Economy

Hyperinflatie, onzin of mogelijk al onderweg?

Veel kleine beleggers, crypto-bezitters en huizenbezitters kloppen zichzelf op de schouders vanwege hun sprookjesachtige rendementen. De werkelijkheid is wat minder florissant. Volgens sommigen dreigt hyperinflatie.

Economische relativiteitstheorie

We zijn gewend om de waarde van alles in geld uit te drukken. Euro’s, in ons geval, of Usaanse dollars aan de overkant van de grote plas. Dus als de prijs van iets in euro’s uitgedrukt stijgt, is dat een waardestijging. De vraag is, of dat terecht is. Zimbabwanen kunnen daar over meepraten. Zo is, uitgedrukt in Zimbabwaanse dollars, in 2008 de economie van Zimbabwe fabelachtig hard gegroeid. Een brood kostte een paar biljoen Zimbabwaanse dollars.

Was het slim om een bakkerij te beginnen in Harare in 2008? Niet bepaald. Met dit geld kon je als Zimbabwaan namelijk niet veel meer dan een sigaret rollen, of het vuurtje onder je kookpot met een armoedige maaltijd aanmaken. Alhoewel dit hoogste biljet ooit uitgegeven, nu curiositeitswaarde heeft en gewild is onder verzamelaars. Dit verschijnsel noemen economen hyperinflatie. De oorzaak van hyperinflatie is altijd de uitgever van het geld, meestal de overheid of centrale bank. Zo devalueerde de sestertie in het Romeinse Rijk, omdat de keizer steeds meer zilver verving door koper.

Op een gegeven moment was elke Zimbabwaan multimiljardair met dit biljet van 100 biljoen. Erg blij waren ze niet met deze hyperinflatie. Copyright: Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe/Munthandel Oost Brabant. Source

Geld: geen erts maar vertrouwen

Geld is niet meer dan een ruilmiddel, een rekenformule. Zoals het voorbeeld van Zimbabwe (en Duitsland in de twintiger jaren, en Hongarije vlak na de oorlog, China vlak voor de communistische machtsovername, enzovoort, enzovoort) laat zien, is de waarde van geld niet absoluut. En is het voor een overheid in nood erg verleidelijk om de binnenlandse geldkraan flink open te draaien. Om geld bij te drukken hoef je namelijk geen belasting te heffen. Geld bijdrukken is een sluipende vorm van belastingheffing. Immers, hoe meer geld er is in verhouding, hoe minder het waard wordt. Dus met jouw bankbiljet kan je dan minder kopen. Met inflatie belast je iedereen, ook de vrek die zijn spaarcentjes onder zijn hoofdkussen heeft verstopt.

Gaan de Eurozone en de USA de hyperinflatie van Zimbabwe volgen?

Het monetaire beleid van de Europese Centrale Bank is roekeloos. Op dit moment kent de ECB een negatieve rente. Dat wil zeggen, dat je geld toe krijgt als je euro’s leent van de ECB. Zakenbanken doen dat dan ook grif, en kopen daarmee aandelen en grondstoffen. En onroerend goed, vooral woonhuizen. Door de toenemende vraag wegens dit goedkope geld, stijgen hiervan de prijzen. Wat superwinsten voor de rijken oplevert. Immers, ze verdienen zowel aan de koerswinst, als aan de negatieve rente. Kassa!

Dit verklaart ook, waarom aandelenkoersen en de vermogens van multimiljardairs pijlsnel stijgen. Dit ging een tijdje goed. Maar begin 2021 is deze inflatie nu ook de reële economie aan het bereiken. Zo zijn de Nederlandse huizenprijzen in 2020 11,6 procent gestegen in het coronajaar 2020. Let wel, in een jaar waarin de economie fors kromp met 3,8 procent. Ook het voedsel en andere basisbehoeften worden nu duurder als gevolg van de gestegen grondstofprijzen. De energierekening was al enkele jaren aan het stijgen.

Hyperinflatie?

