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The Life Economy
This week I went through a big transition about money and the economy.
I have know intellectually for a long time that our industrial system is man-made and exists within the larger ecosystem of the Earth.
But until this week I hadn’t thought of our industrial economic system as existing within a larger economic system of the Earth.
And this happened because I drew a picture. Seeing it visually instead of it being a vague concept in my head I could see the industrial economic system as its own system and the life economic system being its own system altogether.
When I could conceive of these two economies as two separate things, I could begin to define each one separately.
First, an economic system is basically a system of production, resource allocation, and distribution of goods and services within a society or a given geographical area.
The word economy comes from the Greek word oikonomia—oikos house + nemein to manage. Economy is literally the management of our home, whether it be our individual homes or home-at-large.
To be economical means
- thrifty and efficient use of material resources
- efficient and concise use of nonmaterial resources (such as effort, language, or motion)
- a system especially of interaction and exchange.
Let’s put industrial economics aside for the moment and look at the economy of the Earth. Much has been written about this, but for the moment I’m just going to write this by observation of Life.
The Earth is basically a system of production, resource allocation, and distribution of goods and services within the geographical area of planet Earth.
The system creates lifeforms that interact with each other in societies. The system allocates sunlight, air, water, food, and various materials from which the lifeforms can build shelters. And this system operates in such a way that all this production and distribution happens in a balanced way, so every lifeform has what it needs to thrive, and there is no money exchanged or even in existence. But it is a system of interaction and exchange.The system continuously renews itself.
In early human societies, individuals simply helped each other survive. That help became more and more complex as human culture developed. But even just a few hundred years ago, people relied on each other for everyone in a community to survive, such as the practice of Amish farmers coming together so everyone builds the barn for one farmer, and then they all build a barn for another farmer. And they all help each other harvest their crops. Even though all the farms are individually owned, the entire community works together so all the farms thrive.
Before there was money there was barter for goods and services. But it was still individuals trading in a local area. Money made it easier to trade because you didn’t have to carry your bags of wheat around with you.
But now our industrial economy is something entirely different, because it is not based in the survival of a system and each component part, it’s about the creation of wealth. It’s about taking natural resources of materials and labor and putting the resulting money into the pockets of owners rather than supporting the whole system.
Right now the difference between the Life Economic System and the Industrial Economic System is critical, because our Industrial Economic System is collapsing. And we need a better foundation on which to build a new economy.
For a long time I’ve been feeling like I wanted to “leave the industrial economy” but I didn’t have any other economy to go to.
Now I know there IS another economy that I can learn about and be part of.
I’ll be writing a lot more about this subject. For today, I just wanted to show you there is another economy that is working quite well to sustain life. And we can be part of it.