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A good future beyond the market and the state
by Lorenz Glanz
In the midst of a blindly globalized society, we are atomized workers and consumers divided by competition, who are in contact with each other primarily through monetary and labor relations and only exceptionally and temporarily represent common interests. We become increasingly helpless because we are increasingly superfluous and excluded from access...
Helplessly dissatisfied
by Lorenz Glanz
1 observation and 8 claims on the question of why there can only be a good future beyond the market and the state

by Lorenz Glatz
[This article published in Streitzuege on July 1, 2003 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

(Contribution to the workshop "Beyond the Market and the State – Perspectives of Radical Transformation" at the Austrian Social Forum in Hallein on 31.5.03)

At the beginning an observation: So much dissatisfaction has not been for decades. Not so much perplexity. For some years now, millions of people in the so-called rich countries have been taking to the streets against capitalist globalization and against the increasing impositions of the prevailing way of life and economy, trade unions have called on their members to major strikes and other measures of struggle and continue to do so – and yet one social achievement after another is being dismantled, If wage levels and labor law are falling, unemployment and poverty are increasing, the state is increasingly left with only the (alone growing) control and oppression apparatus. But now to the claims:

1. Whether the left or the right governs is of rapidly diminishing importance.
All those who are eligible for power in the political business are in favor of reform and understand this as a project that amounts to a dangerous threat. That "the competition is getting tougher", that we have to "leave hair", that "slimmed down", that "privileges have to be dismantled", is a general credo in these circles. Anyone who doubts this will be ridiculed or attacked – depending on the circumstances. The difference between social development under a government of Schüssel, Chirac or Berlusconi on the one hand and Schroeder-Fischer and Blair on the other is marginal. Here, too, there is a lot of fundamental agreement behind the vociferous dispute between the social partners, the government and the opposition, from which none of the participants makes a secret. After all, no one can seriously accuse the government of wanting to make a budget and having problems with it in the face of rapidly emptying coffers.

The more radicals – I mean the political opposition far from power – calculate that there is "enough money" there, that it should only be distributed and used differently to unfold its prosperity-promoting effect, that it needs a "different policy", "really democratic" power relations – then everything could dissolve again in pleasure. The wide spectrum of these people ranges from the trade union left to the folklore troupe of the rest of M-L. After all, one or the other young person from these circles is not only getting old, but perhaps still comes to office and dignity. Then, however, the realization that "the markets" do not tolerate the realization of his childhood dreams, and his commitment to the confession of the reformers is certainly already behind him.

2. Governments react more and more violently but regulate less and less.
The nation-state developed as an ideal total capitalist. As such, on the one hand, he has to prepare life in his field for exploitation with all his means and, on the other hand, he must also ensure with right and order that this exploitation does not blindly destroy life and thus at the same time his own foundation.

At least the second task remains increasingly unfulfilled. The decisive agents in today's world economy are large corporations, which, however, are not a conspiracy, degeneration or the like, but the completely logistical result of market economy development under the dictates of competition. However, these global players are not national, nor multinational, but essentially transnational and global. They do not simply rule in economic branches of many national economies, but they organize the business process, the production of individual goods, across the national regulatory areas for the world market. They have gone beyond the scope of the nation-states on whose soil and in whose limits they have developed, thus degrading them to sites. With not inconsiderable effects: It is not the global players who pay taxes to the locations, but they compete with money exchanges for the investments of the transnationals and thus dry up their own coffers. It is not the states that impose conditions on the global corporations, but they appreciate the business quality of their offers. Global players who would act differently are no longer within a very short time, nation states that do not comply with this are then no longer even locations.

The location competition is an old phenomenon as a local competition of municipalities, cities and provinces. However, the involvement of nation states in this competition has a new quality. The globalized economy has thus subordinated itself to the authority that – as long as it could still set limits – alone was able to somehow make the principle of exploitation for human life and life on this planet, which was fundamentally hostile to life and has become a forced automatism, somehow bearable. If states can no longer regulate economic events in this way, but are merely part of the competition of providers of infrastructure structures of all kinds, then liberalization, i.e. the dismantling of regulations and protective provisions, is no longer a political option among others, but a requirement of survival in competition.

In this respect, the scope for governments to shape things is very limited. What remains of politics is the systematic sacrifice of man and nature on the altar of exploitation and the breaking of any resistance of the people concerned through disinformation, incitement, control and open oppression. It is quite helpful that politicians in general believe the nonsense they spread themselves and actually consider the social cuts dictated by the empty coffers to be rescue measures.