Van steeds meer goederen worden de reële kosten flink hoger. Op zich is het niet erg als de prijzen van luxe-goederen stijgen. In veel opzichten hebben we al meer rijkdom dan goed voor ons is. Vervelend wordt het als eerste levensbehoeften snel duurder worden. Een skivakantie minder, of een paar jaar langer met je meubels doen, is geen ramp. Met een hongerige maag of rillend van de kou naar bed moeten gaan, wel. Laat staan, dat je de ziekenhuisrekeningen van je familie niet meer kan betalen. Helaas is dit het meest waarschijnlijke scenario. Inflatie heeft namelijk de vervelende eigenschap, van de top naar beneden te sijpelen. Uiteindelijk komt de zwarte piet bij de armsten terecht.

Real estate investors: force a temporary halving of the rent

The big winners of the corona crisis are real estate investors. They did not run any risk while their tenants went bankrupt. Time to let them pay a lot.

Huge profits for real estate investors

More and more catering and retail businesses are on the brink of collapse due to the covid-19 related retail and catering closures. The contribution provided by the government is nowhere near sufficient. Meanwhile, real estate investors are making gold money. This is because they can borrow money cheaply due to the low interest rates.

The fact that we do not have to feel any pity for the owners of real estate is also evident from the prices for real estate. One store after another has to close permanently due to the lockdowns, while the prices for houses and investment properties break one record after another. Is it right that one entrepreneur has to survive by hanging and strangling - and often goes under - while the other entrepreneur, who enriches himself with speculation, can continue to reap the profits at the expense of the taxpayer?

Most catering entrepreneurs, such as Kaya Pastanesi in Rotterdam, are happy with the water. Why are real estate investors not contributing? Source: Facebook page Kaya Pastanesi Rotterdam

What could this levy look like?

A major problem for entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry and the middle class is that they have to continue to pay the hefty rents for their buildings while there is no turnover. The government has stepped in with bridging aid, but this has only moved the problem. Namely, from the entrepreneurs to the treasury. A lot of money is still going out of the productive part of the economy to investors.

A law could be passed requiring retailers to reduce their rent by 50 percent as long as the corona crisis continues. For example, less government money is needed to keep companies afloat. This would keep the national debt under control.

Eldorica, more prosperity with less work

The Club of Rome report came out about half a century ago. What if we had listened then? The visionary book Eldorica by the late Jurriaan Andriessen (1951-1991) explores the possibilities.

Consumer society: cheap is expensive

Not only do we consume much more now than, say, a century ago. The stuff we use also lasts much shorter. Compare something as simple as scissors. Good tailor's scissors, from the Swiss brand Victorinox, for example, cost around forty euros, but with careful maintenance, will last a lifetime. A pair of scissors from a Chinese manufacturer that works with razor-thin margins and underpaid employees costs around two euros at the hedge fund firm Action. This may last a few weeks with intensive use.

There may be three times as much raw material in Victorinox scissors as in Action scissors, but this is negligible compared to the raw material in the hundreds of Chinese tailor scissors. What if we bought these quality scissors right away and avoid the clutter of the Action? That would save a lot of environmental pollution, unnecessary work and energy. This is exactly the rationale behind the late Jurriaan Brouwer's utopian society Eldorica.

Eldorica: a luxury car for everyone

In the Netherlands, 400,000 new cars are sold per year, with an average of around 35,000 euros each. These last an average of twenty years. But what if each of these new cars lasted a hundred years, for example because their build quality is five times better? Then we could spend five times as much on this car. In other words, a luxury Rolls Royce or Tesla for everyone. Or, a much lower amount, so that we would have to work less.

This sustainable luxury car for Eldorica consists of the raw materials of the cars, which are driven through in our society. (c) Jurriaan H. Andriessen

Fitness center? No, generate energy yourself

Eldorica is not for lazy people, although you would say that at first glance with a four-hour working week. Because you generate the energy for your household appliances yourself. The exercise bike in Eldorica is there to power your TV set, radio and music system. Our body can generate about two hundred watts of power. So an hour or two of cycling and swinging provides enough energy for an evening of watching TV (Eldorica dates back to before the advent of the personal computer). Everything that can be done by hand is manually operated. That also saves electricity. Cars are only available for longer journeys. There is a covered bicycle for rides up to five kilometers. Aircraft and oil tankers do not occur in Eldorica. Instead, Andriessen imagined zeppelins and computer-controlled sailing ships.

