Let us human beings try to survive and flourish through an economy that cares for all
NICHOLAS GEORGESCU-ROEGEN pointed out that the economic process is like any other system, like an animal, devouring energy and materials (low entropy) and spitting out waste (high entropy).
What we created to help us turned by the teeth of time into an ancient monster or nasty alien. A powerful uncontrollable monster bent on making us miserable and destroying our planet and paralyzing us by fear. We kept feeding the monster which grew bigger and more powerful each day until it could dictate who we humans should be and having lost ourselves, our biggest hopes or aspirations became the crumbs the monster left behind in the aftermaths of the planetary havoc it unleashed.
Unless we don’t want to see that disaster movie being played in front of us we need to become that unlikely hero a lot of movies have and take control of our destiny. We have to remember who we are and journey on that uncertain road with the goal of making the world a better place for all. We created this monster, we will defeat it!
After we have established that we want to make the world a better place the question is how?
First we need to remember that we created the monster so we can redesign it to become a tool for our prosperity. It was made during times where the world could be described, continuing the movie analogies, as a western, an empty world with its wild open landscape with few people but a lot of resources. Through times passing however, it turned into a sci-fi where we humans are travelling the through the outer space in our spaceship earth, filled with more and more people in a limited space with limited resources. So let us update our economic thinking so that it fits our spaceship, our earth, with its limits of space and resources so that we can survive and have a good time in space.
Earth as a spaceship helps when thinking on how to design our economy and it gives 3 more hints on how the economy should be constructed. Second, respecting the physical laws and limits are important. It is madness to think we can create something from nothing or nothing from something or that something can grow forever on limited space. Third, limited space and resources of the spaceship means we have to distribute the resources better, share it better and collaborate doing so. Fourth, since we are dissipative structures, requiring resources to consume to survive and leaving waste behind, let our economy be regenerative by having a look at how mother nature has done things for billions of years and try to learn.
These are more general foundations of our new economy with a goal of make better life for all within the limits of the planet. The details will be sorted out by existing knowledge and experience about economics better suited for our biosphere and the trials and errors of experimentation. Quoting Donella Meadows:
“Let a thousand flowers bloom and anything could happen!”.
And continuing that thought Kate Raworth says
“Rethinking economics is not about finding the correct one (because it doesn’t exist), it’s about choosing or creating one that best serves our purpose - reflecting the context we face, the values we hold, and the aims we have. As humanity’s context, values, and aims continually evolve, so too should the way we envision the economy”
A lot will probably look and behave differently in this world where we have rethought our economy because changing a goal changes almost everything. As Rostow wrote when trying to create economic growth in the 60s
“each of the major characteristics of the traditional society was altered in such ways as to permit regular growth: its politics, social structure, and (to a degree) its values, as well as its economy”.
The heroes economic growth, technology and the market are in our movie with that classic movie twist and as Donella Meadows pointed out, actually the villains. Then who are the new heroes in this upcoming movie?
We are! We can replace economic growth with the more clever goal of allowing all people to flourish within in limits and readjustment our socioeconomic structure and values to that end. The upside is that we will have an economy that doesn’t work against but for us human beings. It will be an economy that emphasizes human traits that the former made us forget, that we also are kind, sociable and cooperative.