ٍNational Mutual Fund of Albus-Second Edition
In 1980, I came to the conclusion that the dictatorship of all socialist countries, in one way or another, is related to the state ownership of the means of production, where the socialists, ever since Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, had assumed the *state* ownership to be the manifestation of *public* ownership, and had chosen state ownership as the cornerstone of all their economic systems, hoping that one day the state to wither away, and thus to arrive at a classless Communist ideal. I have explained this in details in Marxist Thought & Monism.
True that some communists had tried to recognize other forms of ownership in their respective countries, even some kinds of workers' self-management or employee ownership of some industries, but basically none of those solutions, had been able to offer an economic alternative to state ownership.
Moreover, many socialists tried hard to create mechanisms that state officials of socialist countries, not to act as owners of the means of production, and to become "true" representatives of the people. But such schemes even in the most advanced semi-socialist countries like Sweden had failed, let alone in China, Vietnam, or North Korea, and the state officials treat people as if *they* are the owners of what the state owns. I have discussed the fundamental problem that causes such efforts to fail in my paper entitled Is Socialism More just? and no need to discuss here.
For me, basically offering an economic alternative to state ownership, was an important part of my search. Even in 1980, in Tehran, when invited for formation of shorAyeh motahede chap, which was being formed as an alternative leftist organization distancing itself from Soviet Union, China, and other existing socialist countries, I still left the process of writing the program, because I had the fundamental difference with everyone because of opposing *state* ownership.
In other words, all socialists believed in state ownership as the main form of ownership, and it was being written into the program of the new organization, and I could not accept it. This is when I called myself *ayandeh-negar* in Tehran of 1980, not even knowing much about the futurist movement, and started searching beyond the existing capitalism and socialism.
In 1984, I ran across an article by James S. Albus entitled Robots and the Economy in the December issue of Futurist Magazine. Albus was discussing his proposal to end poverty in the U.S., from his book of 1976, entitled Peoples' Capitalism: The Economics of the Robot Revolution which is available from his site. His basic point was that only less than 5 percent of Americans received most of their income from ownership of capital stock and he wanted to change this reality.
Albus's basic concepts in his 1976 work, were to create "a National Mutual Fund [NMF] to invest in private industry.. and the investments to be financed by loans from the Federal Reserve Bank.. and every adult U.S. citizen to be given a share of the National Mutual Fund.. and thus each citizen would own a share of the means of production, ..and everyone would receive dividends based on profits earned on investment,. and within two decades, National Mutual Fund dividends could provide a livable income for all."
Albus worked very hard and self-published his book and beside "The Futurist" magazine, he only discussed it two technical journals. He himself is a Senior Fellow at the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) which is a prestigious technical body. Albus was neither related to any people's movements, nor was he recognized by any academic circles of economics, and his work was basically ignored by main stream economic journals and establishment.
Albus is a futurist and a very progressive individual, who had written on technical issues like Artificial Intelligence, as well as writing on political and human rights issues, for example about the topic of oil and human rights in Saudi Arabia. Albus's web site is a great source of diverse interesting writings.
In the subsequent years, I did not do any work on Albus's proposal. I only referred to it in my A Futurist Viewpoint, as one possible way to modify the Welfare system, to base it on non-governmental economic foundations.
My own work on social justice, took a different turn. I first wrote Intelligent Tools: The cornerstone of a New Civilization, where I discussed the significance of producing artificial intelligence, which made it possible to put an end to material basis of subjugation of human by human. Then I wrote a paper, A Theory of Uniqueness Value, arguing for a new way of looking at Classical Theory of Value in Economics, and summarized it in an article entitled Knowledge Economy & Social Justice, where I basically showed that in post-industrial economies, value is not determined by *average*, but is determined by the *best*, or what is perceived as best, and thus the issue of economic justice in the upcoming civilizations, is between peers of the new professions, and its solution cannot be found in the industrial production, between owners and non-owners of the means of production.
But work on the issue of ownership of means of production has continued, and the privatization projects in former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, and other countries are in reality efforts to search for an beyond state ownership and the importance of Albus's model is for starting to search for an alternative beyond state ownership. State ownership is a view that has stayed with most of Iranian political forces from Jebhe nationalists to leftists, and many monarchists and Islamists, whereas the new projects show that we do not have to choose the model of state ownership.
It is interesting that these ideas are being born by many, who have seen the damages of state ownership to democracy, both in Iran and elsewhere, and do not see the return to old socialist or capitalist solutions, and are looking beyond them, not just because they do not like the injustices related to those systems, which they don't, but because such a return will not work in a post-industrial economy. The world of global post-industrial society needs bold economic programs and those who think that futurists are advocating the old capitalist path, when rejecting state ownership, do not realize that this is not true, and we are looking beyond the solutions of the past.
If we thought like the liberals or social-democrats, then we would not say that we are looking beyond, and surely we would not say like Alvin Toffler that we have more questions than answers. The reality is that we are looking beyond industrial society, where in its capitalist form or socialist form, characterizing new ways of doing things in a post-industrial world, and those like Albus, who are not respected in established schools of right or left, are more of value to our thinking as futurists, than the repetition of capitalist and socialist solutions which are not working anymore.
Hoping for a Futurist, Federal, Democratic, and Secular Second Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
February 28, 2005