Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D.
23 Jan 2012
Solving the Crisis in Capitalism
Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D
In the FT’s series on the Crisis in Capitalism http://www.ft.com/intl/indepth/capitalism-in-crisis what I read, even when purporting to hit the deep issues, takes on isolated aspects or surface features of the problem rather than truly getting at root causes. For example, in the article by Mohamed El-Erian, head of Pimco, who claims to avoid this and get to the real issues for “a clear overall conclusion” we read that we must:
“… work harder at reducing the chances of a catastrophic failure reaching the few areas that amplify the good and bad aspects of the system. Finance is clearly one of these. In the last decade, five countries in particular (Iceland, Ireland, Switzerland and most importantly given their systemic role, the UK and US) lost sight of the fact that finance is not a standalone industry but, instead, depends on its ability to serve the real economy. This failure was compounded by the view held by some that finance could even constitute the next phase in the natural evolution of capitalism (from agriculture to industry, services and, ultimately finance).”
In saying that “finance is not a standalone industry but depends on its ability to serve thereal economy” he neither says that money should never have become a tradable, profitable commodity in its own right nor that all industry should serve the real economy, both of which would actually hit the real root issues. Finance should be no more, no less, than a vital service to the real economy and its practitioners are surely entitled to legitimate fees for service, but they should not be allowed to trade money itself for profit, and certainly not to trade people’s and nations’ debts for profit! As all global currencies are issued as debt, that is clearly a root problem.
Instead, El-Erian blames the financial crisis on “patchy prudential regulation, bad incentives and horrid compensation practices“ and then, incredibly, says:
“Society as a whole produced and consumed too much finance, especially through a disruptive technology that was insufficiently understood and tested. The result was the mother of all capitalistic overdoses, the implications of which are enormous and will be felt for years to come.”
I have watched too many films reviewing the history of finance, seen too many warning quotes by founding fathers of the USA as well as later presidents, and too many gloating quotes by bankers themselves about their ability to exploit for big gains, to blame “society as a whole…for consuming too much finance.” Does he mean that just because easy credit is extended, we are not meant to use it? Judaism, Christianity and Islam, thousands of years ago condemned money-lending at interest, and even before them, no natural living economy, even though its organisms evolved a currency still operating in all your own body’s cells, ever issued it as debt and traded it for profit. In living systems currency is there simply and effectively ‘greasing the wheels’ of economy under careful regulation.
A truly deep root cause of the Crisis in Capitalism from my vantage point as an evolution biologist is capitalism’s perpetual growth model. Just as your body is a growth economy only up to maturity, after which it stops growing and concentrates on the healthy non-growth balance it needs to continue sustainably, so must any healthy living economy do the same. I blame the failure of globalisation economists to understand this as much on science as on them, since they have largely drawn their simplistic ideas of human selfishness in perpetual competitive hostilities from scientific Darwinism. My own evolution theory is based on an expansive and competitive youthful phase, well-reflected in our current global economy, followed by a leveling off of growth with a now mature focus on cooperative sustainability. The turning point comes with the economic truth that it is cheaper (more energy-efficient) to feed your enemies than to kill them. The added benefit is that, having eliminated enmity, the savings along with creativity liberated from the survival struggle can be used to improve everyone’s lifestyle thereafter. From ancient bacteria to us, Earthlife has learned this over and over and over.
For humanity to follow the lead of Nature herself will require that we look to Her values as much as to Her intelligence in evolving mature living economies. In your body, resources are equitably distributed and every cell has some 30,000 recycling centers operating 24/7 to keep you proteins new and healthy. No organ in your body fails to respect the essential need for diversity (NO monoculture) such that it tries to get other organs to be like it. No injury in any part of the body goes without immediate aid, in the recognition that an injury to a part is an injury to the entire system. No cell goes without nourishment and none is indebted to others. A thousand banks per cell issue the free ATP currency spent into its economy while regulating the amount issued carefully to avoid both inflation and deflation. Is all this ethical behavior decreed from a central authority, a Big Computer in the Brain? No! There is no benevolent brain dictatorship; the brain is a clearing house for information from everywhere in the body and transparently shares the information freely so that every part can do its job with the greatest efficiency and resilience! Does all this not add up as much to a love economy as a material one?
Every one of us inhabits this awesome economic model. Why are we so slow to take notice of it?
We are an unprecedented consciously creative species. Let us devise and share our practical solutions for making the Great Transition as smoothly as possible. To start, I believe we must quickly expand the financial system into the ecosystem of currencies recommended by Bernard Lietaer and others (and popping up all over the world) to stimulate local economies based on barter, organic food and clean green energies so that they can sustain us as the larger system goes through its dangerously harmful growing-up crisis. Build the butterfly as the caterpillar dissolves; it is the most natural metamorphosis.
Those of us who grew our economy to global size are to be commended for doing that, if not for their adolescent excesses. Let us not point fingers at bankers or others who have gained disproportionately in this process, but rather invite them to become the heros of the Great Transition into our species’ maturity as the Global Human Family that truly loves each other, the gorgeous, beneficent planet that spawned us, and all other beings with whom we can share its legacy, its bounty, long into the future by adapting ourselves to its ways and taking it to more wondrous levels yet through our own respectful, loving, mature contributions.
Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D. 23 Jan 2012 contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elisabet Sahtouris PhD (www.sahtouris.com) is an internationally known evolution biologist, futurist, author and speaker living in Spain. With a post-doctoral degree at the American Museum of Natural History, she taught at MIT and the University of Massachusetts, contributed to the NOVA-Horizon TV series, is a fellow of the World Business Academy, and a member of the World Wisdom Council. Her venues include the World Bank, UN, Boeing, Siemens, Hewlett-Packard, South African Rand Bank, Caux Round Table, Tokyo International Forum, the governments of Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, Sao Paulo business schools and State of the World Forums. Author of EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution; A Walk Through Time: From Stardust to Us; and Biology Revisioned with Willis Harman