As you probably know by now. I’m quite fascinated (and terrified from time to time as well) by the transformation of mankind and our consciousness which I choose to believe we are facing. Recently I came across the works of Charles Eisenstein (http://charleseisenstein.net) and more in particular his latest book Sacred Economics (http://charleseisenstein.net/books/sacred-economics/) Although I have some idea of how the “new world” would eventually look like, I am looking for clues as to how exactly we’ll get there. It’s clear to me that many of our current practices and institutions will no longer have an added value as they are grounded in an era that is coming to an end. I also found that I like talking about the transformation with both like and not-like minded but that it stays on a somewhat abstract academic level, suggesting that it’ll happen but we won’t notice it that much. Well, by now I’ve started to feel that we’ll notice it very clearly. All of us, as it is inevitable that our current practices, which include a certain way of thinking about ourselves, the world we live in, how we relate to that, our economy etc, will come to an end. Charles Eisenstein’s book Sacred Economics depicts a scenario of how it, or part of it, will come to this end.
The main point he makes is that our economy is driven by money and it is based on interest carrying debt, which necessitates perpetual growth. This has led our society to become (almost completely) monetized, which in its turn forms a natural limit to the possibilities for further economic growth. The system in his view: Banks create money in the form of interest bearing debt. In order to pay back the money a bank lends you (plus interest), you have to make more money. And banks will lend money to those who give them more in return. That’s called a solid business proposition. They won’t give money to people who don’t give it back to them because they would use it to clean up a piece of wasteland for instance. There’s no money in that.
From an individual viewpoint, making more money than you borrowed from the bank, may boil down to working a few extra hours to get some more work done, to find some more clients and/or to change something about what you’re offering (innovation). Nothing wrong with that, it’s how our parents got started and probably their parents as well. But from an aggregated standpoint it means that, as more money needs to be paid back than was borrowed (because of the interest), economic growth continuously needs to be realised. The easy way would be to just increase the price of the offering. But that’s called inflation and will not bring economic growth. So growth is realised by finding new markets for existing products and services and by inventing new products and services. Eventually, this has led to almost everything in our society being monetized. And everybody competing with everybody for scarce money. Our governments like that as they want everybody to engage in paid work as it increases the GDP and their budgets via a.o. sales, profit and labour taxes. But if everybody should be engaged in paid work (either as an employee or self-employed): what are they going to produce? What services and products are left that we need to become available at a price? What more of the commons can be taken away and resold to us? The rotation of the earth? Sunshine? Rain? The air that we breathe?
To me it’s clear that the current crises won’t go away and that they contribute to the money-based system coming to an end. I’m not saying that money will cease to exist altogether but that it can’t go on just like this. According to Eisenstein, a possible alternative for our current economic thinking is the concept of the Gift Economy. I’m not saying it provides the rough-and-ready answer to each and every problem around the world but I think the concept as such is worthwhile to think it over. Here’s a short video where Charles talks about Sacred Economics and the Gift Economy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEZkQv25uEs
Of course, even trying to move away from our current practices and systems is anything but a smooth ride as I touched upon in my novel as well. (www.geerthofman.com/glass-dome) There are so many parties having so many vested interests in maintaining the status quo. In another video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JKOcb3UygA) of a conversation between international economist, James Quilligan and Charles Eisenstein, Quilligan makes a very interesting point: everything in our current economic system revolves around money. Hence, suggesting it’s time for something else would involve such a radical systemic transformation that makes clear to me that it is extremely unlikely to happen in a gradual process. The old rules are becoming obsolete but new rules are not in place yet. As a practical experiment I asked the employee in the local baker’s shop today under what conditions I could get my bread without paying money. ‘For free?’ she asked. ‘No, not for free,’ I answered. I might offer something else in return, perhaps even just my gratitude. That was, understandably, too much for her and she ended the conversation laughingly by saying her boss would fire her if she start giving bread away for free. A clear point that de-monetizing our society requires a total systemic approach as there are soooo many strings attached. Or some kind of violent upheaval.
So, to sum it up (there’s more to come), what I find fascinating about Charles Eistenstein’s work is that he shows one of the main causes for our current endemic crises and a way towards our new world.
What are your thoughts about this? Let us know, OK?
All Love and Blessings,