Beyond the Market-State, Decentralising Power in a Sharing Society

Published on Dissident Voice, by Rajesh Makwana, February 15, 2015.

At a time when governments are failing abysmally to mitigate climate change, reduce inequality or end poverty, the key to creating a more equal and sustainable world is establishing participative forms of political engagement at all levels of society – from the local to the global … //

… From local alternatives to global reforms: … //

… A new society based on sharing and redistribution:

In many ways, the principle of sharing is likely to be pivotal to the transition away from the market-state as it underpins any process of decentralising and devolving political and economic power to the lowest level of decision making, in accordance with the concept of subsidiarity. Only in more equal and participative ‘sharing societies’ will citizens be able to play an active role in democratising governance institutions and shaping the direction of political life. In stark contrast to the market-state, a sharing society in any true sense will need to localise economic activity wherever possible and establish any number of more inclusive and effective forms of political engagement, such as online ‘direct democracy’ platforms, people’s assemblies, participatory budgeting initiatives, and even communal councils.

From any rational perspective, the overarching goal of social and economic policy in the period ahead must decidedly shift towards securing basic human needs for all without transgressing environmental limits. Another major challenge in building fairer societies based on the principle of sharing is therefore the creation (and safeguarding) of robust social protection systems in countries across the world. Such systems are important examples of solidarity that enable citizens to collectively pool a nation’s financial resources so that they can be redistributed for the benefit of all. Even though the aging welfare state model is in need of reform and renewal, nationwide mechanisms of mutual provisioning remain the most effective way of meeting longstanding human rights obligations across entire countries.

As the scholar and activist Francine Mestrum argues, universal systems of social protection enable people to take responsibility for those they do not know by ensuring that everyone’s basics rights are secured – a process that strengthens our ‘collective solidarity’ and embodies a profound awareness of our common humanity. Nonetheless, social protections are continually being undermined by the harsh austerity measures that have been implemented in numerous countries since the 2008 financial crisis, and their proper functioning is unlikely to be restored without increasing public outcry and a substantive reorientation of vernment policies. Moreover, four out of five people in developing countries are still denied the social protection guarantees that citizens take for granted in rich countries, which is why it is essential that these sophisticated systems of sharing are also dramatically scaled up and strengthened at the global level.

Yet the notion of a sharing society embodies far more than participatory democracy and the provision of universal social protection and essential public services. In accordance with the principle of sharing, private businesses would also need to substantially change the way they operate by at least ensuring that decision-making power and income is fairly distributed among employees. The current trend towards peer-to-peer modes of distributed manufacturing as well as cooperative, not-for-profit and socially-oriented business models are important steps in this direction. Additionally, corporations would need to go far beyond ‘greenwashing’ their activities and adopt genuinely ecological practices that can facilitate the transition to sustainable production and consumption patterns, and thereby help bring humanity closer to achieving the goal of ‘one planet living’.

A sharing society would also include a vibrant commons sector that could function independently of markets or direct government involvement. This is broadly in line with what P2P theorist Michel Bauwens refers to as the partner state – a reformed governmental apparatus that builds on the welfare state model and actively supports the development of the commons. Democratic and accountable state systems are also a prerequisite to managing the global commons which, in the first instance, will require representative governments to negotiate new commons-based legal frameworks to ensure that planetary resources are managed in the interests of current and future generations. Of course, entirely new structures of accountability are urgently needed if governments are to reflect the needs of their citizens in international negotiations, or if they are ever to agree a workable global agenda for safeguarding the Earth’s biosphere.

There can be little doubt that reforming governance at all levels of societal organisation is the key to establishing effective sharing societies. However, even though many of the governance reforms highlighted above are recognised as essential and unavoidable by a growing number of environmentalists and social activists, they remain virtually unattainable in the current political climate. As long as entrenched vested interests maintain their stranglehold over democratic processes, ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ will present an unprecedented challenge to engaged citizens in all countries.

