In Thrive. Fundamentals for a New Economy, Kees Klomp and Shinta Oosterwaal provide insights into alternative approaches to economics that are sustainable and just for both society and the planet in the long term.
In twenty-four essays, internationally renowned economic thinkers like Kate Raworth, Charles Eisenstein, Clair Brown, Helena Norberg-Hodge and Daniel C. Wahl, share the alternatives that are available to us, such as doughnut economics, wellbeing economics, common good economics, regenerative economics, buddhist economics, commons economics, local economics, bioregional economics, indigenous economics and degrowth economics. Each of these approaches provides a realistic and enticing vision of a thriving future. Thrive offers readers the fundamentals for a new economy that is rooted in the well-being of humanity and of our planet. This book is a must-read for anyone in search of economic perspectives that contribute to a flourishing world.
Published: March 23, 2023
Commercial actors can contribute positively to health and society, and many do, providing essential products and services. However, a substantial group of commercial actors are escalating avoidable levels of ill health, planetary damage, and inequity — the commercial determinants of health. While policy solutions are available, they are not currently being implemented, and the costs of harm caused by some products and practices are coming at a great cost to individuals and society.
A new Lancet Series on the commercial determinants of health provides recommendations and frameworks to foster a better understanding of the diversity of the commercial world, potential pathways to health harms or benefits, and the need for regulatory action and investment in enterprises that advance health, wellbeing, equity, and society.
Sally J. Goerner is the Director of the Research Alliance for Regenerative Economics (RARE), former Science Advisor to the Capital Institute, and Managing Director of the North Carolina Sustainable Community Fund. With advanced degrees in engineering, systems science, and psychology, Dr. Goerner has lectured worldwide on how the Energy Network Sciences (ENS) create a common-sense narrative on how to achieve socioeconomic vitality by revitalising human networks. Dr. Goerner has authored over 50 articles and 5 books, including ‘After the Clockwork Universe: The Emerging Science and Culture of integral Society’ (1999) and ‘Sustainability as the Cutting Edge of Great Change’ (2007). Over her prolific career, Sally has been on a mission to contribute to a rigorous and unifying framework providing practitioners in different fields the systemic vision required to co-create the reforms we need for a healthy future.
What causes such a society to undergo a comprehensive change of life? The answer is that oligarchy is a cultural system that creates systemic problems by coloring all things. It’s not just economic – it’s political, environmental, agricultural, education. When multiple, interlocking, systemic problems happen at the same time, it creates huge pressure inside the society. In the beginning, nobody knows what to do – they are just casting about focusing on individual problems. Then, some of these people become reformers – heretics from the old system. They will figure out better ways in their area of concern: religion, science, education. Great change happens when the pressures get so large that there is a kind of tipping point. You can see this happening right now. Regular people are so fed up with the old way, that they’re willing to go with something new. That’s the point we’re at right now. You can’t predict whether we’re going to pick up effective reforms or not—after all, demagogues are rising and America elected Trump! Martin Luther had a great line: ‘the mad mob cares not that it be better, only that it be different. And, hence they get bees for flies and then hornets for bees’. My mission in life is to try to build well-informed self-organisation, because if the framework gets in place so that people that are in all different fields can see how their reforms fit together, then we can use its clarity and power to move this society in the right direction.
In an historic final interview, filmmaker and music promoter Aaron Russo goes in depth on the insider-knowledge given to him by a member of the Rockefeller family. Russo was told (prior to 9/11) of plans to stage terror attacks, invade foreign nations, and kickstart a high-tech police state control grid that would track the populations’ every move with implantable R.F.I.D. microchips.
Economies of Life argues cogently that there is a ‘default assumption that there is only one economy in our lives – the economy which is the one based on money. Our position is that there are many economies, of which the one based on money is just one, and that they all contribute to the health and sustainability of our shared lives’. To extend this thinking, money is the currency of trade, and art is the currency of experience.
In his collection of five essays, Bill Sharpe uses the principles of ecological thinking to redefine our hitherto narrow understanding of terms like economy and value. The essays consider – with poetic sensitivity and intellectual clarity – what keeps each economy healthy, what sort of wealth each one accumulates and what sort of policies are most supportive of innovation and sustainability in a changing world.
Bill Sharpe and a small group of other IFF members, working with the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol, took as the starting point for their inquiry the question ‘Can we help people who fund the arts develop better policies if we use ecological thinking to understand how the arts work in society and in the economy?’
The insights resulting from Economies of Life offer an ecologically informed and dynamic framework for understanding creativity, the arts and how the arts should be funded into the future.
