That's a very important question, and our answer has always been wrong. We've been lulled into believing that "private property" is the right answer, not realizing that the two possible answers are mutually exclusive: private property denies universal access, and universal access precludes private property.
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors - source: Pixabay
Access is what we need. Ask yourself what's important: is it important to own a music CD, or is access to the music you want to hear the important thing? Do you need to own the CD if you can just connect to an online music database and listen to your favorite music any time you wish to do so? The CD that I own is mine, so I'm the only one who can access that music. Next question: who owns hospital-beds? We all need access to a hospital-bed when the need arises, but because there's a private owner somewhere of every hospital-bed, we don't get to decide who gets access to those beds. Furthermore, because we don't think in term of universal access, but in terms of private ownership, there aren't enough hospital-beds to go around in times of peak-demand, like right now. The result is that only the individuals who can pay enough will have access to those much needed beds. Private property is the death of universal access. Even in the places where we are able to organize universal access, like online music, we fuck up the entire idea with the baked-in notion of private property, so individuals must still pay for access to files that are just there; you can buy songs and albums or pay a subscription-fee for an online service.
“Comradeship, dignity, amorosity, love, solidarity, fraternity, friendship, ethics: all these names stand in contrast to the commodified, monetised relations of capitalism, all describe relations developed in struggles against capitalism and which can be seen as anticipating or creating a society beyond capitalism.”
source: John Holloway, Crack Capitalism - goodreads
This systemic illness of capitalism and the widespread capitalist mindset is more apparent now than ever before in our lifetimes; in this global pandemic we NEED universal access to the goods and services necessary to save lifes. Instead we're bogged down in a nightmare scenario of clogged up supply chains and battling private owners, within borders and between nations. This is what happens when "individual", "personal", "private" and "profit" form the focal point of our way of thinking; it couldn't have been any other way. So we blame the virus for the deaths, the implosion of the economy and the shortage of essential supplies and services, perfectly illustrating how difficult it is for us to admit that we're just wrong, to admit that capitalism is the problem here. Communities solve problems and provide essentials, individuals never do; that simple truth is hard to accept apparently, or at least it's hard to translate into our way of producing and distributing goods and services. When you think about it, it's utterly unnecessary to own anything. Why own a house? As long as you can live there and people respect your need to have a place to live, you're just fine. I know that's several bridges too far for most people right now, but just ponder on it for a while. Hopefully you'll realize that sharing is so much better than hoarding, just for practical reasons alone. First watch the video though; in this interview professor Richard Wolff explains exactly how and why capitalism fails so hard right now.
Prof. Richard Wolff on Pandemic Economics
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