Globalization brings the states closer together, but by no means for the development of a world state as a new regulatory framework of the globalized economy, but – in the manner of the WTO and the MAI – for the organized dismantling of everything that is left of state regulation. The development of recent years is not characterized by the unification of small states into large ones, but by the fragmentation of large structures into small, often hardly to be called states. Even the EU cannot and does not want to act in the sense of re-regulation, but is, following economic reality, an agency of transnational deregulation and liberalization.

3. Real socialism preceded the market economy only to its death.
The spectacular implosion of real socialism almost a decade and a half ago turned out not to be a victory for the market economy, but the beginning of the disintegration of the world economy based on goods and money. The so-called system competition has concealed the essentials for the participants: "Real socialism" and "social market economy" were just two variants of an underlying commonality: Hüben as over there was or is not about the production of goods for human life needs, but about the production of goods for sale for money, which is by no means the same, as e.g. every apartment seeker can easily determine. It was and is about the assertion in competition on the world market, about the use of human labor for economic growth, about the profitability of investments, in short: about the increase in value of capital employed, about the "valorization of value", in which human life is never the end, but the means.

In practice, real socialism was not about a fundamental alternative to Western capitalism, but about the attempt to catch up with the backwardness of those who came too late in the development of modern money society with the bundling of all forces by the state. The CP regimes rarely advocated a fundamentally different way of living and doing business in theory, but never in practice. They functioned not only as idealistic overall capitalists like the state apparat in the West, but also as real ones. Their disempowerment was therefore – quite to the surprise of many contemporaries – not the result of a sharp political struggle. Rather, they have been "weighed and found too light" by the markets – they have simply been "devalued". In modern commodity and money society, as a whole, as in many individual companies, the principle applies: last in – first out, and Gorbachev's famous sentence "Whoever comes too late, life punishes him" has therefore also turned against its author.

4. The economy is not only globalizing, it is also decaying.
The bankruptcy of state socialism in the world economic system has given more impetus to speculation than to the real economy in the supposedly victorious, in reality merely surviving West. Today, the East is largely deindustrialized, large areas of the ex-Soviet Union are economically written off, what can still be exploited is integrated into globalized capital. Large parts of Africa have disappeared from the map of the world economy, South America is in a hopeless debt crisis. But even the former model country of the market economy, Japan, has not been able to get out of recession and stagnation for more than ten years, and the dreaded and admired East Asian tigers are still frozen in the jump to paper. At the moment, the EU and the US are also heading for a recession, while experts and politicians continue to promise us – as they have done for three years – the upswing for the next quarter or the quarter after next.

The cause of the crises of recent decades has not been the "command economy" of the East, nor is it corruption and incompetence, but the unstoppable collapse of capitalist growth. The dynamics of the last heyday of modern merchandise management in both forms in the decades after the Second World War have come to a halt. The "automobilization" of the world, the mechanization of atomized households and the possibilities of the assembly line have exhausted themselves, companies and states all over the world have "exchanged" with loans and bonds and tried to initiate a new wave of growth – it was in vain, they have only been left with a growing mountain of debt. Despite all expectations and promises, the new technology of microelectronics has not triggered a new surge in accumulation. The sudden increase in productivity caused by them exceeds in the long run and by far the still possible increases in production. Computerization makes productive work superfluous to a far greater extent than new ones can be created. From the PC to the latest generation of mobile phones, there is not a product range in remote testing that would be even somehow comparable despite the newly created needs of the value creation of the car and household appliance industry of the fifties and sixties, despite the newly created needs of the car and household appliance industry of the fifties and sixties.

However, increasing the value used in production is at the heart of the profit economy – without it, there is no profitable investment. With debt and speculation, the hoped-for future exploitation is still being anticipated, but if this does not materialize, the loans become rotten, the speculative bubbles burst, the stock markets go down, companies fail, the market economy experiences the (salami) crash.

For us, this means, for example.B. that many here in the room are capitalistically superfluous and have to duel with x others for x tenths of a chance when applying for jobs for any job (the main thing is work!) or even just in search of a training place. However, since there will never be full employment again and the number of surpluses increases quite rapidly, they are only likely to become more in our circle. If you want to stay "in", there must be cheaper, and even those who have a pension certainly do not have it safely. Hardly anyone wants to make this so clear, even if many feel that we live in a time of decay of a world-dominating way of life. Nevertheless, we are afraid to admit this to ourselves – it is therefore quite logical that depression in recent years is about to become the most widespread disease.