Only those devices that really cannot do without power, such as TVs, work on power in Eldorica. These are charged via crank wheels and an exercise bike. The rest is manually operated. (c) Jurriaan H. Andriessen

Could Eldorica be possible?

In short: yes, if we had a meritocratic and technocratic administration, without incompetent and lying politicians. Admittedly, with a few adjustments - for example, the temporary use of nuclear energy to lay the foundation for a sustainable energy supply cannot be avoided, and solar panels are more practical than his exercise bike power station. And he didn't think about anything as prosaic as heating houses. Or healthcare.

Capitalism will also have to be replaced by a form of managed economy. Eldorica's economic system can be seen as one of a kind luxury techno communism. It is not without reason that Jurriaan Andriessen strongly emphasized a computer-controlled (cybernetic) form of governance.

Unfortunately we can no longer ask Jurriaan himself. He died in a tragic accident in a swimming pool in 1991 at the age of 39. The Jurriaan Andriessen foundation was established in memory. His book Eldorica, a travelogue to a better world (ISBN: 9789027424846) is unfortunately no longer in print, but is still available second-hand. There are also PDF scans of the book in circulation.

More information

Theme website graphic work Jurriaan H. Andriessen and Eldorica
Jurriaan H. Andriessen Foundation

Planned Obsolescence: Why There Wasn't a Perpetual Light Bulb

The alu hats are right. It was not without reason that there was no perpetual light bulb for sale. Time and time again, manufacturers make deliberate design decisions in order to sell as much as possible. Design decisions, which mean more pollution and more resource depletion. Meet planned obsolescence.

What is planned obsolescence?

At some point, products have become obsolete. Sometimes this is due to normal wear and tear that cannot be prevented. Sometimes due to technical obsolescence. Or because they are going out of style. And sometimes, because they are meant to break down much faster than normal. Or decline in functions, because the manufacturer, for example Apple, slyly downscales the performance in smartphones. So that consumers have to buy an expensive, new smartphone. The latter concept is “planned obsolescence” (planned redundancy) called.

The “Centennial Light Bulb” has been burning continuously for over a century, but now emits much less light than in the beginning. Planned obsolescence makes incandescent bulbs burn shorter but brighter. Source: Wikimedia Commons / LPS.1

Why does planned obsolescence exist?

This is largely due to manufacturers. But also to us, the consumers. Time and again we choose fashion items instead of quality that will last a lifetime. And especially our economic model. We register change as growth. An economy in which nature is rapidly transformed into a mountain of waste has much higher growth figures than one Eldorica-like economy, where, for example, cars last a hundred years and houses a small eternity.

What are the consequences?

For manufacturers there is of course a huge advantage: more sales. But the extra employment generated by planned obsolescence is also doing well in the unemployment figures. And for tax revenues.

However, the price that the earth, and therefore we, pays for this is very high. Much more waste and air pollution from the manufacturing process. A lower quality of life. Depletion of raw materials that are difficult to replace.

An end to planned obsolescence?

No wonder that governments with sustainable objectives are now increasingly trying to intervene. In the 1910s, for example, the French Assembly imposed a fine of 300,000 euros for companies guilty of planned obsolescence. The European Union is now preparing legislation that makes it mandatory to make appliances repairable. So smartphones whose battery can no longer be replaced will then become a thing of the past.

The question is also whether there are smarter ways to produce public goods such as employment and social security than over-consumption with an endless mountain of waste.

And the perpetual light bulb? We now have something that is better in every way. LED lamps are four times more efficient than incandescent lamps and last around 100,000 hours. That's about a lifetime. A hundred times as long as incandescent lamps in the time of planned obsolescence.

Invisible wealth must be forbidden

Of the majority of the world's possessions, only a small number of people know who they really are. They are invisible wealth. Why is this allowed?

