intro’d to Charles here:
filmmaker – Ian MacKenzie
Charles on londonreal dec 2013:
The Most Important Message For A 20 Year Old (any age)
A New Story of the People: TEDxWhitechapel
Published on Feb 13, 2013
“Our hearts know that a more beautiful world is possible; but our minds do not know how it’s possible”. In this intelligent and inspiring talk, writer and visionary Charles Eisenstein explores how we can make the transition from the old story of separation, competition and self-interest to a new Story of the People.
Eisenstein graduated from Yale University in 1989 with a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy, and spent the next ten years as a Chinese-English translator. He currently lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with his wife and three sons.
we’ve tried everything possible – nothing has worked.. now it’s time to try the impossible.
A Pattern To The Maze
Published on Dec 19, 2013
Visit http://sustainableman.org to explore the world of sustainability.
we’re surrounded by signifiers of normality
sometimes we realize that all the things we’ve been doing are just contributing to the problem..
when he pauses…he begins to understand
he realizes there were other passages that he was running too fast to see..
maybe we need to stop..
let’s try trust..
a period of non-doing…
a letting go of our habitual responses..
there’s never nothing going on ness
Most of our ancestors didn’t use money very much, not for food, shelter, clothing, or entertainment. All these were done by people helping each other out in the family or extended family,..
The monetized realm has grown, converting nature into products and relationships into paid services until there’s almost nothing left to convert anymore, ..
We can’t cut down more forests or increase the fish catch. What’s less recognized is that the social space to convert relationships into services has almost reached its peak too. We pay for almost everything, even the most intimate things, like cooking meals. People hardly sing anymore — we pay for our entertainment. There’s almost no community left, community being a group of people who share gifts. You look at your neighbor driving out of his garage in his car and you might say hi, but behind that there’s a view that you don’t need each other.
Our economy cannot function without growth because most money is not printed by governments, as people usually imagine, but is instead loaned into existence by central banks and commercial lenders, who can loan out ten dollars or more for every dollar they’re required to have in their vaults. In effect, then, a lender creates new money with every loan.
And the whole point of making loans is to earn interest for the lender.
But for the borrower, interest obliges her to pay back more than she borrowed. And to earn the money to pay back the principal plus accumulated interest, the borrower will need to create goods and services. Multiply that out across the whole economy, and it becomes an imperative for economic growth.
So, since all national currencies, whether the dollar or the Euro or the Yuan, allow lenders to earn interest, the whole economy becomes addicted to economic growth. As long as we continue to let banks create our money through their loans, we’ll all have to keep creating more goods and services, thus despoiling the Earth and exploiting each other just to stay above water.
“The problem with money is this growth imperative that converts everything into itself. And we’re reaching the peak of that,” Eisenstein explained. “It’s not about ‘sustainable growth,’ which is an oxymoron. And it’s not about finding some way to keep the growth system working. It’s about reclaiming life from money. It doesn’t mean eliminating all money but instead taking back certain realms, the natural and social commons, away from money.”
And to do that, Eisenstein proposes a new-and-improved kind of money: negative-interest currency. Essentially, it would be money that spoils.
If enough localities opted out of the dollar zone by starting their own local currencies, then pretty soon Wall Street and Washington could just be talking to each other with nobody else listening. The rest of us would be too busy trying to keep our money circulating in our own towns.
2012 – non-growth as good rather than bad:
Sacred Economics explores avant-garde concepts of the New Economics, including negative-interest currencies, local currencies, resource-based economics, gift economies, and the restoration of the commons.
book links to amazon..
or read online here.
(a ton of) notes/highlights:
Money, it seems, animates people as well as machines. Without it we are dispirited.
And what is the sacred? It has two aspects: uniqueness and relatedness. A sacred object or being is one that is special, unique, one of a kind. It is therefore infinitely precious; it is irreplaceable. It has no equivalent, and thus no finite “value,” for value can only be determined by comparison. Money, like all kinds of measure, is a standard of comparison.
The presence of the sacred is like returning to a home that was always there and a truth that has always existed.
What is this “home that was always there,” this “truth that has always existed”? It is the truth of the unity or the connectedness of all things, and the feeling is that of participating in something greater than oneself, yet which also is oneself. In ecology, this is the principle of interdependence: that all beings depend for their survival on the web of other beings that surrounds them, ultimately extending out to encompass the entire planet. The extinction of any species diminishes our own wholeness, our own health, our own selves; something of our very being is lost.
Within every institution of our civilization, no matter how ugly or corrupt, there is the germ of something beautiful: the same note at a higher octave. Money is no exception. Its original purpose is simply to connect human gifts with human needs, so that we might all live in greater abundance. How instead money has come to generate scarcity rather than abundance, separation rather than connection, is one of the threads of this book.
Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe Me.”
Look what happens
with a love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.
Our lives are given us; therefore, our default state is gratitude. It is the truth of our existence.
Today’s economic system rewards selfishness and greed. What would an economic system look like that, like some ancient cultures, rewarded generosity instead?
Unlike a modern money transaction, which is closed and leaves no obligation, a gift transaction is open-ended, creating an ongoing tie between the participants.
Whereas money today embodies the principle, “More for me is less for you,” in a gift economy, more for you is also more for me because those who have give to those who need. Gifts cement the mystical realization of participation in something greater than oneself which, yet, is not separate from oneself. The axioms of rational self-interest change because the self has expanded to include something of the other.
At its core, money is a beautiful concept. Let me be very naive for a moment so as to reveal this core, this spiritual (if not historical) essence of money. I have something you need, and I wish to give it to you. So I do, and you feel grateful and desire to give something to me in return. But you don’t have anything I need right now. So instead you give me a token of your gratitude—a useless, pretty thing like a wampum necklace or a piece of silver. That token says, “I have met the needs of other people and earned their gratitude.” Later, when I receive a gift from someone else, I give them that token. Gifts can circulate across vast social distances, and I can receive from people to whom I have nothing to give while still fulfilling my desire to act from the gratitude those gifts inspire within me.
By facilitating trade, motivating efficient production, and allowing the accumulation of capital to undertake large-scale projects, money should enrich life: it should bestow upon us ease, leisure, freedom from anxiety, and an equitable distribution of wealth. Indeed, conventional economic theory predicts all of these results. The fact that money has become an agent of the opposite—anxiety, hardship, and polarization of wealth—presents us with a paradox.
If we are to have a world with technology, with cinema and symphony orchestras, with telecommunications and great architecture, with cosmopolitan cities and world literature, we need money, or something like it, as a way to coordinate human activity on the vast scale necessary to create such things.
Perhaps someday we won’t need money to have a gift economy on the scale of billions of humans; perhaps the money I shall describe in this book is transitional. I am not a “primitivist” who advocates the abandonment of civilization, of technology and culture, of the gifts that make us human. I foresee rather the restoration of humanity to a sacred estate, bearing all the wholeness and harmony with nature of the hunter-gatherer time, but at a higher level of organization. I foresee the fulfillment, and not the abdication, of the gifts of hand and mind that make us human.
Money utterly fails to connect gifts and needs. Why?
The war against evil imbues every institution of our society.
It says that once final victory over evil is won, we will enter paradise. When we eliminate all the terrorists or create an impenetrable barrier to them, we will be safe. When we develop an irresistible antibiotic and artificial regulation of body processes, we will have perfect health. When we make crime impossible and have a law to govern everything, we will have a perfect society. When you overcome your laziness, your compulsions, your addictions, you will have a perfect life. Until then, you are just going to have to try harder.
Clearly, the paradigm of greed is rife with judgment of others, and with self-judgment as well. Our self-righteous anger and hatred of the greedy harbor the secret fear that we are no better than they are. It is the hypocrite who is the most zealous in the persecution of evil. Externalizing the enemy gives expression to unresolved feelings of anger.
Ultimately, greed is a red herring, itself a symptom and not a cause of a deeper problem.
Greed makes sense in a context of scarcity.
But what if the assumption of scarcity is false—a projection of our ideology, and not the ultimate reality? If so, then greed is not written into our biology but is a mere symptom of the perception of scarcity.
An indication that greed reflects the perception rather than the reality of scarcity is that rich people tend to be less generous than poor people.
The wealthy perceive scarcity where there is none. They also worry more than anybody else about money. Could it be that money itself causes the perception of scarcity? Could it be that money, nearly synonymous with security, ironically brings the opposite? The answer to both these questions is yes. On the individual level, rich people have a lot more “invested” in their money and are less able to let go of it. (To let go easily reflects an attitude of abundance.) On the systemic level, as we shall see, scarcity is also built in to money, a direct result of the way it is created and circulated.
..an enormous proportion of this human activity is either superfluous or deleterious to human happiness. Consider first the armaments industry and the resources consumed in war: some $2 trillion dollars a year, a vast scientific establishment, and the life energy of millions of young people, all to serve no need except one we create ourselves.
Economics, it says on page one of textbooks, is the study of human behavior under conditions of scarcity.
Economic behavior, particularly the exchange of money for goods, extends today into realms that were never before the subject of money exchanges. ie: water, child care
For something to become an object of commerce, it must be made scarce first.
When everything is subject to money, then the scarcity of money makes everything scarce, including the basis of human life and happiness. Such is the life of the slave—one whose actions are compelled by threat to survival.
For the animal, child, or hunter-gatherer, time is essentially infinite. Today its monetization has subjected it, like the rest, to scarcity. Time is life. When we experience time as scarce, we experience life as short and poor.
If the material world is fundamentally an abundant world, all the more abundant is the spiritual world: the creations of the human mind—songs, stories, films, ideas, and everything else that goes by the name of intellectual property. Because in the digital age we can replicate and spread them at virtually no cost, artificial scarcity must be imposed upon them in order to keep them in the monetized realm. Industry and the government enforce scarcity through copyrights, patents, and encryption standards, allowing the holders of such property to profit from owning it.
We live in an abundant world, made otherwise through our perceptions, our culture, and our deep invisible stories.
..money is a social construction that we have the power to change.
Those reformers who advocate gold coinage as a way to return to the good old days of “real money” are trying to return to something that never existed, except perhaps for brief historical moments almost as an ideal. I believe that the next step in the evolution of human money will be not a return to an earlier form of currency, but its transformation from an unconscious to an intentional embodiment of our agreements.
Over 5,000 years, money has evolved from pure commodity, to a symbol riding upon a material, to pure symbol today. Sacred Economics seeks not to undo this evolution, but to fulfill it.
The purpose of this book is to tell a new story of money; to illuminate what new agreements we might embody within these fiduciary talismans, so that money is the ally, and not the enemy, of the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible.
Money depersonalizes a relationship, turning two people into mere “parties to an exchange” driven by the universal goal of maximizing self-interest. If I seek to maximize self-interest, perhaps at your expense, how can we be friends? And when in our highly monetized society we meet nearly all our needs with money, what personal gifts remain from which to build friendship?
I wonder what the effect would be on our spirituality if we gave up on the pursuit of a unitary, abstract goal that we believe to be the key to everything else. How would it feel to release the endless campaign to improve ourselves, to make progress toward a goal? What would it be like just to play instead, just to be? Like wealth, enlightenment is a goal that knows no limit, and in both cases the pursuit of it can enslave.
The solution is to restore money to its proper role. For indeed there are things that human beings can create only with money, or with some equivalent means of coordinating human activity on a mass scale. In its sacred form, money is the implement of a story, an embodied agreement that assigns roles and focuses intention.
The reason that no amount of money can ever be enough is that we use it to fulfill needs that money cannot actually fulfill. As such it is like any other addictive substance, temporarily dulling the pain of an unmet need while leaving the need unmet. Increasing doses are required to dull the pain, but no amount can ever be enough. Today people use money as a substitute for connection, for excitement, for self-respect, for freedom, and for much else. “
We buy and sell property, things that we own, things that we perceive as belonging to us.
