Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan (eds.)
This book is one of at least four that I would suggest are essential reading for any citizen in the aftermath of #OccupyWallStreet (now shortened to #OWS). The other three are:
This book is a spin-off from Reality Sandwich, an online creative blog founded by one of the contributing editors of this book. Billed as evolving consciousness one bite by bite, it offers a melange of forward thinking. Since I am a book person by nature (a digital immigrant), I particularly appreciate “best of the best” rendered in a value-added book form.
Twenty-two contributors focus on transforming currency and community with consciousness being the implicit third leg of the stool.
Everything here was written well in advance of #OWS, but as with the other three books I recommended above, could easily be adopted by #OWS as its own.
The bottom line for the book as a whole is that debt-based economies with a false sense of scarcity and centralized banking are a death wish, and that only gift economies and economies of stewardship deeply rooted in agriculture, reality, and integrity, are sustainable.
QUOTE (5): “For indigenous people in Australia or South America, power is not something that can be hoarded, power can only be expressed in the living present, through ceremony, initiation, and action.”
QUOTE (6): “Our currency is not a neutral tool, but a crystalized belief system. ‘Money’ is an expression of ideology, the blinkered reasoning of ‘irrational authority.’ This mortgages the present moment for a payoff that never arrives.”
QUOTE (8): “Modern capitalism makes sociopathic behavior humdrum and routine. . . . Our current economic system is institutionalized psychopathology, a parasitic virus, and its perpetuation would likely lead to the termination of the human experiment.”
I have a note, “phenomenal opening” (by Daniel Pinchbeck). I am reminded of The Resilient Earth: Science, Global Warming and the Fate of Humanity and The Vanishing of a Species? A Look at Modern Man’s Predicament by a Geologist.
Charles Eisenstein’s piece, after I read it, I describe as “consistent common sense, coherent explanations of complex challenges. Key points that I draw from his contribution include the necessary appreciation for the current crisis as an opportunity to invest in localized resilience (blogger John Robb focuses on this particularly) while disengaging from the money culture.
QUOTE (14): “Money as we know it today has crisis and collapse built into its basic design. That is because money seeks interest, bears interest, and indeed is born of interest.”
and the flip side of that:
QUOTE (18): “The crisis we are facing today arises from the fact that there is almost no more social, cultural, natural, and spiritual capital left to convert into money.”
Anya Kameretz focuses on repentence and reconciliation, and I certainly agree with this. The only thing more dangerous than the 99% with their back to the wall is the 1% with their back to the wall. We *must* respect the lessons from Nelson Mandela and South Africa, use Truth & Reconciliation, and give the greedy rich and the corrupt Democrats and Republicans a way out.
David Ulansey offers up important calculations and a compelling sound-bite.
QUOTE (35): “It now requires a year and four months for the Earth to replenish what humans consume in a year.”
He calls for a shift from quality of life for the few to “equality of life” for all.
While this book does not connect to the vast literatures that I have tried to tap (search for my list of lists, < Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive) >) this is clearly where The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom and The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Revised and Updated 5th Anniversary Edition: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits come in.
Douglas Rushkoff, whom I know personally, provides a superb dissection of the lunacy of centralized money while making the case for complementary (generally localized) currencies.
QUOTE (40): “Complementary currencies threat money as a utility rather than an asset class. Their bias is toward functionality instead of saving, transaction instead of speculation.” [I would have used the word ‘hoarding’]
QUOTE (44): “The financial meltdown will help many businesses realize that their priorities have been artificially skewed toward making their bankers and investors happy–and their own communities less so.”
Dale Pendel carries on with what I note as a devastation of the concept of money.
Barbara Alice Mann focuses on the gift economy, describing capitalism as a cult. This is one of the pieces of the book that should take on a life of its own, along with Daniel Pinchbeck’s introduction and Steve Bhaerman’s “Original Wealth and the People’s Capitalism” at the end of the book.
QUOTE (61): “What is needed to describe gift economies is a complex form of representation that takes into account interactive binaries as mass in motion. This is because in the world of the gift economy, everything influences the outcome of everything else.”
QUOTE (62): “Gift economies start with the Mother, herself the initial gift of the cosmos.”
John Michael Greer dissects the pyramid building (the Ponzi schemes), pointing out as no investigative journalists have been willing to point out, that there is not enough tangible wealth on the planet to cover more than a small percentage of all the fraudulent financial instruments that have been created. I would also recommend in this vein Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth and The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy.
A trio, Bernard Lietaer, Robert Ulanowicz, and Sally Goerner, present an ecosystematic approach to reinventing money. After a review of conventional means they go on to discuss unconventional means including B2B credits and city and local credits. He puts our problems in perspective.
QUOTE (79): What this means, in practice, is that we have entered the period of unprecedented convergence of four planetary problems–climate change, financial instability, high unemployment, and the financial consequences of an aging society.”
Stella Osorojos does a lovely job of presenting time banking, time dollars, and the good that comes from treating everyone’s time as equal regardless of their skill specialization.
Sharon Gannon surprises me, relating Yoga to the economy, and makes sense doing so.
QUOTE (123): “We live in a slave culture. Our present economy is based on the domestication and exploitation of animals and nature.” To that I would add “and one another. Two books come immediately to mind: Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy and The Working Poor: Invisible in America.
QUOTE (129): “When one becomes selfless and ceases to take more than one needs, one obtains knowledge of why one was born.” There are many books on consciousness
NOTE: Amazon limits me to ten links, a constant irritation. At Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, all books cited in this review will be linked to their Amazon pages.
Daniel Pinchbeck comes back into the book with a chapter on the international economy, this is very high thinking.
QUOTE (134): “When the edifice of mainstream society suddenly collapses, as is happening now, it is a fantastic time for artists, visionaries, mad scientists, and seers to step forward and present a well-defined alternative.”
Larry Harvey, co-founder of Burning Man, contributes “I Am…We Are…It Is.” He pursues the recurring theme of gift versus transaction economy, pointing to Burning Man as a type model for civilization, pointing out that transactions do not produce connections between people or what Robert Putnam has described as “social capital.”
He describes a process that begins with radical self-expression, proceeds toward a strong sense of being united with others, and then culminates in the individual and the group being deeply conscious of the outer greater gift of the cosmos.
Eliezer Sobel captures my interest with his discussion of God is free, and so is enlightenment.
QUOTE (177): “To live one’s life that way requires developing a deep trust in life itself, a knowing that one will be taken care of. I cannot help but think of the man who just completed an eleven-year long walk around the world, including both oceanic borders of South America, with no money.
Thomas Greco focuses on local credits, Hardin Tibbs on a return to the value of being human, where the key term that stays with me is “anti-reductionist.” He emphasizes the core principle of ensuring that meeting one’s needs not compromise the meeting of the needs of others. This is the key point made in Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny as well as The Tao of Democracy: Using co-intelligence to create a world that works for all.
Steve Bhaerman’s “Original Wealth and People’s Capitalism” was for me one of the most interesting contributions, and although I have many quotes written down, will have to settle for offering some one-linters.
+ Natural wealth comes from stewardship of the Earth, creating new crops, etcetera.
+ Banks destroy real wealth by converting tangible assets into intangible derivatives
+ Chicago Plan would have saved economy, a corrupt White House went the wrong way
+ Farm income is “root,” no national economy can thrive absent a 1:7 ratio of farm wealth to national wealth [citing Wilken]
+ Borrowing to consume is insane
QUOTE (227): “If the sun and soil are the source of all [natural] wealth, then a healthy, wealthy commonwealth begins with every community having access to the abundance …[and] the end of exploitative monoculture economies where resources are extracted without the proper payment.” I immediately think of Nestle and Coca-Cola sucking water out of the Earth at no cost to them, and of the industrialization of agriculture and all its poisons. I have reviewed twelve books on water, find the list by searching < worth a look book reviews on water >.
QUOTE (228): “Here is the paradoz of emergent transformation. Nothing can happen on a global scale without it happening on an individual scale first.” I think of #OWS, and the still brilliant book by Charles Hampden-Turner, Radical Man as well as Robert Carkhuff’s The exemplar: The exemplary performer in the age of productivity.
There are other quotes I just cannot fit in here. Overall this chapter is a fascinating look at the need for spiritual energy, the corruption of the religions in their willingness to ignore secular corruption (see my letter to the Pope, search for < intelligence assisi >), and the emergence of alternatives.
My final note on the book entire: spiritual growth is sustainable, free, and infinite, and it is the anti-thesis to material growth that is not sustainable, not free, and not infinite.
Getting A Grip: Clarity, Creativity, and Courage in a World Gone Mad
Conscious Evolution: Awakening Our Social Potential
Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution
The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis
If you find Amazon’s ten link limitation as annoying and counter-productive as I do, write to them. They have ignored me for years.