In the envisaged computer game Global Alternative, the complexity of the current large social systems is contrasted with a relatively simple order (see Rules of the Game and Pool Economy). The question of what such a new order is capable of achieving is thus the first priority there. The aim is to find out whether it can solve the major problems currently facing humanity and whether the resulting global society would not only be a functioning one, but also a desirable one. So the view is forward.
In ‘Thinking the Change’, something different happens. The essay tries to build a bridge from the capitalistically organized present to the pool-economically organized society in Global Alternative and thus to provide a first grasp of the qualitative differences between old and new. Thus, it is both about the way life is currently organized almost everywhere on this planet and about contrasting this very organization with the foreseeable consequences of a new arrangement as envisioned in Global Alternative. Which is why it is advantageous to have read the above menu items first, otherwise the change cannot be understood.
In ‘Thinking the change’ a start is made to distance oneself from some of the common habits of thought and to feel one’s way into the most interesting spectrum of concrete possibilities, which is also opened by this.
Once again for visualization: Economy and state are the two powerful elements that structure all our lives. In the game ‘Global Alternative’ an economy is presented that has emancipated itself from all previous and current economic systems and forms of state. It is set up in a way that can enable global cooperation, based on autonomously organizing communities. The central tool of the organization is an IT that is exclusively focused on the benefits and needs of the globally networked allmende communities and their members, as well as their embeddedness in nature and dependence on limited resources.
In this new global constitution, many things that until then determined the – mostly painful – course of history are thus overcome and replaced.
Thus, not only money and property (as opposed to ownership1) can be abolished as capital-generating elements, but also the status of countries2 as states and nations, which consequently means that national borders no longer exist. Hereby, the necessity of their defense as well as the motive of geostrategic advantage-seeking ceases to exist – two reasons which, in our reality, are again currently leading to a massive rearmament worldwide. In combination with dwindling natural resources, the consequences of climate change and the use of artificial intelligence in military threat detection3, the likelihood of escalating military conflicts is once again increasing significantly – a circumstance that generally escapes everyday awareness, but in reality represents a steadily growing threat to all our lives.
The reorganization in Global Alternative, however, will not only permanently eliminate the causes of wars and conflicts. In addition, with the elimination of military installations, their significant contribution to the terrestrial climate and bio-crisis will also cease. According to recent and very conservative estimates, the military installations maintained worldwide and equipped with ever more sophisticated weapons systems, as well as the ongoing military conflicts on the planet, are responsible for at least 27% of the destruction on it.
But let’s return to the first two rules of the game, which in short are that money and property are no longer included in the global reorganization.
Although it is not possible in an essay such as this one to provide anything close to a satisfactory analysis of the way the money economy works, at least a few plausible characteristics of money and its consequences should be outlined.
Thus, it is relatively easy to visualize that the useful goods and services that are produced and offered in a society, and which we here briefly refer to as ‘use values’, are always brought about as purchasable commodities. They are thus produced exclusively for the benefit and use of others, regardless of whether it is a T-shirt, a craftsman’s service, or a theater performance. Those interested in the commodity, however, have no access to it until they pay money for it. So it is not produced in order to make useful and beautiful things simply available and thus satisfy needs, but on the contrary: “Here is the product, but you don’t get it until you open your wallet for it or debit your account for it.”
Or as it was once so beautifully put:
Money mediates between private individuals who need each other and produce for each other and at the same time withhold from each other what they need from each other and produce for each other.4
So money stands between the producer and the one who wants the product, it excludes both from each other. Both must therefore first ‘do business’ with each other in order to make ‘exchange’ possible. It is thus an opposing relationship that only becomes apparent upon closer examination, although it is an integral part of our everyday lives. And it is also one that is deeply and powerfully regulated. The state, as the supreme power of disposition, takes care of it, and it does so by law. Paragraphs stipulate that and how all elements of societal wealth are to be regarded as property. The fact that they consequently are also objects of exclusive power of disposal is revealed only at second glance. If the necessary money is available, this means the state-guaranteed access to a product; if it is not available, this means the likewise state-guaranteed exclusion from it …
Behind the value of money there is a sovereign word of power, which makes the artificial substance ‘money’ appear by virtue of state order as a real mediating substance between people. More precisely regarded, however, it separates them from each other.