Addictions to shopping, to money, and to acquisition arise from the same basic source as do addictions to food: both come from loneliness, from the pain of merely existing cut off from most of what we are.
The institution of property, therefore, is not the root of our present malady, but a symptom of our disconnection and isolation.
The urge to own diminishes as our sense of connectedness and gratitude grows, and we realize that our labor power is not our own, and what I make is not properly mine.
If property is robbery, then a legal system dedicated to the protection of private property rights is a system that perpetuates a crime.
We need an economic system that disallows profit-by-owning yet rewards the entrepreneur’s spirit that says, “I know a way to use it better,” and allows that spirit free rein.
“Trespassing” is not a concept; the land is open to all.
..how and why interest-bearing money, by nature, usurps the commons, ruins the planet, and reduces the vast majority of humanity to peonage.
Any intellectual creation .. draws on bits and pieces of the sea of culture around us, and from the fund of images, melodies, and ideas that are deeply imprinted upon the human psyche, or perhaps even innate to it.
Lewis Mumford puts it, “A patent is a device that enables one man to claim special financial rewards for being the last link in the complicated social process that produced the invention.”
By what right then can any one whatever appropriate the least morsel of this immense whole and say — This is mine, not yours? – Peter Kropotkin
Once habituated to intense stimulation, in its absence we get the withdrawal symptom we call boredom. We become dependent, and therefore must pay to acquire something that was once available simply by virtue of being alive.
The collective attention of the human race is a commons like the land or the air. Like them, it is a raw material of human creativity.
In general, the fine division of labor that accompanies technology has made us dependent on strangers for most of the things we use, and makes it unlikely that our neighbors depend on us for anything we produce. Economic ties thus become divorced from social ties, leaving us with little to offer our neighbors and little occasion to know them.
The monetization of social capital is the strip-mining of community.
In The Ascent of Humanity I wrote,
“We don’t really need each other.” … What better description could there be of the loss of community in today’s world? We don’t really need each other. We don’t need to know the person who grows, ships, and processes our food, makes our clothing, builds our house, creates our music, makes or fixes our car; we don’t even need to know the person who takes care of our babies while we are at work. We are dependent on the role, but only incidentally on the person fulfilling that role. Whatever it is, we can just pay someone to do it (or pay someone else to do it) as long as we have money. And how do we get money? By performing some other specialized role that, more likely than not, amounts to someone paying us to do something for them…
In our house-boxes, we are self-sufficient. Or rather, we are self-sufficient in relation to the people we know but dependent as never before on total strangers living thousands of miles away.
Consumption calls upon no one’s gifts, calls forth none of anyone’s true being. Community and intimacy cannot come from joint consumption, but only from giving and cocreativity.
When I ask people what is missing most from their lives, the most common answer is “community.” But how can we build community when its building blocks-the things we do for each other-have all been converted into money?
The community of the future will arise from the needs that money inherently cannot meet.
Today, one rarely finds groups of kids roaming around, when every bit of land is fenced and marked with no-trespassing signs, when society is obsessed with safety, and when children are over-scheduled and driven to perform. Technology and culture have robbed children of something they deeply need-and then, in the form of video games, sold it back to them.
If I babysit your children for free, economists don’t count it as a service or add it to GDP. It cannot be used to pay a financial debt; nor can I go to the supermarket and say, “I watched my neighbors’ kids this morning, so please give me food.” But if I open a day care center and charge you money, I have created a “service.” GDP rises and, according to economists, society has become wealthier. I have grown the economy and raised the world’s level of goodness. “Goods” are those things you pay money for. Money = Good. That has been the equation of our time.
Similarly, if I create a new song and share it for free, GDP does not go up and society is not considered wealthier, but if I copyright it and sell it, it becomes a good.
But all this efficiency has neither given us more leisure nor met any fundamentally new need. The efficiency ends up meeting the old needs in endless, obscene elaboration, eventually reaching the extreme of closets full of clothes and shoes that are barely worn before entering the landfill.
I described this in a somewhat broader context in The Ascent of Humanity:
To introduce consumerism to a previously isolated culture it is first necessary to destroy its sense of identity. Here’s how: Disrupt its networks of reciprocity by introducing consumer items from the outside. Erode its self-esteem with glamorous images of the West. Demean its mythologies through missionary work and scientific education. Dismantle its traditional ways of transmitting local knowledge by introducing schooling with outside curricula. Destroy its language by providing that schooling in English or another national or world language. Truncate its ties to the land by importing cheap food to make local agriculture uneconomic. Then you will have created a people hungry for the right sneaker.
The money system we have inherited will always compel us to choose growth over leisure.
Our need for food, music, stories, medicine, and so forth may be no more satisfied than in the Stone Age, but we can, for the first time, create things that require the coordinated efforts of millions of specialists around the globe. Money has facilitated the development of a metahuman organism of seven billion cells, the collective body of the human species. It is like a signaling molecule, coordinating the contributions of individuals and organizations toward purposes that no smaller grouping could ever achieve.
We are maturing. Perhaps we are about to turn our newfound creative power of billions towards its mature purpose. Perhaps, accordingly, we need a different kind of money, one that continues to coordinate the vastly complex metahuman organism but no longer compels it to grow.
Someone should not benefit from merely owning what existed before ownership, and money today is the embodiment of all that existed before ownership, the distilled essence of property.
As people become aware that merely living in society means contributing to the evils of the world, they often go through a phase of desiring to find a completely isolated and self-sufficient intentional community — but what good does that do, while Rome burns? So what, if you are not contributing your little part to the pollution that is overwhelming the earth? It proceeds apace whether you live in the forest and eat roots and berries or in a suburb and eat food trucked in from California. (9) The desire for personal exculpation from the sins of society is a kind of fetish, akin to solar panels on a 4,000-square-foot house.
The true culprit, the true puppet-master that manipulates our elites from behind the scenes, is the money system itself: a credit-based, interest-driven system that arises from the ancient, rising tide of separation; that generates competition, polarization, and greed; that compels endless exponential growth; and, most importantly, that is coming to an end in our time as the fuel for that growth-social, natural, cultural, and spiritual capital-runs out.
Completing the vicious circle, the more of life we convert into money, the more we need money to live. Usury, not money, is the proverbial root of all evil.
The problems start with interest.
The former debtor has little choice but to go into debt again. Bankruptcies are a mere hiccup in the concentration of wealth.
In the old days, military power and forced tribute were the instruments of empire; today it is debt. Debt forces nations and individuals to devote their productivity toward money. Individuals compromise their dreams and work at jobs to keep up with their debts.
Haiti has been in debt since 1825, when it was forced to compensate France for the property (i.e., slaves) lost in the slave revolt of 1804. When will it pay off its debt? Never. (11) When will any of the Third World pay off its debt and devote its productivity to its own people? Never. When will most of you pay off your student loans, credit cards, and mortgages? Never.
Nonetheless, whether on the sovereign or personal level, the time of debt repudiation may be closer than we think. The legitimacy of the status quo is wearing thin, and when just a few debtors repudiate their debt, the rest will follow suit. There is even a sound legal basis for repudiation: the principle of odious debt, which says that fraudulently incurred debts are invalid. Nations can dispute debts incurred by dictators who colluded with lenders to enrich themselves and their cronies and built useless megaprojects that didn’t serve the nation. Individuals can dispute consumer and mortgage loans sold them through deceptive lending practices. Perhaps a time is soon coming when we will shake off our burdens.
Lynn Twist is a visionary philanthropist who has inspired many to use money for good. But can you imagine how these words might sound to someone who is destitute for want of money? When I was broke a couple years ago, I remember feeling annoyed at well-meaning spiritual friends who told me my problem was “an attitude of scarcity.” When the economy of an entire country like Latvia or Greece collapses and millions go bankrupt, shall we blame it all on their attitudes? What about poor, hungry children-do they have scarcity mentality too?
..we can’t just change our attitudes about money; we must change money too, which after all is the embodiment of our attitudes. Ultimately, work on self is inseparable from work in the world.
Really the only security is to be found in community: the gratitude, connections, and support of the people around you.
In the meantime, before the collapse of the current system, anything we do to protect some natural or social resource from conversion into money will both hasten the collapse and mitigate its severity. Any forest you save from development, any road you stop, any cooperative playgroup you establish; anyone you teach to heal themselves, or to build their own house, cook their own food, or make their own clothes; any wealth you create or add to the public domain; anything you render off-limits to the world-devouring Machine will help shorten the Machine’s life span. And when the money system collapses, if you already do not depend on money for some portion of life’s necessities and pleasures, then the collapse of money will pose much less of a harsh transition for you.
It is becoming abundantly obvious that less for you (in all its dimensions) is also less for me. The ideology of perpetual gain has brought us to a state of poverty so destitute that we are gasping for air. That ideology, and the civilization built upon it, is what is collapsing today.
Expect a zero or negative financial return on your investment-that is a good sign that you are not unintentionally converting even more of the world to money. Whether or not you have money to invest, you can also reclaim what was sold away by taking steps out the money economy. Anything you learn to do for yourself or for other people, without paying for it; any utilization of recycled or discarded materials; anything you make instead of buy, give instead of sell; any new skill or new song or new art you teach yourself or another will reduce the dominion of money and grow a gift economy to sustain us through the coming transition.
The authorities hoped that by controlling the public perception of reality, they could control reality itself..
It is said that our children and grandchildren will be paying these bailout and stimulus debts, but they could also simply be declared into nonexistence. They are only as real as the story we agree on that contains them. Our grandchildren will pay them only if the story, the system of meanings, that defines those debts still exists. But I think more and more people sense that the federal debt, the U.S. foreign debt, and a lot of our private mortgage and credit card debts will never be repaid.
They are an attempt to uphold the magical power of the voodoo chits that keep the college grad on a career path and the middle-aged man enslaved to his mortgage-that give the power to a few to move literal mountains while keeping the many in chains.
To mollify them and keep them docile and stupid, the masses are provided with bread and circuses: cheap food, cheap thrills, celebrity news, and the Super Bowl.
what is money – Physically, it is now next to nothing. Socially, it is next to everything: the primary agent for the coordination of human activity and the focusing of collective human intention.
The normalcy we took as normal was unsustainable.
From the moon, the Earth is so small and so fragile, and such a precious little spot in that Universe, that you can block it out with your thumb. Then you realize that on that spot, that little blue and white thing, is everything that means anything to you – astronaut Rusty Schweickart
The second hallmark of the transition to adulthood is an ordeal. Ancient tribal cultures had various coming-of-age ceremonies and ordeals that purposely shattered the smaller identity through isolation, pain, fasting, psychedelic plants, or other means, and then rebuilt and reincorporated it into a larger, transpersonal identity. Though we intuitively seek them out in the form of drinking, drugs, fraternity and military hazing, and so on, modern men and women usually have only a partial experience of this process, leaving us in a kind of perpetual adolescence that ends only when fate intervenes to tear our world apart. Then we can enter a wider self, in which giving comes just as naturally as receiving. Having completed the passage to adulthood, a man or woman takes full possession of his or her gifts and seeks to contribute to the good of all as a full member of the tribe.
? – or do we see the drugs, drinking, fraternity, … because compuslory school has kept us from a natural state.. and they are literally an escape… nothing to do with passage.. but rather a manmade passage/protection/numbing.. in order to deal with the manmade coercion of mind/hear/soul.. ?
what if I give and receive nothing in return? This desire of an assurance of return, a compensation for the risk of generosity, is the fundamental mind-set of interest, an adolescent mind-set to be superseded by a more expansive adult self that has matured into full membership in the community of being. We are here to express our gifts; it is among our deepest desires, and we cannot be fully alive otherwise.
