An open space for global conversation
[copied and pasted from the Transition in Action site]
Many, many people do not consider themselves investors because they live hand-to-mouth, or nearly so. It does not occur to many of us that when we purchase something, we validate everything from the vendor we encounter to methods by which raw materials were dislodged and removed from unknown and unseen places. It does not occur to us then that we reinforce get the best one you can afford, don't make the best one/alternative you can. It does not occur to us that much of what's available is arbitrary, and more connected to subsidized fantasies than human needs, summarized as to live, to love, to learn and to leave a legacy.
What are we thinking? Not as much as we can when we steadily reduce our criticizing, complaining, comparing, competing and contending!
Even when we have no surplus cash, we deploy our attention, time and energies. Let's be more and more thoughtful about them. Not necessarily mere consumers, we are co-creators, designers and investors in the making.
Good point there. And that reminds me...this will sound a little esoteric but - I have been thinking about vibration lately - its place in reality. What we attach to, we bring into our vibration fields. Harmony is a coherency of vibration in our personal fields and environment. That coherence is chordal. What chords are we making with our thoughts and with what/who we interface with (and how)? Its that basic really. We have a tendency to vibrate with discordance and get energized by it. But there is another kind of energy that comes from resonance that is harmonic. That builds in energy. The other peaks out. It feels uplifting to be in harmony and create. Creators are joyful - its a natural by product. If we are not feeling joy, we have not risen to our higher potential. We must rise to this higher way of thinking and being to step into the next phase.
Good ideas, but too far removed from concerns about keeping the body alive.
The bottom line question regarding economics from an individual point of view is, "to whom am I froced to sell the time of my life, in order to acquire the means (food, clothing, shelter---bionecessities, not mentioning psychological needs. Ref the Maslowian hierarchy of needs) for keeping myself alive"?
First things firs: Vibrations will not put food on the table.
I would like to have a basic, even if only subsistence level, income so that I could be free to develop my vibrational competency.
David's introduction is a good framework for thinking on economic fundamentals.
The purpose of production is consumption. Without buyers (providing demand), a product would have no value. Therefore any new style productive enterprise (especially co-ops and worker owneds) should include its customer base as partners in addition to workers/management/owners/investors.
A bit further out from this principle, every individual could be paid an income just for being a spender who provides the vital economic ingredient: demand (another argument for the institution of Universal Basic Income).
Re attention: I have lately been fascinated by the implication of the English phrase. pay attention. Attention is a kind of energy given to the object of the attention.
Any such energy contributed to this post is gratefully appreciated.
I appreciate your endorsement, Janos. I would love to encounter more recognition that spending our currencies is investing and that life in an economy is not all about getting good deals on fashionable stuff. There are contributions people would make if supported in living even minimally and there is a future to ensure.
I encourage also another line of thought about production and consumption. Without primary production, the conversion of sunlight into edible stuff, there would be no life. In ecosystems, usually the producers are many, the mere consumers are few and all consumers are temperate. In those living systems, the purpose of production and consumption is to feed the decomposers, who reliably deal with what is no longer vital, thus enhancing opportunities for future production and consumption. Altogether, the three types/functions have spread life from the seas to high elevations on most continents. So defying gravity, they have an impressive record of accomplishment.
Although ecology is not the main lens through which I view economics, it is obvious to me that in nature there is no waste.
Economists could study "how nature does it" to produce theoretical models that reflect reality rather than the fantasy world that confuses thinking for the rest of us.
However, these still are abstract thoughts (in my view) compered to the immediate reality of a system that is co opting the time of our life by the "employment necessity" to maintain an increasingly nonviable system.
Many people think that the way to non-cooperation lies in stepping outside the system and constructing alternative, non-exploitative/wasteful life styles. I believe this is an illusory possibility since all important resources are already enclosed within "the system". Without these resources, changeagents are trying to create alternatives while remaining in a kind of concentration camp with minimal resources.
