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.
We face systemic problems — economic, political, social, and environmental ones all wound up together. Effective solutions are emerging in all of these domains, but we lack a reliable systemic perspective to weave them together. I believe Energy Network Science (ENS) can provide the sound, systemic framework we need to address our systemic problems. ENS’s study of the energy laws of growth and development can help restore our economies and our souls by: (1) Helping us rediscover the truth and power of free-enterprise democracy; (2) Giving us the tools and concepts we need to build healthy Democratic Free Enterprise Networks (DFENs), the kind that have always formed the sinews of American vitality; (3) Providing precise quantitative measures and targets for healthy development that seem quite unimaginable in the current milieu. This is the story of how these gifts change our view of how to rebuild economic vitality and restore the dream.
KEYWORDS: Balancing resilience & efficiency, energy network analysis, free enterprise democracy, quantitative measures of economic health, regenerative economics.
This paper shows how the Energy System Sciences provide the theoretical backbone and empirical substance we need to connect findings from across the human and natural sciences in a way that is practical, rigorous, and heart-warming at the same time. Our premise is that the same energy science that explains systemic health in ecosystems can be used to create an empirical explanation of systemic health in human systems too. This integrated understanding of planetary health directly addresses the underlying socio-economic drivers of today’s crises in a rigorous yet emotionally compelling picture of how to save civilization socially, economically and environmentally.
…So the bottom line becomes basically we should seek to organise the economy around meeting human needs rather than around servicing elite consumption and capital accumulation. And that requires a pretty dramatic shift from sort of the status quo of our economic system…
… we have to bring in concepts from like the literature on rationing, like a rationing framework is maybe more powerful here and more just, you know, first ensure that everyone has access to what they need, and then tax additional unnecessary consumption..
There has never been a more important time to understand how your innate immune system functions. With a healthy immune system, we’re able to live in balance with the virome and array of flora that’s in every niche of our bodies. Join Zach Bush as he discusses The Innate Immune System.
The Innate Immune System webinar and live Q&A with Dr. Zach Bush, Dr. Cindy Fallon, Dr. John Gildea, Dr. Lee Cowden and Dr. Peter Cummings. In this two hour session, we broke down the intricacies and beauty of how our innate immune system functions and flows, unearthed empowering facts on the latest scientific findings on the virome, historical framing of germ warfare and how it applies to today’s mindset toward the pandemic and so much more from top experts across various fields within the human health realm.