In Systems Thinking, Denis raised the question: “What would happen if we lived in a global environment where capital accumulation would be limited?“. It is an interesting debate. Let’s look at it from a phenomenological perspective.
I need to take the discussion in a different direction. Capital (money) is power. It is not about the absolute; it about the differences. A power struggle is also a conflict over different values, that’s why Denis started with “social acts are behaviour“. That’s why we’re talking about the capitalist VALUE system. Power is an emergent property, emerging from the paradoxes of expressing, speaking. We say: “money talks”. (By the way, money used to be printed, using a printing press).
There is no fair solution to a distribution problem, not with Systems Thinking, never. Fundamentally unsolvable. The only reasonable thing, is to look at the power struggle, and create countervailing powers. One of the problems, off course, is that power also means “controlling the meaning”. Power will always tend to say that it is “good” and trying to reduce it is “bad”. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupt absolutely.
Using directing constellations
As it happens – nothing is a coincidence, and not even that – yesterday I facilitated a session on social change in The Netherlands, using constellations (I’ve developed something called “directing constellations, where a (scene) director, moves the elements around).
We had, on one line, the element “citizens” (together with “equivalence” and “self”) with “money”. “Money” was represented by a person and slowly detached itself from the rest. “I do not trust the ‘citizens’ to be responsible”, it said, “therefore I have to distance myself”. In between the citizens and the money was – you’ve guessed – “government” and “taxation”. We saw how “money” circled through the system, from “citizens”, “taxation”, to “subsidies” and “payments”, back to “citizens”. But soon “money” started to move away again. There was “injustice” in the system. Which I added.
Now, the issue became a discussion between (elected, by the citizens) “government” and (tax paying) “citizens”, when we moved “equivalence” to “government”. “equivalence” became very controlling of “citizens”, it started to strive for “equality“, even unfairly!. “citizens” criticized their government for not maintaining an equal balance (equivalence) between “taxation” and “money”. “Money” was not being taxed.
And this is true: we have VAT and taxes on labour, but hardly any taxes on (large amounts of) money and capital (like machines, buildings, land). And the flow of money. They have been abolished for “freeing up” the market and capital. The interesting thing was, that “money” said, this was fair, because “citizens” are not responsibly spending “money”. For if they would, the would have been rich too. Which is clearly a fallacy. It is the old: “the poor are to blame for their own poorness, because otherwise, they would be rich too”.
Then something interesting entered: a new element appeared (it sometimes does), “intention”. “Intention” said that we had lost her, “intention” of the system. We ended the constellation by asking the elements to state “intention” of the system. From it, we derived the background of the situation: “in what ways can we ourselves attain equivalence?”