In other words, we can not step outside the system (apart from setting up a Robinson Crusoe type experiment---without the aid of supplies from the wrecked ship). There is only one socio-economic reality---we have to transform it from within.
Hence the emphasis on the "basic income reform" that gives the freedom to opt out from supporting the status quo by giving it most of our time and energy while trying to change it in our "free time" and with the energy left over from supporting it.
As much as I like your vision, I'm as doubtful about transforming from within the one socio-economic reality as you are about stepping outside the system. Mass markets were created after mass production was proven during WWI. Ninety years later, sanctioning defections probably will not be the choice of the powers that be.
I believe stepping outside the system is possible, if people continue to build solidarity and find the important resources and forces that the system has not enclosed.
We probably mean different things by "stepping outside". I have been interested community experiments for decades but it seems to me that most of the relevant resources---relevant to physical sufficiency---are enclosed by the system---land, for example; and money which has to be earned through employment so that we have little option to go to live a simple life in a quiet village somewhere in Scotland, for example.
I know there can be talk about other, non-pysical, kinds of opt-outs. But I can not see how solidarity can feed and house us on a large enough scale.
What I am really saying is that somehow we should stand up to the system and challenge enclosures that can be proven unlawful in common law. This is what I hope the School of Commoning will be about.
"I can not see how solidarity can feed and house us on a large enough scale."
You're right. Putting people first is just a beginning. Of those two challenges, only feeding concerns me. There is enough conditioned space to house everyone, but much of it is both reserved for other purposes and idle much of the time. As for food production, the more people who eat produce foods on their own initiative, for consumption and local trading, the more experience and know-how will be available when the big, unsustainable systems falter and fail. Putting people first does not require an overnight shutdown of those systems.
Here's an approach that is designed to work "within the system" to harness excess capacity and unmet demand in support of activities with high social value: http://www.dualcurrency.com/Youtopia/ Maybe it's not revolutionary enough, in light of the degree to which our basic economic activity is unsustainable in so many respects. Still...
Then there is this case made by Amory Lovins about our energy future where he suggest that business forces alone will drive a shift to radical conservation plus renewable energy by 2050.
What if we don't need to tear down our old systems because they are in the process of transforming themselves or becoming obsolete on their own?
Hi Ben. I have to carve out time to read what you recommended, but I want to say that tearing down is not of much interest to me, except nuclear power plants that have reached the end of their projected lives. I prefer repurposing, especially because I buy the resources depletion stories.
I believe each of us must, as a balancing act, invest in what we find nourishing for body, mind, heart and spirit, and divest from what we find destructive not only to those, but to the living life support system, as well.
Yes, I agree, David. And... That approach generates a concern, both in what I hear from others and in what comes up for me, around the thought that that my non-participation--indeed even collective non--participation on a mass scale-- will be insufficient to reverse the destructive trajectory we are on as a species. Hence the idea that we need to protest/attack/tear down the old systems. That rebellion and revolution are needed. See our thread on Dissent (today's Cafe Call) for some of this reasoning, courtesy of Mark E. Smith.
That's why I found the two links to be inspiring. Dual currency might be so appealing that it shifts the impact of our economic actions without requiring a dismantling of traditional currency. And the economic forces Lovins describes could solve our energy challenges based on market forces already present, even with all the external costs of fossil fuels being unrecognized.
"a concern, both in what I hear from others and in what comes up for me, around the thought that that my non-participation--indeed even collective non--participation on a mass scale-- will be insufficient to reverse the destructive trajectory..."
The world cannot be made to work for people who do not speak for themselves. I do not advocate non-participation. Investing attention, time and energy is participation, quite literally. As for reversing the destructive trajectory, it might be replaced instead. Attrition, rather than some forces artfully/skillfully applied to it, would bring it down.
Some of this might actually be in the spirit of Lovins' message, which has been "let's replace the dumbest stuff with smarter stuff... and keep getting smarter ourselves so we can do it again and again."