Once again a UN climate conference took place. Once again the “climate catastrophe” was conjured up. Once again there were celebrations: since Paris, almost every state has faced up to their responsibility for this “problem of humankind”! And once again it was announced at the same time: despite all the disaster scenarios, CO2 emissions are rising worldwide. Is this a blatant failure of all heads of state who “sacrifice” their “responsibility for the blue planet” to the “lobbying” of business (Greenpeace), that is, betray the rescue of humanity to the profit interests of industry? No. The heads of states leave no doubt that they do not betray the concerns of humanity, as these critics accuse. They define the problem of humanity differently when they calculate with global warming and its consequences. In the end, is “humanity’s climate crisis” their – constantly betrayed – goal, or is it rather a nice-sounding claim to responsibility for worldwide money-making? Is the fight to set international climate goals and a low-emission economy a means for national growth, and is the ongoing dispute over these climate goals and their success the competition of nations for world market supremacy?
If VW gets caught with diesel engines that are dirtier than the law allows, can we talk about “failures” and “mistakes” on the part of the auto industry and the politicians? If environmental regulations do not prevent the environment from being ruined and people’s health from being harmed, what are they really for?
Leftist representatives of an unconditional basic income believe that poverty, which is endemic to the market economy, is actually superfluous in view of the impressive mountains of goods and productive forces, and thus the possibility of overcoming it is within reach: with the appropriate fair dosage of redistribution, they want to deal with capitalism’s threat of poverty, which affects so many of its inhabitants.
These well-meaning ideas always run up against the ideal as well as real administrators of the “ruling conditions” whose counter-critical retort refers precisely to these “ruling conditions,” which just happen to be the way they are: they are simply banging their heads against the irrevocable reality of a market economy and making fools of themselves as dreamers out of touch with reality – and this should quite self-evidently speak in favor of “reality” and against ideas for a better world.
Now, however, unconditional basic income has made some powerful new friends: in Davos and elsewhere, the proposal is confidently adopted by captains of industry and corporate board members as an answer to the “problems” of their beautiful new “Industry 4.0” – the golden age of digitized world market competition in which they also intend to efficiently produce mass redundancies and low wages. And even the politicians are thinking about a basic income, whether it could be a modern substitute for this or that complicated social program – and be able to take care of all the problems arising from poverty and insecure livelihoods that they too anticipate in the future. If you listen to the calculating talk of entrepreneurs and politicians about basic income, it is possible to learn how convinced the movers and shakers of capitalism are that poverty and growth are inseparable.
We will not get involved in the debate about whether the beautiful idea of an unconditional basic income is finally possible due to this unexpected support or misused in the “wrong hands.” The proposal is neither too modest nor unrealistic, and certainly not humane – just a fatal error about the nature of work and wealth in this society.
Edward Snowden, a former employee of American intelligence agencies, lost faith in his employers and provided the world with revelations about the continuous, global surveillance of citizens by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. The political reactions and the excited public debates about the inextricable conflict between “freedom” vs. “security” leave no doubt: Snowden’s disclosures are not just about any field of politics, but a core area of the free democracies. State authorities in the USA and elsewhere justify the surveillance of e-communications by saying that they have to guarantee the security of their citizens in addition to freedom, and that 100% of both is not possible at the same time. They insist that the control and controllability of each and every person is part of freedom. They are quite right – and that tells us something interesting about the great value of freedom.
A lecture by Peter Decker from the German Marxist journal GegenStandpunkt
... is not a commodity!
“Education is not a commodity!” (poster against tuition fees)
“Water is a public good, not a commodity!” (petition right2water.eu)
“Health is not a commodity!” (a criticism of health care privatization)
“Housing is not a commodity!” (slogan against gentrification)
Now and then, critical people get annoyed at some point because an important commodity is given a price that those who need it can no longer afford. It is certainly their mistake that they present their objections against reality as if reality itself would prohibit this high-ranking good from being made a business item. But they do notice that the purpose of making money with a good in principle excludes those who need an object from meeting their need and that this condition must be met before the exclusion is lifted. In short, they notice that the commodity form of goods is hostile to needs.
Just ask yourself: for which good would it make sense to be a commodity? Food, maybe, or maybe not? What is actually so useless and unimportant that it might be a low-key commodity?