Many of us have gifts that would contribute to all of these things, yet no one will pay us to give them. That’s because money as we know it ultimately rests on converting the public into the private. The new money will encourage the opposite, and the conflict between our ideals and practical financial reality will end.
Usury-money is the money of growth, and it was perfect for humanity’s growth stage on earth and for the story of Ascent, of dominance and mastery. The next stage is one of cocreative partnership with earth. The Story of the People for this new stage is coming together right now. Its weavers are the visionaries of fields like permaculture, holistic medicine, renewable energy, mycoremediation, local currencies, restorative justice, attachment parenting, and a million more. To undo the damage that the Age of Usury has wrought on nature, culture, health, and spirit will require all the gifts that make us human, and indeed is so impossibly demanding that it will take those gifts to a new level of development.
The mind likes cynicism, its comfort and safety, and hesitates to believe anything extraordinary, but the heart urges otherwise; it urges us to beauty, and only by heeding its call can we dare create a new Story of the People.
..we dig gold ore out of the ground, transport it, refine it, and eventually put it into other holes in the ground called vaults. This effort, and the scarcity of gold, is one (very haphazard) way to regulate the money supply, but why not regulate it through purposeful social and political agreements, or through some more organic process, and save all that hole digging?
“The use of any thing for money will increase the supply of that thing.” ..What if money were “backed” by clean water, unpolluted air, healthy ecosystems, and the cultural commons? Is there a way to encourage the creation of more and more of these in the same way that the social agreement of gold’s value drives us to mine more and more of it?
But from the perspective of the connected self, connected to other people and to the earth, your well-being is inseparable from my own because you and I are not fundamentally separate.
I do not think that a sacred economics can start with ownership as an elemental property because that conception buys into a worldview, a story of self and world, that is not true, or that is true no longer—the discrete and separate self in an objective universe. So instead of saying, as a Marxist might, that the bequest of nature and culture should be collectively owned, let us cease applying the concept of property to these things altogether and think instead of how to justly, creatively, and beautifully embody their value in an economic system.
To be sure, governments today use regulations and taxes to halt or slow the consumption of certain parts of the commons, but never yet have we gotten together to ask, “How much is enough?”
Either way, producers would have a financial incentive to minimize their use of the commons. No such incentive exists today, or if it does, it exists only haphazardly. This system would fully internalize social and ecological costs. Today, when a mining company drains an aquifer or a trawling fleet depletes a fishery, the costs to society and the planet are external to the producer’s own balance sheet. With this system, that is no longer true. Since these costs would be passed onto downstream industries and eventually to consumers, consumers would no longer face today’s dilemma that the cheapest products are those that cause the most social and environmental damage, while the fair-trade and eco-friendly products are way more expensive. Instead, products that avoided pollution in their manufacture would be cheaper because pollution quotas would cost a lot of money. Products would be more expensive in proportion to the amount of the natural commons consumed in their production.
From the user’s perspective, it is nothing more than a shift of taxation away from sales and income and toward raw materials and pollution. Private producers would have to pay for things that are now “free”—free to them at least. You might see this as a form of indirect taxation, but another way to look at it is that producers are simply paying for the things they take from the commons, the things they take from us all.
The money system I am describing in this chapter reverses income tax, shifting taxes away from what you earn and onto what you take. The next chapter describes a similar reversal of sales tax, shifting costs away from spending and onto hoarding.
The same goes for the electromagnetic spectrum, the minerals under the earth, the genome, and the accumulated fund of human knowledge. These should be available for rent, not ownership, and the rents should go to the public.
access to resources would be based not on prior ownership but on most effective use. There would be no more profiting from “I own and you don’t.”
The most important commons, the land, is also inherently a local commons—in fact, land provides the very definition of “local.” Overall, basing money on the commons entails a general devolution of financial and ultimately political authority to the local level. ….
Since so much of the commons—land, watersheds, minerals, some fisheries, and the capacity of the ecosystem to handle many types of pollution—is local, the money system I describe corresponds to a shift in political power away from centralized governments. Local governments will have the power to issue money backed by real wealth.
a person at least owns his or her own time, labor, and life. After all, we are born with nothing else, and shall return to the grave with not even that. If anything, our lives are our own. Shouldn’t individuals, then, be able to issue money or obtain credit “backed” by the their own productive resources?
Major Douglas went even farther by advocating a social dividend to be paid to all citizens.
even if you issue an IOU to a friend, and your friend gives it to another friend in lieu of cash, you are increasing the money supply.
The reason is quite simple: much of the natural commonwealth that is used as the basis for private credit creation today would become public. No longer, for example, would a company be able to take out a business loan based on projected future revenues from depleting an aquifer. The future costs of that depletion will have been internalized and returned to the public via use-rights payments. There might still be opportunity to profit, however—for example, if someone finds a more efficient or productive use of the same amount of water. Such things are a legitimate basis for private credit creation; what is illegitimate is to create money by taking something that should belong to all.
The situation will be analogous to what happens when a nation such as Venezuela or Bolivia nationalizes its oil fields. Foreign producers can still operate the fields, but they profit only from the service of extracting the oil and not from ownership of the oil itself. That part of the profit goes to the nation. What happens to that money depends on politics—it could go to a coterie of corrupt officials, or it could go to public works projects, or it could be paid directly to the people as a kind of royalty (as in Alaska, where each resident gets an annual payment of several thousand dollars). Extended beyond oil to the entire commons, this makes enormous amounts of money available to various levels of government, especially at the local and bioregional level, replacing current forms of taxation.
Goods would become more expensive in comparison to services, providing an economic incentive for repairing, reusing, and recycling. Gone would be the skewed economics that makes it cheaper to buy a new television set than repair an old one.
A new business model (emerging already in some industries) would blossom: extremely durable, easily repairable machines that are leased rather than sold to consumers.
because then they stay with the experts that can ongoingly remix/repair et al..
War is an unavoidable accompaniment to an economic system that demands growth. Whether through the colonization of lands or the subjugation of peoples, we have a constant need to access new sources of social and natural capital to feed the money machine. Wars also increase consumption, alleviating the crisis of overcapacity described earlier. Competition for resources and markets was thus a primary driver of the wars of the twentieth century, both among the great powers, and against anyone who resisted colonization and imperialism. Limiting resource consumption is one of the pillars of a steady-state or degrowth economy, which short-circuits this primary driving force for war and frees up vast resources to turn toward the goal of healing the planet.
I have described a new story of value and how to embody it in money but so far left untouched its compulsion, which is independent of the story of value, to drive either growth or concentration of wealth (or both). Is it possible to treat money as a commons in the same way as the land or the atmosphere? Is it possible to reverse the mechanism of interest, which, like the expropriation of the commons, allows those who own it to profit by its mere ownership? It is to this crucial matter we turn next.
In a world where the things we need and use go bad, sharing comes naturally. The hoarder ends up sitting alone atop a pile of stale bread, rusty tools, and spoiled fruit, and no one wants to help him, for he has helped no one. Money today, however, is not like bread, fruit, or indeed any natural object.
“What has gone wrong with this beautiful idea called money, which can connect human gifts and human needs?” comes down in large part to interest, to usury. But usury itself is not some isolated phenomenon that could have been different if only we’d made a wiser choice somewhere down the line. It is irrefrangibly bound to our sense of self, the separate self in an objective universe, whose evolution parallels the evolution of money. It is no accident that the first highly monetized society, ancient Greece, was also the birthplace of the modern concept of the individual.
a money that, like bread, becomes less valuable over time. It would be money, in other words, that decays—money that is subject to a negative interest rate, also known as a demurrage charge. (1) Decaying currency is one of the central ideas of this book, but before I lay out its history, application, economic theory, and consequences, I would like to say a bit about the term “decay,” which I have been advised to avoid due to its negative connotations.
ha. detox ness.
Why does “decay” seem negative, and “preservation” a virtue?
Silvio Gesell – free money:
Only money that goes out of date like a newspaper, rots like potatoes, rusts like iron, evaporates like ether, is capable of standing the test as an instrument for the exchange of potatoes, newspapers, iron, and ether. For such money is not preferred to goods either by the purchaser or the seller. We then part with our goods for money only because we need the money as a means of exchange, not because we expect an advantage from possession of the money. (6)
But today, as in Gesell’s time, money is preferred to goods. The ability to withhold the medium of exchange allows money holders to charge interest; they occupy a privileged position compared to holders of real capital (and even more so to those who sell their time, 100 percent of which disappears each day it goes unsold). The result is an increasing polarization of wealth because everyone essentially pays a tribute to the owners of money.
credentialing has become our money – we assume others prefer it over our actual learning/doing/being..
A corollary to Gesell’s point is that it is unfair for us to pay simply for the means to make exchanges. Gesell believed that the simple desire to make an exchange should be enough. If I have something to offer that you need, why should we have to pay for the means to give and receive it? Why should you have to pay for the privilege of receiving a gift? This is one of the ways in which Gesell’s money deserves the moniker “free.” As we shall see, a credit system based on depreciating currency allows zero-interest loans. While we must still repay loans, no longer must we pay for them. In that sense, money becomes free.
The following year, the depressed town of Wörgl, Austria, issued its own stamp scrip inspired by Gesell and the success of the wara. The Wörgl currency was by all accounts a huge success.(10) Roads were paved, bridges built, and back taxes were paid. The unemployment rate plummeted and the economy thrived, attracting the attention of nearby towns. Mayors and officials from all over the world began to visit Wörgl until, as in Germany, the central government abolished the Wörgl currency and the town slipped back into depression.
Instead of generating interest and growing, accumulation of wealth became a burden, much like possessions are a burden to the nomadic hunter-gatherer.
It feels strange to say that money is a key part of the more beautiful world my heart tells me is possible, because money has long been repellant to me as an obvious cause of so much ruin and evil.
However, our repugnance toward money is based on what money has been, not on what it could be.
Negative-interest money, backed by things that are sacred, in an ecological economy, turns the intuitions of the Age of Usury on their head. It is utterly revolutionary, fundamentally altering the human experience. This transformation reverberates across all levels, from outer to inner, from the economic to the spiritual.
The internalization of external costs works synergistically with decaying currency to make money a force for good.
Is it really our nature to consume and over-consume without thought for other people, other beings, or our own future? No. The ancient Greeks, not given to overly charitable views of human nature, had it right. As Aristophanes said, in all things—bread, wine, sex, and so on—there is satiety. Our needs are limited, and when we have fulfilled them, we turn to other things and are moved to generosity. “But of money, there is no satiety.”
It is not the propensity to consume that bears no limit; to the contrary, limitless desire arises with money. After attaining a surfeit of consumables, people covet money itself, not what it can buy, and this desire has no limit.
In today’s system, it is much better to have a thousand dollars than it is for ten people to owe you a hundred dollars. In a negative-interest system, unless you need to spend the money right now, the opposite is true. Since money decays with time, if I have money I’m not using, I am happy to lend it to you, just as if I had more bread than I could eat. If I need some in the future, I can call in my obligations or create new ones with anyone within my network who has more money than he or she immediately needs.
As with decaying money, it was much better to have lots of people “owe you one” than it was to have a big pile of rotting meat, or even of dried jerky that had to be transported or secured. Why would you even want to, when your community is as generous to you as you are to it? Security came from sharing.
As a member of the Pirahã tribe explained it when questioned about food storage, “I store meat in the belly of my brother.”
Status was not associated with the accumulation of money or possessions, but rather with a huge responsibility for generosity. Can you imagine a society where the greatest prestige, power, and leadership accord to those with the greatest inclination and capacity to give?