One of the consequences is that in the reality of our present societies people (have to) regard all institutions and also all other people as conditions to be calculated for their own advancement. Competing, excluding and booting out are indispensable features of the social system organized as a market economy.
How high the social price is for this is hardly known and rarely an issue. When psychologists and physicians take a look at the downside of everyday working life, for example, they very rarely address its causes. Thus, the wear and tear on intellectual, psychological and physical resources and, last but not least, the strain or even destruction of togetherness are usually taken for granted. They are the necessary and unalterable tribute to the hustle and bustle of the market economy. If disturbing problems occur with the individual, usually two approaches are favored: on the one hand the self-diagnosis, which aims to look for the problem in the own weaknesses and inadequacies, on the other hand the safe giving into the medical and psychological repair enterprise.
In the new economy laid out by Global Alternative, competing could quickly become an exercise that proves to be superfluous, if not counterproductive. There is no need here to compete against each other in an economic or financial market, nor in a labor market or workplace. On the contrary, the production of utility values of all kinds takes place on the basis of cooperation, information exchange, autonomy and creativity, because it is simply a matter of making a useful contribution to each other and to the global pool. It might be conceivable to have a friendly global competition for the development of products that prove to be particularly sustainable and at the same time user-friendly. There would be no losers, though.
But doesn’t productivity suffer if competition for money, income and position in a social hierarchy no longer play a role? After all, isn’t money – regardless of its other characteristics – something like the DNA of our societies? Is it not par excellence THE means of organizing production, distribution and even the entire social interaction? And above all: aren’t the monetary rewards, the profit margins and the promises of consumption an absolute prerequisite for innovation, expert knowledge, competence and personal commitment?
Well, over a period of about 6 million years of human development and about 500,000 years of civilizational evolution, they have certainly played no role, and there is no reason to assume even now that they are the only possible form of organization of all that is needed for a good life. On the contrary, human togetherness has been profoundly disrupted, alienated, and oppressed, especially under capitalism. Also, the prosperity for all promised by its proponents has failed to materialize. More than 80 percent of humanity is poor, with an upward trend, and a good part of it ekes out an existence under catastrophic living conditions (see Facts and Figures). Together with the other consequences for nature and climate, this worldwide trend towards poverty, unemployment and modern enslavement, as well as the extreme concentration of money and power in the hands of a few, represents the latest peak of what capitalism is capable of. Only an immediate and comprehensive change of course, it is said, can change this. But it is precisely the capitalist economy that is proving to be a ponderous locomotive, stoically resisting every effort to take saving measures. In any case, there is neither any sign of the much-vaunted flexibility – “the market will sort it out” – nor any hope of it.
On the contrary: The global effort to maintain the capitalist market economy is immense, and it cannot be stopped. In order to keep the wheel of production and turnover of goods and financial flows running, more and more energy MUST be produced, nature MUST be fleeced and exploited and opulent state apparatuses MUST be maintained, whose task it is to keep economy and politics running and otherwise to secure their respective national gears inwardly as well as outwardly (about the security outwardly was already spoken).
Thus, it goes without saying that each individual state, no matter how well or poorly it succeeds, must operate a financial system and financial policy. It has at its disposal the law as a legitimate force with which it can provide for the protection of person, property and financial flows as well as for its own revenues (for example by taxes).
And this, too, involves a not inconsiderable effort. The legal protection of property alone, as the basis for the monetary system, takes up a considerable amount of space. Thus, more than 90% of all court cases deal with fraud, theft, obtaining benefits by fraud, white-collar crime, disputes related to money and property, and violent crime related to enrichment.
As a side note: The fact that internationally organized drug and arms smuggling, human trafficking and enslavement, the darknet and other unsavory sources of income rarely end up in court makes one wonder. Do these forms of criminality not rattle the interests of states enough? The fact is that they are arely considered direct attacks on the state system and certainly do not counter capitalist concerns. Moreover, since they are internationally active organizations, the interests and interdependencies that vary from country to country come into play.
