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The Big Answer


To link to this article from your blog or webpage, copy and paste the url below into your blog or homepage.

Creating Alternative Futures: The End of Economics

a book by Hazel Henderson and E. F. Schumacher

(our site's book review)

They say that in addition to the Declaration of Independence which asserts human individual rights, we need a Declaration of Interdependence which asserts human responsibilities. Balance of rights and responsibilities is the key. This of course dovetails with what dozens of contemporary writers are saying about the imbalance between rights and responsibilities prevalent today. They say that most of our private and public institutions are way behind the times, struggling to understand and respond to what many of our country’s more aware individuals have known for years, and as a result, they try to get us to increase growth, goods and energy consumption and spending in spite of diminishing resources, increasing national debt, and energy scarcity.

national debt

Unless American citizens start defecating money, the debt has put us all in deep doo-doo
Unless American citizens start defecating money, the debt has put us all in deep doo-doo

They point out that in 1975 one third of Americans believed that our capitalistic economic system was in decline. But in the 90s most people were quite confident that the economy was doing fine, so their book (1978) was already outdated in this respect, although many of their ideas are surely not. (In 2014 it again became obvious that our capitalistic economic system is in decline because of the various crashes and the fact that the average citizen isn't doing very well.)

In 2014 it's obvious that our economic system is in decline and the average citizen isn't doing very well
In 2014 it's obvious that our economic system is in decline and the average citizen isn't doing very well


The authors strongly advocate the new, ecological-holistic paradigm replacing the old, reductionistic-mechanistic paradigm
The authors strongly advocate the new, ecological-holistic paradigm replacing the old, reductionistic-mechanistic paradigm

The authors' ideas are more relevant by the year. Especially their call for adopting the new, ecological-holistic paradigm, a call she shares with the likes of Fritjof Capra, the Tofflers, and dozens of others. Henderson has been an activist “intimately involved in . . . the development of ecological consciousness since the early sixties; in the growing manifestation of female social wisdom, and in the growth of the movement for corporate accountability. . . . the most vital function of social movements is as psychological support structures for developing value shifts that enable a society to adapt peacefully to new conditions. . . . information is the basic currency of political decisions. They seek with their public interest research efforts to restructure information, politicize its modulation and amplification channels and create new social awareness and insight that might lead to political and social change. They have successfully politicized the sciences and the professions and shown the extent to which most research is commissioned as ammunition for political manipulation.”

As our capitalistic economic system declines for the people, the Corporatocracy poisons politics and makes our democratic facade even more transparent
As our capitalistic economic system declines for the people, the Corporatocracy poisons politics and makes our democratic facade even more transparent

One wonders how objective such information is if the chosen direction of political manipulation in known and the desired research outcomes are known and the research backer’s agenda is known. Truth is the first casualty of war. This applies double to the Culture War in the age of the Third Wave. Perhaps when each side dumps its biased conclusions on the media, somehow fairness or truth can sometimes emerge from the sound byte morass as the slanted information balances itself out by zero-sum neutralization. But often, corporations, government and lawyers are all on the same side against an unaware, exploited public.

Corporations, government and lawyers are all on the same side against an unaware, exploited public
Corporations, government and lawyers are all on the same side against an unaware, exploited public

We discussed the gridlock, corruption and bureaucratic black holes in the government elsewhere. So have many authors. Consult the books (or merely our comments about them):

They also point to one of the main reasons that books with far-reaching, systematic, integrated, ecologically and holistically sound answers—or websites, like The Big Answer—are not likely to be the result of the way things are done by research organizations, academia, think tanks, or political leaders: “Most of the incentives in the academic world reward rather narrow, reductionistic study and pseudo-rigorous examination of less and less significant phenomena.” Such people as Alfred North Whitehead, Kenneth Boulding, E. F. Schumacher, Lewis Mumford, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, Theodore Roszak and R.D. Laing have called for a more ecological-holistic, systems approach that gleans more useful and meaningful knowledge.

If all we do is chase the dollar, we won’t have time to evolve the things that matter
If all we do is chase the dollar, we won’t have time to evolve the things that matter

They point out that if we humans spend too much of our time chasing the almighty dollar, we won’t have time to evolve the things that matter: wisdom, Maslow’s self-actualization, both peace and peace of mind, community, love and contemplation.

They say “In a sense, we must all become educators. More than ever, we all need to teach values for human development and justice and ecological harmony, rather than meaningless, academic, reductionistic technique. Most of all, citizens and educators must teach a broader, more realistic definition of self-interest: as coterminous with group and species interest. . . .we see our true situation on this interdependent planet. It has been said that ethics is merely the acceptance of human interdependence. Morality, in fact, has, at last, become pragmatic.”