In the previous postings on this subject we looked at the effect two key inventions, the cotton gin and the McCormick Reaper, had on society, whether for good or for ill. The cotton gin made raising cotton profitable, while the McCormick Reaper made it possible to think about ending world hunger and famine.
|"Today we will discuss the concept of 'leisure'."|
There were only three little problems. 1) The cotton gin revived what was probably a fading institution: chattel slavery. 2) The McCormick Reaper freed countless people from the backbreaking drudgery of harvesting, threshing, and winnowing grain. 3) Relatively few people owned the new technology, which meant either servile work for non-owners, or idleness.
What is the alternative?
The concept of “leisure work” is one that needs to be explored, but not until a fair and just means by which people can gain income without the necessity of toiling at a task a machine can do better. And that means a program that aims at universal direct ownership of capital.
Not a Universal Basic Income? No. The UBI is geared toward solving the problem of income, but does nothing about meeting the human need to work. A pilot program in Finland that was intended to make it possible for people to have a decent income no matter what and release their inherent creativity, did nothing of the sort. Recipients actually avoided answering the phone if they thought it was someone offering them work.
|"Fer shure, Dude, 'leisure' doesn't mean 'idle'."|
No, to avoid idleness and shift to the Aristotelian concept of leisure, a profitable although non-economic use of time and resources, people have to feel that they earned their leisure time in some fashion, not that it was given to them as an entitlement. Without that, doing nothing becomes the ultimate goal, not accomplishing something.
A Capital Homestead Program represents one concrete proposal for moving toward the long-range vision of the Just Third Way of Economic Personalism. The Just Third Way itself embodies a moral philosophy and evolutionary process for transforming the institutional environment — legal, financial, cultural and moral systems — to democratize economic power and improve the quality of life for everyone, not just those receiving an entitlement from the government.
In striving to “make every worker an owner,” the Just Third Way recognizes that by nature every person is a worker. Under the wage system framework, the concept of “work” has been stripped of much of its dignity, consigned only to that portion of human endeavor dealing with “making a living.” In its larger context, however, work involves physical, mental and spiritual forms of human activity, from manual labor to meditation.
|"We, Robot. You, Owner."|
Within the paradigm of the Just Third Way, the highest form of work is not economic labor, but unpaid “leisure work” — the work of building a civilization, work which no machine can perform. Throughout history, creative work has mainly been engaged in by individuals with independent incomes, those who were supported by a patron or by someone else’s labor. The Just Third Way provides a means whereby more people can engage in “leisure work” and be supported by an independent capital income produced by their own “technology slaves.”
True, people will probably never achieve the “perfect” economic system where all drudgery is eliminated and everyone is free to do the work he or she prefers. Before the opportunity passes, however, it becomes imperative for all economies of the world to implement effective programs of expanded ownership of productive assets. The alternative is a pendulum swing between capitalism and socialism, where any period of stability merely serves as preparation for the next violent overthrow.
|"If you don't own me, I will own you!"|
Many aspects of the Just Third Way will be determined by reforming tax and banking laws that affect the process of democratizing productive credit. How this democratization is brought about — the timing, priorities and procedures — are social issues best discussed in an open and democratic fashion by people aspiring to build a free and just future for themselves.
For years the capitalist world has guarded against socialism. In this rare moment in history and to protect their citizens against the loss of economic sovereignty under the Wall Street capitalist model for economic globalization, all nations of the world have a chance to implement for their citizens a new and bloodless economic revolution, one consistent with the unrealized ownership vision and ideals of America’s founding fathers.
As they search for a better life, the citizens of developing and transforming economies—as well as those living in the developed countries themselves—need something better than the outmoded and dehumanizing systems of traditional socialism and capitalism. Nations now have the power to create new property for the poor, without taking existing property from the rich. There is another model for economic globalization, a true just third way forward.