We are seeing an onslaught of right wing pro-fossil lies based politics on our democracies around the world. The tools to manipulate popular opinion have been automated and exposure to fake and personally tailored misrepresentations of reality is still great for a large portion of the world population. Removing the options to target voters with tailored but dishonest messages should be on the top of the agenda to protect our democracies.
Beyond that the socialist ideology has been corrupted in most countries. That is because the economy has been made so important, to the point that a cashless society becomes a real possibility. People will always have to trade in order to exist. True independence is not achievable, safe freedom is only survivable if you take part in the economy. Of course if it is up the the fossil economy you can be poor and die early if you choose to, you are nothing but a natural resource after all.
How can socialist really take a position that is stronger, more future proof, more acceptable and more social? How can they paint a future that people can embrace? The answer lies in aknowledging the current forces at play and how the economy operates. From thinking about these things a new vision follows that is simple, attractive and safe, and which is not offered by right wing conservatives.
Premise nr. 1. : We compete for fossil fuels through income. We compete with companies and machines, and we are obviously losing that competition as citizen.
Because the right wing dominated economy is build on fossil fuels, this is what we divide through our competition for income. If we can reduce cost to our employer we get a cut of access to fossil resources (our salary) but if we can’t because we are old and/or sick, employers lose interest. We become a burden because through social mechanisms we recieve benefits which reduce the resource pool employers can use to produce and make profit. Because we all compete for the same resource (fossil fuels) this dynamic results and individuals that are not ‘economically attractive’ are dumped.
What socialists have done up until now is to work for more jobs, more access to a cut of the resources for people, better protection against the inclinations of employers to automate and fire people. This has never really worked because the reward for firing people is high. What socialists have done is to make that reward smaller and increase the value of employing someone. But the true insight is to step out of this entire dynamic, and there is a reason for that :
Premise nr. 2 : Automation will continue and conquer not only mechanical production but also white collar work, to the point that fully automated companies can exists in nearly every field, meaning close to 80% of the able workforce be redundant for the essential manufacturing jobs.
You can try to hang on to jobs, but in doing that you are supporting the right wing pro-fossil conception of our economy. Some say “automation will cost jobs but also allow the creation of new ones” but research shows automation means the replacement of high paying jobs by lower ones, if they are replaced at all. Part of that trend is of course also caused by the high cost of starting any initiative and the requirement of making profit as a new company doing new things. Socialists should hope for new jobs to emerge but it is naieve to trust there will, that is just what economists say to get you to accept the right wing perspective. Assume most important jobs will be automated and only low skilled work will remain.
The right wing attitude to this trend is “Great, we have all the money, all the resources, we’ll be rich, the rest can be servants!”. All those that think to much and can easily be bullied and intimidated or impressed will be either poor or serving us or whatever they can be with their low wage jobs. What should the socialists respons to this be? It is not easy to peal your mind off of injustice, to disengange from right wing anti-social attitudes, because the right is so good at pretending it has something it is not sharing. The right manipulates to get what it wants, every time, all the time. Socialists should look away.
What do they see when they are not caught in the mess created by the right wing distractors? Two things, first : Renewables are cheap and can produce energy in proportion to the needs of the economy. Renewable energy can replace fossil in every application, everywhere, and can be sourced indefinitely such that competition over access to them is NOT necessary.
Sure the right wing economy has brought renewables into its ‘energy markets’ and those markers are now leading us to more wind, more solar, more storage while at the same time companies and home owners are disappearing from the market entirely. Socialists should see that in long term having energy markets makes no sense at all. You produce energy in the quantities you need, yourself, or you rent an installation to do it (which forces you to earn money so less ideal).
So first of all there is no competition for energy, not between people, not between people and machines or people and machines and companies. This makes society more social. The goal of a socialists should therefore be to realise the absolute maximum growth of renewable energy utilization possible.
Second thing is : Automation is your friend, once you have energy covered. Once people no longer compete for income with machines or AI taking their place in companies, there is no harm in that trend to continue. What this implies is that everyone receives income based on the renewable energy utilization in the essential production. So lets say that production chain makes bread and does healthcare etc. Everyone should get credits to spend on bread and healthcare (or health insurance). This credit should be proportional to the renewable energy capacity available. This would amount to a kind of basic income for all.
A basic income has been proposed because fossil economists see as well as anybody that giving more money to people stimulates the economy, this has worked many times in soo many ways. The difference with that kind of basic income (one that does not differentiate between the source of energy) and what we propose here is that it creates resource competition, that it flies in the face of what companies like to see, that it sounds like a nice dream but that it can only be ‘afforded’ for a certain period after which (if there is no renewable energy base) the industrial lobby will reverse it after smearing it for as much time as it needs.
What a socialist can say is thus : “We want 100% or more renewables to support our lives and economies, we will then share access to that energy with anyone (with a basic minimum) while the market based on quality and style of things remains. This way of doing things will not burden anyone because renewables carry the burden. People will not be automated away as fast because the company will know its a trade off between atmosphere and profit, in fact the incentive for cut throat competition is reduced. With more and more renewables and more automation will come price drops, more freedom, more basic income etc.”
We think all socialists should think about this, not dismiss it outright but rather look for the pieces that need to come together. We are not there yet, and we need a lot more renewable energy sources. Some countries may demonstrate the lightness of being if renewables take over from fossil fuels, like for Morocco for instance. The fossil industry is working hard to prevent any positive examples, or ones where the economy is converted to renewables with less pain or at low cost. Socialist should adopt this vision and point to examples and highlight the cost reducing effect of not competing for energy (of course the effect of subsidies and price controls in fossil should be exposed).
We call the economy where renewables and automation make life easy for all the “Roboeconomy”, an economy in which robots can even restore the ecology. Socialists should get us there, but should also start to paint this picture, something that is not happening enough today.