An obvious problem with world-scale economic and political reform proposals

Another proposal of major world reform in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and social and economic upheaval from Pablo at KiwiPolitico:  Thinking of a post-pandemic future

It’s quite long, but in short:

Returning to normal, at least if it is defined as the way things were before the pandemic hit, is a guarantee that the socioeconomic and political contradictions now laid bare will fester, accumulate and eventually explode. That is why the post-pandemic moment must be seen as a window of opportunity for comprehensive change rather than a resumption of what once as.

In order to avoid an explosive break with the past, the key to post-pandemic recovery lies in addressing the dual crises of governance and accumulation as the most important priorities even if short term economic and political remedies are offered (say, by removing Trump from office, turning to regional supply chains and re-committing international agencies to a rules-based international order). I cannot offer any specifics, but it seems to me that a move towards sustainable development based on restrained rates of profit and renewable resource extraction is a beginning. Given the resurgence of wildlife in urban and suburban areas and air and water cleansing during the lockdown, climate change mitigation efforts need to be wrapped into larger projects of environmental restoration in which a return to natural balance is given urgent attention.

These involve political reforms in which those who advocate for a return to the previous economic status quo are blocked from doing so. After all, there are many interests vested in the current global market framework and they will do everything in their power to resist and thwart meaningful change that undermines their positions and diminishes their bottom lines. The key is to find a consensus about reforming, if not an alternative to, the system as given, including the reconfiguration of incentive structures in order to promote broad adherence to the shift in the global model of accumulation.

It is time for economic and political architectural re-design on a world scale.

What Pablo and a bunch of others promoting world reform don’t seem to provide any ideas about is how to achieve this idealistic revolution.

There is nothing close to a world-scale power. There are many countries with governments ranging from various degrees of dictatorship and democracy. How on Earth do the revolutionaries and re-designers propose to get consensus on huge changes that will require huge shifts in wealth and power?  It will be hard enough doing anything like it in individual countries.

And to do it democratically rather than by dictat would require a lot of time and inevitable watering down of reforms – that’s what consensus making does,

Pablo should know that people usually don’t give up wealth and power easily even in individual nations. let alone come anywhere near close to anything resembling world-wide consensus.

“…political reforms in which those who advocate for a return to the previous economic status quo are blocked from doing so” sounds an odd sort of consensus building. It might be possible in North Korea, and possibly China and Russia, but I doubt it with the later two who have huge vested interests in the status quo.  And the United States can’t even work together well dealing with Covid-19 let alone reform their own failing political system.

I see another problem with using the pandemic disruption to launch into ‘world-scale reform – no matter how well meaning reforms may be, that would mean even greater disruption to ‘the status quo’, in other words to how all of us live our lives now.

There are already growing signs here in new Zealand and in other countries to reduce the disruption caused by action s to limit Covid. I don’t see any sign of a popular movement to make even more drastic and permanent changes.

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24 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  3rd May 2020

    ‘There is nothing close to a world-scale power. ‘..=fail .
    The financial clout of the $U.S and its domination of global financial institutions is undeniable.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  3rd May 2020

      Unfortunately that is so. And America’s primary direction, especially under Trump, is being numero uno – self interest. The US has become an even bigger bully than it was.

      I suspect Pete meant there is no world-scale power capable of directing ALL countries to change for the better in accordance with an agreed joint plan.

      The UN is sure not up to the job. In international affairs it is as toothless as the League Of Nations was when it comes to stopping Great Powers/permanent members of the Security Council from doing whatever they like.

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  3rd May 2020

        “I suspect Pete meant there is no world-scale power capable of directing ALL countries to change for the better in accordance with an agreed joint plan.”

        Thank god for that.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  3rd May 2020

          Yep. The likelihood of such a body ever being formed & being so beneficent that every country in the world would willingly sign up to letting it run the globe according universal principles of benefit to every human ape on the planet is as far away as ever.

          And history suggests that if it ever did happen it become inefficient & corrupt within a relatively short space of time.

          The best hope for this planet of everybody being treated the same is a strike by a very large asteroid.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  3rd May 2020

            I seem to have a bad habit of omitting key words in my posting efforts today.

            Reply
          • Pink David

             /  3rd May 2020

            ” The likelihood of such a body ever being formed & being so beneficent that every country in the world would willingly sign up to letting it run the globe according universal principles of benefit to every human ape on the planet is as far away as ever.”

            I don’t see any reason this was ever a desirable thing. Any such structure would be corrupted before it ever got formed. There is no benefit to such a system except to concentrate power in terrible way.

            Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  3rd May 2020

    If anyone needs an example of woolly thinking this should suffice.

