Saturday, October 6, 2018

#279 / Another World Is Within Reach

The way I think about it, a scientist often takes some very theoretical statement that tells the truth about how the world works, and then uses that scientific theory as a way to discover how to accomplish some very "non-theoretical" things. My favorite example? Einstein's equation: 

E = MC2

That famous formula suddenly reveals that even a very small amount of matter contains a prodigious amount of energy. So, there should be some way to turn matter into energy, right? Theoretically, that should be possible. And the scientists worked at it, and what do you know? That equation was right on the money! Now we have the atom bomb! 

Science can employ theory to create new realities in lots of other ways, too, including more positive and less destructive realities. Theory to practice; that's the scientific method.

Well, what about political science? Are there political theories that we can use to create new realities in our political world? I am saying, "yes."

One of my personal political theories is that our "political world" is a world in which anything is possible. That is because the world we most immediately inhabit, which I do insist is a "political" world, is not constrained by the kind of physical laws that govern the World of Nature. The World of Nature is a world that we did not create, and upon which we ultimately depend. Our "political" world is different. We do create that world. And we can create it as any kind of world we want!

In other words, to give an example, there is no reason that "marriage" has to be the union of a man and a woman. That's how it was, for a long time. But we decided to change that reality, and we did. Virtually all of the laws and rules that govern our political, social, and economic life - rules of taxation, and rules governing land use - are subject to change, based on human choice and human action. 

This brings me to the Labour Party in Great Britain, and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who is pictured above. Corbyn and the Labour Party are proposing new forms of property ownership. That would be a real change! Click the link, above, to read an article discussing the proposals in some detail. Here is a brief introduction:

Who owns and controls capital – productive wealth – is among the most fundamental questions of political economy, central to understanding the operations of any economic system ... Responses to capitalist private ownership of the economy have traditionally divided along two main lines. In greatly simplified terms, state socialism placed ownership and control of capital with the state, whereas social democracy left it largely in private hands but sought to redistribute the returns through taxation and transfers. 
A neglected third tradition, however, largely eclipsed by the left’s great twentieth-century projects, is to be found in the long-running socialist commitment to economic democracy. The central idea of economic democracy is the notion of extending principles of popular sovereignty from the realm of politics and governance into economics. In A Preface to Economic Democracy, Robert Dahl defined economic democracy as 'help[ing] to strengthen political equality and democracy by reducing inequalities originating in the ownership and control of firms.' Approaching the question from the opposite end, G. D. H. Cole, the British socialist theorist and economic democracy advocate, argued that principles of democracy should apply 'not only or mainly to some special sphere of social action known as ‘politics’, but to any and every form of social action, and, in especial, to industrial and economic fully as much as to political offices.'

Essentially, the Labour Party is proposing that workers should own the "means of production" but not through "the state." Instead, turning workers into owners would be accomplished through the political process, by passing new laws that would redefine the way the economy is structured. Labour leaders are saying that this is not a "redistribution" of wealth, but a "predistribution."

A change like this would have an explosive impact in the political world. Would it be "destructive" or "constructive?" Such a change should be debated. The point is, if you believe my political science theory, this change in how our economy is structured is completely possible. That makes it well worth thinking about.


Image Credit:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment!