Our current economic system, capitalism, is not sustainable due to the incentive structure that is deeply ingrained in it. Under capitalism, the maximization of profit is necessarily always the ultimate priority. It is necessary because if one does not maximize profit, one’s competition will, resulting in one’s bankruptcy sooner or later.
Of course, the maximization of profit is rarely – if ever – aligned with sustainability. It primarily incentivizes short-term gain and a linear economy. Naturally, this leads to anything that does not provide a potential profit to be disregarded – which most predominantly includes the sustainable coexistence with nature. It also brings with it the exploitation of marginalized groups and minorities, of employees and small business, as well as the extreme exploitation of other animals.
The nature of capitalism is such that capital is made from capital, which logically leads to a few people staying in power, while the wealth disparity and inequality keeps growing. Specifically, power refers to the influence over government. Through political representatives, the few can exercise control over the government by means of capital. Democracy – as in the people can exercise influence over governmental decisions through voting – has long since become an illusion, keeping the masses at bay.
This way, capitalism is both self-perpetuation (via corrupt government) and self-destructive (via disregard of – or rather actively working against – sustainability). This is of course extremely dangerous and cannot be allowed to persist – it is a system very akin to cancer as it involves growth for the sake of growth in disregard of its environment.
The solution can only be to remove the inherent proneness to corruption: political representatives. Without them, the few in power would no longer have leverage on ensuring the perpetuation of the system. A system that does not require representation does exist and is called direct democracy.
The implementation of direct democracy has become feasible only a few decades ago with the advent of the internet – a global network that allows for complex communication unrestricted by geography. With direct democracy in place, the people would finally be able to exercise true agency and start prioritizing issues that are actually crucially important to our civilization, as opposed to spending resources on increasing the efficiency of making people believe that they need to buy more sugar water or anything the like.
How to get there
Of course since the governments are corrupt and democracy is currently not much more than an illusion, any attempt to implement direct democracy from the top-down through government & voting would be rather pointless. Instead, it needs to be implemented from the bottom-up: It could start with groups of a handful of people practicing direct democracy, from there it would be adopted by small businesses, then communities, larger companies, local government, and ultimately national or global government.
To facilitate direct democracy, a software should be created that can be deployed anywhere, is decentralized, and provides both a platform for discussion and voting. Reddit serves as inspiration. Voting may be implemented based on blockchain technology.
Ultimately, the power is always with the majority.