The need for thinking differently


One of the analogies Michael Albert uses in thinking of a new economic such as Parecon, is the “The desert island” scenario. What happens when the surviving passengers from a ship reach dry land. People with various capabilities and skills – The doctor, the mathematician, the millionaire, the boss of the corporation, the carpenter, the warehouse man, the waitress….

Does the millionaire, after swimming to shore, reach for the nearest hammock and say, “I don’t need to work, I am a millionaire”? Does the doctor join him and say, “There is no one sick yet, I need not work”? Does the waitress run around serving everyone while the carpenter builds the shelter?

Probably not, at that stage in time the value hierarchy would reverse. For, what good is a millionaire on a desert island? Whereas a carpenter could produce, maybe even life saving possibilities, by the use of his or her skills, in designing and constructing a shelter. So, should the carpenter head for the hammock and say. If you pay me well I may build a house for you? No of course not.

They all would have to dig in and decide on the allocation of work to be done by each, if they are to survive. New skills would need to be learned and decisions made by each of the group, could be crucial for their survival.

We need to work in this way building our new world and it can only be achieved if it is driven by our own compelling story, that is understandable to the many we will need to involve if it is to happen. We are feeding a smaller and smaller elite of people with more and more of our wealth. As those at the top get more bloated on the wealth of the land, those below them are getting hungry and angry. But we can’t fight this system by the systems own rules. We would never win. What we need is a system, or the tools to change a system that will encompass as Albert would say,”values that we hold dear”. Capitalism has nowhere to go apart from devouring us – then itself. We can’t afford to wait and watch that happen.

Yanis Varoufakis, DiEM25 co-founder and MeRA25 leader, hosts Michael Albert, founder of ZNet, ZCommunications and ZRevolution, three remarkable networks of thousands of activists.