in technology and the sublimation of the artificial have led us, we can free ourselves from our dependence. Right now, we can begin to replace the images that sprinkle us from dawn to dusk with our own ideas. We are capable of more than we are being led to believe. To realize this, it takes more than mere understanding. We have to experience it within ourselves, feel it, experience it.

Now!
Let's get to work and practice. Let's strip away the sticky, low energies that keep us down. Let's dissolve them in our mind, let's take off the old garment. Let's get moving and practice, just as one learns a language, a sport or a musical instrument. Let us separate ourselves from guilt, from self-reproach, from car sabotage. There is so much to learn! Let's learn to look our fear in the eye and overcome it. Let's practice recognizing the voice of our ego, the part of us that fears any change and wants things to stay as they are.

Let's remember that we are curious by nature, enthusiastic and eager to discover. Let's make ourselves flexible, let's become supple and soft. Let us revive the tenderness within us, the lovely, delightful, delightful. Let us rediscover the old words that we have been talked out of. Let us find access to the star within us and the magic in the world. Let's learn to love ourselves and free the wonderful being that has languished in chains in our inner dungeon for so long.

This cannot be done overnight. And it cannot be done alone. We need each other to become fully human. The Grail only comes into being in the encounter. I would like to participate in this process. I want to be a teacher and a learner at the same time, a giver and a receiver, part of an unfolding whole organism in which everyone has his place and his special task. We do not have to wait for the transition, however it takes shape. The new school can form now. Now we can join together. I am with you. In word and deed.

Sources and notes:
(1) Kerstin Chavent: In good company. How microbes ensure our survival. Scorpio 2020
(2) Kerstin Chavent: The unveiling. New normality or new consciousness? Futurum 2021

Kerstin Chavent is an author and language teacher living in the South of France. Published in German so far are "Die Waffen niederlegen", "Das Licht fließt dahin, wo es dunkel ist", "Krankheit heilt" and "Was wachsen will muss Schalen abwerfen". It was her experience with cancer that led her to write. Her themes are dealing with illness, raising awareness of creative potential, and awakening consciousness in a changing world. Read more on her blog, "Conscious: Being in Transition."_


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