Economics - Point 13
UNDER CONSTRUCTION, QUOTES ONLY
[ADD IN] It will also open the horizon of economics to terms of living satisfaction and to conditions of expectations or exploitations from others which will make economic life more about actual life than about acquisition and maximization functions.
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“The Lockean ideal of the autonomous individual was, in the eighteenth century, embedded in a complex moral ecology that included family and church on the one hand and on the other a vigorous public sphere in which economic initiative, it was hoped, grew together with public spirit. Without overlooking its many injustices, we may note that it was still a society that operated on a humanly intelligible scale. Both the economy and the government were sufficiently small-scale as to be understandable to the ordinary citizen. Looking back from our present position, we can see that citizens then were faced with two possibilities, which we may denote as ‘cultivation’ and ‘exploitation.’”
“The pattern of exploitation was destructive to both the natural environment and the life of the community. It appealed to that aspect of the tradition in which individual accumulation , measured in monetary terms, came loose from other social goods and became an all-consuming concern, undercutting even the devotion to self-cultivation and the family that were originally compatible with the Lockean ideal. But what should have been even more disturbing to true followers of Locke is that this pattern of exploitation led to the development of large economic and governmental structures that grew ‘over the heads’ of the citizens and beyond their control, making a mockery of the most fundamental principle of Lockean political philosophy: government by the consent of the governed. When this was followed not only by plundering the natural resources of the North American continent but by the development of an imperial military state, operating with the secrecy and arbitrary domination that empires always employ, the eighteenth-century notion of a republican polity, answerable to its citizens in the full light of day, was hardly recognizable.” Bellah, Robert et al. The Good Society. Vintage Books. 1992. pps. 265-6.
“The process of capital accumulation–the transformation of life (living work and nature) into commodities, money, and steadily increasing capital–is polarizing and irreversible. In other words, money and capital can grow out of life, but no new life can grow out of capital and money. Life always has to be added to capital in order to make it palatable and bring it to life. Money that ‘breeds’ more money out of itself (as through interest) is a myth.” Bennholdt-Thomsen, Veronika & Mies, Maria. The Subsistence Perspective: Beyond the Globalised Economy. Zed Books (London). 1999. p. 21.
"'...consumerism kills the soul, as any good Augustinian can see, because it places things before the valuing of God and human community.' It deadens our consciousness and thickens our senses. Drug and alcohol addiction are leading symptoms of this. The evangelicals cry out about this, but what do the mainline churches have to say? Almost nothing. 'Why?' asks Hatch. 'Because we have defined religion as a deeply interior or otherworldly reality prior to any kind of life practice. Once you do that, how you actually live every day doesn't affect it one way or the other.'" The Good Society, Bellah et al, Vintage, 1992, p. 211.
“The politics of demand frequently lies at the root of the tension between merchants and political elites; whereas merchants tend to be the social representatives of unfettered equivalence, new commodities, and strange tastes, political elites tend to be the custodians of restricted exchange, fixed commodity systems, and established tastes and sumptuary customs. This antagonism between ‘foreign’ goods and local sumptuary (and therefore political) structures is probably the fundamental reason for the often remarked tendency of primitive societies to restrict trade to a limited set of commodities and to dealings with strangers rather than with kinsmen or friends.” Appadurai, Arjun. The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. 1986. Cambridge University Press. p. 33.
“...I would suggest that barter is the exchange of objects for one another without reference to money and with maximum feasible reduction of social, cultural, political, or personal transaction costs. The former criterion distinguishes barter from commodity exchange in the strict Marxist sense, and the latter from gift exchange by virtually any definition.” Appadurai, Arjun. The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. 1986. Cambridge University Press. p. 9.
“Keynes in turn leavened the call of duty with G.E. Moore’s ethical philosophy, which postulated personal cultivation and friendship as the core values of a life worth living. This complex background provides some understanding of the reason he insisted that economic growth was never an end in itself and that capitalism could neverr by itself produce a decent or humane civilization.
“The point, Keynes liked to insist, was to maximize not material abundance but ‘goodness’ in that sense ofcultivated humanity that Moore advocated.” Sullivan, William. “Politics as the ‘Public Use of reason’: Religious Roots of Political Possibilities.” pp. 236-253. Madsen, Richard & William Sullivan, Ann Swidler, Steven Tipton. Meaning and Modernity: Religion Polity and Self. University of California Press. 2002. p. 242.
Interlocking both primary societies subverts the economics focused on the exchange of fixed objects (conceptscape) and expands it forwards towards a genuine spiritual-material ecology and backwards to its origins where extensive mental alliances turned traditional ecological pathways into the dedicated alliances of the humans. Economics was born in ecology, the lifescape, and moved into the conceptscape as relationships in the ecological web became awarely hardened into expectations–of an animal’s tracks, of a seed’s growth, of a stock’s return. And economics can return to ecology–to a new ecology of the conceptscape’s human material hybrids--by a recovery of the meaning that places us in our producer/consumer roles and in our social identities. We can imagine and begin to create such a future spiritual-material ecology by letting the rich, actual relations of our individual lives breathe life into all interactions and exchanges and by acknowledging all the specific dependencies and advantage-taking of our individual economic patches.
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Page updated 3/5/03