Transcript and intro by Claybird:
Here is a small excerpt from Kim Stanley Robinson’s book, “Blue Mars”. In my paper back it goes from pages 142 to 147.
The “metanationals” referenced are super-large corporations that generally exceed the power and economic scope of nation-states within the Mars-trilogy reality. The “underground” referenced is a sort of shadow society made up of radical elements within Martian society trying to live apart from the former capitalist society. The excerpt is from a section of the book where a huge congress/symposium is taking place to create a new Martian constitution/government.
When you see “… …” it is because I have removed sections only really relevant to the book and not the main ideological push of the section presented.
“What you said about government and business is absurd,” he stated coldly. It was a tone of voice that had not been heard much at the congress so far, contemptuous and dismissive. “Governments always regulate the kinds of business they allow. Economics is a legal matter , a system of laws. So far, we have been saying in the Martian underground that as a matter of law, democracy and self-government are the innate rights of every person, and that these rights are not to be suspended when a person goes to work. You.”—he waved a hand to indicate he did not know Antar’s name—“do you believe in democracy and self-rule?”
“Yes!” Antar said defensively.
“Do you believe in democracy and self-rule as the fundamental values that government ought to encourage?”
“Yes!” Antar repeated, looking more and more annoyed.
“Very well. If democracy and self-rule are the fundamentals, the why should people give up these rights when they enter the workplace? In politics we fight like tigers for freedom, choice of residence, choice of what work to pursue—control of our lives, in short. And then we wake up in the morning and go to work, and all those rights disappear. We no longer insist on them. And so for most of the day we return to feudalism. That is what capitalism is—a version of feudalism in which capital replaces land, and business leaders replace kings. But the hierarchy remains. And so we will handover our lives’ labor, under duress, to feed rulers who do no real work.”
“Business leaders work,” Antar said sharply. “And they take the financial risks—”
“The so-called risk of the capitalist is merely one of the privileges of capital.”
“Yes yes. Don’t interrupt me. Management is a real thing, a technical matter. But it can be controlled by labor just as well as by capital. Capital itself is simply the useful residue of the work of past laborers, and it could belong to everyone as well as the few. There is no reason why a tiny nobility should own the capital, and everyone else therefore be in service to them. There is no reason they should give us a living wage and take all the rest that we produce. No! The system called capitalist democracy was not really democratic at all. That is why it was able to turn so quickly into the metanational system, in which democracy grew ever weaker and capitalism ever stronger. In which one percent of the population owned half the wealth, and five percent of the population owned ninety-five percent of the wealth. History has shown which values were real in that system. And the sad thing is that all the injustice and suffering caused by it were not at all necessary, in that the technical means have existed since the eighteenth century to provide the basics of life to all.
“So. We must change. It is time. If self-rule is a fundamental value, if simple justice is a value, then they are values everywhere, including in the work place where we spend so much of our lives. That was what was said in point four of the Dorsa Brevia agreement. It says everyone’s work is their own, and the worth of it cannot be taken away. It says that the various modes of production belong to those who created them, and to the common good of the future generations. It says that the world is something we all steward together. That is what it says. And in our years on Mars we have developed an economic system that can keep all those promises. That has been our work these past fifty years. In the system we have developed, all economic enterprises are to be cooperatives, owned by their workers and by no one else. They hire their management, or manage themselves. Industry guilds and co-op associations will form the larger structures necessary to regulate trade and the market, share capital, and create credit.”
Antar said scornfully, “These are nothing but ideas. It is utopianism and nothing more.”
“Not at all.” Again Vlad waved him away. “The system is based on models from Terran history, and its various parts have all been tested on both worlds, and have succeeded very well. You don’t know about this partly because you are ignorant, and partly because metantionalism itself steadfastly ignored and denied all alternatives to it. But most of our microeconomy has been in successful operations for centuries in the Mondragon region of Spain. The different parts of the macroeconomy have been used by the pseudo-metanat Praxis, in Switzerland, in India’s state of Kerala, in Bhutan, in Bologna Italy, and in many other places, including the Martian underground itself. These organizations were the precursors to our economy, which will be democratic in a way capitalism never even tried to be.”…