We Need a New Operating System: The Gauntlet has been laid down
With Covid-19 set to send the world into a 1930s-style depression, or probably worse, pundits are busy asking whether this is the end of capitalism as we know it. It was the same during the 2008 financial crisis. But nothing much changed. We soon went back to business-as-usual. And nothing much will change this time either, at least not in terms of the basic economic Operating System (OS) that we live under and which greatly determines our lives.
The reason is that, barring a complete system collapse, we can only go back to the existing OS because there is nowhere else for the world to go. Without any alternative OS being available which might permit fundamental change, the existing OS of course eventually re-boots itself in the same familiar pattern.
The current OS is not difficult to picture in your mind. Up in the sky there is a single large raincloud. This represents global capital, global investors, multinational corporations and the globally-mobile rich. The cloud moves freely across national borders and will hover and release its rain only where it can make the highest return on investment. Meanwhile, down on the ground are 200-odd nation-states each of which desperately needs to attract the cloud in order to bring the investment and jobs its country needs for its economy and citizens to thrive.
Given this OS, national governments quite naturally have no choice but to compete destructively with each other to attract the raincloud. They must reduce taxes on the rich and the corporations, loosen labour and environmental regulations, and privatize public services. In the common parlance it’s called keeping your country “internationally competitive”. But it’s a vicious circle because when one country cuts its taxes or loosens its regulations, others are of course forced to follow. That competition leads not only to the inability of governments to deal with climate change and other global problems, but also to the chronic fragility we see today in our health systems as they struggle to cope with Covid-19. Staying competitive means squeezing any inefficiencies — including any resilience — out of the system leaving it fragile and vulnerable. Destructive competition → super efficiency → extreme fragility.
The simple fact, then, is there can be no change to the existing OS without a transformation of the nation-state system. It must somehow be transformed from its present mode of destructive competition to a new mode of fruitful cooperation. In our globalized and highly interconnected world, there simply is no other alternative if we want things to change for the better. Yes, there may be minor changes and improvements that could be possible lower down the system at local, national or regional levels. But without a change of the OS at the global level, lower-level changes will always be hampered, undermined and ultimately prove futile. The pathology at the top of the system will always trickle its poison to the lower levels. Indeed, to think we could make our global economy just and sustainable without cooperative governance on the same global scale is just wishful thinking.
Fortunately, the Simultaneous Policy (Simpol) campaign www.simpol.org offers a practical answer to the question of how to effect this transformation. And it’s already some way towards achieving it. Already today, increasing numbers of national politicians from both right and left and across a number of countries support it. Prominent economists, scientists and thought leaders already support it too, including Ken Wilber, Noam Chomsky, Ervin Laszlo, David Sloan Wilson and countless others. That’s because Simpol offers the most practical way of putting OS.2 in place and it answers more concerns or objections than any other global initiative out there.
I know this is a big challenge, but time is now short. Action is needed. That’s why I’m laying down the gauntlet. Having read this far, you now have three options:
1. You can ignore Simpol and the whole vital issue of moving to OS.2, in which case you remain part of the problem.
2. You can point out some other initiative and show, in detail, how it does a better job than Simpol. And make no mistake: I have no particular attachment to Simpol. If you or someone else can show me something better, I’ll be happy to drop Simpol tomorrow and follow your alternative.
It’s your move.