Monday, February 14, 2011

The Cecilieauxist Manifesto

Events have overtaken a variety of comments and posts. In lieu of outdated piecemeal commentary, I hereby offer a grand positive vision of what ought to be ...

A specter is haunting the globe and it is the model of economic growth driven by consumption demand at prices, levels of production and wages dictated by a market that is falsely said to operate unfettered in its allocation of goods, services and capital.

This system has unrivaled global reach. Having destroyed its prime challenger in the past century, Soviet Communism, the system is now devouring secondary challengers, such as the western European welfare state and islets of experimentation elsewhere. The system has swallowed post-Communist Russia whole and is in the process of digesting China. It has also laid waste to American power and influence and used the government of the United States has its gendarme and its enabling institution.

The system is a hydra-headed combination of multinational corporations and plutocratic elites that, because they are locked in dynamic competition with one another, is invisible and omnipresent at once. No political party, government or group has shown itself capable of fending off its insidious and seductive power. No individual escapes the pathology of greed that it spreads. Unless it is stopped, the planet will be despoiled by its byproducts and civilization as we have known it will disappear from the face of the Earth.

We Cecilieauxists believe, however, that the current trend is not yet irreversible, that the overall mass of human beings will ultimately arise to change the course of history, if it awakens from the systems somniferous distractions.

We conceive of a political economy in which the art of decisionmaking lends itself to the apportionment of the world's resources in such a way as to extend the well-being of the many balanced by careful regard for the healthful development of every individual.

We believe that, for the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge to equitably distribute all the essentials needed for survival to all human beings and that disparities are only the result of willful maldistribution that needs to be remedied. Given this situation, we believe it is possible that many assumptions heretofore held by the vast majority of economists and policymakers can and should be transcended. The human economics of the future must be a non-zero-sum game in which all actors aggregate and multiply the resources for all.

In the process of developing a new human economy, we believe that economic power and economic results trump all other powers and factors. A hungry army will fail. An arbitrary project will collapse of its own. It is in such a pragmatic approach that Cecilieuxism has nothing to say beyond the material goal of a globally equitable society.

The cause will not succeed until success is global. Equitable need not mean a perfect, mathematical material equality, so long as everyone's essential needs are satisfied and differentials do not enshrine an unbridgeable gap. The social aim is inextricably linked to the social necessities of human beings to survive and does not mean a disregard for differences between people and their individuality, the common good and the well-being of the individual.

As initial steps toward such a world, we propose:

1. The permanent and worldwide abolition of hereditary classes through a 100% tax that devolves all assets of a deceased to government, in trust for society -- with the understanding that society undertakes to safeguard the well-being of the family left behind, especially children and adults unable to care for themselves.

2. The gradual abolition, through attrition and education reform, of involuntary work. Individuals working only out of economic need should be replaced by individuals who choose occupations and terms of work that give them the greatest joy. The change is to be brought about by a student-centered education system directed to help individuals discover the talents, abilities and capacities they most enjoy giving to society. Work in the future should be a privilege in which those who toil fulfill their potential and their desires through an activity of their choosing.

3. A gradual reform of the labor market to reduce the workforce to the minimum necessary to satisfy all the human needs of society. This would be achieved by automating the least desirable occupations, eliminating jobs that serve no useful purpose or tasks within jobs that serve no useful purpose and the establishment of a universal conscription of all men and women at age 18 to a Social Service Corps for a period of three years to perform tasks of service to society.

4. A gradual de-linking of income from work or occupation and individuals and a gradual elimination of individual earnings differentials, focusing instead on household income necessary to fulfill the human needs of its members.

5. A redefinition of human needs to include minimal material survival, but also, to the extent that equitably allocated resources allow, cultural and intellectual needs. However, no human need beyond immediate survival should be served before all human beings are satisfied in this regard.

6. Along with guarantees toward household incomes necessary to fulfill human needs, a revolutionized global society should set maximum standards of income and creature comforts, devolving any excesses to society for common use.

7. All weaponry and means of inflicting pain, wounding or death should be destroyed and the industries that produce them redirected to peaceful technological innovation.

8. Government should be limited to regulating and policing the equitable allocation of resources, fostering private initiative to fulfill public needs, the resolution of disputes and the maintenance of public order necessary to assure public safety and survival of all. All punitive measures shall aim to repair the damage of wrongdoing to the extent reasonably possible as well as to rehabilitate the wrongdoer to just behavior. Government policy should be decided through legislation and plebiscites, with elections and campaigning at public expense.

9. Private enterprises should be transformed into nonprofit social enterprises, with excess revenues directed only to expansion, innovation and, in lieu of these, the capitalization of society through government. Existing nonprofit organizations, churches and other similar organizations should be incorporated into a similar regime.

10. The right to property of fixed assets or machinery should be limited to socially beneficial uses (i.e., to provide housing, produce goods needed, etc.), but not as a source of income from rents or sale. Owners unable to use such property for socially beneficial purposes should relinquish their property to other proposing the best possible use.

In sum, we envision a peaceful world in which the fulfillment of human potential is a reasonable expectation and economic crime is eliminated through guaranteed survival and equitable access to human requirements. We believe that the path to the necessary changes must be persuasion and participatory democratic decisionmaking, as the veritable revolution needed will not take place without the enthusiastic support of all sectors of society.

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