I find negative interest to be quite natural. If I loan money to a friend, and she doesn’t pay me back, eventually I want to say, “Forget about it—I don’t want to hold this over your head forever.” I don’t want to hold on to old things, old debts. A negative-interest money system reinforces this salutary tendency, native to all of us, to let go, release the past, and move on.
I have long been impatient with “sustainability,” as if that were an end in itself. Isn’t it more important to think about what we want to sustain, and therefore what we want to create? Many beautiful, necessary things are not sustainable: pregnancy, for example. I am heartened by the recent shift of thinking away from sustainability and toward transition. What we are transitioning to will be far more sustainable than our current way of life, but that is not the ultimate goal, just as the ultimate goal of life is not merely to stay alive.
We caught a glimpse of a more beautiful world, so close. The hippies saw it and lived it for a few shining moments, but the old stories were too strong. Instead of the hippies pulling us all into a new world, we dragged them back into ours.
With more vibrant public spaces, people also have less need to live in huge private spaces.
city as school ness
What is happening is that the business model that has worked for all human history (find something people do for themselves or each other in a gift economy, take it away from them, and then sell it back) is being reversed. The internet is allowing people once again to do things for themselves and each other without paying for it. Eric Reasons comments,
Maybe the reason we’re having such a hard time finding out ways to monetize various internet services like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, is that they can’t be monetized … or at least not at replacement rates to the industries and services that they’re supplanting. This is exactly what the print media is finding out the hard way as it tries to shift to an online model. (6)
The internet is a participatory gift economy, a P2P network in which there is no consistent distinction between a producer and a consumer.
The key difference is that we won’t rely on technological improvements in efficiency alone to enable greater leisure. The key is degrowth, not efficiency. It seems very counterintuitive: that degrowth–economic recession–will be what ushers in true affluence for the many.
For centuries, futurists have predicted an imminent age of leisure. Why has it never happened?
The reason is that, at every opportunity, we have chosen to produce more rather than to work less. We have been helpless to choose otherwise. Under the current system, growth in leisure is impossible without some kind of wealth redistribution.
Herein lies a much deeper source of our anxiety: not that we will be replaced by machines, but that we will become machines, that we will live and work like machines.
The goal of a compassionate economy, therefore, is not to provide “jobs,” as most liberal politicians seem to think. Once work has become mechanical, it is in a sense too late — inhuman work might as well be done by machines. I cannot help but remark on the inanity of economic programs that seek to make more “jobs,” as if we needed more goods and more services. Why do we want to create more jobs? It is so people have money to live. For that purpose, they might as well dig holes in the ground and fill them up again, as Keynes famously quipped. Present economic policies attempt just that: witness the current efforts to reignite housing construction at a time when there are 19 million vacant housing units in the United States! (3) Wouldn’t it be better to pay people to do nothing at all, and free up their creative energy to meet the urgent needs of the world?
The scarcity of time is one reason we overconsume, attempting to compensate for the loss of this most primal of all wealth. Time is life. To be truly rich is to have sovereignty over our own time.
Somehow, despite centuries of labor-saving technologies, we have no more leisure than did hunter-gatherers, Neolithic villagers, or Medieval peasants. The reason is the overproduction and overconsumption of those things that technology can produce and the underproduction and underconsumption of those things it cannot.
We should not need to work very much to procure the physical necessities of life: food, clothing, and shelter. Certainly we should have to work no more than the average twenty hours that the Kalahari aborigines spent on subsistence, in a harsh desert with Stone Age tools, in 1970.
social dividend I have described, which exists today in dilute form as stimulus checks, tax credits, welfare payments, and so forth. This gives people the economic freedom to pursue activities that no one will hire them to do (because they won’t generate income for an employer) and that produce nothing salable.
At stake are two competing visions of human nature, and therefore two visions of how to run society. One says, “Free people from economic exigency, and they will do beautiful work.” The other says, “Provide beautiful work, and use economic exigency to induce people to do it.” The first trusts people’s natural desire to create and their capacity to self-organize; the second puts the decision of how to allocate human labor into the hands of policy makers.
If you find yourself being lazy, procrastinating, doing slipshod work, showing up late, not concentrating, and so on, then perhaps the problem isn’t your character after all: perhaps it is a soul’s rebellion against work that you don’t really want to do.
In the absence of the coercive mechanism of “making a living,” there would be little market for degrading or tedious jobs.
We do not need financial incentives to work, and in fact we do our best work when money is not an issue. (9) What would the world be like if people were supported in doing the beautiful things they must struggle against economic necessity to do today?
What would you do, freed from slavery to money?
Underneath the substitute lives we are paid to live, there is a real life, your life.
I want to be able to look every man and woman in the eye, knowing that I do not benefit from their indignity.
The evolution of trash collection will be different in its details from the evolution of factory work, janitorial services, supermarket cashier work, or any of the often unpleasant and degrading occupations that make the world go ’round today. Each will be reduced or eliminated in a different way. Small, multicrop farms eliminate much of the drudgery of stoop labor. Small inns, bread-and-breakfasts, and couch-surfing reduce the need for professional hotel maids….
Lacking community, we suffer a painful deficit of being, for it is these multidimensional ties that define who we are and expand us beyond the miserable, lonely, separate ego, the “bubble of psychology in a prison of flesh.” We yearn to restore our lost connections, our lost being.
local economy – Not only does it entail less energy consumption, it also makes the social and ecological consequences of economic decisions harder to ignore.
local currency – But eventually they get burned out, the novelty factor wears off, and people stop using it. According to one study, as of 2005 some 80 percent of all local currencies launched since 1991 were defunct.
In our atomized society, the traditional ways of knowing who has what to offer have broken down, and commercial means of disseminating this information (such as advertising) are accessible only with money. Time banks connect individuals who would otherwise be oblivious to the needs and gifts each can offer. As one time bank user puts it,
Everyone has a skill-some might surprise you. An elderly shut-in who doesn’t drive can make beautiful wedding cakes. A woman in a wheelchair who needs her house painted used to train police dogs and now provides puppy training. The retired school-teacher who needs her leaves raked has a kiln and is teaching ceramics. A common question when we meet each other is, “What do you do?” “What do you need?” or “What can I do for you?” (9)
In any mutual-credit system, members have access to credit without the involvement of a bank. Instead of paying money to use money, as in an interest-based credit system, credit is a free social good available to all who have earned the trust of the community.
And since political sovereignty is worth little in the absence of monetary sovereignty, reasserting local, regional, and (in the case of small countries) national control over credit is an important path toward the relocalization of economy, culture, and life.
Ultimately, what economics attempts to measure, underneath money, is the totality of all that human beings make and do for each other.
That we should even attempt to measure this at all is quite odd.
Of all the things that human beings make and do for each other, it is the unquantifiable ones that contribute most to human happiness. You might, for instance, quantify leisure time and assign it a dollar value to calculate a society’s well-being, but how is that leisure time spent? It could be spent mired in an addiction, in mindless entertainment, in intimacy with another person, or in telling stories to children. And even if we somehow accounted for these distinctions, could we quantify how present someone is when they are telling those stories? Can we quantify how anxious someone is when at work? If public policy is guided by the maximization of a quantity — be it GDP or some other measure — the most important things will surely be left out.
To meet our unquantifiable needs, we need nonmonetary circulation. When the qualitative is matched with the quantitative, the infinite to the finite, then the former is debased. The exchange of beauty for money, intimacy for money, attention for money — all smell of prostitution.
Timothy Wilken, a medical doctor, philosopher, and gift-economy activist, has taken this idea a step further in his GIFTegrity system, currently in beta. It asks each member to provide a profile listing what he or she wishes to give and to receive. The recipient of a gift rates the transaction, and these ratings determine the order in which potential recipients of one’s gifts will be listed. If you have given a lot, your name will be near the top when someone is searching for a recipient of the gift he wants to offer. If you then receive a gift, your rating will drop a bit to reflect that your giving and receiving have moved closer into balance. These ratings points act very much like money.
Of course, they are superior to today’s usury-based money; but this kind of technocratic alternative, however brilliant, doesn’t speak to what has been lost in our quantification of the world. We want to recover the infinite. Ratings and points don’t meet our deep need for the personal ties, gratitude, and multidimensional stories that circulate in gift culture.
the deeper problem remains that money by nature can operate only in the realm of the quantifiable
One of my favorites is the Gift Circle, developed by Alpha Lo and now replicating itself around the country. In this weekly gathering, participants state one or more things they would like to give and one or more things they would like to receive. Often, it seems, a magical synchronicity of wants and needs unfolds. “You need a potato masher? We have three.” Or, “You need a ride to the airport on Friday? My husband is flying out then, too.” Witnessing the generosity of others, over time participants feel more and more comfortable asking of and giving to others in the circle.
When this is done on a large scale, the means of fulfilling these functions looks more and more like money. Without personal familiarity with what is being given and received, some means of standardization becomes necessary. On a small scale, though, merely witnessing the flow of gifts, whether directly or via the medium of stories, suffices. Without that witnessing, gifts are less potent in creating community. This is the flaw in such systems as Freecycling and Craigslist (although the fact that people use these at all testifies to our innate generosity). Newer systems such as Giftflow, Neighborgoods, Shareable, GIFTegrity, and many others recognize and remedy this flaw.
This vision involves a fundamental reorganization of society: bottom-up, peer-to-peer, autopoietic, self-organizing.
In the metahuman body we call society, money is like a signaling molecule that directs resources to where they are needed. It mediates economic relationships among our collective body’s far-flung parts. It is one of many symbolic systems that defines and coordinates our “organs”: governments, institutions, and organizations of all types. Unfortunately, money conveys only certain kinds of information (mostly about quantifiable gifts, needs, and desires). To achieve health, we therefore need other ways of “organ”-izing and coordinating human activity.
There is today an explosion of innovation in creating decentralized, nonhierarchical modes of collaboration and ownership. ….Perhaps the most notable of these is the Mondragon Cooperative in Spain, comprising over 250 companies and some 90,000 employee/owners, making it one of Spain’s largest companies. ….participatory democracy.
In creating new modes of organization that can accommodate the unquantifiable, we are just entering an age of experimentation.
They think that in a system that discourages accumulation and turns excellence toward the benefit of all, there would be no incentive or reward for greatness.
as opposed to now – ie: we have lost sight of greatness/goodness – blinded/intoxicated by obsession with extrinsic incentive/reward and the measurement and flaunting thereof..
I am not calling for such a shift though — I am observing it, bearing witness to it, and, I like to think, contributing to it. It is happening as you read these words, and it will happen all the swifter as the multiple crises borne of Separation converge upon us. The world is changing, and ourselves with it. We not only must create the economic structures of the connected self living in cocreative partnership with earth; we can also, right now, learn how to think and live in them.
Some are coming into place already; others are still outside the purview of acceptable political discourse and await a deepening of the crisis for
the unthinkable to become common sense.
Just as no piece of sacred economy can stand alone, so also does each piece naturally induce the others. But if there is a linchpin, it is the end of growth,
As we heal the spirit-matter rupture, we discover that economics and spirituality are inseparable. On the personal level, economics is about how to give our gifts and meet our needs. It is about who we are in relation to the world. By changing our everyday economic thinking and practices, we not only prepare ourselves for the great changes ahead; we also set the stage for their emergence. By living the concepts of sacred economics, we ease its acceptance by all and welcome it into the world.
