How do you get 7 billion people from hyper destructive ‘production and consumption’ to sustainable ‘production and consumption’?
This is the challenge of our lifetime. Because production and consumption are activities we aren’t going to stop until the last day of earth — if there’s such a thing.
The answer lies in Personal Identity. Personal Identity is the single most influencing force for our decisions, actions, and behavior. Identity determines what and where you eat, wear, study, work on, spend on — and what you don’t. Personal identities are nurtured by our environment; its beliefs, designs, tools, methods, processes, and all the systems we interact with daily.
It determines what and how we produce and consume. So, how do you change 7 billion identities from self-destruction to sustainability?
To answer this, you have to know how our current identities are shaped and how renegade identities like those of conscious consumers break off the norm. Looking back at my own journey, a roadside event dragged my thoughts onto a rabbit-hole. I found myself reading social issues, listening to documentaries, reading research, studies, blogs on climate, news, inequality, and other social issues.
But many are pressured to focus on putting food on the table, paying the bills, and stay the course that brought us here, i.e. advertising, media, our education systems, parenting, social interactions now amplified by selfish social media platforms.
We can credit capitalism for perfecting our identities of growth mindset, innovation, hard work, competition, creativity, and others — they’ve fueled wellbeing for billions of people. But the worst identity capitalism has also perfected in all of us is greed — it’s fueling consumerism, inequality, predatory financial system, plutocracy, climate change, and other social/planet ills. It's threatening our shared future and damning the next billion.
Today eight in ten, if not all of our daily interactions are with a system whose ultimate definition is ‘greed is good’. From birth, directly through years of education and work, and indirectly — family, and life until death, the markets naturally baptize us their own identity.
Self-Interest at the expense of Social-Interest
Our current identities are characterized by ‘personal-interest over social-interest’. Success today is entirely material. The words your friends and family say to you when you meet them and you don’t have a car yet, make you look like a failure. ‘All these years and you don’t have a car! why did you even go to school?’
The social pressure to achieve materials is so high that people will undress their moral consciousness just to amass materials. Others even undress their bodies — sextapes, naked twerking to gain social media popularity, etc.
Million-dollar corruption schemes, tax evasions, fake CSR and philanthropy to legalised lobbying and billionaires funding narratives, professorships, and think tanks to entrench policies and worldviews that protect their wealth, power, privilege, and control.
Horrific stats like ‘minimum wage stagnating at $7.25 instead of $22.5 if it had grown with productivity since 1960, CEO — Employee pay gap increasing 360 times and maintained by largely high prices of products and services.
Global wildlife populations falling 68% since 1970 — WWF, major habitats like Amazon, swamps, coral reefs nearing tipping points, over half of global GDP — $44 trillion is threatened by nature loss — Nature Risk Rising and nearly 1 Million species being driven to extinction — IPBES.
Our Social-Interest and Environmental-Interest are fast losing to our Self-Interest and a roadmap to a balance between the two is long overdue.
Produce from Generosity — Own by Greed
Capitalism has a production system driven by the generosity of planet and society on one hand and a rewarding system characterized by greedy private ownership on the other. This injustice enslaves planet and society and undermines their generosity and capitalism’s social promise.
If the corporate balance sheet was just (not greedy), it would show how much a corporation has extracted from planet and society, and how much of the generated profits planet and society receive — not only the investor-friendly net worth.
But capitalism’s identity of production by beneficence and ownership by greed forces businesses to produce with resources from the generous beneficence of planet and society and fully ‘own’ the generated profits after monetisation of products and services, use the wealth to produce more and own more in an infinite cycle.
Greed is good only as far as an incentive to innovate human wellbeing, yet if the rewarding system disregards the indispensable input of planet and society in wealth creation, the whole system soon becomes unstable. But the most profound disadvantage is that this injustice silently and constantly reinforces the identity of ‘greed’, ‘myself’, ‘I care less’ among 7 billion people which in turn makes the markets even greedier — this greed cycle is threatening the sustainability of not just planet/society but capitalism itself.
Some injustices persist because of the absence of alternatives — the industrial revolution, for example, made ‘slavery’ costly, inefficient and eventually obsolete. Like slavery, corporations enrich themselves from the free provisions of planet and society giving peanuts in return. This persists because we are stuck with a unidirectional monetisation system that hands over full ownership and control of generated wealth to corporations and few individuals.
A multidirectional payment system can free ‘private ownership’ of ‘greed’ by diverting planet and society’s due wealth to them right at the counter (PlaSo Diversion). It renders the current identity of capitalism inefficient by reciprocating the generous beneficence of planet and society and restores the incentives for planet to sustain us and society to cooperate more.
But most importantly it slowly re-nurtures the identity of billions of people to now ‘act’ on their passive compassion, from selfish to selfless, me to us, bystander to caring, one PlaSo purchase at a time.
If capitalism doesn’t innovate and compete itself into a more distributive and inclusive identity, then it opens doors to its worst detractors — more state intervention and will soon be socialism. The PlaSo Diversion can be the heart of a capitalism that truly cares about a flourishing planet and society.