In life as in politics the reality we see can be very clear or very hazy, sometimes both simultaneously. One thing is for sure however, we can see trends looking backwards and attempt to predict the future. Though this is perhaps about to be changed forever and the consequences are yet to be felt.
The basis of nearly every social science, looking at topics from life, the sun preceding the moon and much more. Assumptions are made, policy is suggested and some is tried, this is no different in politics and there is one clear trend that sticks above all, that we as society develop our understanding and gain our knowledge after an event not before it. ‘Events dear boy events’ comes to mind….
The lack of crystal balls means it falls to experts and policy wonks, yet no amount of predicting or otherwise guessing allows us to be ‘right’ all the time. This is essentially the case with the market and with capitalism, regulations are evolved but in this climate the market is evolving second by second a modern ‘open source economy’ is growing by the day.
This style of economy gives rise to politics and regulations aimed at dealing with the problems. The question is not can we regulate from above but respond from below. An open source economy needs to be led by open source, bottom up solutions.
The ‘new economy’ growing out of Greece is not because capitalism has failed Greeks, but because it still is failing Greeks. Though as can observe there can be whole movements which respond to the circumstances in which they find themselves, these movements are born from struggle, but from great struggles comes progress.
Regulations are based on problems that have happened, some due to the perverse and unintended consequence of the regulation itself and some due to the absence of any regulation at all.
Where regulations fail to keep pace with the times and the way we interact with problems do not change even when proven wanting, it is time to think a fresh. The same can be said with trying and failing the same approaches or remedies for problems of all natures.
But capitalism itself seems to be changing and with the developments of networks and new communities becoming available online, markets themselves are being turned upside down.
Crowdfunding for example allows people to develop their businesses, their products or to go to university without the burden of debt or a need for a loan. To further underline the proof of the topsy turvy going on in the markets look at the effect on the music industry over the last 5 to 10 years.
In music computers brought quality, accessibility and then crucially abundance. If there is abundance then, while there may be a benefit to society and new ways to meet the costs in producing the music initially, there is no cost in copying it and so trading as it was previously in the market has nearly gone.
The effect of this open source market destroying behaviour is in force in Greece. Recently developing during the the period of imposed capital controls, there was and there remains, to this day a networks of caregivers who take it in turns to mind the children of many people at once. This has replaced a market for nursery and care but was born from inability to pay when there was no money around. The solution allowed others to work most days of the week without incurring unaffordable childcare costs.
There are many examples where people have worked together to overcome a problem where there has been inadequate regulation or the wrong and inefficient regulation.
Traditional barriers to entry into markets are being replaced with new ones, or none at all.
The changing face of society is perhaps a response to the crisis or to the changing face of the economy and society at large. The question is how do we deal with problems and how do we make sure that everybody can become more resilient?
A version of this piece first appeared in the Galleon : www.galleonnews.com/2015/10/where-next-for-capitalism-where-regulations-fail-or-fall-on-deaf-ears/
For more on the future of capitalism and post-capitalism as well as the pro’s, cons and proposed solutions.
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