2. The source of a gift is to be acknowledged. The restoration of the commons means that any use of what belongs to all is acknowledged by a payment that goes to all.
not following this.. think it’s perhaps a compromise to what we could be..
we must recognize that the gift realm never was, and may never be, a realm of pure disinterested selflessness.
yes – that.. that happens when we think we have to acknowledge the giver.. i think we can get to selflessness.. but not by acknowledging (reminds me of tribe that doesn’t thank each other for food)
Consider the ideal of the free gift, which Jacques Derrida characterizes as follows: “For there to be a gift, there must be no reciprocity, return, exchange, countergift, or debt.” This would preclude any benefit accruing to the giver, such as social status, praise, expressions of gratitude, and even, perhaps, the feeling that one has done something virtuous.
there you go. that. we can.
Anonymous gifts don’t create such ties and don’t strengthen communities.
can we not have free gift – without having it be anonymous?.. knowing who doesn’t matter so much.. daily reminding of the whole body.. perhaps key..
Gratitude, moreover, arises not just from the receiving of gifts, but also from their witnessing. The generosity of others moves us toward generosity ourselves.
hmmm. i don’t know.. extrinsic ness
appropriate gifts and return gifts were quite precisely determined and were enforced through social approbation and obloquy, status and ostracism, and other forms of social pressure. This is a desirable state of affairs: the obligations and commitments that arise from gifts and their expected requital are a glue that holds the society together.
no..no.. only if we want to cycle back to what we have now.. no?
vulnerability yes.. but obligation to give back.. ?
To pay for a gift renders it no longer a gift, and the bond that was being established is broken.
The aversion to obligation enhances the attractiveness of money transactions. As Richard Seaford says, “What is surrendered in a commercial transaction is completely and permanently separated from the person who surrendered it.”
One of the most important gifts you can give is to fully receive the gift of another.
Gratitude and obligation go hand in hand; they are two sides of the same coin.
? i don’t know.. i think that compromises our potential for bond servant ness..
All gifts have “strings attached.”
? – how is then a gift?
i just don’t see obligation as getting out the root. it would have this overhanging extrinsic motivation. and feel more like a market/exchange if you’re expecting something or feel obliged? unconditional ness matters – ie: not dependent on if you gave me a gift first.
if you are human – you are my brother/sister and i give myself to you. i’m vulnerable to everyone.. that’s my gift. there can’t be strings attached.. or again – we’ll cycle back to where we are now.. no?
The attitude of the giver-”I give to you freely and trust that I will receive what is appropriate, whether from you or from another in our gift circle”-strikes a deep chord. There is something eternal and true about the spirit of gratitude and generosity that expects no reward and contrives no obligation.
So here is a paradox: on the one hand, the obligation-generating function of gifts creates social solidarity and community. On the other hand, our hearts respond to gifts that seek to create no obligation, that demand no reciprocation, and we are touched by the generosity of those who give without expectation of return. Is there a way to resolve this paradox? Yes-because the source of obligation needn’t be social pressure levering the self-interest of a discrete and separate self. It can instead arise naturally, unforced; the result of gratitude. This obligation is an autochthonous desire, a natural corollary to the felt-state of connection that arises, spontaneously, upon receiving a gift or witnessing an act of generosity.
perhaps that’s part of detox.. but i don’t think it’s part of our natural nature.. i don’t think we have to see/experience giving to embody gratitude.. obligation
Living without food storage, hunter-gatherers worked no harder than necessary to meet immediate needs and enjoyed long periods of leisure. The farmer’s leisure comes with a bit of guilt — he could be working a little harder, storing up a little more just in case. On the farm, there is always something that needs to be done.
Many observers have pointed out that each such “age” is succeeding (actually overlaying) the last at an exponentially accelerating pace. Very roughly speaking, the age of agriculture lasted three millennia, the age of industry three centuries, the information age three decades. (3) Now, many sense, we are on the verge of a singularity: perhaps a flurry of new ages telescoped into years, months, days, and then a transition into a wholly new era, something unknowable and qualitatively different from anything before.
Generally speaking, natural systems are characterized by resource flow, not accumulation.
Nonaccumulation models hunter-gatherer societies, in which there was great abundance but no accumulation, and in which prestige went to those who gave the most. To give the most, one also had to receive the most, either from nature or from other people. The great hunter, the skilled artist or musician, the energetic, the healthy, and the lucky would have more to give. In any event, this kind of prestige is to the benefit of all. It is only when high income translates into accumulation, frivolous consumption, or socially destructive consumption that it makes sense to restrict it. In other words, the problem is not with high income; it is with the results of the income getting stuck at some point in its circulation, accumulating and stagnating.
if you need it, use it. If not, pass it on.
It is only the “what if” that drives us to keep and hoard: What if in the future I don’t have enough? In a gift culture, what would happen is that someone would give you what you need. In a hoarding culture, the “what if” fear is self-fulfilling, creating the very conditions of vulnerability and scarcity that it assumes.
First, as discussed earlier, a very blurry line divides gratitude and obligation, and in gift cultures each reinforces the other. Whether it is gratitude that moves someone to give to those who have given or the social agreements that, ultimately, are based on the very same principle of gratitude (the rightness of giving to those who give), the result is the same.
ugh… like that assumed blur is the causer of blindness..
Banking, in its sacred dimension, says, “I will help you find someone who can use your money beautifully.” I once shared this idea with an actual banker whom I met at a conference, and tears came to his eyes — tears of the recognition of the spiritual essence of his calling.
So if you really want to contribute to the good of the world, don’t ask for a return on your investment. Don’t try to give and take at the same time. If you want to take (and you might have good reasons for doing so), then take, but don’t pretend you are giving.
How obvious it is that sacred investing has little to do with turning a profit. If you want to help the village, then give a woman a cow. Or if her dignity demands it, lend the money at zero interest (which is a gift of the use of money). If you care more about increasing your monetary wealth instead, then do that instead and forget the pretense.
Those who possess an accumulation of money have, at their disposal, the means to focus and organize society’s labor. The increase of money can come only at the cost of the nonmonetized realm, but the expenditure of money can restore that realm as long as that expenditure is not an investment that seeks the further commodification of the social or natural commons.
accumulated money bestows the ability to coordinate human activity on a large scale.
What will technology look like when devoted to the opposite purpose — the restoration of the planet’s health?
That is why I suggest the concept of using money to destroy money.
Traditional employment assists in the conversion of the world into money.
Some entire nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are but enormous vanity projects, elaborate ways to allow people to approve of themselves. That’s all ego.
We can see others not as selfish, greedy, ignorant, or lazy people who just “don’t get it,” but rather as divine beings who desire to give to the world; we can see that and speak to that and know it so strongly that our knowing serves as an invitation to ourselves and others to step into that truth.
The idea behind the word “compensation” is that you have, by working, made a sacrifice of your time. You have spent it doing work when you could have instead spent it on something you want to do.
In an economy that deserves the adjective “sacred,” work will no longer be an injury to one’s time or life; it will no longer be a matter of pain and suffering. A sacred economy recognizes that human beings desire to work: they desire to apply their life energy toward the expression of their gifts. There is no room in this conception for “compensation.” Work is a joy, a cause for gratitude. At its best, it is beyond price.
Can you see how foreign the concept of “compensation” is to this kind of work?
To generate gratitude is not the goal of giving; it is a sign, an indicator, that the gift was given well, that it met a need. That is another reason I disagree with certain spiritual teachings that say a person of true generosity will not desire to receive anything, even gratitude, in return.
Gratitude requires an unpaid debt, and we will be motivated to proceed only so long as the debt is felt. If we stop feeling indebted we quit, and rightly so. – Lewis Hyde
In Berkeley, California, the Karma Clinic has been treating people with holistic medicine on a gift basis for two years. After the consultation or treatment, the client receives a “bill” that reads,
“Your consultation is a generous gift from someone that came before you. If you would like to gift-forward in that spirit, you can do so however you choose. Monetary or other gifts may be left in the gift box in the Karma Clinic office or mailed to …” In Ashland, Oregon, another gift-based clinic called the Gifting Tree has formed. There are doubtless many more around the country, and they appear to be quite sustainable: the Victoria Attunement Center operated purely on a donation basis from 1982 to 1988 and, according to its founder Will Wilkinson, was completely self-supporting with over 300 client visits per month.
The gift model has also been applied to restaurants. The One World restaurant in Salt Lake City, in operation since 2003; the SAME (So All May Eat) Cafe in Denver, in operation since 2008; A Better World Cafe in New Jersey, which opened in 2009; the Karma Kitchen in Berkeley; and many more operate on a donation-only basis — and many of them serve organic food to boot.
Recently the idea entered the mainstream when the national restaurant chain Panera Bread opened a pay-what-you-want store in St. Louis, Missouri. The menu is exactly the same as at its other stories, but the prices are guidelines only. Patrons are asked to pay whatever feels right: the sign at the counter says, “Take what you need, leave your fair share.” If this experiment works, the company plans to expand the model to locations around the country. I wonder if they realize that they are pioneering not just a model of civic virtue, but also a model of business for the future.
We have no community because community is woven from gifts. How can we create community when we pay for all we need?
The difficulty in creating community today is that when people meet all their needs with money, there is nothing left to give. If you give someone a product that is for sale somewhere, either you are giving them money (by saving them the expense of buying it themselves) or you are giving them something they don’t need (else they would have already bought it). Neither is sufficient to create community unless, in the first instance, the recipient actually needs money. Thus it is that poor people develop much stronger communities than rich people do. They have more unmet needs.
Artificial dependency is not the solution to the artificial separation we have today. The solution is not to meet already-met needs less effectively, so that we are forced to help each other. Rather, it is to meet the needs that languish unfulfilled today.
Despite being able to pay for everything we need, we do not feel satisfied; we do not feel like all our needs have actually been met. We feel empty, hungry. And because this hunger is present as much in the rich as in the poor, I know it must be for something that money cannot buy. Perhaps there is hope for community after all, even in the midst of a monetized society. Perhaps it lies in those needs that bought things cannot satisfy.
We feel a lingering connection, because a giving has transpired.
The situation in America, the most highly monetized society the world has ever known, is this: some of our needs are vastly overfulfilled while others go tragically unmet. We in the richest societies have too many calories even as we starve for beautiful, fresh food; we have overlarge houses but lack spaces that truly embody our individuality and connectedness; media surround us everywhere while we starve for authentic communication. We are offered entertainment every second of the day but lack the chance to play. In the ubiquitous realm of money, we hunger for all that is intimate, personal, and unique. We know more about the lives of Michael Jackson, Princess Diana, and Lindsay Lohan than we do about our own neighbors, with the result that we really don’t know anyone, and are barely known by anyone either.
Clearly, the transition to a sacred economy accompanies a transition in our psychology. Community, which in today’s parlance usually means proximity or a mere network, is a much deeper kind of connection than that: it is a sharing of one’s being, an expansion of one’s self.
And so, even those things that we use today that try to be beautiful as well as functional usually bear a certain inauthenticity. The beauty seems snazzy, gimmicky; it doesn’t go very deep. Real beauty, which I might call life or soul, goes to the very heart of an object, and it is inseparable from its function, not secondary to the perfection of function. It evokes the paradoxical feeling, “This is more beautiful than it has to be, yet it could be no other way.” It is identical to the feeling I get when I contemplate the beauty of a cell or a sunset or the mathematical object known as the Mandelbrot set. There is no reason for such beauty, such order out of chaos—it seems like a marvelous though gratuitous gift. The world would keep spinning around if sunsets were ugly, or raspberries not quite so delicious, would it not? Yet none of these could be any other way.
This was to be the paradise of technology, life under control, and finally we see it for what it is: the strip mall, the robotic cashier, the endless parking lot, the extermination of the wild, the living, the messy, and the sacred.