Resilient and socially inclusive communities can clearly play an immediate role in the great transition that still lies ahead, but it will remain impossible to establish economic systems that are structurally just and truly sustainable until political power is radically decentralised – especially at the national and global level – and wealth is distributed more equally throughout society. By recognising the global roots of our local struggles, those working towards local alternatives to economic globalisation therefore have a central role to play in democratising our governance systems from the top down as well as the bottom up.

(full text with many hyper-links).

(Rajesh Makwana is the Director of Share The World’s Resources, based in London. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Rajesh, or visit Rajesh’s website: SHARE the World’s Resources STWR
Read also: Oxfam’s latest bombshell on how unequally the world’s wealth is shared, on SHARE the World’s Resources STWR, Jan 19, 2015).


Beware the Drug Companies, How they Deceive Us – Criticizing Big Pharma, on Global, by Dr. Gary G. Kohls, Feb 16, 2015: Pertinent Quotes from Marcia Angell, MD and Author Helen Epstein;

The ‘anti-ISIS’ Coalition of Deception, The Deceptive Nature of the War against the Islamic State, on Global (first on New Eastern Outlook), by Steven MacMillan, Feb 16, 2015;

Washington’s Prying Eyes, on ZNet (first on, by Kirsten Weld, Feb 16, 2015;

Links – Drowning job seekers, fuzzy asset prices, the trouble with real estate banking, on RWER Blog, by merijnknibbe, Feb 15, 2015;

Video: Observed in general – France, Germany, Kiev & rebels agree truce holding, 5.26 min, on Russia Today RT, Feb 15, 2015 … Donetsk officials say they will withdraw heavy weapons in accord with the timeline set by the Minsk deal …;
(my questions about Russian arms in Ukraine:
1): what amount is Kiev’s remaining armour still made out of Russia?*
2): since the beginning of this conflict Kiev’s soldiers fled with their tanks and equipment at the Russian border, in order NOT to fire on their fellow citizens … some have therefore been fired from their enforcement officers. Also Rebells captured directly amounts of Kiev’s material. Why NATO-obliged mainstream medias never speak about
See also Armed Forces of Ukraine on en.wikipedia; /Arms control and disarmament: … Ukraine has plentiful amounts of highly enriched uranium, which the United States wanted to buy from the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology … //* Ukraine and NATO estimate that 2.5 million tons of conventional ammunition was left in Ukraine as the Soviet military withdrew, as well as more than 7 million rifles, pistols, mortars and machine guns. The surplus weapons and ammunition were stored in over 180 military bases, including in bunkers, salt mines and in the open.[56] As of 2014, much of this surplus had not been scrapped …;

Trapped in a Narrative, on The Automatic Earth, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer, Feb 14, 2015;

The Historic Victory of Greek Left – What Now? uploaded on YouTube by LeftStreamed, Feb 14, 2015: Part 1/2, 51.36 min; Part 2/2, 39.57 min; (first on Socialist;

Video: Ruling Capital – Emerging Markets and the Reregulation of Cross-Border Finance, 20.26 min, on RWER Blog, by Kevin P. Gallagher, Feb 15, 2014;
(also on YouTube, uploaded by INET economics, Feb 14, 2015);

Radically Reshaping Latina/o America, on, by Ed Morales, Feb 13, 2015;

The Flourishing Cooperation of Moscow and Cairo, on New Eastern outlook NEO, by Yuriy Zinin, Feb 13, 2015;

Video: Rob Johnson at Davos, The Global Economy, Inequality, and the Humanity Behind Economics, 8.05 min, uploaded on YouTube by INET economics, Jan 27, 2015;

2014 – The Year Propaganda Came Of Age, on The Automatic Earth, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer, Dec 26, 2014;

21 SYMPTÔMES DE L’ÉVEIL SPIRITUEL, dans Jean-Baptiste Le Cocq (first in english by Laura Marie), le 20 février 2014: Je n’ai pas changé, je me suis juste réveillé / I didn’t change, I just woke up;

Video: Change the Rules of the Game, Gunter Pauli at TEDxMaastricht, 12.43 min, uploaded by TEDxMaastricht, Sept 6, 2013;

… and this:


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