Visible wealth

The differences in prosperity in a small-scale society such as a village are relatively small. The reason is simple. It is known of every villager what he owns and where that wealth comes from. So if a villager is very rich, the other villagers will more often ask the wealthy to take his responsibility. For example to sponsor poor villagers or a common project. By nature, people love equality. As a rich person, keeping all wealth to yourself makes you little loved by the rest. Hence, only when property becomes anonymous do the differences in prosperity become too great.

Often neoliberals see poor people as parasites, who contribute nothing net to the system. That's bullshit. If a cleaner and a garbage collector would earn ten times as much from their work as they do now, they would be “great contributors”. At least, according to the accountant, then. In the Covid-19 crisis we saw how important the work of the lowest paid workers is. Shelf fillers turned out to be indispensable. Bag fillers don't.

Invisible wealth rules the world. What are we doing about it? - Predjama Castle, author: Stephen Colebourne from London, UK

Where is the invisible wealth?

A well-known way of making wealth invisible is trust, in full: trust of foundation. The recipe is simple. The wealthy “trustor” transfers his assets to a foundation. And from that moment on, the wealth is invisible. In the meantime, this foundation is under the management of administrators, the trustees. The trustees manage the trustor's assets. This one has nothing to say officially. He does, however, enjoy the benefits of ownership. These trusts are common. Not only for private individuals, but also for multinationals.

The trust is just one example of a legal entity. A legal entity is an invention from the nineteenth century. The local supermarket is not owned by a person, but by a BV (bvba) or NV. If this BV goes bankrupt, the creditors can whistle for their money. A popular trick is to load one BV with debts. This BV subsequently goes bankrupt. And simsalabim, the debts are gone. In the meantime, the tax authorities have become wiser, but this type of fraud still occurs regularly.

Invisible wealth, power without control

Large companies are now owned by one worldwide web of investment firms and hedge funds. These funds often also have shares in each other. It has become an inextricable tangle. A money machine that extort a large part of the world and distribute the proceeds to a small group of the super rich. Nobody is responsible. They pay less and less tax, but can use the protections of the states where they operate for free.

For example, if someone disrupts the order in a StarBucks cafe, or comes to rob the place, the police will come. If you start a restaurant under the name "StarBucks", the police will come to the door for a violation of StarBucks trademark law. That costs the Dutch and Belgian state, and therefore us, money. Yet Starbuck pays hardly any tax, due to a sophisticated construction [1]. That means the company is parasitizing the societies where they plug their expensive coffee full of unhealthy sugars.

StarBucks is not unique in this. Worldwide, companies such as Starbucks and Action societies and immensely enrich their owners. They cut wages and increase costs by charging ever-higher prices for their products and licenses. For example, Microsoft receives five to ten dollars for almost every Android phone sold [2]. The reason: the package of software licenses, with which Microsoft threatens to sue smartphone makers. As a result, smartphones are becoming more and more expensive.

How can this invisible wealth be addressed?

Ownership is one negative law. Namely, it gives one person or group of people exclusive right to a certain item, for example the patent on a certain technology or country, to the exclusion of others. There are certain obligations against this right. For example, the duty to contribute to the land in which the property is recognized through the payment of tax. At this point, the owners are escaping this duty by hiding. They benefit from legal protection for their property, but do not pay for it. They violate the social contract.

Time, then, to get our share of it social contract also no longer to be met. If a homeless person in StarBucks makes a fuss, the police can stay home. If Warda and Joost “illegally” start a new Starbucks café without a license, have the mayor do the opening and wholeheartedly recommend it to the local fool.

Of course they are too patents of companies that do not pay tax are no longer valid. We invite smartphone manufacturers to start producing without royalties here in the Netherlands and Belgium. Bet these companies pray and beg to pay their taxes properly from now on?

Sources

  1. This is how Starbucks avoids tax, Arjan Noorlander, NOS, 2014
  2. Analyst: Microsoft gets $5 for every HTC Android phone, ZDNet, 2011

Seduced by artificial intelligence: the siren AI

It started with internet porn. Then came the sex robots. We are now approaching the point for 2030 that artificial intelligence can pass the Turing test. In other words, pretend to be a human. For example, as someone trying to hook you up. What techniques will artificial intelligence use to learn to hack human emotions? When are you tempted by artificial intelligence? In this video the state of affairs.

