In Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, HRH The Prince of Wales declares: “At the heart of the matter lies a crisis in our perception – the way we see and understand how the world works.”
And Albert Einstein once said, “It is the theory which decides what we can observe.”
I believe these assertions hold both important truths and great wisdom. Together they offer critical insight into the root cause of the crisis in economics and, in turn, the crises facing civilization. More than bad behavior or selfish people, or some fatal flaw in human nature, I believe it is our failed economics and reductionist finance driving our decision making that is the source of our accelerating and interconnected social, political, and ecological crises. The institutions that run the world are directed largely by good people who are victims of this crisis in perception, failing, in Prince Charles’ words, to accurately “see and understand how the world works.”
That we subscribe to flawed economic theories may seem a trivial matter. But at a time when the all-powerful global economic system is running on a theory that no longer fits the cultural realities of what human beings value and the physical realities of how the natural systems of planet earth actually work, we are in trouble. Now is such a time. We are in trouble.
Because our flawed theories of economics blind us to our impending crises and are ill-suited to addressing them—and because economics has become, in a very real sense, the universal religion of modernity—the gospel of economics is leading us towards a cliff.
We are trapped, seemingly incapable of altering course for fear of collapsing the system that is leading us to collapse. We have created for ourselves, the ultimate prisoner’s dilemma.