Wednesday, October 28, 2020

#302 / A Basic Truth


"Economics for the people," an article by Dirk Philipsen, was recently published online by Aeon. Here is how that article begins: 

A basic truth is once again trying to break through the agony of worldwide pandemic and the enduring inhumanity of racist oppression. Healthcare workers risking their lives for others, mutual aid networks empowering neighbourhoods, farmers delivering food to quarantined customers, mothers forming lines to protect youth from police violence: we’re in this life together. We – young and old, citizen and immigrant – do best when we collaborate. Indeed, our only way to survive is to have each other’s back while safeguarding the resilience and diversity of this planet we call home.
As an insight, it’s not new, or surprising. Anthropologists have long told us that, as a species neither particularly strong nor fast, humans survived because of our unique ability to create and cooperate. ‘All our thriving is mutual’ is how the Indigenous scholar Edgar Villanueva captured the age-old wisdom in his book Decolonizing Wealth (2018). What is new is the extent to which so many civic and corporate leaders – sometimes entire cultures – have lost sight of our most precious collective quality.
This loss is rooted, in large part, in the tragedy of the private – this notion that moved, in short order, from curious idea to ideology to global economic system. It claimed selfishness, greed and private property as the real seeds of progress. Indeed, the mistaken concept many readers have likely heard under the name ‘the tragedy of the commons’ has its origins in the sophomoric assumption that private interest is the naturally predominant guide for human action. The real tragedy, however, lies not in the commons, but in the private. It is the private that produces violence, destruction and exclusion. Standing on its head thousands of years of cultural wisdom, the idea of the private variously separates, exploits and exhausts those living under its cold operating logic.

That we are in this life "together" are the words we must conjure by - and especially now. These are true words that describe and define our human situation at all times, and perhaps most of all in times of danger. The perils we confront today are real, and in the face of these perils we must have recourse to and rely upon each other. "Striving" may be individual. We tell ourselves "hero" stories that elevate the importance of individual, go-it-alone action, and it is, of course, important. But "thriving," which is actual accomplishment, not just the rehearsal of individual desire, is always mutual. We are in this life together. 

Our current election, for those who have been following it, gives us a choice between a candidate who disclaims and actually denies the dangers posed by the coronavirus - and the even greater dangers posed by the runaway global warming that puts not only our human societies in danger, but that threatens most life on the planet. Luckily, there is another alternative. We will soon make our choice. 

Assuming that we opt for "thriving" (together), we have a limited amount of time - ten years may be a generous estimate - to make fundamental changes in how we live. Is that impossible? Not quite. 

We can transform the way we live, but as Philipsen's article advises, we need an "economics for the people." It will be our collective and cooperative actions that will save the world.

An "economics for the people." A "politics of the people." A human race that recognizes that there is just one human race, and that we are "all in this together." 

After the election (really, whichever way it goes), it will be time to transform ourselves, and to transform, together, the world in which we now live. 


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1 comment:

  1. I like your notation...After the election..whatever way it goes...Keep on keeping on. We are in this for our great-grandchildren Thank you.


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