5. Environmental protection harms the economy; questions of meaning endanger work morale and positive thinking.
Environmental protection harms the economy – When President Bush has a realization, he pronounces it. His colleagues in the rest of the world also have the knowledge but keep it to themselves. They all act accordingly. The market economy works in such a way that it outsources its costs to nature and to people. Not only since our landscapes have been inhabited, the atmosphere has been heated, the air and soil are increasingly poisoned and people are dying of depression and karoshi, but from the very beginning. In the heyday of regulation, however, less was allowed to be soiled in our country, but all the more so in the economically weaker countries. Yes, some Eastern and Third World countries have literally torn themselves over the highly developed dirt (whether production or waste) from the EU and the USA, because it ultimately brought jobs. The gap may have remained – as the level of the poison increases. Because today it has become quite quiet even in the core countries of profit-making about the ecology, even with the Greens. Anyone who does or has to do to an average job today can hardly find anything outrageous about the fact that the environment is as modest as oneself. And the fact that everything strikes back at ours is hardly new to anyone anyway.

Who doesn't know.B, for example, or can't know that the cars will kill us, and yet our lives depend on it being poisoned? It is also no secret that allergies and new epidemics are the result of our toxic production in general and that of our food in particular – but who can and wants to afford something else? Every day, the trucks roar, stink and poison past each other on the motorways, leading the same from A to B and the same from B to A. Gigantic flows of goods are carted around the globe, shipped, flown, guided by no consideration related to man and nature, but only by price impulses and profit expectations, no matter what it may cost man and nature. Human lifetime is burned for work, and it is paid. For money, what is in the court is consumed. More is not in it and also not provided! Anyone who pursues the question of whether what is done makes sense, whether it is good for whom, harms whom, would be better avoided in the interest of people, is useless and who is responsible for what, is from another star and/or risks his work ethic, his self-respect as a working person and his mental balance – indolence and permanent anesthesia are among the prerequisites for coping with this life.

6. Where the economy is at a standstill, the compulsion to have money quickly leads to barbarism.
Capital accumulation is faltering, business is going badly. The number of migrants seeking work on the closely guarded borders of the fortresses of Europe and the USA is swelling. But even inside, the number of unemployed is growing and their harassment is becoming sharper, and support is suffering from dizziness. However, little is said about it, because in this society it is a flaw if one cannot sell itself, a crime if one does not try tirelessly or does not really want it anymore. In many areas of the world, the rural exodus, the loss of agrarian self-preservation, continues unabated. Since there is the need for money between the need for survival and its coverage, the activities of those willing to survive are becoming more and more precarious.

The service society is coming true worldwide. Anyone who is allowed to continue walking in the hamster wheel of real work has them at their disposal – from shoe shiners to pranksters, from shopping bag wearers to life coaches. And anyone who has nothing else to sell sells as a beggar in good conscience for the donors or physically a kidney for the health of a buyer.

On the other hand, organized crime is proliferating beyond the (high) level traditionally integrated into capitalism. Human smuggling, trafficking in women and drugs are among the largest economic sectors. Their success in the (how long?) black markets of Western Europe and America is the basis for the survival of large swathes of the so-called Third World and Eastern Europe.

Where states decay in the decline of the world system, the apparatus and the mafia merge, and the economy freaks out in robbery and in the plundering of everything that can still be exploited. Whether industrial plants, televisions, washing machines or furniture, everything finds its way into markets as long as there is still purchasing power.

In decay, survival becomes more than ever the profession of women. The male role of abstract, money-making, otherwise indifferent work can no longer be occupied in many areas of the planet. The patriarchy goes crazy, becomes nothing but destructive. The youngsters in the corridors of the slums of America, the drug-pumped butcher boys of the robber militias on the economically burnt-out earth of Africa, Asia and who knows where else soon, are the last word of the market economy and its form of male rule.

Completely detached from any perspective of this world, the final stage of this dissolution process is finally the various suicide squads and other terrorists as the hopeless "avengers of the disinherited".

7. To be on the safe side, control, imprisonment, bombing and occupation
The globalization profiteers or those who want to consider themselves for it, and the law enforcement officers of this world perceive the decay of the system of money and goods above all as a security problem. Expressions of rage and resistance are incited and criminalized. The worldwide phenomena of social destruction arising from the construction of capitalism itself – from crime to terrorist attacks – are interpreted as the work of sinister powers coming from the past or elsewhere from outside. The integration power of the system for its dissidents has largely been extinguished, what remains are oppression, spying and other methods of secret police, which, thanks to the possibilities of microelectronics, are extended to monitor the entire population.