Be that as it may, the police, CID, customs and Interpol are responsible in Europe for the direct protection of property and financial flows. They perform tasks that, like the judiciary, fall to the public service.
In Germany, about 11% of all employees work in the civil service, and about a third of the civil servants are involved in the aforementioned fields of activity. Roughly subdivided, the military and the railroads take up another third, and most of the remaining third is engaged in teaching, science, medical institutions, the care of children, ‘foreign affairs,’ etc. The extent to which they also tie up manpower that ultimately has to do with keeping the financial system intact is difficult to ascertain.
Back to the above-mentioned crime: If there is nothing to be earned from it, as is the case in the pool-organized society, the entire breeding ground will be withdrawn. This would then also be the end of the trade with drugs and weapons, with forced sex and whatever other unsavory things there are with which money can be made directly or by blackmail.
This is not to say that there would be no more crime in a pool-organized society. It is true that most of the currently prevailing reasons for misdemeanors and crimes would be eliminated, and social interaction would be more balanced overall, but it would be unrealistic to assume that such reasons as those based on drives, enmity, jealousy etc. would also disappear completely.
Since the lifeblood of the monetary system is the circulation of its ‘stuff’ (somewhat more accurately: its ‘abstract exchange equivalent’) and its ‘growth’, legions of people must be concerned solely with ensuring that money is registered, administered, secured, lent, invested and multiplied.5 To do so, there are bankers, insurers, tax advisors, accountants, EDP specialists, financial managers, stock exchange specialists, lawyers, auditors, tax office employees, economists, service and guard professions etc. etc. up to the cash desk personnel … – throughout professions which are solely indebted to the monetary system and in which nothing is produced, transported, repaired, maintained and nobody is cured, nursed, educated and so on … – a list that could be continued for a long time.
But this does not mean that we have reached the end of a spiral that really revolves solely around the monetary system and hurls a vast number of activities into the world that are useless in themselves. If we think about them, it becomes obvious that for their equipment and exercise quite other professions are required – namely those that normally deliver something useful, but now put their capacities at the service of the useless. Because the useless activities must be wrapped in buildings (with banks and insurance companies in particularly extravagant), equipped with furniture, electrical engineering and masses of hardware and special software, they must be supplied and maintained and cleaned and in addition mobility must be provided. Last not least, one or the other of the money industries needs to advertise its services, and so the advertising industry also comes into play, which is to be found in the front ranks in the wear and tear of labor and other resources anyway.
So how much working time and power are tied up by all these governmental and market activities owed to the monetary system, how many resources are consumed for something that – contrary to all economic myths – is actually NOT needed to satisfy people’s needs for material goods, for auxiliary services and cultural products? That is NOT needed to generate quality of life?
Conservative estimates suggest that the consumption of 65% of society’s total labor is directly or indirectly owed to the monetary system, and only 35% goes to the production of use values.
In a society organized according to the rules of the pool economy, on the other hand, it is to be expected that the weekly working time of an adult will amount to a maximum of 12 hours (it will be possible to determine the exact situation in Global Alternative). By way of comparison, full-time employees in Germany work an average of 41 hours per week. There is, however – irrespective of any raging pandemics – a growing labor market sector with temporary employment contracts and so-called mini-jobs (marginally paid employees). Both are by no means due to the private need for more free time, but first and foremost to the need on the labor market. Over the past 50 years, the labor market has increasingly created atypical employment relationships, for example in the form of temporary work, mini-jobs and part-time jobs, which meet the capitalist interest in a maximally flexible world of work with minimal obligations to employees. Wage earners are supposed to react quickly to changing work situations, be professionally and geographically mobile, acquire new skills throughout their lives, always be ready for action and not be stuck in fixed jobs. And so they are increasingly fobbed off with temporary contracts, cheap jobs and poor employment conditions.
Having said this, it is worth taking a look at the concept of work in the capitalist structure of the industrialized countries. Work is understood here as a productive, useful activity; for the employed, however, it is first and foremost a means of earning money. The quantity of money earned determines not only the possibilities for shaping one’s existence6, but also how people perceive themselves and others.7 Both have an effect on the psychological constitution of the individual and create a hierarchy beyond the social strata.
