Inventing a new tomorrow

The world is changing. Regardless, we need to come up with new and more sustainable ways to live our lives and prioritize our resources.

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Christian Estrup profile image Christian Estrup

A kind of permanent meantime

Apparently, politics is no longer a discipline where gifted people dare to think independent thoughts, or someone dares to question the way we let the market dictate the problems at hand as a matter of simple prioritization and economics.

A kind of permanent meantime

I never really learned to understand the leftist views my sharp peers and almost all of my old high school teachers expressed back in the 90s.

None of the radical redistributions I heard proposed would be feasible within the framework of the market economy without us being forced to conjure up a massive control apparatus which, with its clammy, limiting hand, would take the lives of a great many good and healthy private initiatives.

—and therein lay my greatest delusion, as I, like so many others, had the impression that private initiative, to the extent that it could thrive and flourish, was by definition good and healthy and thus in this, the best of all worlds would work for our common good.

Because credit money has to earn interest, a deregulated economy will concentrate the values in fewer and fewer hands over time, no matter what.

Good old, idealistic Christian Estrup, who as the son of a hardcore Lutheran and a hardcore liberal, and not least a child of the 80s, 90s and the end of history, had not caught the point at all: As long as our money is created with a diametrically opposite intention, the market will never work for a broad, horizontal distribution of society's values and resources.

Because credit money has to earn interest, a deregulated economy will concentrate the values in fewer and fewer hands over time, no matter what.

For the same reason, none of the prominent, progressive mainstream politicians since the 80s have managed to create any viable alternative to the neoliberal narrative.

The passion and the desire to strengthen welfare have not failed in themselves, but both a Bill Clinton, a Tony Blair, and in particular a Barack Obama have nevertheless failed—been the willing servants of capital—and have, if anyone, shared responsibility for the recent decades of massive allocation of resources to the richest percentage of the population.

In principle, there is nothing in the way of tightening the reins on the financial sector, thoroughly regulating lending for both banks and mortgages and closing the borders for capital flows into and out of the country.

Nor is it at all impossible to change the Western tax systems, so that we tax the use of fossil energy, unnatural chemicals, capital gains and real estate to a greater extent and in turn make it more attractive to work. At the same time, we could appropriately introduce a Mondragon-inspired ratio, where the highest paid in a given organization must earn a maximum of nine times as much as the people on the floor. The possibilities are endless, but—

Week after week we talk about school policy and healthcare and elderly care, as if a handful of extra millions could make a decisive difference and change the welfare system itself and the approach to citizens for the better.

Nature and the green transition are sung in beautiful and promising adjectives, while the one overriding success parameter is still economic growth and a market in well-being is the goal in itself.

The miracle hope is called greentech.

That the narrative doesn't hold water and that at one point or another we need to reprioritize our way of life is common knowledge, but also so depressing to articulate that apparently we have chosen not to.

The idea that a free and unregulated market will find its equilibrium at any time and automatically is enticing.

For far too many years, we have chosen to run our society according to exactly the same principles as you normally manage a large business group; with a focus on quantified welfare goals, and optimization and streamlining of the processes at all levels. As long as we cannot break the curse of credit money, it is not realistic to believe that neither new elections nor protest votes will change anything fundamental about that.

The idea that a free and unregulated market will find its equilibrium at any time and automatically is enticing.

Intuitively, it seems true that every person's action to optimize their own situation will ultimately lead to an efficient distribution of society's values and resources as such. That is why we also most often balk at major political interventions in the dynamics of the market, as the favoring of one group in that logic will (as a minimum) lead to a corresponding deterioration for another.

The fact that the market is supposedly the best leader and distributer, other things being equal, also makes life easier for the people who have to take responsibility for the difficult decisions and stand up for a responsible management of the country.

No matter how much the rest of us may disagree on a specific priority, none of us can really argue against the politics of necessity. To the extent that a given reprioritization is necessary, it is basically not something that anyone has actively chosen, but simply a consequence of the logic of the market and money.

Today, the dynamics of credit money pervade our society in everything from new public management to automation and large-scale operations: also in the operation of our welfare and the organization of our infrastructure, the focus has shifted from employees and individuals to processes and cases.

As it sounds with sincere regret, the budgets have to balance!—(we know that only too well)—and apparently nobody wants a society with rising taxes and an even heavier public sector.

If we buy the story of the market's invisible hand, politicians and decision-makers also become administrators, whose main tasks are to ensure fully competitive markets and the free movement of money. Regardless of the color of the cover of the government agreement, that is . . .

Today, the dynamics of credit money pervade our society in everything from new public management to automation and large-scale operations: also in the operation of our welfare and the organization of our infrastructure, the focus has shifted from employees and individuals to processes and cases.

If the free market is to really function and optimize, it requires that all players on the market have equal access and equal conditions. The mantra seems to be that everyone should be treated equally.

As citizens, we have learned to live with many layers of administration that register and control and evaluate all at once and generally waste our productive time with redundant paperwork. A self-driving bureaucracy that prioritizes the measurable and scalable, rather than the employees' individual expertise and ability to make the necessary decisions themselves.

The tragic thing is that the real and unfortunately also steadily increasing, inequality is due neither to discrimination nor to the administration of the legal basis, but mostly to the way the credit money and the economy are set up:

No matter how carefully we fine-tune the buttons and turn on the various parameters, the logic of interest-bearing debt will continue to drain newly established companies and people who sell their care in favor of the wealthy and already set.

The—unfortunately very real—reprioritization contributions necessary to keep public spending steady are the price of credit money.

Rather than changing the money creation and the tax system, we instead strengthen the administrative apparatus, which can then find new, possible savings, make new tenders, and come up with better and cheaper solutions for the work that necessarily still needs to be done; work that is not carried out by the administrative employees in question, of course, but rather by others.

And of course we employ a lot of people, but—

As if we are constantly putting off rethinking a new and greener future, and instead are content living in the meantime. . . .

Don't get me thinking that we are talking about employment where someone actually feels that they are creating something valuable, or making a positive difference to other people. The only noteworthy results are the numbers on the bottom line, which sowie so reflect a world of yesterday.

After all, none of us will be any happier with all the toxic plastic junk, our exceptionally polluting container fleet continues to sail home to Europe, in exchange for a pervasive Far Eastern influence on the global (dis)order.

No wonder we are always lagging behind and are not quite where we feel we should be. Even those of us who actually occasionally manage to stamp out still get a bad conscience when we don't get to train, write, love, talk, learn, read, or do anything remotely productive in the time that does not count as work.

The market never sleeps and if you want to be successful you must go all in.

Merchant or artist is the same game. The logic is the same and the show continuously 24 7.

As if we are constantly putting off rethinking a new and greener future, content living in a kind of permanent meantime. . . .

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