TED Conversations

Henri Kisielewski

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Should we strive for a brand new Economic/Political system? Is it even possible to create one in this day and age?

`During a recent discussion about sub-Saharan African Politics I began exploring whether the solution to many African countries' political and economic issues could not be found in some kind of neo-tribalism. After all, it has been argued that the dissolution of the tribal system and the subsequent downfall of the System of Law are down to a drastic change in the political and economic structure brought about by Colonisation. A very strong example of this is the Congo which, in the space of only 50years saw it's 200 tribes get engulfed into a one large bulk of administrative incompetence, corruption and kleptocracy.

I am not arguing that African countries should go back to tribalism, though I do wonder if we could not come up with a solution other than conforming these nations to one Western ideal.
Of course we are not only speaking of Economics or solely Politics, but as we all know, now days these two are very much intertwined.

During this conversation I was confronted with the following question:
"how can we imagine a completely new system that would actually work?" This person went on to argue that Socialism cannot be seen as an example of a new system because it is Utopian, it is a model, and it is a failed one at that.

But we must ask ourselves: Is Capitalism not Utopian? Is it not a model? Is it not failing as well?

While we pick ourselves up from the last Crisis and convince ourselves that this was induced by error and greed, our whole system might be in desperate need of a make-over.

Can we create a new system? YES WE CAN.

But How?

  • Apr 27 2011: Of course it seems that the internet will be a predominant force in any future political endeavour, and ecology is (or should be) somewhere at the forefront of our priorities. However do you not think that we, as a society, are often selfish in terms of looking at the world? This is of course no reflection on you Jonathan, but your first reaction was to think of these two factors in terms of their impact on development of Western Countries. It is estimated that only 22% of the world's population have access to the internet, thus ruling out any possibility of change in the foreseeable future for those countries that need it most. Liberia is still licking it's wounds after the RUF packed up, the Congo is slowly coming out of the Economic rut that began over 40 years ago, and here we are saying how great it would be if the internet could somehow allow us to be ecologically responsible...
  • Apr 26 2011: As a premise for creating a new system, we should not aim for a system that works (this is utopian which is, for all its imaginative fervor, delusional) but should instead aim for one that progressively works better than the current system(s).

    I think the new system will, like all systems, be created out of the ashes of the old once it has broken down sufficiently. Right now, we are trying to navigate environmental and technological (and other) problems with the paradigm of capitalism and electoral democracy, which began several hundred years ago. I do not think these systems are well suited for an ecologically aware system because they were based off of then-current notions about reality that we have since surpassed. Every attempt to move to a more sustainable world is thwarted by the institution of capitalism to a high degree and, while there are movements such as conscious capitalism, I remain skeptical about the ability to have your world and sell it too, but it is certainly possible for conscious capitalism to ascend and become the next economic paradigm.

    However, the capitalist ideal did not originate out of ecology. In many ways, it is compromising the ecological awareness that is, for all the backsliding in places like the USA where many do not believe climate change is occurring or a serious issue, still emerging in the global collective consciousness.

    How it will be done? I would guess that both the Internet and the environment will figure very prominently in whatever system(s) are put in place. An enormous interplay between the two is possible. How could an economy built out of the internet and built around a sustainable environment work? How about a political system that is built around the need to keep the planet in working order? I do not know because it hasn't been done. But we need to continue asking questions like "what will come afterwards another financial collapse" if one does indeed occur. Thanks for asking such an important question Henri.