Work, as it is ‘assigned’ in capitalism, also means that it is always necessary to compete AGAINST the interests and needs of others, no matter whether this happens on the capital market, the labor market or in everyday work. Interestingly, this general fact is much less perceived by individuals than the competition they face themselves. Fear of losing one’s job has become a constant companion for wage earners worldwide, and the fear of bankruptcy eats away at the nerves of many self-employed people. Consequently, people drag themselves to work even when they are sick.8
Work, as it is organized today, obviously consumes a lot of personal resources. And of life time. It is therefore worth considering what resources and what effort are in turn required to enable people to meet all the demands of their everyday working lives. What is required when there is no time left to take care of a child, cook something yourself, take the dog for a walk or meet up with friends … ? Or no time to buy an object of daily use, so buying over the Internet saves so much energy and time than going to the store … And why is it that the best thing to do is to leave the real world, its banality and frustrations, to escape into the worlds offered by computer games promising a regain of self esteem and satisfaction …?
Well, capitalizing on the chronic time and energy deficit, on frustration and the search for relaxation is one of the greatest success stories in capitalism. Regardless of whether we are talking about the many little electric helpers in the household, consumer electronics, ready meals and delivery services, individual mobility, communication devices, psychotropic drugs or the gigantic tourism industry … – they all profit from the time shortage of the individual who is integrated into market-economy mechanisms and his deficit of relaxation and friendly togetherness. This is even used to the extent that the rapid demise of the devices as a result of built-in predetermined breaking points is mostly accepted, from which again the electronics and electrical industry profits considerably.
These observations are so revealing because they make it clear how much human resources the capitalist production system ties up and how much material resources it wears out. And also, which enormous capacities are potentially freed with its overcoming. This is not to say that every social system does not necessarily tie up forces for its maintenance – of course it does. But the extent to which it does, and the relationship of the input of material and human resources to the output of what is needed for a good life – for everyone – is worth examining.
In Global Alternative it will be possible to find out exactly this.
In its system of production, which makes only the need for material and intellectual goods (see Pool Economy) and its coverage according to ecological-logistic criteria the leading index of production, the extensive and completely out-of-step economy described above will no longer play a role.
Consequently, it will be possible to calculate by how much greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced, to what extent fish stocks can recover, freshwater reservoirs can be secured, natural habitats can expand again, the loss of species can be stopped and soils can be reclaimed for the production of food. It will also become clear what changes are taking place in traffic and transportation, how people’s living conditions are changing locally, how learning can be organized differently, and above all: what freedom is opening up for each individual and what qualities are being gained in social life.
It will also become clear what profoundly beneficial changes a conversion of the current structure of states in favor of a world hegemony would bring about.
Above all, however, the political issues that play such a dramatic and threatening role in our world, such as wars, trade wars, economic crises, economic sanctions, armament, civil wars, flight, etc., will be deprived of their raison d’être.
1 Possession, in the sense of the enjoyment of material goods needed in everyday life and important for the preservation of health, privacy and intellectual interests, is regarded as a basic prerequisite for the prosperous development of each individual
2 ‘Countries’ or their designations are now only used for geographical allocation; it is possible that in the course of game development new ideas will also arise on this and everyone will agree on one of them
3 The use of artificial intelligence in military security plays an additional role – see also
4 Wolfgang Möhl, Theo Wentzke: Das Geld; GegenStandpunkt Verlag 2007
5 The fact that it is also used for speculation and betting in an almost obscene manner is only the tip of the iceberg – albeit a nasty tip, because it ensures that there is a sensational wealth that is not covered materially, but whose owners can claim material goods for it at any time.
6 13.4 million Germans live below the poverty line, their options for making a living are narrowly defined
7 In an industrialized country like the U.S., this could and can have harsh consequences, because however you fare financially, it is the consequence of your own actions. Performance is the top priority; the fact that the prerequisites for achieving this must first be created is not up for debate. To this day, there are no sensible state social welfare structures in the U.S.; rather, help becomes a benefactor gesture of the rich.
8 In Germany, this applies to half of all employees, according to a study by the Techniker Krankenkasse in 2021.