How to Change the World: Moving From ‘Self Interest’ to ‘Global Interest’
Matt Richards— Money is the end all, be all of our contemporary society. From the words of Adam Smith, father of modern economics: “When the division of labour has been once thoroughly established, it is but a very small part of a man’s wants which the produce of his own labour can supply. He supplies the far greater part of them by exchanging that surplus part of the produce of his own labour, which is over and above his own consumption, for such parts of the produce of other men’s labour as he has occasion for. Every man thus lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself grows to be what is properly a commercial society.” pg. 33 excerpt The Wealth of Nations.
This is one of the many subtle examples he makes in explaining how money is essential in a capitalist society. If a man works in a certain trade and demands to barter with another trade he might be working more or working less for what he is getting, but if there is money involved he can be compensated for the amount he works for. By doing this the man working satisfies his self-interest and is able to sustain a prosperous lifestyle, not only for him but for society as a whole. When the main motive of labour is money, the man is essentially becoming a merchant and selling his labour to society, which in turn benefits the society as whole. If every man does this, then essentially they are meeting the many demands of society for their own self-interest.
When we take this into a contemporary scale we see that this is not the case at hand. People die every day because of a medical business whose only motive is money. They make more money when people are dying than when they are living. Companies have to design technology and commodities to break down; otherwise they won’t make a profit, and ergo won’t be able to sustain themselves or the service they provide. Companies can’t be environmentally sustainable if they have to pursue money as their main motive; they would just end up bankrupt. There are many other examples which come into this concept that are ridiculously flawed, but Adam Smith could never have fathomed the ramifications of our contemporary society.
His intentions were to create an economic system that trumped mercantilism, and it did. It moved the wealth of a nation from the amount of balkanization they had, to the production of goods and services they could create from the individual capital. Everything that we see or hear today has had some influence from Adam Smith, as is the global conventional wisdom.
How are we going to move from a society that depends on people’s self-interest to a society that is of global-interest? Well first, we are going to have to get rid of the root of all evil: money. Without money people won’t be motivated to work for money, but rather for each other. That would also mean we have to get rid of the idea of businesses. How can a business work if there is no competition (because there is no money) and no motive of self-interest? If there is no business, does that also mean there is no consumerism? I believe that has to be the case for a society without money to work.
Once we establish the society without money, do we have any forms of government? Well, if we did have a form of government with elected officials, wouldn’t it be the same as communism? Not necessarily. We have to take into account that there has never been a truly communist society – a “dictatorship of the proletariat” – and also that maybe we don’t need elected officials. The eradication of money doesn’t mean that we have to move to a centrally-planned economy (they had money in the U.S.S.R) but we have to move to a resource based economy.
Many people believe that anarchism is the best way to move toward a resource based economy. But how can we have a civil society without law and order? Sure, 95 percent of crimes have something related to money, and the eradication of it will greatly lower criminal activity. Even without regarding the 5 percent of people that are so-called “truly evil”, I think people will figure out reasons to commit crimes. We must prepare for the eventuality that they do commit these crimes. “O! Beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock, the meat it feeds on.” Othello Act 3 Scene 3
I do believe that we need a form of government to establish security, but we don’t need elected officials or a legislative process to dictate how we run our society. Instead, we could have a true democracy and vote on ideas that provide for the common good and general will of society, compared to filibustered bills which literally do nothing besides change the monetary rates and the expenditures of the nation (which would be obsolete).
Are we going to have to abandon nationalism since we have an international economy? I guess that depends on the way our new governments are going to be set up, and how we set up this economy. There are many more issues that need to be addressed, but I guess we will cross that bridge after we address the current conditions. Regardless of this, we should let science dictate our motives for the future, not politics, and generate awareness of a resource based economy.