The Five Essays
- Homo ecologicus, Homo economicus, Homo poeticus
- Patterns of Shared Life
- Art is the Currency of Experience
- Economies of Life
- Producing the Future
McMurtry’s work offers a contribution to the understanding, as well as to development of standards for the measurement, of human well-being, so that progress and regress may be interpreted in ways that mainstream economic criteria neglect or fail to ascertain, both in theory and in practice. The importance of determining novel standards and indicators is considerable, and widely acknowledged by many academics and politicians (for example, the 2008–2009 Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission created by the French Government), but above all it is important to reconceptualise economic phenomena so as to re-orient them in line with life-based criteria.
First, it has already been highlighted that the type of ‘growth’ conceptualised and pursued in today’s global market has had systemic negative effects upon life at many levels, to the point of making possible the explanation of said implications by means of a cancer-based explanatory model. ‘Real capital’ as ‘life capital’ is both unseen and harmed by standard economic thought (CSC2013, p. 12).
Second, in the wake of the current economic crisis, the same global market has been proven equally unable to attain ‘growth’ on its own life-blind terms, that is, in terms of pecuniary aggrandisement for money investors and/or managers (cf. Crotty, 2000). ‘Real capital’ as sheer ‘money’ is not there either, especially if one considers that the vast meltdowns of the last few decades have been caused by speculative bubbles in exponentially ‘leveraged’ masses of currency without any ‘grounding’ in ‘a medium of exchange and capital’ such as ‘gold, labour, or livestock’ (CSC2013, p. 12).
The system’s inherent rationality, which economics textbooks presuppose, is to be seriously questioned, and that is what McMurtry’s work does, consistent with Castoriadis’ (2005a, p. 129) poignant characterisation of the Socratic role that philosophers are expected to play in genuinely democratic societies: the possibility and the ability to call established institutions and significations into question. Whether he will be listened to, we do not know. However, responding to a cancer diagnosis by avoiding what alone can work is fatal.
John McMurtry shows that a false economic paradigm holds the world in thrall to a global corporate death system masked as market freedom. Liberation is explained as grounded in humanity’s repressed life-value code, life capital bases and civil commons organization which unify across distances and differences.
Genevieve Vaughan has published her third book regarding the reality and transformative potential of the gift economy, a logic and matrix of practices that imply the liberation of all genders. The new theory provides solutions to the most urgent need in neoliberal capitalist societies: to overturn the civilizational crises that capitalism and patriarchy have caused with the distortion and appropriation of the Gift. The Gift in the Heart of Language provides sobering and mind-altering perspectives on the gift economy in all of its manifestations. The Gift has mostly been discussed in sociology and anthropology, and in relation to Indigenous people. Vaughan’s contribution is to have made its presence visible in many other fields, where it is taken for granted but where it, in fact, represents the pillar holding societies together. Where French feminism has invented bisexual or feminine writing, Vaughan shows that language, itself, is maternal at its root, not part of the Symbolic, or a symptom of the Law of the Father (Lacan). She shows that the Gift is a more typical matrix of values and worldview among women, but not exclusively so. References to societies still engaged in ecosocially sustainable gift practices serve to explode the taken-for-granted views claiming that patriarchy and exchange have been universal and without alternative.
A review essay of the second, revised edition of John McMurtry, Understanding the Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Cancer to Cure (London: Pluto, 2013). Published in the November 2013 issue of the CCPA Monitor, Canada.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul”, Nelson Mandela says, “than the way in which it treats its children”.
Who would disagree?
Yet today children may be assaulted, diseased, or killed by pervasive corporate drugs, junk-foods and beverages, perverted by mindless violence in multiple modes, deployed as dead-end labour with no benefits, and then dumped into a corporate future of debt enslavement and meaningless work. How could this increasing systematic abuse be publicly licensed at every level? What kind of society could turn a blind eye to its dominant institutions laying waste the lives of the young and humanity’s future itself?
The abuse is built into the system. All rights of child care-givers themselves – from parent workers to social life support systems – are written out of corporate ‘trade’ treaties which override legislatures to guarantee “investor profits” as their sole ruling goal. Children are at the bottom, and most dispossessed by the life-blind global system. The excuse of “more competitive conditions” means, in fact, a race to the bottom of wages and benefits for families, social security, debt-free higher education, and protections against toxic environments to which the young are most vulnerable. At the same time, escalating sales of junk foods, malnutrition, and cultural debasement propel the sole growth achieved – ever more money demand at the top.