    Reply
  3. David

     /  3rd May 2020

    There is a whole bunch of people with idealistic visions of some form of utopia and they are thinking finally I can persuade the 98% of people who think I am a loon might actually come round to my way of thinking.
    We like the way things run generally and every human metric is improving over time and the only people getting votes and winning power are sticking to the formula be they Trump, Boris, Trudeau, Macron, Merkel and Ardern they all pretty much follow the same formula. The GFC didnt change anything neither did sars, 9/11 and this wont either.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  3rd May 2020

      I think you are going to be proven very,very wrong…every Ponzi scheme eventually collapses..this one has lasted 12 years so far.
      You have participated and prospered ….by this time next year reality will …strike.

      Reply
      • David

         /  3rd May 2020

        Our current form of capitalism has been operating since the early 1980s which is 40 years and look how fantastic the world is now, its been remarkable.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  3rd May 2020

          you are right ,since the 80’s Rogernomics,Thatcherism,Reaganism … globalisation , stoked by that arch wrecking ball Greenspan ,has meant inequality has exploded.

          The mantra of ‘greed is good’ took hold and a tiny percentage of the population have accumulated obscene levels of wealth at the expense of the average debt slaves who struggle to pay the bills.

          Reply
        • Gezza

           /  3rd May 2020

          look how fantastic the world is now, its been remarkable.

          That does depend on where you are looking at it from, David. It probably doesn’t look so great from Syria, Yemen, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Greece, US trailer parks etc.

          Reply
  4. oldlaker

     /  3rd May 2020

    I think attempts to mitigate climate change will be early victims of a rush back to normal. Officials in 2018 warned the NZ government that meeting its greenhouse gas commitments under the Paris Agreement could cost up to $36 billion by 2030. That sort of expense will be very, very unpopular.
    I see David Parker reported today as saying public input into RMA decisions will be ended for big projects “to get the country moving”. There’ll be more mining and the oil & gas ban will be lifted (assuming oil prices pick up again as economies awaken).
    Like so many, Greta will be suddenly unemployed (and unemployable).

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  3rd May 2020

      Oil prices are weak because of an over supply price war.

      Where is the evidence that the oil and gas ban will be lifted?

      Reply
      • oldlaker

         /  3rd May 2020

        It’s simply a hunch that National will campaign on opening every avenue to restore export earnings. When people lose their jobs and prospects, nothing is off the table. They will just run up a table of the financial benefits of various moves to offset the loss of international tourism, students etc… My bet is that it will include the oil & gas ban. (And oil supply is overwhelming demand right now because of Covid-19 lockdowns worldwide… that will change as economies kick off again, with a lag)

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  3rd May 2020

          so you actually have 2 hunches…none that pass objective assessment.


          (And oil supply is overwhelming demand right now because of Covid-19 lockdowns worldwide…’
          note this date Sept 2019 BEFORE C19.

          https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-09-08/the-world-s-oil-glut-is-much-worse-than-it-looks

          Reply
        • Pink David

           /  3rd May 2020

          “It’s simply a hunch that National will campaign on opening every avenue to restore export earnings.”

          There is no oil in NZ that can be produced that will be even slightly economic at $30/barrel.

          If they chose something, it should be overturning the rejection of the hydro dam project in westland, or things like that. Demand for oil is going to be down for years, and cheap. That is good for NZ, we can drop fuel prices and get things moving.

          Reply
          • oldlaker

             /  3rd May 2020

            PD… “Demand for oil is going to be down for years, and cheap”…
            I remember Muldoon betting the farm on oil prices staying high and nearly bankrupting the country via Think Big and his energy projects becoming uneconomic when the price crashed.
            Betting on them staying low for years is a big call.

            Reply
  5. oldlaker

     /  3rd May 2020

    Blazer, If you think you or anyone else can make an “objective assessment” about the future, please send your “learnings” to Yogi Berri, who was also interested in making predictions.
    Any prediction we make is no better than a hunch — and we make them constantly, including, say, when buying a house, which we assume won’t halve in value in the next few months.
    Yes, I understand there already was a glut in oil but that doesn’t mean oil prices won’t back up from the floor as Covid-19 wanes.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  3rd May 2020

      You are the one making guesses.
      I have produced evidence of a fact.
      Most people make decisions like your house buying scenario on factual information.

      If I have a hunch that National will introduce a bill to shoot everyone over 70 on the basis that this will have a positive effect on the economy,will it serve any useful …purpose?

      Reply
      • oldlaker

         /  3rd May 2020

        Of course I’m making guesses! I said it was a hunch, which is a guess.
        My daughter has just bought a house that she committed to before the lockdown. Her guess was that it was a good time to buy because prices were rising late last year. Now she is facing the probability of falling prices.
        There are no solid facts (“factual information”) for what may happen in the future. Surely Covid-19 has shown that vividly?

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  3rd May 2020

          Your original post did not mention hunches or a guess.
          If you have a lemon tree, is there any factual basis you can rely on concerning when it will bear fruit to harvest?

          Reply

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