Present course has devastating consequences for humanity and the planet. Ancestral voices and growing popular mobilization call for a new course and way of functioning: good living. Priorities, sequences, and times of foundational steps towards good living are sustained on the clarification about what is happening, the integration of diversities that strengthen, and a solid social organization that cares for all and the planet.
While the concentrating economic order is guided by maximizing profits, good living is an existential perspective orientated towards humanity’s wellbeing and caring for the planet. It is expressed as a social, collective, foundational construction. It takes the challenge of establishing a new course and way of functioning that replaces current unbridled concentration of wealth and decisional power.
Singularity and adaptability
Far from a new fundamentalism, good living accepts that exists a diversity of options, strategies, and measures according with the singularity of each situation. That is, there is neither unique recipe book nor space for intellectual laziness in copying instead of understanding what happens, applying what has already worked for social wellbeing and imagining the novelty that allows for advancement together with values such as care, solidarity, mutual help.
It is fatal to force homogenization of what is by nature heterogeneous. Stories are different for both the burden of non-addressed or ill-managed conflicts as well as for the potentialities of each nation, the level of clarification and organization. Being different the myriad of historical and present circumstances, there is no sole trajectory towards good living but rather multiple and diverse, trajectories that can be adapted to changes over time, which are frequently unavoidable and unpredictable.
Immediate implementation measures with diverse maturing times
Foundational steps towards good living are not lineal processes where an achievement precedes another one and so forth, not at all. Risks of seeing that linearity broken are big as those who lose power and privileges do not relinquish them peacefully and willingly but rather they resist and remain lurking.
As the foundational steps need to include all dimensions of social functioning, it will be necessary to adopt a group of strategies, measures, and initiatives knowing that some might generate almost immediate impacts and others will have different times of maturing. It would be a mistake to launch only measures with short-term impacts while delaying those that mature over time; rather it is necessary to address them all in the present, independently of their maturing period.
Good living as yearning and practice
Good living is, at the same time, a yearning, a referential utopia that guides us where to go as well as a march. Utopia and march mutually influence permanently; march advances guided by utopia and, by doing so, it nourishes utopia with precisions and adjustments which in turn becomes a more precise guide for the permanence of the march. Thus, good living is a call that works as horizon and path. Its construction is present builder of future. It demands courage to create the new and determination to innovate.
The practice of good living frees subjectivities that were colonized by strengthening social and individual free will to advance while removing precariousness and fully unfolding the repressed potential of communities. The spiritual and environmental take precedence, as well as the social and cultural, health and education. Politics, economy, science and technology become instruments for building the good living.
Critical challenge of subordinating economy to good living
It is not easy to transform the current course and functioning of the economic system to replace them by good living. The difficulty is that such transformation entails an essentially political challenge that expands to the value, social, and environmental spheres. Contemporary economic system, as every social system, is imposed by some groups that concentrate wealth and decisional power. A system that serves a minority at the expense of majoritarian sectors is forced to function by unveiling its actions and manipulating its victims. If not, it could not assure the reproduction of their perks and privileges over time.
Thus, building good living inevitably needs unveiling what is concealed, make explicit the mechanisms that sustain concentration, and identify what is needed to liberate captured democracies. This implies subordinating economic functioning to caring for humanity and the planet, including recovering the allocation of surpluses generated by the entire society, firmly regulating financial circuit, reinforcing science and technology, ensuring that those who can and want to work can do so in dignified spaces with fair compensation.
Economy for good living
Both within and outside lawfulness, all kinds of goods and services are produced, both those that are essential for life as well as those that attack life and the planet, weapons of mass destruction, agro toxics, drugs, people, and organs’ trafficking, unbridled speculations, both financial and commercial, the irresponsible deforestation of natural forests, among many others. More than the social and cultural usefulness of what is produced, what matters is accumulating no matter what, taking advantage of the complicities that make it possible.
