[P2P-F] Fwd: Labouratory - monbiot.com

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Sun Oct 15 06:56:17 CEST 2017

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From: Linda Ellinor <lellinor25 at gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Oct 14, 2017 at 11:16 PM
Subject: Fwd: Labouratory - monbiot.com
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From: George Monbiot <noreply+feedproxy at google.com>
Date: Sat, Oct 14, 2017 at 12:48 AM
Subject: Labouratory - monbiot.com
To: lellinor25 at gmail.com

Labouratory - monbiot.com <http://www.monbiot.com>

Labouratory <http://www.monbiot.com/2017/10/13/labouratory/>

Posted: 13 Oct 2017 08:20 AM PDT

We should use the political space being opened by the Labour resurgence to
develop a new, participatory economy

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 11th October 2017

We are still living in the long 20th Century. We are stuck with its
redundant technologies: the internal combustion engine; thermal power
plants; factory farms. We are stuck with its redundant politics: unfair
electoral systems; their capture by funders and lobbyists; the failure to
temper representation with real participation.

And we are stuck with its redundant economics: neoliberalism, and the
Keynesianism still proposed by its opponents. While the latter system
worked very well for 30 years or more, it is hard to see how it can take us
through this century, not least because the growth it seeks to sustain
smacks headlong into the environmental crisis.

Sustained economic growth on a planet that is not growing means crashing
through environmental limits: this is what we are witnessing, worldwide,
today. A recent paper in Nature
puts our current chances of keeping global heating to less than 1.5°C of at
just 1%, and less than 2° at only 5%. Why? Because while the carbon
intensity of economic activity is expected to decline by 1.9% a year,
global per capita GDP is expected to grow by 1.8%. Almost all investment in
renewables and efficiency is cancelled out. GDP, the index that was
supposed to measure our prosperity, instead measures our progress towards

But the great rupture that began in 2008 offers a chance to change all
this. The challenge now is to ensure that the new political movements
threatening established power in Britain and elsewhere create the space not
for old ideas (such as 20th Century Keynesianism) but for a new politics,
built on new economic and social foundations.

There may be a case for one last hurrah for the old model: a technological
shift that resembles the Second World War’s military Keynesianism. In 1941,
the US turned the entire civilian economy around on a dime
within months, car manufacturers were producing planes, tanks and
ammunition. A determined government could do something similar in response
to climate breakdown: a sudden transformation, replacing our fossil
economy. But having effected such a conversion, it should, I believe, then
begin the switch to a different economic model.

The new approach could start with the idea of private sufficiency and
public luxury. There is not enough physical or environmental space for
everyone to enjoy private luxury: if everyone in London acquired a tennis
court, a swimming pool, a garden and a private art collection, the city
would cover England. Private luxury shuts down space
creating deprivation. But magnificent public amenities – wonderful parks
and playgrounds, public sports centres and swimming pools, galleries,
allotments and public transport networks – create more space for everyone,
at a fraction of the cost.

Wherever possible, I believe such assets should be owned and managed by
neither state nor market, but by communities, in the form of commons
A commons in its true form is a non-capitalist system, in which a resource
is controlled in perpetuity by a community, for the shared and equal
benefit of its members. A possible model is the commons transition plan
commissioned by the Flemish city of Ghent.

Land value taxation <http://www.landvaluetax.org/what-is-lvt/> also has
transformative potential. It can keep the income currently siphoned out of
our pockets in the form of rent – then out of the country and into tax
havens – within our hands. It can reduce land values, bringing down house
prices. While local and national government should use some of the money to
fund public services, the residue can be returned to communities.

Couple this with a community right to buy
enabling communities to use this money to acquire their own land, with
local commons trusts that possess powers to assemble building sites, and
with a new right for prospective buyers and tenants to plan their own
and exciting things begin to happen. This could be a formula for meeting
housing need, delivering public luxury and greatly enhancing the sense of
community, self-reliance and taking back control. It helps to create what I
call the Politics of Belonging

But it doesn’t stop there. The rents accruing to commons trusts could be
used to create a local version of the citizens’ wealth funds (modelled on
the sovereign wealth funds in Alaska and Norway) proposed by Angela Cummine
<https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300218947/citizens-wealth> and Stewart
Lansley <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/newe.12050/full>. The
gain from such funds could be distributed in the form of a local basic

And the money the government still invests? To the greatest extent
possible, I believe it should be controlled by participatory budgeting. In
the Brazilian city of Porto Allegre, the infrastructure budget is allocated
by the people: around 50,000 citizens typically participate. The results –
better water, sanitation, health, schools and nurseries – have been so
<http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X13000156> that
large numbers of people now lobby the city council to raise their taxes
When you control the budget, you can see the point of public investment.

In countries like the UK, we could not only adopt this model, but extend it
beyond the local infrastructure budget to other forms of local and even
national spending. The principle of subsidiarity – devolving powers to the
smallest political unit that can reasonably discharge them – makes such
wider democratic control more feasible.

All this would be framed within a system such as Kate Raworth’s doughnut
which, instead of seeking to maximise growth, sets a lower bound of
wellbeing below which no one should fall, and an upper bound of
environmental limits, that economic life should not transgress. A
participatory economics could be accompanied by participatory politics,
involving radical devolution and a fine-grained democratic control over the
decisions affecting our lives – but I will leave that for another column.

Who could lead this global shift? It could be the UK Labour Party. It is
actively seeking new ideas. It knows that the bigger the change it offers,
the greater the commitment of the volunteers on which its insurgency
relies: the Big Organising model
<https://mobilisationlab.org/big-organizing-guide-to-2017-and-beyond/> that
transformed Labour’s fortunes at the last election requires a big political
offer. (This is why Ed Miliband’s attempts to create a grassroots uprising

Could Labour be the party that brings the long 20th Century to an end? I
believe, despite its Keynesian heritage, it could. Now, more than at any
other time in the past few decades, it has a chance to change the world.

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