Trapped by the madness of growth-demanding money, we compulsively produce more and more cheap, ugly things we don’t need while suffering a poverty of things that are beautiful, unique, personal, and alive. That poverty, in turn, drives continued consumption, a desperate quest to fill the void left by a material environment bereft of relatedness.
Ultimately, then, sacred economics is part of the healing of the spirit-matter divide, the human-nature divide, and the art-work divide that has increasingly defined our civilization for thousands of years.
In our journey of separation, we have developed amazing creative tools of technology and culture that would never have existed had we not departed from our original wholeness. Now it remains to recover that wholeness and bring it to a new realm, to create with nanotechnology and social media things of the same life, beauty, and soul that the old masters created with adzes and song. (3) Let us insist on nothing less. For what purpose have our forebears sacrificed, if not to create a beautiful world?
The old divide between making a living and being an artist will crumble, is already crumbling. So many of us, more and more of us, are refusing that divide.
I don’t believe that such mastery is available only to a few; rather, it is because our gifts are so suppressed that few achieve such mastery.
Such skill, transcending what we think is possible, is latent within all of us today. The great project of humanity is to recover it, and build a world upon it.
I cannot predict how the Age of Reunion will unfold in linear time. I do know, however, that by the end of our lifetimes, my generation will live in a world unimaginably more beautiful than the one we were born into. And it will be a world that is palpably improving year after year. We will reforest the Greek isles, denuded over two thousand years ago. We will restore the Sahara Desert to the rich grassland it once was. Prisons will no longer exist, and violence will be a rarity. Work will be about, “How may I best give of my gifts?” instead of, “How can I make a living?” Crossing a national border will be an experience of being welcomed, not examined. Mines and quarries will barely exist, as we reuse the vast accumulation of materials from the industrial age. We will live in dwellings that are extensions of ourselves, eat food grown by people who know us, and use articles that are the best that people in the full flow of their talents could make them. We will live in a richness of intimacy and community that hardly exists today, that we know, because of a longing in the heart, must exist. And most of the time, the loudest noises we hear will be the sounds of nature and the laughter of children.
convo with Helena Norberg-Hodge
Charlers – we need to redefine success.. now we define it two-fold, developed and developing – (toward us)
In other words, the growth imperative comes not because human needs are greater than in the past, but because the financial system requires growth.
If everyone on Earth lived the lifestyle of a traditional Indian villager, it is arguable that even 12 billion would be a sustainable world population. If everyone lives like an upper-middle-class North American (a status to which much of the world seems to aspire), then even two billion is unsustainable. Population decline is welcome news, but it needs to be considered in a larger context. Population stability or decline is not an environmental panacea if it is accompanied by continued growth in consumption.
This means that overpopulation is a red herring.
book links to amazon
It is quite normal to fear what one most desires.
When a big crisis looms, a superstorm or financial crisis, is there a part of you that says, “Bring it on!” hoping it might free us from our collective entrapment in a system that serves no one (not even its elites)?
if my words fulfill their intention, which is to catalyze a next step, big or small, into the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible, my very ordinariness becomes highly significant.
I am an ordinary man. You will, therefore, have to take my words on their own merits.
The answers to these questions are culturally dependent, yet they immerse us so completely that we have seen them as reality itself.
This narrative of normal is crumbling on a systemic level too. We live today at a moment of transition between worlds. The institutions that have borne us through the centuries have lost their vitality; only with increasing self-delusion can we pretend they are sustainable. Our systems of money, politics, energy, medicine, education, and more are no longer delivering the benefits they once did (or seemed to). Their Utopian promise, so inspiring a century ago, recedes further every year. Millions of us know this; more and more, we hardly bother to pretend otherwise. Yet we seem helpless to change, helpless even to stop participating in industrial civilization’s rush over the cliff.
On some level, we all know better. This knowledge seldom finds clear articulation, so instead we express it indirectly through covert and overt rebellion. Addiction, self-sabotage, procrastination, laziness, rage, chronic fatigue, and depression are all ways that we withhold our full participation in the program of life we are offered. When the conscious mind cannot find a reason to say no, the unconscious says no in its own way. More and more of us cannot bear to stay in the “old normal” any longer.
Life, I knew, was supposed to be more joyful than this, more real, more meaningful, and the world was supposed to be more beautiful. We were not supposed to hate Mondays and live for the weekends and holidays. We were not supposed to have to raise our hands to be allowed to pee.
reverse order from here:
reverse from here:
amzn.com/k/NHYiTscBRMO1… What we have trouble accepting, though, is that the effect of our actions doesn’t depend on these mechanisms, which are merely means for the implementation of a general metaphysical law.
amzn.com/k/DokafTeHR6um… True optimism comes from having traversed the territory of despair and taken its measure. It is not ignorant …
reverse from here:
If we could somehow master the technology of being in the right place at the right time, if we could learn to ride the flow of synchronicity, then we would have accessed a power greater than anything the world of force is capable of.
We are oblivious to our own self-righteousness, but others can smell it a mile away.
The real culprit is the system; therefore, any strategy that sees the culprits as a certain group of rotten people is misguided and will ultimately fail.
remember who the enemy is.. -Haymitch #catchingfire
the principle of the gift, that we are all here to contribute our gifts toward something greater than ourselves, and will never be content unless we are.
I don’t know where he will eventually turn his prodigious capacities. Our society doesn’t offer ready-made positions for people like him. He had to make himself small to fit in. What would the world be like if it expanded to accommodate people like that?
Society renders us artificially small so that we may fit into its boxes, a project in which we become accomplices. If the program of diminishment is unsuccessful, or if the energy denied cannot be contained, then society will have no place for you.
Being free from what people think is just one of many desirable psychopathic traits. In fact, psychopaths have many traits ordinarily associated with spiritual masters, such as nonattachment, ability to focus, being in the present moment, and courage.
We need a story of the world we really care about.
We do not really know what human nature would be in an environment embodying the Story of Interbeing. We do not know what it would be like to grow up in a society that affirmed our connectedness and cultivated its associated perceptions, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. We do not know what the experience of life would be if we never learned self-rejection and judgment. We do not know how we would respond to conditions of abundance rather than scarcity.
Whereas each had held the other in a story of enmity, now there was humanity.
The power of Pancho’s action came because he was standing in a different story, and standing there so firmly that he held the space of that story for other people such as the policeman to step into as well.
In the new story, we understand that everyone left behind impoverishes the destination. We see each human being as the possessor of a unique lens upon the world. We wonder, “What truth has this man been able to see from his perspective, that is invisible from mine?
Human beings have been committing horrors for thousands of years in the name of conquering evil.
The facts arrive at our brains already prefiltered by the distorting lens of the stories in which we operate.
need for detox ness
If a significant proportion of individuals and nations repudiated their debts, the present financial order would collapse, clearing the field for the kind of radical reforms that cannot even enter the minds of policymakers today.
A debt strike would puncture the illusion that there is no alternative. As long as most people acquiesce to the present system, those heavily invested in its perpetuation will find ways to keep pretending it is sustainable.
What do we really want? Is it to triumph over the bad guys and be the winners? Or is it to fundamentally change the system?
remember who the enemy is.. the system.. not the people..
Another form of disruption is simply to create a living example of a different way of life, of technology, of farming, of money, of medicine, of schooling … and by contrast reveal the narrowness and dysfunction of dominant institutions.
After a lifetime of training in self-rejection, unconditional acceptance by another shows us a new possibility.
invited to exist ness
The world doesn’t work the way you thought it did. The realm of the possible is greater than you believed it was.
We find it in each other’s eyes, when we look.
there is a limit to how much smart guys in rooms can do to create a more beautiful world.
Fewer and fewer people really believe in the reigning ideologies of our system and their assignation of value, meaning, and importance. Whole organizations adopt policies that, in private, not a single one of their members agrees with.
What if, like God or enlightenment, our naming of it always leaves part of it out—the very part we most need to see? As Lao Tzu said, “A name that can be named is not the true name.
defining ness as deadening ness
Are you a discrete and separate individual in a world of other? Or are you the totality of all relationships, converging at a particular locus of attention?
No amount of evidence will be enough. You are just going to have to choose, without proof. Who are you?
But when we go there, we find that nothing is not nothing, it is everything: all things spring from the void,
We are the same being looking out at the world through different eyes. And these “eyes,” these vantage points, are each unique.
I won’t say more about the nature of being. The more I say the less true it becomes. Besides, who am I to know what “you” are?
problem with communication is assuming it’s been accomplished.. shaw ness
The separate self who is afraid to give, afraid to serve, a victim of impersonal forces, and helpless to affect the hostile world out there very much is the same self who wants proof that it is not that self. I cannot prove it to you, I cannot prove that the Story of Interbeing is true, just as neither side can prove to the other that it is right in politics or often even in science. Reliance on certain proof is part of the old story, part of which is the story we call objectivity.
The conclusion: “I’d better play it safe. I’d better look out for my own interests and maximize my own security.” Add up billions of people all thinking the same thing and acting from it, and you can see that it is from our collective immersion in that story that we have created its image and its confirmation in the world around us. We have created the evidence that we then insert into the foundation of our story as its justification.
playing it safe ness
Only when that is changing can associated beliefs change with it, resolving into a new and more beautiful pattern. But if “who I am” hasn’t changed, it will drag other beliefs back into alignment with itself, with separation, no matter how hard you try to avoid “negativity.” Negativity is built in to our most basic mythology of self and world.
Even if you fight against self-interest in order to “be a good person,” you are still serving the end of appearing (to oneself and others) as a good person, and not actually serving other people and the world. So stop trying to be a good person. Instead just choose who you are. What you create from that will be of far greater service than anything you achieve out of covert vanity.
Besides, our semiconscious concept of “being good” is hopelessly entangled with mechanisms of social conformity and bourgeois morality that serve to perpetuate the status quo. It restrains us from taking the bold actions that disrupt the old story.
Another reason we could say that all the effective action toward a more beautiful world comes from “Who am I?” is that that question implies another: “Who are you?” In other words, we see others through the same lens as we see ourselves. Seeing others as interbeings who desire deeply to give and be of service, we will engage them accordingly, holding the space for them to see themselves that way too. If on the other hand we see them as selfish and separate, we will engage them accordingly, applying the tactics of force, and pushing them toward a story in which they are alone in a hostile universe.
activist tactics that are based on leveraging an opponent’s fear of public opinion and desire for profit in effect say to that opponent, “I know you. You are selfish and corrupt. You don’t want to do the right thing, so we are going to have to force you.” To believe that about someone we must believe it about ourselves too, even if we tell ourselves that unlike them, we have overcome that in ourselves. Moreover, by believing that about someone we hold that story open for them, inviting them to fulfill that role. When they do, we feel vindicated in our tactics and our way of seeing them.
Absent a map, and in the very early stages of a new story, we can only follow our intuition at each choice point, guided by our heart-compass, not knowing how our turnings will add up to the destination.
Who are you, really? If everything had gone smoothly, you would not have to face that question full in the face.
Stop living the way you have lived, and maybe the worst will come to pass. At least it will threaten to. Then you will understand whether you are willing to make a real choice, or the conditional choice predicated on the hope it will all work out, and ready to be reversed as soon as it looks like it won’t.
The only difference now is that many of you will venture there at once. What is new in the time you will live in, is that you will gather in critical mass, and each awaken the other to your mission.
We share what we have learned about how to walk the invisible path. As more of us enter this territory, these meetings happen more frequently, and together we find our way toward the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
Alexander found that when you take rats out of tiny separate cages and put them in a spacious “rat park” with ample exercise, food, and social interaction, they no longer choose drugs; indeed, already-addicted rats will wean themselves off drugs after they are transferred from cages to the rat park.
live live.. (notes)
love: state of non-judgment –
..if i was you (in sum total) i would be doing the same….
inspiring … i know you ness
same – live – talk
2010 talk on money:
Charles shared this may 2014 on fb:
Here is my new essay on “development”, published in Kosmos Journal. I love this magazine and the fact they give me space and editorial license to really exercise the theme. This essay goes way beyond the familiar critique of development.
