Wednesday, November 26, 2008

That Other World Wide Web

Economist David Korten commented, six years ago, that the language of economic dysfunction has become so common that when he uses the term “the global suicide economy” in his talks, he doesn’t need to spend much time explaining what he means. For as he says “Most people are now aware that rule by global corporations and financial speculators engaged in the single-minded pursuit of money is destroying communities, cultures, and natural systems everywhere on the planet. Until recently, however, most people responded with polite but resigned skepticism to my message that economic transformation is possible.”

But that is changing. We are starting to wake up to the fact that economic transformation is possible. All it needs is for enough people to believe that it is possible. And to take a step further by acting on that belief. To put Main Street before Wall Street.

Because the way to deal with the global suicide economy is not to try to destroy it – it is so powerful that not even governments can do that. (In fact, they are up to their necks in it). The way to deal with it is to starve it out. Replace it with something healthy. And we can do that. The means to do it are right here, in everybody’s hands, in everybody’s purses, and we can work on it right now, today, every one of us.

All over the globe, there already exists a spider’s web of local enterprises. Farmers’ markets, small businesses, local co-operatives, local tradespeople, village stores, artisans, craftspeople, artists, CSAs (community supported farms), roadside fruit stands … Local economies have been in decline for a long time – probably since the Industrial Revolution – but they are coming back. There is evidence of it everywhere you look, nowadays. I find this really exciting. Another world really is possible.

No matter where we live, every need we have can theoretically be supplied without a penny of our money going directly into the hands of multi-national corporations. Sure, some might find its way there indirectly. (Our local dressmaker may have bought her thread from Wal-Mart). But that’s OK. We can't accomplish everything at once. What we are speaking of here is just the first step. Think local. Buy local. Support local. Even if it costs more money. (It only costs more money because the global suicide economy hides the true cost of its products, i.e. the cost to the planet). Anyway, it will only cost more money in the short-term. Eventually, it will be cheaper. And even if, right now, it costs a bit more money, is it not worth it, for the Earth’s sake? For the sake of all life?

If you live in an area where there simply are no local alternatives whatsoever to the global suicide economy, well at least you can avoid supporting the worst offenders. Click here for a list of companies NOT to buy from – and why. (Some of the entries may surprise you).

But if you can, even if only in part, try to buy local. The more we support Main Street instead of Wall Street, the thicker and sturdier that web of local enterprise becomes. And the stronger it gets, the faster the global suicide economy will wither. The wealth that right now flows into the pockets of greedy CEOs needs to be redirected into the pockets of the people who truly deserve it – the people in our own localities who are working to supply the needs of their communities.

True wealth, David Korten points out, is “… a sense of belonging, contribution, beauty, joy, relationship, and spiritual connection. … a world of locally rooted living economies that meet the material needs of all people everywhere, while providing meaning, building community, and connecting us to a place on the Earth.”

That’s the world author Arudhati Roy was referring to when she said: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”


MaryContrary said...

Really nice post, Marian. You touch on something that has been growing in my mind for some time. A good part of my growing dissatisfaction with the economic system as it stands and the products we get for those supposedly lower prices. We stopped buying supermarket tomatoes because they simply did not taste good. This year we planted our own in containers on our patio, bought a few from farmers' markets, and got some free from my brother. We thoroughly enjoyed them and eagerly anticipate next summer's crop. We tried buying frozen fruit only to find that they tasted no better than the fruit available in the supermarkets which were picked green and 'ripened' on the way to the market. We don't buy either now. We got apples and peaches from the farmers' market and gloried in flavors we had almost forgotten. Something else we can anticipate for next season. We have almost cut out Wal-Mart. Where we can we buy local product. I think the description of our global economic system as suicidal is very accurate. I really don't want to contribute to it any more.

Elderwoman said...

You are so right about those flavors, Mary. When people taste our home-grown tomatoes and strawberries, their eyes open wide in amazement as they suddenly realize what they have been missing all these years.

Anonymous said...

Marian--If a seamstress is using thread from Walmart, the thread must have some age on it. At least in my neck of the woods, Walmart no longer provides good supplies to the sewer--just a pre-pack of several small spools, such as one might travel with or use if all they want to do is to sew on buttons.

Good posting!
Cop Car

Elderwoman said...

Oh yes, I know those. I bought one once in Walgreens, in an emergency. I still have several of the spools and they are still intact because I never could get the thread out of the little crack!

Tess said...

Great post Marian, especially in a time when most economists and politicians tell us that the only way out of the present crisis is to consume more.

Sonya said...

Just found your blog tonight. You have beautiful ideas and a beautiful writing style. I'll definitely be a regular reader.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across a quote from STanford Economist Paul Romer, that said, "...a crisis is a terrible thing to waste."

We should be working on transforming into a new economy rather than struggling so hard to resuscitate the old one.
Cop Car

Marci said...

Love this post, marian, but to me
the real peril lies more in the
economics of linquistic dysfunction. Orwell was a very bright guy but I really think he wrote better than even he knew at the time

joared said...

I certainly agree with these ideas. I've been supporting numerous independent businesses for years when possible. Buying a product at the least expensive price is sometimes necessary, other times not doing so by patronizing an independent pays dividends.

Barter systems are healthy and growing. They may assume even greater prominence in the future.