This is the second of two articles exploring the likelihood that capitalism is on the verge of collapse and what a post-capitalist world might look like.
Like many sustainability activists, I strongly believe that with advanced planning and preparation, the demise of capitalism could be an extraordinarily positive change for most of humankind. I tend to agree with Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute (see TEOFWAWKIT: The End of the World as We Know It) that global resource scarcity, aggravated by catastrophic climate change, will force the break-up of large nation-states into small self-governing regional units. As a strong proponent of participatory democracy, I maintain that it will be up to the inhabitants of each region to determine how they will govern themselves and provide for their basic needs. At the same time, I feel that some features of post-capitalist society can be predicted -- either because they are dictated by resource scarcity or because they are fundamental to true political and economic democracy:
1. The end of capitalism's insane perpetual growth paradigm -- the drive for continual economic expansion (and resource depletion)
If society commits to an equitable distribution of the earth's remaining resources, work and production will be limited to provision of basic needs and the rearing and education of children.
2. Equal division of labor
Work will be shared equally among everyone, instead of shifting vast amounts of unpaid and low paid work to blue collar workers, women and minorities.
3. Reintegration of fathers into family life and child rearing.
A reduction in work hours will mean an increase in leisure time, freeing up men to involve themselves in family life and child rearing, as they did prior to the industrial revolution.
4. The end of oppression of women and ethnic and sexual minorities.
The oppression of women and minorities plays a distinct economic role under capitalism, owing to the vast amount of unpaid and low paid labor they perform. To a large extent, current population pressure is driven by the elite's perpetual growth paradigm and the corporate media (see Population and Sustainability: Addressing the Taboo). With the demise of capitalism and the growth paradigm, the current economic pressure on women and sexual minorities to conform to stereotyped sex roles and produce children will cease. Moreover ethnic minorities will cease to be exploited as surplus workers to be moved in and out of the labor force to control wages. Indigenous minorities will be particularly valued for their knowledge of pre-industrial survival skills.
5. The restoration of extended families and communal child rearing
When the corporate propaganda driving mindless reproduction ceases, fewer people will have fewer children. This, along with an increase in leisure time, will create a strong incentive for childless community members to participate in communal child rearing and education.
6. Equal access to education
With fewer children and more community involvement in their education, bright and curious of children of both sexes and all ethnicities will have the potential to become little Einsteins. Unlike capitalism, where quality education is reserved for children (male children in many cultures) of upper income white families.
7. Reduced global population