Work in a
Visualizing a sustainable society
Report Chapter 4, page 1 - 2 - 3
|4.1 The concept of sustainability||4.3 Test areas for change, a preliminary check list|
|Graph: The Iceberg Model of Unsustainable Development||4.4 Some features of international and global sustainability|
|4.2 Alternative Economic Principles||4.5 An illustration: roles for international organizations|
|Graph: An Alternative Economic Perspective|
|Preparatory papers, Chapter 4 discussion|
|Women and Work in a Sustainable Society. Maria Mies||Sustainable Growth and Employment. Hans Opschoor|
In the "Iceberg Model of Unsustainable Economics", unemployment may be understood as labor sinking below the water line into the invisible economy. The causal link between unemployment and rise in productivity may be understood not as less work; but as an increase in non-contract, unregistered, invisible, unprotected work. The layers making up that enormous invisible economy might be considered as built up in an order of increasing monetization, with contracted and wage labor exposed above the line. Although only a discussion model, the image captures many of the ways people commonly talk about their place in the economy, including the widespread expression of the dream to "rise to the top". Near the bottom of the iceberg are the "colonies". Both internal and external to a national economy, colonies may be defined by race, by gender, by nationalism in the distribution of resources. They exemplify the continuum of relationships based on violence, often with military oversight, which serve to extract resources for the benefit of powers outside the colony.
4.2 Alternative Economic Principles
This leads to the difficulty of visualizing a sustainable society as a working, positive, and inspiring concept, not a blueprint but a guiding principle to indicate the direction in which steps must be taken. Even this humble formulation must first admit that such a vision is not and should not be all encompassing. A comprehensive effort to deal with all elements of every level and type of society in all regions of the world at the same time would be self-defeating by definition. So the reader should consider the following diagram in terms of its intent: more as a colorful illustration to provoke other ways of thinking, rather than a formal and systematic investigation of concrete steps to take.
The consultation methodology put presently colonized and marginalized actors, activities and values into the core (center), because they are central to ensuring that life can go on in its regeneration and fullness. The existing Iceberg model shown above, topped by capital and submerging most of the worlds people and nature itself, cannot produce and regenerate life. If the preservation of life is made central (the life or subsistence perspective), all other dimensions, mechanisms, etc., must serve this goal. This core of life is not unlimited: efforts to expand and exploit it must recognize that happiness, freedom, justice, equality for all must be realized within these limits.
Peoples livelihood in a sustainable society will depend both on income from wage-labor/employment, and on other forms of work (including unpaid work), on regaining control of communal assets and on the solidarity of communities. In this context, the loss of wage-labor employment need not be catastrophic. Moreover, valuable, unpaid, necessary social labor can have prestige in the society when it is shared by men and women equally. Thus, moving from paid to unpaid work will not be a negative factor leading to social exclusion, depression, isolation and poverty. Nor will socially and environmentally destructive work be necessary to ensure employment, money income and thus livelihood for people.
Restoring local and regional community control of assets and resources can enhance better decision-making on the contradictory concerns for a healthy environment and the preservation of peoples work, employment and livelihood. Work and nature will no longer be antagonists.