An economy that contributes to good living is very different, it produces goods and services that serve material and cultural wellbeing of humanity, uses productive forms that are careful with nature. Economic system ceases to be the helmsperson of nations’ destiny and becomes a socially orientated productive instrument.
In this perspective, it will be necessary to address a double imperative, starting by dismantling schemes that are criminal even for the established order and, at the same time, sowing good living with new foundational steps.
Solving criminal schemes that bleed countries out
In almost every country, there are criminal schemes designed for appropriating surpluses that are not declared and are flight out to fiscal havens or other lax jurisdictions in terms of taxes and which are not worried about identifying who commits such larceny. These schemes are criminal acts with devastating effects.
Some criminal schemes are camouflaged as legal, as when neoliberal governments decide to deregulate capital flows. These non-regulated capital inflow and outflow evolve into a debauchery of speculative operations that illegally appropriate good part of local surpluses. Such is the case of swallow funds that profit from phantasmagorical rates for doing carry trade, which locally is known as financial bicycle. These operations destabilize foreign exchange market and macroeconomic balances and always end up in massive capital flights when they sniff the end of these maneuvers is approaching.
It is hard to establish an economy geared towards good living without dismantling criminal schemes that drain national potential for developing independently.
Sowing good living by transforming concentrating economic structure
Closing the drainage-robbery of surpluses opens the necessary space for reassess the course and way of functioning of the economic system. Those are the resources the country needs for adopting a good number of critical decisions each with different maturity times. We point out, among others, some significant strategies geared towards building the economy of good living.
Transforming financial system to avoid the channels for capital flight that large evaders use and secure that domestic savings managed by banks and other entities shifts towards real economy and no longer to financial speculation.
Correcting productive matrix generally with unbalanced structures because it emerges from individual corporate decisions, some legitimate others illegitimate, but without the ability to visualize systemic effects of the whole group of decisions. Therefore, recurrent instabilities and bottlenecks occur, the most serious ones in the external sector but also territorial and within productive sectors.
Dismantling oligopolistic positions that are generated in almost every market in the country, as large enterprises abuse their market power to set prices and exchange conditions for suppliers and consumers, from whom they subtract part of the value that belongs to them and are not able to retain. They permanently reduce the internal market sterilizing surpluses that are flight abroad. It will be necessary to diversify productive chains and eliminate inequity that prevails within them.
Establish a firmly progressive tax system where the rich pay more, middle sectors tribute moderately, and popular sector do not pay taxes or do so at greatly reduced rates. This includes taxing monopolistic rents and extraordinary profits that are not linked with effort whatsoever but rather are obtained because of privileged positions that should tend to disappear.
Properly allocate public spending to cover the huge social debt as well as to backup strategic initiatives and programs that assist in building a good living.
Demystify the role of foreign investment, by selecting those that serve good living and discarding or limiting the investment that comes to consolidate concentration and skim off the best of the productive system.
Controlling international trade of commodities to avoid large evasion of, among others, international corporations that export cereals and mining products
Securing access to land for popular settlements in intermediate cities and metropolitan areas, as well as for small agriculture
Urbanize precarious settlements located in areas that do not present risks of landslide, recurrent floods, or environmental unhealthiness.
Choosing renewable raw materials for production and, when it is unavoidable to use the non-renewable, do so with extreme prudence.
Minimizing transport distances by promoting proximity products, most of which are produced by producers from family agriculture as well as small and medium enterprises.
Power and politics
Building an economy geared towards good living is sustained in a reconfiguration of the correlation of forces; it has to do with politics and decision power, a critical subject that is always worth clarifying. A new economy orientated towards good living, no doubt, would help to change the foundation of the concentrating power that prevails in the world. However, such economy could not be established without deep political changes to reconfigure decision power. Those tensions and fights have a long history and changing modalities of subjection or liberation. It is a challenge that addresses and convenes; it is worthwhile to tackle.
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