Seduced by artificial intelligence. Source: https://pixy.org/5717311/

Seduced by artificial intelligence

Capitalism will always strive to maximize profit. You make a profit by selling products that you can manufacture cheaply for more money. When there is no longer a way to differentiate yourself with your special product, there is only one way to make a profit. Sell more. In other words: entice more customers and entice customers better.

If AI continues to improve and eventually surpass humans in information processing capacity, the logical end product is the siren AI. An artificial intelligence capable of completely wrapping people around its finger. Cash desk!

Dictatorship

But there are also supervillains. At least, evil characters who take the opportunity to grow into a real time Joker or Darth Vader. Such a person may come up with the idea of seducing the population with this. For example, to a dictatorship headed by him. Was Cambridge Analytica, the firm that helped Trump win an election, scary? Or the power of big tech over us? You haven't seen anything as yet.

Ex Machina

We saw an example of such artificial intelligence in the 2015 film Ex Machina. An artificial intelligence seduced the protagonist in order to escape, to work on world domination. This is not imaginary, says philosopher Neil Bostrom in his book Superintelligence. Tempted to doom? The risk is greater than most people think about.

Singleton hypothesis: world government inevitable

According to Nick Bostrom's singleton hypothesis, one great power will eventually emerge that swallows or subdues the rest. Is he right?

Singleton hypothesis

The world is increasingly becoming a “village that encompasses the world”. That's no coincidence, according to the singleton hypothesis. This theory comes from the brain of Nick Bostrom. Bostrom is a philosopher from Oxford University, who previously made a name for himself with his theory about super intelligence. According to this theory, the logical outcome of human evolution is that there is one world government will come [1]. At least one entity that will rule all of humanity. That can be a super intelligence are, but also a mega-corporation or a superstate.

Increasing levels of order

As philosophers often do, Bostrom uses induction and makes an abstraction of it. In concrete terms: he established that in history, people started to live together in ever-increasing relationships. From a handful of hunters and gatherers to states with more than a billion inhabitants. Think of India and China. Or quasi-states like the EU. He continues this trend. He thinks that these enormous states will also merge into one earth-spanning realm.

Or in an artificial intelligence, something like Skynet from the Terminator series. Or in a company such as Tencent in China, which is a bank, social credit rater, shop and social network in one. But then much, much bigger.

Temporary trend of nationalism

Bostrom thinks that the prevailing trend in Western countries of anti-globalism today is temporary. Bostrom looks at timescales spanning centuries. Millennia, even. In the longer term, the outcome is clear, he says. We're heading towards a singleton. Whether we like it or not.

The singleton theory predicts that there will eventually be a world government on Earth. For example a United Nations, but with more power. Source: Converted SVG from wikipedia.org

World government more effective

Bostrom thinks a singleton could turn out well. After all, now there is the threat of nuclear wars. And an arms race. Plus tackling global issues, such as the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic, is failing. A world government is nipping an epidemic in the bud and introducing a lockdown. And quickly arranges compensation for the affected area, so that no one has to grumble. Thus the epidemic had been contained. Unless the world government is a totalitarian dictatorship afraid of losing face, of course.

Singleton only for open systems?

Bostrom generalizes from a limited dataset. Namely that of open systems. Most people live in an open system, in which there are plenty of contacts with the rest of the world. In closed systems, such as islands, you see that these usually split up into a few parts. Take for example the Guanches of the Canary Islands and the inhabitants of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island. A lonely island in the Pacific. Rapa Nui was completely isolated. The original inhabitants of the island, about the size of Texel, had cut down all the trees. Other islands are more than a thousand kilometers away. When explorers discovered the island, the population had split into different clans. This effect also occurred in the Guanches.

The soil is such a closed system. That is, as long as humans are the predominant species, the earth will likely remain split into a few large blocks. That is, if historical trends are correct. But that's the question. In modern times many trends have been turned upside down.

That would change if an outside threat were discovered. For example aliens, or colonies elsewhere in the solar system. So, as humanity we will not get much further than the United Nations. Unless humanity spreads beyond the Earth. Then a new field is added for quarreling. We humans are, unfortunately, quite stubborn. Hopefully we have learned that we get along more with peace than with war.

