Follow by Email

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Strategy for Sustainable Capitalism

There are three elements of a strategy for a new economy according to Korten: 1) the new story, 2) organizing local community, and 3) supporting policies for a sustainable earth.

The desired new narrative embodies a different set of values in line with contemporary science, a contemplative view of universal consciousness, and the imagination of postindustrial relational culture. This narrative is emerging through the weaving of many stories in the works of novelists, science fiction writers, movie producers, historians, philosophers, and citizens of diverse communities and backgrounds.

According to Biblical scholars, the central narrative of the ancient Hebrews, was the product of many tribes, each with its own gods, rituals, and customs, federating for strength in relation to dominating empires north and south by taking monthly turns at a common shrine in Shiloh and sharing their stories.  Amphictyony, the practice of tribes sharing a central place or worship to form a league or association, was not an uncommon occurrence in ancient times as the Delphic Amphictyony of Greece illustrates.

But the lesson I am taking is that the unifying narrative for a nation or a league of nations is an emerging and unfinished narrative developing through the listening to and sharing of many stories. A good community organizer is one who can listen to the stories of potential leaders, hear their interests, values, and affiliations, and establish a space where leaders can hear the others' stories to discover commonalities in affiliations, values, and interests. In this way leaders start writing a transcending, unifying story for a powerful community.

Community is a self-organizing process in which stories are shared and a transcending story emerges. In this way, a community shapes its own boundaries, i.e. sets policies, for its continuing development and power. Therefore, the three elements of the strategy that Korten articulates are in deed not different moments or parts, but three inseparable dimensions of what Jesuit Spirituality calls "contemplation in action."

Organizing community, as John McKnight (The Abundant Community) has pointed out, is neither top-down (hierarchical) nor bottom-up (populist), but inside-out. Vertical approaches focus on scarcity in which those who have provide charity to have-nots or victims force the haves to give up some of their possessions. Good community organizing focuses on abundance, the assets already in persons and their communities that when brought together can strengthen communities and their persons.

In a sustainable economy, existing human gifts are brought together for everyone to have. People with their talents come to the concert to create a great symphony. Or, another metaphor, by planting the seeds, laying the compost, and attending to nurture, the garden grows. Investment in a sustainable economy is not putting up money to get more money where the rich get richer and the poor don't, but putting in capital--real capital so that everyone get's wealthier.

One last note before I get specific and lay out my own plan.

Is it okay to get rich, like Gates or Romney or Wall Street bankers? Sure, I have nothing against riches. If money is what turns you on, go for it. I don't care how many cars or houses or wives or jewelry or yachts or art pieces you need, want, or have. Just don't screw the rest of us getting them. And don't pretend that you are adding anything to the sustainable economy or well-being of the nation because you are rich and getting richer, especially if you are not adding anything to building community, enhancing life, advancing human knowledge, and fostering dignity and integrity in persons, among nations, with the earth. And please don't get rich in a way that is destructive to human and planet life and community and then, after you are rich, do good.

Next: A specific plan.

No comments: