With bureaucracy and elite-rule gone, it is up to all members of society to directly alter the rules and limits that give shape to collective life.
Thus I think it’s worth suggesting that there’s room for a rebirth of imagination in contemporary industrial societies—and one of the themes that it might focus on first and foremost is the sphere of political economy.
Those who dreamt and fought for the ideals of democracy, liberty, and equality in the time of monarchs were indispensable precisely because their hopes seemed so distant to the times. They were torchbearers.
If I may crudely summarize Andreas’ thinking in a sentence or two: relationality, aliveness, subjectivity, and wholeness are central to the functioning of healthy living systems.
What we have set in motion now, in the capitalocene, is likely beyond technological solutions, notwithstanding Promethean male fantasies of Mars colonies and planetary geological engineering. What we have set in motion is now, at least in part, beyond human control. That is, no re-engineering of social relationships and modes of production will reverse the biological and physical processes that have been unleashed.
The inconvenient truth is that we face a problem beyond politics and reform, beyond good projects and initiatives and campaigns – ours is a systemic crisis at the very heart of our 21stcentury political-economy.
So economics isn’t a science. It also wasn’t founded by Adam Smith. What Adam Smith founded, rather, was political economy. You won’t hear much about that field of study these days, and that’s not an accident. Political economy, as the name indicates, explores the relations between wealth and power in a society.
But let us retrace our steps to consider what a lot of people are unaware of – economics was originally considered to be a branch of moral philosophy.
For activists committed to building a more democratic, open, and sustainable world, one question looms larger than all others: How do we create social change?
Causation is both bottom-up and top-down: material cause from the bottom, and final cause from the top, as Aristotle might say.
After more than four decades as a leading environmentalist, Gus Speth is disillusioned with what has been accomplished. What’s needed now, he says in an interview with Yale Environment 360, is a transformative change in America’s political economy that will benefit both society and the planet.