Commission Music

Commission Music
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Tuesday, 17 December 2002

It is entirely clear that in our current system, few people other than artists enjoy their jobs so much that they would keep doing them if they didn�t have to. It is also clear that our current system is entirely unsustainable. Our primary goal in our current system is economic growth. This means we must keep making more things every year than we did the year before, over and above any population growth. And such is our system that if we fail to grow in a year, we are in a recession and many people end up out of work. Popularly, this is not seen as a shortcoming of the system, but rather as a moral failing of the individuals affected. Furthermore, the system requires the middle class to consume more and more every year. There is only so much stuff that people want to have, however, so that it is necessary to make things disposable. The only way to keep the middle classes consuming more and more is to make them throw away what they already have. This ever-rising so-called �standard of living� does not grow higher when people must work at jobs that they do not like so they can buy things to throw them away. Meanwhile, the environmental and human costs of raw materials continue to mount. For a few to live like disposable aristocracy, others must live in poverty and environmental damage and wasting of resources must mount higher and higher.

Because this kind of capitalist excess is socially and environmentally unstable and unsustainable, it will fall. The only question is how. We can sit and wait until the ocean levels rise, disastrous uncharacteristic weather patterns pummel us, and asymmetric warfare rains down upon us from all sides, or we can act now and avert carnage, extinctions and continuing genocide.

Aside from these points, the primary weakness of our system is over and under centralization. Some systems are over centralized. Other systems have no central planning whatsoever. All of these systems are setup as inefficiently as possible so that elite individuals can profit off the inefficiency and pocket the difference between dollars spent and value received.

We can build a better system. We can break away from the old one.

I foresee the western parts of the United States breaking away from the Union. People in Northern California, Oregon and Washington will say no more to a system where civil rights have been whittled down to the right to chose what color car to buy. We will say no more to enslaving the third world for private profit. We will say no more to people being poisoned by pesticides, condemned to poverty and stuck toiling away our lives in stupid jobs that offer us no freedom or leisure time.

We will couple automation with sustainable development. Nobody�s time will be more valuable than anyone else�s. Production will be to fit human needs rather than capitalistic growth. Things are valuable only in so much as the benefit human lives. We will cease production of pointlessly disposable items. Durable goods will actually be durable, re-usable and recyclable. Buildings will not be knocked over for no reason. Instead of principles of capital and ownership, we will have principles of use and collectivization. People will form voluntary associations locally to meet local needs. Every home will be a squat. The residents will have the means to maintain their homes and their collective living arrangements.

Corporations will cease, with all factory production automated and run by the government. Less will be made, because less will be needed. As much as possible, items produced locally will be consumed locally.

People will brew their own beer, and their own biodiesel, and generate their own power with the solar arrays on their roofs. Yet many tools will be owned in common. Few people actually need their own vacuum cleaner. Almost no one who has one uses it everyday. Because of growth, inefficiency and systems of ownership, people currently must buy all the tools they might ever need. However, alternatives exist even now. In Berkeley, there is a tool library that residents with a library card may check out tools from. I foresee a future where many tools are owned in common by neighborhoods, blocks, buildings or associations. The interconnectedness and interdependence of all people will be clear. No one�s time will be worth more or less than anyone else�s. The currency will be measured in hours.

People will still work as teachers, as nurses, as firefighters as repair people, but fewer hours will be required. These people will have time to peruse art, sports, music, crafts, and passion. No one will be made to live in poverty for the benefit of anyone else.

This can and will come about. There is no reason to continue our unequal, disposable and militaristic social systems. Too often we resemble what is worst about human nature. There is no reason not to resemble the best. The technology we require is present. All we need is the will to make our vision happen.

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