A good friend of mine shared a link with me a couple of days ago,and I thought the class might be interested. It’s a video on Sacred Economics, a book by Charles Eisenstein. Looking around the world it is easy to see that the revolution of our economic system is a pretty popular topic today. Through books like Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy and social movements like Occupy Wall Street we are fighting back against an economic system that no longer fulfills all our needs. This video is another such entry in a long line of thinking on the subject, but it does have a few interesting pieces I would like to point out:
6:43 > “People desire to enact their gifts, and if they were free from money they would do it. But money is…is so often a barrier. People think oh I’d love to do this, but can I afford to do it. Is it practical? Money stops them.”
This is true and any economist will tell you that our economic system is designed to do just this, assuming your desire is no profitable in the classic sense. A capitalist economy, as it exists today, is meant to use a free market to allocate resources to the most profitable uses in society. But what happens when we simply define profit as money? We lose all those things we would consider social, moral, or ethical profit. We don’t build public goods, we don’t fix social cracks, and we don’t restore lost standards of equity. No, we simply pursue money in the inevitable cycle of growth.
8:18 > Peer-to-Peer financing, P2P revolution.
As a member of the social media generation I can’t possibly convey how enticing this idea is. From Limewire to Facebook my generation has found a whole new way to interact with one another. We have found a way to step outside the bounds of hierarchy to provide decentralized, spontaneous, and unique education, information, and interaction. The music industry perfectly illustrates how our new constraint of community directly attacks our old notions of freedom and individuality. These practices constantly come into legal battle with the legal system, and we can constantly feel the pressure of this clash.
But what if we expanded our new communal spheres? What if we moved beyond “illegal” downloads and sharing photos. What if we began providing services outside the mainstream economy? What if we created our own underground economy based on direct interaction between peers? These things already exist…just look at yard sales, FreeCycle, and any number of other ways people exchange their possessions or skills for those of another. This is not something so outlandish that we should not believe it possible…
10:20 > Part of our transition into adulthood is when the old world falls apart.
This is one area I usually have a problem with when it comes to these kinds of works. The world is heading for a crash, we will all suffer if we do not change, blah, blah, blah. Yes, the world needs change. But go back in time and it never fell apart before when it needed change. The world needed change when the U.S. and U.S.S.R. almost destroyed the entire world. It needed change when Hitler took over Europe. It needed change when the plague wiped out half of Europe. The world has always needed change, and it has always occurred.
I enjoy this perspective because it is not about the world falling apart. It is about humanity in a state of progression. Yes, we will face crises, but crises are part of life. We will learn from these tragedies, and we will be born anew into an era of social maturity. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I don’t see the point of being pessimistic. If we assume we will all perish at the hands of our own ignorance it will surely happen. But if we strive for a solution, if we do not give in to the norms that brought us here, if we continually push for evolution then there is no reason to believe we cannot survive this future.