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COVID provides a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Across the world people have been forced to reconsider their existence on this planet.  Normally this would happen only after a world war.  There has never in human history been such a global catastrophe outside that of the two world wars.

Inevitably this forced change provides an opportunity for new horizons.  There are two central issues that now create the possibility for a new type of social and economic existence.

Firstly, there is the human experience stretching across the globe, at the same moment in time, of isolation, the sudden removal of normal human relations and work.  This naturally provides the stimulus for all of us to review our lives, the reason we do what we do, and our effectiveness in creating a happy and useful life.  We all question what we have lost and what we used to do day to day.  Some people, perhaps many, will ask if it is worth returning to this lost existence?

Secondly, there are the economic disconnects that are yet to unfold, that will bring a change to the basic economic structures we thought were untouchable.  The world was already swimming in debt before COVID.  After COVID, the western world will have so much more debt that the underlying economic assumptions will have to change – or, the western world will join the third world countries who struggle to find a path to economic growth.  The fragile economies of the third world may almost cease to exist after COVID.


Stepping back, the world is taking a break, a long holiday from much of its enterprise, work, industrial expansion and polluting processes.  But, the basic industries still exist, their processes will still work and the infrastructure for energy, transport, travel and commerce still exist.  There is no physical reason why the world cannot end its extended holiday and carry on as before.  The issue is that the money systems, the debts, loans, liquidity ratios, are all bust.  How do we reset?

What will happen next? 

Politically, change takes time.  We can expect the western world to attempt to carry on just as before.  Trump will announce a renewed America, The Brits will put on a brave face and look towards a new economy post Brexit.  The Europeans will try to endeavour a closer banking and monetary union to solve the underlying debt issues, the Russian will continue their strong man act, the Japanese and southern Asians will look to their work ethics.  Africa, South America and the rest will have dire economic issues, maybe wars and insurgencies.

However, time will tell.  And the likely outcome will be increasing unemployment, perhaps significant swings and falls in currencies, more trade wars and a move away from solving the climate issues.

The younger generations will remember the reset.  They will remember questioning their work and social values.  This may lead to political change.  And this could be a global trend as people have been synchronised by the events of COVID. 

Political Change

The unsustainable debt will continue around the necks of the governments attempting to find answers to economic growth.  The people, who neither understand or care about economics or debt will continue to demand a future.  Politics will be between a rock and a hard place.

The reset may provide a move away from the right wing momentum before COVID.  We shall instinctively understand the world is small and fragile.  The endeavours to save lives, to work together to help others may provide a new impetus for change.  In the UK we shall recall the ability of the government to pay many salaries of up to £30,000 per annum, house the homeless and build hospitals within a few weeks.  People will ask how we did that and could not before COVID.  And. Of course. There is no reasonable answer.  People will ask that if we can solve those issues, then why not all the other issues, clearly it can be done and people will look to the politicians who say; ‘yes there is a way’.

The Reset

If we assume that right wing momentum is blunted, the way must be to the left.  A socialist government in the UK could win a majority at the next election with a radical manifesto based on a re-writing of social justice based upon a ‘basic living wage’ for everyone.  The arguments against adding to the unworkable debt will fall on deaf ears.  The suggestions that the UK must mend itself using the old ways of economic capitalistic growth shall not be heard.

The Future

A ‘basic living wage’ for all changes economic behaviour.  For many years western countries have been working away at providing services and provisions we simply do not need.  The COVID ‘holiday’ proves this beyond all doubt.

The people who lost their jobs and joined in to help the NHS and the support groups during COVID did so in the knowledge they were getting their ‘fair share’ of the available salaries.  They did so in their millions, and many more older people would have joined if it had been possible.

COVID will provide people with a new view of the world - one that does not revolve around the commercialisation of everything and the production of unnecessary goods and services.  People will see the benefit of being able to choose what they really want to do, rather than what they are forced to do to keep up with their unrelenting lives and purchases.   They will move away from working day and night with little time for their families and friends just to provide for that new car or better kitchen.

The reset will provide the basis of a new age of work, one based on helping each other and finding the time to achieve life skills that matter for everyone’s future enjoyment within a sustainable environment.  Charitable work will become a normal aspect of life.  A gentler existence, producing less but allowing new processes that heal the planet, while looking after each other better.

Debt and The Infinite Cave – a new philosophy of economics

We will ignore the debt while we can.  This also means that what the debt represents, also gets ignored.  And indeed, what does the debt represent?  Ask many people this and you will likely get a blank look.  When you really think about it – what exactly is a debt?

Our instinctive view is a debt is an amount of money (or goods) that must be re-paid to ‘someone’ at some future point.  But that does not help explain what it really is.  Let’s break the debt down into its constituent parts.  Money is the ability to purchase ‘something’.  Future money is the ability to purchase something in the future (or provide some goods in lieu of the money).

What needs to happen to provide that something?  Consider the following: If we had an infinite cave full of ‘somethings’ then we could simply pay-off any debt as it fell due without any person doing anything.  However, (presently), we do not have an infinite cave of ‘somethings’.  So, debt must mean that we need do some ‘work’ to provide for the ‘somethings’.  This work, within our current economic systems means you and me providing our time to achieve produce the ‘somethings’ (goods or services). 

So we can define debt as; ‘the need to do future work to create a something’

Currently, even a fairly automated factory, (like a vehicle manufacturing plant), still requires significant human input to create an output, (and the plant itself which must be replaced when it wears out also requires human input).

Now, imagine a different world where the aliens have decide to fill our infinite cave with everything we ever need.  No one needs to work, they just put in their order to the cave and the aliens deliver it. 

Would, could, there be anything called debt in this world?  What could a person or state owe to you?  Think of anything – it can be supplied from the cave.  Now while we have defined debt as ‘the need to do future work to create a something’ - our efforts have been replaced by the aliens and their infinite cave, and so any debt is meaningless, humans don’t need to do anything, we have been usurped by the infinite cave.

An Historical Perspective

It will be much easier looking back at this juncture from an historic perspective...  “The world had been threatened by a devilish virus and the many societies re-evaluated their motivations and moved away from outright capitalism to a more progressive existence where they put human values and the planet before their passion for the previous winner takes all mentality.  The reset gave people a new set of values by which to judge their worth and the values of their societies”.

This change will not look so challenging from a future perspective.  The historians will point out that we already had most of the technologies to make such a change.  The basic living wage will be seen as rather late in the day than too early, given our advanced manufacturing and infrastructure.  It will be clear to the historians that we were living to work rather than working to live –  at least in the advanced western civilisations.

The swing to helping the planet would also be seen as rather late.  And to do this obviously necessitated helping the third world and economies who’s conditions helped manufacture the virus in the first place.  The historians will not even notice our next major technology step-change – the move to robotic automation across the planet. 

They will simply see the relentless rise of technology, from the industrial age, the transistor, the ever advancing communications, the CNC machines, the automated plants, advanced solar and wind power, artificial intelligence…finally to the smart robot that can make itself with the help of its friends. This will seem inevitable to the historians as it is what humans have always worked towards and the smart robots are not an exponential step but just the application of existing technologies.

And, so finally we gain our infinite cave (smart robots) and in doing so the debt will not matter, as we have shown that it will effectively cease to exist in any meaningful way.   The smart robots (give or take) will do most ‘work’.  That won’t bother our new societies.  We shall have our life-long wage and be ‘working’ in a way we think is best for our societies and ourselves.  

This is, of course, a simple utopian view.  It won’t be that easy.  However, CST is optimistic… how will we share out the world’s resources?… now that is probably the difficult question

…see Resourcism.org



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