The talk about balancing the economy never seems to get around to discussing balancing this with the ecology. There is a strange belief that if we have more money available to spend, it will lead to a happy life in spite of the fact that it is leading to an ecological nightmare, that no amount of money will correct. What is required is a rethink, a reframing, a realigning that will bring the human social economic system into some semblance of balance with the non-human earth ecological system of which we are in our most basic biological form, an expression. Gregory Daneke, notes that we’ve headed down a side track of our own making for the benefit of a few at the expense of the many. This few has corraled the masses with a lot of juicy inducements that are addictive, will be hard to give up. Packaged as essentials and expressions of being in control of our destiny, these glitzy consumables are all the while robbing from the earth in the name of a linear consumptive society that is forever chasing its itself in ever diminishing circles.
In: Ecological reasoning demands perspectives that mainstream economics is designed to obliterate, Gregory Daneke, Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University, USA (Economic Reform Australia, Volume 15 No.2 March – April 2023) sets out the contradictions inherent in adhering to the current economic model, that is so pervasive and informs so much of what we do. We include this reprint with acknowledgement.
“Given the numerous disasters exhibited of late involving Mainstream Economics, various heterodox economists have called for much greater consideration of ecological processes (both natural and social, see Fullbrook and Morgan, 2001). Such processes, in turn, have become increasingly illuminated through the burgeoning science of complex adaptive systems (for example Preiser et al, 2018). What some of these earnest observers fail to fully appreciate, however, is that ecological reasoning demands perspectives that economics as a policy enterprise is specifically designed to obliterate.
Merely invoking alternative perspectives without first exploring the strangle -hold that mainstream economists have over specific institutions and the culture at large is for the most part a fool’s errand. Economics and ecology stem from the same Greek root “oikos” or eco (meaning home) and referring to the art of life. Yet they have become like the twins in the swashbuckling tale by Dumas, The Man in the Iron Mask (with one the vile usurper the other the innocent prisoner). Fairly early on economics abandoned concern for widespread human welfare and focused on what the Greeks called “chrematistics” (or “the art of acquisition”, see Stahel, 2021).
“During the middle of the 20th century, Mainstream Economics became less of a science and more like a primitive cult (for a bit comic relief see Leijonhufvud, 1973). It is now primarily practiced to conceal the contradictions and extoll the virtues of yet another predatory epoch (much like the Guided Age, see Veblen 1899). Mainstream Economics is pretty much a static system virtually out of touch with the dynamics of “living systems” (as popularized by Capra, 1996). It is particularly hostile to anything systemic and symbiotic, especially those theories and methods associated with sustainable socioecological systems. Over the last few decades, the mainstream has morphed to ignore mounting incongruities, moving from Neoclassical to Neoliberal and now Neofeudal representations, further enshrining inequality and environmental devastation.
“Given their appeal to pecuniary interests and proclaiming their status as the supreme social science, economists sought to sufficiently disguise their ideological predilections and overwhelming allegiance to their generous plutocratic patrons. In the process, mainstream economists became increasing recalcitrant in defense or their fraudulent prestige (e.g., fake Nobel Prizes) and inordinate power (in business and government), not to mention their outsized personal remuneration and their blatant conflicts of interest (recall the prizewinning documentary Inside Job.
“Worse yet, by pretending to be apolitical, ahistorical, and value free, they have clandestinely expanded the vast set of cultural entanglements associated with a retrograde political economy and with its associated ecological destruction. Maintenance of the mythology requires increasingly intense societal dementia. The rapacious systems, that they so vigorously defend, exacerbate inherent financial instability (see Minsky, 1980) and accelerate upward redistribution, as well as ignoring the rapidly converging ecological catastrophe (i.e., global climatic chaos). Even under optimistic scenarios these processes will bring with them levels of political oppression and societal immiseration not seen since the Dark Ages.
“All the while, the remediative observations of ecologists remain tangential, at best, to serious policy discussions. Catch phrases and sound bites have entered the lexicon, but mostly as “green washing” for corporate and governmental tokenism, and more recently to stimulate popular support for various neofeudal schemes such as the so-called “Great Reset” (see Roth, 2021). Things are indeed dire, but hopefully not so dire that the public should trust the ‘Davos Men’ (who created these crises) to completely privatize the planet and rent it back to them in a less environmentally disruptive fashion. Before these schemes gain more momentum a new breed of scholars should seriously strive to identify and excise the anti-ecological as well as anti-democratic institutions hard-wired into the existing political economy.”
Readers are encouraged to read the original paper (Ref 2) from which the comments appearing in RWER Blogs (Ref 1) were extracted, and which contains details of all the references mentioned.
And these quotes at the introduction of: The Paradigm in the Iron Mask: Toward an Institutional Ecology of Ecological Economics, Gregory A. Daneke [Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University, USA] – Copyright: Gregory A. Daneke, 2022 – In Real-world economics review, issue no. 102.
The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the reverse.
– Herman Daly
Many of the social and environmental failures of the global economy trace to the flawed and outdated maps of the egoʹ-nomics currently taught in our most prestigious universities as scientific truth and echoed daily in the media. Those failures are so significant that they pose an existential threat to the survival of the human species. Recognising that ego’-nomics shields economic predators from moral responsibility, private financial interests use their financial power to relentlessly promote the maps of ego’-nomics through media, education, government, and even religion.
– David Korten
We will never create sustainability while immersed in the present financial system. There is no tax, or interest rate, or disclosure requirement that can overcome the many ways the current money system blocks sustainability.
– Dennis Meadows