The Revolution of Everyday Life

The Revolution of Everyday Life” is the english title given to Raoul Vaneigem’s 1967 major contribution to the body of Situationist work – the late-modern strand of left anarchist thinking that so perfectly nailed post WWII capitalism as ‘The Society of the Spectacle” – the title of Guy Debord’s book of the same year.

Where Debord analysed and criticised, Vaneigem moved on to proposition: only by reclaiming the immediacy and agency of daily life as the space of creation of social relations, he suggested – by wresting these away from the reified and spectacular re-enactments of roles through the determined creation of ‘situations’ – encounters within which people find it impossible to play the parts which their society has prefigured for them – could we break free of stultifying and deathly grip of the relentless dollar maximiser that is developed capitalism (see also).

All of this was great stuff, which fuelled not only the widespread youth revolts of 1968, but also the iconoclastic whirlwind of british punk (both Malcolm McLaren and Bernie Rhodes were active Situationists) – a whirlwind which was the ‘situation’ which woke me up and has not since ceased in its requirement of me to take responsibility for my whole self – for which I am profoundly thankful.

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Operationalised Trust

After an earlier post here on Transcender Economic Action was cross-posted to the Low Impact blog, I got a response questioning the capacity of Mutual Credit to scale and serve a global economy.

My response grew ‘like Topsy‘, to the point where it seemed most appropriate to post it here.

Indeed, the problem of scale is serious. Some people in the Low Impact community are all for a ‘de-scaled’ civilisation – one of small towns, small global population, low-tech, believing that living in this way would be more sustainable and harmonious with nature.

I am not one of these. Everything I can see about life, over its three and a half billion year history, is that it tends towards growth and increasing complexity: from a few cubic centimetres then to a global biosphere now, the domain of life has expanded by an order of at least 10^25.

The idea that ‘nature’ is ‘harmonious’ seems also indefensible. When blue-green algae evolved, they produced oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis. Oxygen is an extremely dangerous chemical, toxic to all previous life-forms. There was a global ecological crisis as oxygen levels rose relentlessly – an enormous disharmony, to the extent that one name for this period is “The Oxygen Holocaust“. Oxygen tolerant, then oxygen-breathing life evolved, but this didn’t make for harmony – instead it set the stage for life to invade the land, utterly transforming the planet.

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Economic Action – A Transcender approach.

This post relates to the wider ‘Transcender Manifesto for a World Beyond Capitalism‘ – more directly addressing the selection, requirements, design and operation of structures that could expand the world of transcender relations around value exchange – those that achieve viability through ‘earning their living’ in the economic sphere.

This is important because, despite the bad name economics has earned through the cruelties and negative impacts of the last few centuries of rampant expansionism, it seems clear that the messaging system facilitated by markets is fundamental to what we require from our civilisation – and that we cannot simply junk these without abandoning much that we value.

We have to accept that economic activity is at the core of our capacity to have a recognisable civilisation, at least until we can evolve further, to a gift economy of abundance.

In order to transcend capitalism, though, starting from where we are, we must fundamentally change the way that money, markets – and thus the implicit incentives that drive overall outcomes – work.

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