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Sat Sep 7, 2019, 03:54 PM

Our path to an ecological civilisation: Alternative money and markets

( Long article at The Conversation: A globalised solar-powered future is wholly unrealistic – and our economy is the reason why )

... To curb the relentless growth of value – at the expense of the biosphere and the global poor – we must create an economy that can restrain itself. Much of the discussion on climate change suggests that we are on a battlefield, confronting evil people who want to obstruct our path to an ecological civilisation. But the concept of capitalism tends to mystify how we are all caught in a game defined by the logic of our own constructions – as if there was an abstract “system” and its morally despicable proponents to blame. Rather than see the very design of the money game as the real antagonist, our call to arms tends to be directed at the players who have had best luck with the dice.

I would instead argue that the ultimate obstruction is not a question of human morality but of our common faith in what Marx called “money fetishism”. We collectively delegate responsibility for our future to a mindless human invention – what Karl Polanyi called all-purpose money, the peculiar idea that anything can be exchanged for anything else. The aggregate logic of this relatively recent idea is precisely what is usually called “capitalism”. It defines the strategies of corporations, politicians, and citizens alike. All want their money assets to grow. The logic of the global money game obviously does not provide enough incentives to invest in renewables. It generates greed, obscene and rising inequalities, violence, and environmental degradation, including climate change. But mainstream economics appears to have more faith in setting this logic free than ever. Given the way the economy is now organised, it does not see an alternative to obeying the logic of the globalised market...

... So the first thing we should redesign are the economic ideas that brought fossil-fueled technology into existence and continue to perpetuate it. “Capitalism” ultimately refers to the artefact or idea of all-purpose money, which most of us take for granted as being something about which we do not have a choice. But we do, and this must be recognised. Since the 19th century, all-purpose money has obscured the unequal resource flows of colonialism by making them seem reciprocal: money has served as a veil that mystifies exploitation by representing it as fair exchange. Economists today reproduce this 19th-century mystification, using a vocabulary that has proven useless in challenging global problems of justice and sustainability. The policies designed to protect the environment and promote global justice have not curbed the insidious logic of all-purpose money – which is to increase environmental degradation as well as economic inequalities.

In order to see that all-purpose money is indeed the fundamental problem, we need to see that there are alternative ways of designing money and markets. Like the rules in a board game, they are human constructions and can, in principle, be redesigned. In order to accomplish economic “degrowth” and curb the treadmill of capital accumulation, we must transform the systemic logic of money itself. National authorities might establish a complementary currency, alongside regular money, that is distributed as a universal basic income but that can only be used to buy goods and services that are produced within a given radius from the point of purchase. This is not “local money” in the sense of LETS or the Bristol Pound – which in effect do nothing to impede the expansion of the global market – but a genuine spanner in the wheel of globalisation. With local money you can buy goods produced on the other side of the planet, as long as you buy it in a local store. What I am suggesting is special money that can only be used to buy goods produced locally. This would help decrease demand for global transports – a major source of greenhouse gas emissions – while increasing local diversity and resilience and encouraging community integration. It would no longer make low wages and lax environmental legislation competitive advantages in world trade, as is currently the case...

https://theconversation.com/a-globalised-solar-powered-future-is-wholly-unrealistic-and-our-economy-is-the-reason-why-118927

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Reply Our path to an ecological civilisation: Alternative money and markets (Original post)
Ghost Dog Sep 2019 OP
yonder Sep 2019 #1
Karadeniz Sep 2019 #2
tblue37 Sep 2019 #3

Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Sat Sep 7, 2019, 04:16 PM

1. Interesting. Could it actually work?

Could it work inside of or along with a Herman Daly/Hazel Henderson type steady-state economy?

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Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Sat Sep 7, 2019, 05:26 PM

2. Thanks, Dog, that was a fascinating article...full of things we rarely consider!

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Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Sat Sep 7, 2019, 11:15 PM

3. K&R for visibility. nt

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