Against the squandering and brutalization of everyday life and the crime that is omnipresent in many places, there is a call for a policy of zero tolerance. In the leading nation of the Western world, more people are imprisoned (even per capita of the population) than have ever been in any military dictatorship. In Germany, too, the number of especially juvenile prisoners is rising sharply.

The remaining superpower USA is paralyzing the quarrelling and recalcitrant bunch of subordinate "ordering powers" of all countries into chaos to fight against the impending dissolution of the world order. What is at stake is not simply the business opportunities of this or that national capital, but the globalized context of exploitation as a whole. Threats, embargoes, bombardment and occupation are part of the repertoire with which the USA wants to ensure what is still to be exploited after the end of modern international law of sovereign states, and hopes to calm everyone down, if necessary to try to destroy what can no longer be made of money. The opponents are no longer competitors who would have to be defeated. In a world that rolls up the red carpet for every investor, there is no longer a closed country that would have to be opened to the blessings of capital, but the enemies against whom action is being taken are the "ghosts of crisis" of the one world system: cold warlords who have become dysfunctional, insubordinate warlords and – increasingly threatening and militarily inaccessible – sheer terror, the paranoid mirror image of a no less paranoid system of self-serving multiplication of money.

8. The perspective lies beyond the market and the state: cooperation instead of competition. Life instead of "work". People instead of profit
200 years after the final implementation of capitalism, any thought that goes beyond its foundations and basic concepts seems to be physically eradicated and intellectually and morally discredited. Therefore, the thoughts of many who often criticize the current capitalism with strong words remain under its spell and are aimed at a repair, at a hopeless return to the times when the market economy was supposedly still social, and socialism was still one (a view that in my opinion is at least a Eurocentric narrow-mindedness).
n starting points result from what we have to suffer from. Attempts to expand these starting points in a practical way can do much to lead the dissatisfaction mentioned at the beginning out of its perplexity.

The struggle against the rising tide of social and ecological impositions cannot be won as a struggle for jobs, working conditions, income, state spending and regulation, because the ground of state, work, market, etc., on which these conflicts take place, is not available. The ground of state, work, market etc., on which these conflicts have to be conducted, is breaking away at the same time (and this positive overall context has always been a catastrophe for the majority of people in the world).

It has become absolutely life-threatening to let the existence of human society continue to be determined by the blind process of exploitation and by state institutions serving this process, to make human life dependent on whether invested capital can still be increased and to let the weal and woe of people be decided by whether one is still able to somehow contribute to this process through some "work". The call for "more democracy", "we want work" - chants and pension security strikes, "so that things stay the way they are", gradually threaten to become an auto aggressive self-persiflage of the participants.

The struggle has a perspective if the demands are not limited to money and the demand for state regulation, but focus on access to material resources and the autonomous shaping of human lifetime. Profitability and financial viability are to be dismantled as criteria, to be attacked as absurd, ecologically devastating and ignoring even the simplest human survival needs. It is necessary to ask the question and to make it the subject of a broad debate, what a "good life" is, what we need and have to do for it and first of all and above all: what we must not do and waste for it any longer.

In the midst of a blindly globalized society, we are atomized workers and consumers divided by competition, who are in contact with each other primarily through monetary and labor relations and only exceptionally and temporarily represent common interests. We become increasingly helpless because we are increasingly superfluous and excluded from access to even the most basic necessities.

A movement against this development can only gain strength if it does not merely make demands on the state and companies but takes concrete steps itself to transform the value-mediated (money, consumption of goods, competition, etc.) social context into a direct, common interest. If it sets out to gradually take into its own hands the material and intellectual resources necessary for a "good life", which are today confiscated and wasted or silenced by exploitation, and to use them cooperatively, to shape them anew and to develop them. To put it pointedly, what we need is not simply a resistance movement, but a global appropriation and cooperative movement.

That any success in this direction harms the economy, weakens the state and deepens the crisis is clear and cannot scare anyone who wants to get out of these relationships: instead of work for the abstract purpose of increasing money, meaningful activity for the common shaping of life - from the everyday periphery to the level of the whole planet.

What is needed for the outlined break with the bankrupt social relations and the thoughts belonging to it, is intellectual confrontation and lots of experiments. And not tomorrow, but now.

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