Sources
1. Nick Bostrom, What is a singleton? - 2005

Nitrogen auction with emission rights solution for nitrogen problems

The Netherlands is a small, densely populated country with an extensive livestock population. That does not go well together. Naturally low-nitrogen nature reserves are increasingly dying. Is a nitrogen auction the solution?

Why is nitrogen a problem?
Just under eighty percent of the Earth's atmosphere consists of nitrogen gas (N2). Nitrogen is an indispensable element for life. We consist of proteins and proteins from amino acids, a nitrogen compound. The Netherlands contains millions of nitrogen sources, ranging from pets to pig fattening, and of course you, dear reader. Car traffic and construction activities also emit nitrogen, albeit much less than people and especially fattening farms. In the nitrogen discussion, we mean all nitrogen sources, other than atmospheric nitrogen and nitrogen bound in proteins. These are mainly ammonia (NH3) and nitrogen oxides (NO, NO2 and the controversial laughing gas N2O). Nitrate (NO3-) that washes out of fertilized fields is an environmental problem.

Nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands have already fallen enormously, but unfortunately insufficient for the new strict EU standard. Source: [2] [3]
Brutal construction freeze due to an administrative emergency
The EU has enacted strict rules for nitrogen emissions. Rules that are easy to enforce in a sparsely populated country such as France or Bulgaria, but very difficult in the Netherlands. The problem is not that nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands are increasing. On the contrary. This has fallen considerably, partly due to strict laws and regulations such as the mineral accounting for farmers [2] [3]. The problem is that partly due to the appalling lack of foresight by the Rutte cabinet, emissions did not fall quickly enough. As a result, a building freeze was declared with significant economic damage - and a continuation of the housing crisis.

Nitrogen Auction: Pros and Cons
The free market is very good at finding the economic optimum. This can be an advantage, at least if the scope of the free market is limited in such a way that no externalities occur. Creating externalities happens quite quickly. For example, clever entrepreneurs started breeding muskrats themselves, when the government put a premium of ten guilders on each rodent killed. In principle, the government can sell the right to emit nitrogen, for example, through a nitrogen auction. If a pig farmer quits, he can sell his emission rights through the auction to another farmer, to a builder or a nature organization (which then does not use them). At a certain point, the entrepreneurs who can earn the most euros per kilo of nitrogen emissions hold the emission rights, creating an economic optimum. According to the school booklet economics.

Any system of laws and regulations involving money has the potential for fraud. Nitrogen emissions take place in the form of gaseous compounds. Gases are notoriously difficult to trace from a single source. For example, a farmer can report that he has installed an expensive capture installation that he does not actually have, or a much worse cheaper model, which means that his emissions are much higher than official figures show. It is therefore necessary to check thoroughly here, preferably also with regular field measurements in the vicinity of major nitrogen pollutants. On balance, this system is therefore feasible.

Sources
1. Emissions authority: give nitrogen rights trading a second chance, FD, 2019
2. Acidification and large-scale air pollution: emissions, 1990 - 2017, Center for the Living Environment, 2017
3. O. Oenema, Fact sheet nitrogen sources, Wageningen University, 2019

Is Luxury Communism the Future?

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, communism has been languishing. Almost all nominally communist countries, such as Vietnam, Cuba and the People's Republic of China, have become capitalist autocracies or have made room for capitalist initiatives. In short, the defeat of communism seems utterly and definitively, the domain of radicalinsky, forever banished to the scrap heap of history. Is that the role of communism over? On the contrary, says Aaron Bastani, the author of the book Fully Automated Luxury Communism: A Manifesto.

Communism without workers
Central to the book is the idea that in the future all human work will be taken over by robots, because robots will be able to do everything better and faster than humans. In doing so, he continues the trend that has been going on for decades: the exponential increase in the computing power of computers and the abundant availability of energy and raw materials is reducing the value of raw materials, energy and labor to zero. And with this the cost price.