In fact, development is wedded to deep assumptions that we take for granted about human nature, the nature of reality and the nature of existence itself. It is, in other words, an integral part of the defining mythology of our civilization.
The time has come to interrogate development on a fundamental level, to reveal how deeply wedded to it we are, and what an alternative vision of the future might be.
To this day, the world financial system depends on the continuation of ‘development.’ Stripped of its techno-evolutionary gloss, what development really means is monetization.
Or are we to believe Marshall Sahlins, David Graeber, Frans de Waal and Helena Norberg-Hodge, who make the case that ‘primitive’ people enjoyed if not a romantic Eden, at the very least far more leisure, cooperation, connection and security than most people in modern society?
The challenge before us is to translate the worldviews of small-scale societies into the context of billions of people.
narrative for 100% of society – ginormously small
What would technology look like conceived as a servant of nature’s healing from the last five thousand years of damage?
what tech wants..
2014 – slow living plenary 2:
Time is Running Out
all beings like to play – the foundation of life is play
maybe we need more stillness, more unproductive activity, more play…
the efficiency really comes from the money realm – time is money..
18 min – what do you do when you don’t know what to do – …
20 min – if things were really that bad – we’d be doing something about it… have a drink, have a prosac
what do you do when any action you could imagine isn’t enough
34 min – maybe – we’re running around in circles…
shared aug 2014 on fb by charles:
But if we don’t see ownership is a reified category, an absolute predicate, then the matter is not so simple. Because what is this “ownership”? What is the social agreement that the concept embodies? It is rather different than what we have today.
The terms capitalist, socialist, post-capitalist, and so forth, because they draw on ownership as an elemental concept, are therefore a little bit obsolete.
posted on fb by Charles – aug 2015 – on debt:
Is debt legitimate when it is systemically foisted on the vast majority of people and nations? If it isn’t, then resistance to illegitimate debt has profound political consequences.
Challenges to these debts cannot be based on appeals to the letter of the law alone when the laws are biased in favor of creditors. There is, however, a legal principle for challenging otherwise legal debts: the principle of “odious debt.” Originally signifying debt incurred on behalf of a nation by its leaders that does not actually benefit the nation, the concept can be extended into a powerful tool for systemic change.
With the nation’s household debt burden at $11.85 trillion, even the most modest challenges to its legitimacy have revolutionary implications.
Since money is essentially lent into existence, debt levels increase faster than the supply of money required to service them.
The problem is that canceling the debts means erasing the assets upon which our entire financial system depends. These assets are at the basis of your pension fund, the solvency of your bank, and grandma’s savings account. Indeed, a savings account is nothing other than a debt owed you by your bank. To prevent chaos, some entity has to buy the debts for cash, and then cancel those debts (in full or in part, or perhaps just reduce the interest rate to zero). Fortunately, there are deeper and more elegant alternatives to conventional redistributive strategies. I’ll mention two of the most promising: “positive money” and negative-interest currency.
erasing the assets?
tweeted via Ahmed
the woman who chose to plant corn
It is often said that people like Lyla are role models for others of like background. Role models for what, though? For being bribed into complicity with the oppressor? For joining the world-devouring machine? For sacrificing local relationships and culture to the melting pot?
Lyla and the many people I meet like her no longer believe that the smart people at Harvard and Yale are going to find the answers and fix the world; therefore, they no longer seek admission to the elite club of world-fixers.
let us not overvalue what goes on in the halls of power; let us not blindly adopt the metrics of success that the establishment offers.
What I do know is that such choices operate levers of power that are invisible to our culture’s Story of the World. They invite synchronicity and induce the unexpected. They bring us to places we didn’t know existed. They create movement in a new direction, whereas abiding by the conventions of the dominant system merely adds to its inertia.
We are done with a world in which the logic of power is more important than the corn. When enough people live by that, the powerful will make different choices as well, acting in their role as barometers and channels of collective consciousness
Yet few of us are free of the programming of our youth, our indoctrination into the values of system; therefore our exit can be messy, subject to hesitation, relapses and diversions. As Lyla told me more recently, “While I know intellectually why I am doing this, I am still so brainwashed it is hard to really know it from my body.”
she has no map to follow into this uncharted territory of our civilisation’s transition; she has only a compass and, if my own experience is any guide, it is a wobbly one at that. It points towards a healed and just world, and guides us into its service. When enough of us follow it, however imperfectly, we will cut new trails leading out of the maze that entraps our civilisation.
Because I don’t link to Charles Eisenstein nearly enough: charleseisenstein.net/books/the-more…
While many people understand that the solution to climate change involves more than a disembedded choice of alternative technologies, few would say that those dedicating their lives to marriage equality for gay people, compassion to the homeless, or care for the autistic are doing something essential for the survival of our species. But that is only because our understanding of interbeing is still shallow. I would like to suggest that anything that violates or disrupts the Story of Separation will heal any and all of the consequences of that story. This includes even the tiny, invisible actions that our rational mind, steeped in the logic of Separation, says cannot possibly make a difference. It includes the kind of actions that get squeezed out by the big crusades to save the world.
He told me that for some time now he hasn’t been spending much time on politics or the magazine because he is taking care of his ninety-five-year-old mother-in-law. He said, “Taking care of her is far more important to me than all my other work put together.”
Can you bear to live in a world in which what he is doing (taking care of 95 yr old mother in law) doesn’t matter?
And money, in our current system, generally comes through our participation in the conversion of nature into products, communities into markets, citizens into consumers, and relationships into services. If your heart isn’t in all that, you will find that practicality often contradicts the urging of the heart.
The problem goes much deeper than a selfish view of what is practical. It goes to the understanding of cause and effect that underlies it. The urging of the heart might not only contradict the dictates of money, it might contradict instrumentalist logic altogether.
we must learn to follow another kind of guidance, one that leads to an expanded realm of what is possible.
Worse yet, some would say that our individual efforts to buy local or recycle or ride bicycles are even counterproductive, giving us a false complacency, depotentiating more effective revolutionary acts, and enabling the larger mechanisms of ruin to trundle forward. As Derrick Jensen says, don’t take shorter showers.
Charles shares via fb on brexit ness:
In typical fashion, by the time I absorbed and synthesized all the different viewpoints on Brexit, it was too late to publish this anywhere. My usual outlets all said, “Sorry, we have too many articles on this, our readers are sick of it.” I was like, “But but but no one is saying what this essay says!” So I am releasing it onto the Interwebz as is. Thanks you Marie Goodwin for choosing this image. It conveys a central idea — that there are no paths in new territory, and if we follow whatever paths seem obvious from the old, they lead to dead ends. Instead we must wander for a while…
fertile ground of bewilderment
“Congratulations!” I said. “You have ignored what the media has been offering to you as important. Maybe that is because your recognize that the whole thing was a diversionary spectacle.” Apathy about “the issues” is only a bad thing if those issues are what is actually important.
Beneath the frenzy, many of us sense a vacuousness in the choice of Stay or Remain, the same one that sucks the meaning out of electoral politics as well.
So it is with Brexit – almost. Something is different this time. It is significant, although not for the reasons some people (though not my festival audience) think it is.
In other words, the middle-aged white Brexit or Trump supporter has legitimate grievances that cannot be dismissed as white entitlement just because things are even worse for people of color. If they feel betrayed by the system, it is because they have been. Look around at the world. We can do much better than this. Everybody knows it. We don’t agree on what to do, but more and more of us have lost faith in the system and its stewards. When right-wing populists blame our problems on dark-skinned people or immigrants, the response they arouse draws its power from real and justifiable dissatisfaction. Racism is its symptom, not its cause.
The Brexit vote was an expression of anti-elitism, pure and simple. Leaders of the mainstream parties, business leaders, entertainment figures, J.K. Rowling, President Obama, rock stars and literati… everyone urged the public to vote Remain, to uphold the status quo. Does defiance of authority mean the defiant need to be reprimanded and put in their place, or does it mean that authority has abused its position?
The Brexit vote was supposed to be one of those inconsequential exercises that legitimize the system by lending it the appearance of real democracy. Something went wrong though – the public voted no when they were supposed to vote yes.
Maybe the Brexit vote induces panic because it reminds the financial markets and their administrators that they cannot hold it together much longer. They can’t even buy public allegiance in one of the world’s richest countries. Who knows, perhaps Brexit will start the bubbles popping.
To prepare for it, we have to operate on a level much deeper than current politics offers. It is the tacitly assumed narratives lurking beneath conventional political discourse that need our attention
Herein lies a near-universal political formula: identify the enemy, arouse anger and hatred against that enemy, and then defeat the enemy. It is based on this analysis: Cause: bad people. Solution: defeat the bad people. Problem solved.
that mindset rests on a foundation more basic still: the Story of Separation that holds us as discrete, separate individuals in a world of other, in opposition to random forces and arbitrary events of nature, and in competition with the rest of life. Well-being comes, in this story, through domination and control: glyphosate, antibiotics, GMOs, SSRIs, surveillance systems, border fences, kill lists, prisons, curfews…
We cannot change it without letting go of that story in all its dimensions. Part of that is to let go of war mentality in politics, and replace it with compassion.
Whatever it is, it will spring from a basic inquiry – the essence of compassion – that must be sincere: “What is it like to be you?”
Ordinarily in politics, everyone pretends that they know what to do. Politicians pretend that to voters, who then inhabit and perpetuate that pretense by voting.
not to rush to quickly to a position. Instead, abide for a while in a state of openness and curiosity, pursuing the question, “What is it like to be you?”
no substitute for actually listening to one another’s stories, temporarily free of the pressure of having to find a solution. If the Prime Minister asked my opinion (I’m still waiting for the phone call), I’d say to declare a national month of listening, in which the immigrants, the angry rural pensioners, the bureaucrats, the financial industry workers, listen to each other in small forums, and in which media publications print unslanted stories of the people they have demonized. The goal of that month would not be to figure out what to do. It would be to understand each other better.
agree with how huge listening is.. but i think first… listen to self.. via self-talk as data.. ness… otherwise.. even more discombobulated.. because we’re listening to people who still aren’t themselves..
Normally our ears are shut, because we think we know. That is why Brexit and the bigger breakdowns it foreshadows are so potent. It shows us that maybe we don’t know, after all. That moment of stumbling, of humility, is precious.
july 2016.. via Charles’ share on fb
The attached essay will give you a glimpse into some of the pathways I’ve been exploring as I research my new book. I’m using the word “research” here in a very loose sense. On the one hand, yeah, I’m reading hundreds of articles and scientific papers. However, one of the themes of the book is a critique of the conventional approach to policy-making, which gives primary importance to measuring and quantifying impacts. We need to access other ways of knowing —
exactly.. a nother way.. that includes all the stuff.. all the people..
not to the exclusion of the quantitative way, but not secondary to it either. Therefore, my “research” also involves a lot of sensing, observing, and listening, both to that which is outside me, and to my own emotional responses. These pluck threads of intuition that connect seemingly disparate phenomena.
