About the blog

Welcome to my blog! Herein, I will be reflecting on world affairs through the lens of my book, Sacred Economics, and developing its ideas further than I could within the covers of a book. I hope that your understanding of the concepts of the book will be expanded, and that through your comments and criticisms, I will be able to clarify and expand my own thinking as well. As well, I intend this blog to offer a forum for discussion and community-building around the ideas of Sacred Economics.

I believe we are entering new territory in economics, a new era in which many standard assumptions and much economic logic is no longer valid. Or, you might say, their invalidity is becoming more obvious. What “new era” am I talking about? It goes by many names: you could call it the ecological era, the end of growth, the advent of human partnership with nature rather than dominance over nature. My book and this blog fleshes out a vision of an economy that embodies a changed relationship to nature, and, even more deeply, a changed conception of ourselves, a changed experience of being human. This shift is both a cause and a consequence of a metamorphosis of our system of money and property.

Both money and property are artifacts of a social agreement, an unconscious story that gives meaning to various symbols. Money, deeds, contracts, financial instruments, laws, and regulations are, on a physical level, nothing but squiggles of ink on paper or bits in computer storage media. What gives them such enormous power is the system of agreements — the story — that embeds them. This story, in turn, is embedded in the deeper myths that define our civilization, our society, even our selves. We are living at a time when these deep stories are breaking down; hence, so is the money system that is contingent upon them.

The book and this blog will context various aspects of economic breakdown in terms of these deep stories: the story of self and the story of the people. The former is the discrete and separate self, a bubble of psychology inside a prison of flesh, a Cartesian mote of consciousness in an inanimate universe, an organism programmed by its genes to maximize reproductive self-interest, the Economic Man of Adam Smith seeking to maximize financial self-interest, a skin-encapsulated soul, a mind separate from matter. This is the old story of the self that is breaking down in our time, as we transition to a new experience of being that is connected, fluid, interrelated, and symbiotic. Similarly, the old story of the people is disintegrating as well: instead of humanity rising to master, dominate, and eventually transcend nature, we are stepping into an understanding of ecological interdependency and a desire for cocreative partnership.

Money as we have known it embodies the old stories, driving separation and community breakdown, and compelling endless exponential growth. As these stories give way to new ones, a new system of money and property begins to emerge as well. While the transition involves a disintegration of much that is familiar, it need not be a violent, revolutionary change. Indeed, the whole mentality of perfecting the world through destroying evil, the basis of so many revolutionary movements, is itself part of an old story. A metaphor of growth and metamorphosis, rather than conquest, better describes the kind of transition we are entering.

For people unfamiliar with my work, particularly The Ascent of Humanity, the forgoing may seem somewhat abstract. You might be confused: “Just where is this guy coming from?” I am not a Marxist nor a subscriber to any economic or political agenda that has a name. I draw from a number of economic visionaries, whose ideas take on new and often surprising dimensions within the context of an ecological society. Among them are J.M. Keynes, Henry George, Silvio Gesell, E.F. Schumacher, Jane Jacobs, Frederick Soddy, Karl Marx, John Kenneth Galbraith, classical economists in the tradition of Smith, Mill, and Ricardo, and a number of newer voices as well. But for the most part, this blog will demand little economic expertise. I myself am not a trained economist. I only dared to write my book heartened by the profound disagreements among economists today. If they understood it so well, then why do they disagree so thoroughly with each other, on even the most basic issues?

Again, welcome to Sacred Economics. I look forward to our dialog and mutual enrichment.

Charles Eisenstein

One Response to About the blog

  1. John Mugge says:

    Dear Dr. Eisenstein,

    I have enjoyed your book, Sacred Economics, very much. With regards to the direction our thinking on money, debt, and economic reform must proceed, many of your explanations are the best I have read. I am grateful to you for this work.

    Two things I would like to share with you in case you are not familiar with them. The first is another book which has also just come out this year: David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years. Graeber covers some of the same ground as you have, though from the perspective of an anthropologist and with a focus on debt and usury in the evolution of human society. He surveys many human economies and contrasts them with commercial economies which historically have been based on currency, slavery, and militarism. Without going into detail let me just say I found Debt to be a great companion to Sacred Economics.

    Secondly, I couldn’t help but notice how many times your ideas find resonance in those of Rudolf Steiner. Steiner had much to say about the role of gifts in society, about having a currency that depreciates over time, and the need for humanity to develop a true heartfelt desire to work, not just for pay, but out of a spirit of service to one’s fellow human beings. Steiner also said that the heart is not a pump.

    In my research into economics and the social question, I have gained tremendous insight and inspiration from reading Steiner’s works on what he calls the Threefold Social Organism. His separation of society into economic, political, and cultural realms – realms which need to be separated in certain respects and each given their own appropriate type of administration – is not a utopia, but is an idea based on an understanding of the human being. His insights in this regard shed light on, for instance, why the ideals of fraternity, equality, and freedom are not contradictory but that each needs to be viewed from its own perspective of human activity.

    I’ll leave it at that. If you haven’t already discovered them, I think you would find kindred spirits in Graeber and Steiner who could expand what is already a major contribution to the current dialogue on economic and social reform.

    Sincerely,

    John Mugge
    Phoenixville, PA
    jamugge@yahoo.com

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