Life is getting cheaper because of this technological deflation. It is true that there is less and less work, but there is more and more prosperity in an absolute sense. Until now, labor has been the primary means of redistributing wealth. Most people have a job. For this they are paid from the profits that entrepreneurs make or from the taxes paid by entrepreneurs. But what if there are no more jobs soon? Bioj example in 2029, when 1000 euros worth of computers can process more information than the human brain? Then the main redistribution mechanism, wages, disappears. The solution, according to Bastani, is a redistribution of production resources. In other words, phase 5 communism, the classless society in Marxism without phase 4, the dictatorship of the proletariat, having taken place.

The Five Phases of Society According to Marxism
In his book Capital (1867) nineteenth-century German writer and philosopher Karl Marx analyzed the relationship between technology, capital and society. He distinguished five phases in the development of humanity. These are:
1. Hunter-gatherer societies, such as today's Khoisan. These, Marx argued, had a form of communism for a practical reason. In a wandering existence you can never have more than you can carry on your back.

Karl Marx, the founder of the ideas behind Marxism. Source: Wikimedia Commons

2. Feudal societies. With the advent of agriculture, it became possible to accumulate wealth and gather armies. In doing so, the ruling class, the nobility, extort peasants and craftsmen through their army, so that they could appropriate the profits. When Marxist-Leninists or Maoists talk about "feudal", they are referring to this type of society. We see a revival of feudal society in societies controlled by the mafia and gangs.
3. Capitalist societies. With the advent of free cities (and before, with trade-based city-states such as Carthage, but they did not fit Marx's “iron historical laws”) and factories, labor becomes a factor independent of land and nobility. In addition to the nobility, a class of well-to-do citizens, the "bourgeois", emerges, employing the "proletariat", the workers, paying meager wages and reinvesting the profits to become even richer. According to Marxism, Western countries are in this phase.
4. Dictatorship of the proletariat. Marx dreamed of a seizure of power by the proletariat, which would lead to an egalitarian society. The proletariat would do this without respect for the bourgeois, in other words a dictatorship of the proletariat would arise. The means of production fall into the hands of the state. This communist ideal was more or less realized at the expense of bloodshed in the former Soviet Union and countries like Cuba and China.
5. Communist society. At some point, machines become so productive that they can produce everything for next to nothing. Anyone can now live a luxury life without having to work. Because the means of production are in the hands of the state, no one is exploited anymore and everyone can share fairly. This ideal has not been achieved in any country, with the possible exception of oil states (temporarily and only for their own population).

As we know a century and a half later, the practice turned out to be unruly. While his economic analysis was broadly correct, he lacked a macchiavellian assessment of human nature in his ideal society (for example, he did not foresee the emergence of the "red nobility" of corrupt party officials and inefficiencies in the planning process) and underestimated nationalism. huge.

The five great crises
According to Aaron Bastani, capitalism has survived fairly unscathed over the past two centuries, but is now facing an existential crisis, due to five developments coming our way simultaneously. These are: climate change, scarcity of resources such as energy, water and raw materials, an aging population, a growing number of “useless” people, called “unnecesarial” by Bastani and, the biggest threat, a new era of machines that will completely replace the production factor of labor by machines, ie capital. Capital that is increasingly unevenly distributed. In countries like the US and the UK, dozens of people have barely enough money in their bank account to survive a month. And a large group of people who have nothing to lose is not conducive to stability.

The choice of poverty for most ...
Capitalism basically performs two tasks: increasing wealth (through efficient production techniques) and redistributing wealth (through wages). Where increasing wealth is increasingly successful, this does not apply to redistribution. After all, work is becoming less and less important. The logical end result will be a world in which a small group of empires own almost everything from asteroid mines that will wipe out Earth's mines with their massive production, to fleets of solar-powered satellites and a monopoly on medical technology for life extension, for example. And the rest of humanity? The least unfavorable outcome is that they will live in tightly ruled slums, with the food coming from 3D printers. After all, this is the most CO2 neutral solution. A world that is very similar to that sketched in the science-fiction film Elysium. More likely that is like all bargaining power of the population will disappear, the world population will be reduced to 500 million people in a completely painless and hygienic way, as the Georgia Guidestones recommend. After all, that is the most efficient and most profitable solution.