This book is similar to Sacred Economics or The Ascent of Humanity in the scope of the research that is required to congeal and substantiate the thesis. It will probably take another year and a half. I am resisting my urge to haste, which is born of my growing awareness that the standard climate change narrative is impotent to support real ecological healing. I see the world careening further and further out of balance and I want to do something about it. It hurts, what is happening to the horseshoe crabs, to the Amazon, to the rhinos, the mangroves, the sea grass, the tuna, the Monarch butterflies… Oh, but we don’t need the Monarchs as long as we stop emitting carbon dioxide, right? A pity for them, but we’ll be fine. Right? Right? Wrong. But that is what the carbon narrative suggests, and that is how it tends to shift environmental priorities. In the mentality of carbon accounting, you could pave over the last Monarch wintering ground, and as long as you offset the loss by planting a forest somewhere else, you could claim zero impact.
One thing I’m trying to substantiate in my research is that we do in fact depend on the Momarchs, the crabs, the rhinos…. That the pain I feel upon their demise isn’t just sentimentality but comes from an existential loss, the gouging out of a chunk of my being. And, that land, sea, and atmosphere are a giant, living organism whose health will inevitably deteriorate when its organs — ecosystems and species — are destroyed. Climate isn’t some machine that you can fix like an internal combustion engine by altering the mix of gases that goes into it. It is in constant communication with Life.
When people ask me what this book is about, I am hesitant to say “climate change,” because then they think they know what I’m going to say — something on the spectrum from denialism to alarmism to catastrophism. What I’m saying though is off that spectrum entirely. I describe climate change as a symptomatic fever. Out of the matrix of causes, our society finds the one that fits most easily into the existing worldview and relationship to nature, and attacks that one. Just as we do with terrorism. With crime. With drug addiction in the War on Drugs. With disease.
We have got to practice another way.
So I’m going to stop saying the book is about climate change, which implies that one can isolate that from everything else. The climate reflects everything that is happening on this planet. So really this book is using climate as a window onto a process of change that encompasses everything. A typical book on climate change says, “Here is what is happening and here is what we should do about it.” This book is different. It will visit that place, yes. It will go into some nuts-and-bolts about things like seagrass sequestration capacity and regenerative agriculture, even about greenhouse gas emissions, but it will disassemble these threads and use them to weave a much broader tapestry that includes the accelerating transformation of consciousness, society, and the mythology of civilization.
It isn’t my tapestry; it is something being slowly revealed to me through my daily efforts to see it. I glimpse it as through a shifting fog, seeing now one part, now another, sometimes vague and sometimes clear. Through many conversations, I know that others are seeing the same tapestry, and we help each other make out the parts that were hidden from our individual vantage points. Especially useful in developing my sight have been my episodes of frustration, despair, and overwhelm. These are what make me drop the ways of seeing that got in the way. I can see enough now to know that this tapestry conveys not only an understanding of the current crisis, but also ways of responding to it. Some of these are “on the map” of conventional environmentalism, suggesting a shift of focus, strategy, languaging, and tactics. Some of the responses, though, are entirely off the spectrum of what we know as ecological activism. My hope is that you will find yourself on that tapestry, and realize your passion for, let us say, local food, prison reform, racial justice, or herbal medicine is part of the healing of the climate.
If we could identify one thing as THE cause, the solution would be so much more accessible.
on standing rock.. and love
It is because we are ready collectively for a change of heart.
dec 2016 – charles talking with jerry of aero
8 min – all the questions of .. how to get a good job.. only if you reject as well.. the entire narrative.. of here’s how to live a good/secure/prosperous life.. only if you reject that can you fully embrace alt schooling.. otherwise not that alt... if steers toward same quantifiable/systemically validated.. achievements… to extent you depart from conventional system/rewards.. you’re also rejecting a conventional life..
jerry – might object that somewhat.. democratic school kids have found out.. could get into any college
not that incapable of performing.. it’s that their value system.. motivations.. no longer aligned with one’s offered..
12 min – not that intellectually untrainable.. his values/motivations not aligned with what ie: higher ed.. offers.. he’s not going to go somewhere that prepares him for a job in the machine..
13 min – a lot more goes along with it when you reject gen ed…
16 min – sacred econ – why does money always seem the enemy to what’s good/beautiful.. why.. when money is just a human agreement about symbols.. why have we created a story that incentivizes everything that creates crisis/stress.. what could money look like
18 min – there is movement toward diff conceptions of econ/well-being/business.. but i can’t point to any ie’s on earth where sacred econ is being practiced.. except maybe some hunter gatherer tribes or very traditional indigenous people.. but *how do you scale it up.. that’s the question….
23 min – i think the most political thing this year was standing rock.. not the electoral election
26 min – i think it would be good if we just dismantled all the schools… and start from zero..
28 min – a great opp to reawaken real democracy….turn it to the beautiful things that we’ve seen growing in the margins.. there’s incredible ideas out there..
via Charles fb share:
I was on a PBS show, the Tavis Smiley show, last week. I thought it went pretty well, although it is hard to present in a few minutes an idea that is outside normal political discourse without reducing it to something easily dismissible as naive. Well, you can see for yourself. Unfortunately due to time constraints they edited out what I thought was the best part, where I talked about the find-an-enemy approach to problem solving as a near-universal recipe of our culture that is now failing us.
I intend to keep elaborating these points in between working on my book, because I see an uprising brewing against Donald Trump. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a revolution, but still, the question comes up, “What kind of revolution do we want to have?” Because I think Trump will not survive in office. The question is, what kind of victory will it be? Will it be one that results in further alienation and polarization? I want to encourage a revolution of a deeper sort.
what alarmed me.. was this dehumanization of the other
i feel hopeful because in a way normal is falling apart.. what was once hopelessly radical is becoming common sense..
political normalcy is crumbling which opens the space for the inconceivable to happen
via fb share by Charles – feb 2017 convo w Orland
This podcast is a public conversation between me and Orland Bishop, recorded in Santos, Brazil. Even though the audio quality isn’t perfect, I want to release this recording anyway in hopes of transmitting to you some of what Orland has transmitted to me. He draws from a deep pool of wisdom that is carried not only by his words, but by the voice beneath them. I don’t use phrases like “deep pool of wisdom” very often, and in this case it is not a cliche. We talk about gift and relationship; the power of word, story, and intention; money and the financial system, and other topics. You might sometimes find Orland hard to understand. That’s OK. Just let the words reverberate in you.
4 min – charles: real wealth is not how much you have.. real wealth is the freedom to be generous.. feeling free enough to be generous..
6 min – orland: the source exists w/in… if i withhold.. the source dies..
10 min – orland: we only see scarcity and if you see scarcity you have to say.. this is mine
11 min – orland: we can’t create abundance with things.. abundance is connection to the source..
orland: one word so powerful: fiat – speak something into existence.. we ask.. how was money created
12 min – orland: we don’t have the power in our speech to say.. there is money.. as much as we want to change the world.. we don’t want to accept that to be true.. search and you’ll find people who don’t need/use money.. they see need for us to remain unconscious about the source of money.. if we remain unconscious about source of money we will remain in debt rest of our lives.. this one thing controls our global reality… but it’s taken from gods.. let there be… money is our collective being .. that someone has power over our own lives.. to live in that existence w/o questioning the authority.. first.. recover our will.. to reassign our wealth back into our collective consciousness… not a thing.. an inner decision…
15 min – orland: to no longer live with the dependency of something scarce.. not a new idea.. the power of love.. of mutual agreement..
16 min – orland: if we speak the truth.. light comes into the world again.. and the truth is.. we need each other.. to bring abundance into the world..
17 min – orland: us secret service says this about u.s. dollar/econ/empire.. greatest risk to national security is not terrorism.. it’s whether we believe the money is real or not.. if we think it’s not real.. the empire collapses.. this is the biggest national security threat of our age.. not nuclear war/terrorism.. but the global belief that someone else’s authority have power over our lives..
19 min – charles: orland is communicating on multiple levels at same time.. the voice communicates more than the words.. one thing.. immersion in money/commodity/finished-product/coord-labor rule.. teaches us a false view of reality.. accustoms us to believe creation lies in authority.. so gift.. takes back that authority.. where creative power is freely available to everybody..
21 min – charles: exporting of power to those who have control (money et al) .. sets us into competition automatically.. based on scarcity… a war of each against all (snyder)… that’s the implicit teaching of the money system..
22 min – charles: manish talking about participatory processes.. creativity is available to you…
23 min – charles: you don’t have to know how you’re going to create.. don’t have to have an instruction set.. in order to create with power of words have to be aware of what is true..
27 min – charles: new old techs.. ie: capoeira (?)
28 min – orland: the technique to know.. technology.. how to move energy from one plane of reality to another.. simple tech that transmit info.. how does technology work.. when we think that we’ve lost the meaning of sound/light..the body remembers.. this is ancient.. we have become the technologist.. the age of what is in (us).. we transmit into… we have not listened/accessed our own technology.. this new vibration of field for our world..
30 min – orland: our cells of the body are solar cells.. they store light.. et al.. so all these things could help us understand how to use ourself.. how to reimagine.. imagine if we can activate a more intelligent thing of the future.. these things that are already here..
charles: internet.. reminds us of a function of us
32 min – orland: nothing we’ll create that’s not already here.. so part of the exercise.. is to really give attention/intention to our well-being.. at a level in which our well-being not only give us fear (ie: to earn a living).. but to really live.. and to put out into world.. what is in us.. thinking creates not just things but beings.. human beings..
36 min – orland: honor the source in everyone.. the creative life is not to ask the person to prove.. they should not have to prove anything..
38 min – charles: if you were in full trust.. you wouldn’t need to control..
39 min – orland: real ego feels someone else’s suffering… we are missing real developed ego.. matured ego can speak for the other and not for them self..
43 min – orland: when we don’t know what we’ve inherited.. we can call that the unconscious.. part of this time/age.. is our collective unconsciousness.. i also have to make conscious why i’m alive.. it’s not an answer.. but a capacity.. to become aware that there’s things you don’t know.. we don’t know because we weren’t taught.. we don’t know because we have to become..
44 min – orland: processes in human life have spontaneous potential..
45 min – orland: when conflict arises because of things we don’t know.. it’s an opp to go thru it.. harmony thru conflict..
47 min – orland: fire leads to clarification of purpose
via Manish – Charles’ institutes of techs of reunion:
the standard dictionary definition of technology is “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.”
These technologies have utterly transformed the world in the last few centuries, but they are proving incapable of solving the problems we face today, many of which, ironically, are caused by the very same kind of technology we hope to use to fix them. Wh
It follows the dream of techno-utopia: that if only we could exercise precise control over every bit of matter, if only we could quantify and label and digitize every object with its own IP address, then we could manage the world rationally, eliminate uncertainty, and maximize human wellbeing. On the social level, the same ambition translates into the program of total information awareness, so that each economic transaction, each social interaction, and all physical movement is tracked and saved in a database.
The kind of technology described above is but a subset of all technology, a subset I’ll call “technologies of separation.” These will always have their place, but at the present historical moment we need to shift our collective will and energy toward a different kind of technology, which I will call “technologies of reunion.”
To expand the definition of technology, we can simply return to the original Greek roots of the word, which means “a logos of crafts.” Technology is a system of techniques for applying human will to alter the physical world.
let’s go deeper than ubi and montessori ed..
ready for eagle and condor
All of this speaks to the huge need for an alternative university system. Can you see it? It is just over the horizon. It looks very different from today’s institutions. It is an organic, decentralized network of programs; a distributed university, organizationally diverse, united by a common purpose. Young people spend a month here, a summer there, a week somewhere else, a year in another place, exploring different programs and weaving them together into a coherent education. Over four years, they develop the skills to find a place in a regenerative, holistic system.
rather.. city as school.. uni.. for everyone.. let’s do that..
What would an education look like that took these seriously, not as mere objects of psychological or anthropological study, but as valid and important ways of engaging knowledge? What would it look like to bring these in to nuts-and-bolts politics, economics, agriculture, medicine, and community governance?
like this: a nother way