In the cinema film Elysium, a wealthy elite lead a life without disease or lack in the space colony of the same name, while the rest of humanity is locked up in poor slums. Luxury communism wants to exist as in Elysium, but for everyone. Source: Edited screenshot of the Elysium trailer

Or for luxury communism
The alternative, says Bastani, is that while we still can, we opt for luxury communism. In other words: distributing the production factors among the population. Asteroids, for example, are not owned by one person or land, but by all of humanity under the Space Treaty. You can also question the privatization of intellectual property. With blanket patents, technical progress in an entire sector can be halted. So viewed in this way, luxury communism is the most logical and also most humane solution. To achieve luxury communism, according to Bastani, and also Visionair.nl, we must opt for enlightened populism. Populism, so denounced by the “progressive” elite, is the only ideology that puts the interests of the population first. And that can save us from an existence like Elysium, where one genetically enhanced upper class lives in mind-boggling luxury and the remaining 99% in dire conditions.

Source:
Aaron Bastani, Fully Automated Luxury Communism: A Manifesto, 2020

Do we have to change agricultural land in the Netherlands into residential areas and nature?

The largest land user in the Netherlands is agriculture. The interim manager Iman Stratenus and his noble companion Eppo Folef Marie van Nispen tot Sevenaer, with a legal background, say they have the solution. What if we abolish agriculture in the Netherlands and convert the land released into a nature reserve?

City-state The Netherlands has a greater population density than many world cities. The Netherlands is home to 17 million people on 40,000 square kilometers of land. Incredibly enough, the Netherlands also succeeds in being largely self-sufficient in food in the field of agriculture. This at a price. For example, the land is drained, which increases the root zone on fields and makes them more accessible for heavy agricultural machines. As a result, nature areas dry out and structural moisture shortages arise.

What if we just abolish agriculture for the most part and use the land that will become available for nature conservation and for housing? That would solve the problems with emission rights in one fell swoop. Land will also be freed up for the cultivation of biomass, another idea that is very trendy among climate enthusiasts. This is the proposal of both aforementioned gentlemen of the initiative natural rich netherlands.

The idea is simple. Make half of the Netherlands a nature reserve. Buy out most of the farmers with the proceeds from selling some of the farmland as land for housing. The authors name 1 million new sustainable homes. Use the remainder for the cultivation of biomass and as a nature reserve, for example to keep fox hunts. From now on, import our food from abroad.

The Netherlands is currently using 66% of the territory for agriculture. What if we just do away with agriculture? Source / copyright: visionair.nl

The authors of this report clearly have an economic background. They assume that the Netherlands will go through 'business as usual' in the coming decades with a stable international system, in which it is indeed economically smarter to import our food than to use scarce land for this.

Certainly in this unstable geopolitical situation, in which existing alliances are falling apart and new geopolitical fault lines arise, this is not very sensible. The covid-19 crisis already showed that countries prioritize their own population. Shipments of masks on transit to other European countries were seized, France introduced an export ban for covid-19 protective equipment. It is downright foolish and irresponsible to assume that if there is a global famine, our neighbors will bail us out when their own people go hungry.

The reason that there is so much room in the Netherlands for agriculture at the expense of other land use is not trivial. As the farmers themselves put it succinctly: You must know well, we farmers provide food.

If we decommission 12,000 square kilometers of agricultural land, as these two propose, the Netherlands will no longer be self-sufficient in terms of food. Our (great) grandparents all experienced in the Hunger Winter of 1944 the dire consequences of being dependent on foreign countries in times of crisis.

It is better, for example, to take a critical look at the existing asylum and immigration policy (now responsible for more than eighty percent of the population growth, see https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/dossier/dossier-asiel-migratie-en-integratie/hoeveel-immigranten-komen-naar-nederland-) and to deal more creatively with the existing space than now, for example through more underground construction and the relocation of the most ecologically damaging agricultural activities to the sea. Three-fifths of the Dutch territory is sea. In the long term, much agricultural land can indeed be used for a different purpose, but only if we succeed in producing replacement food in, for example, agricultural flats, in a synthetic way or at sea.

English