Believing We Can Build a Caring Economy

What are we facing, doom or possibility of transformation? My reputation is for seeing the glass half full.

Chris Hedges is going for doom, big time.

Our way of life is over. Our profligate consumption is finished. Our children will never have the standard of living we had. And poverty and despair will sweep across the landscape like a plague. This is the bleak future.

Most of his column, though, is an interview with political philosopher, Sheldon S. Wolin, who does indeed hold fairly dire views about the possibilities for corporate fascism in this era of a weak and ineffective Left. But he quotes Wolin:

Every day we hear how much longer the recession will continue. They are already talking about beyond next year. The economic difficulties are more profound than we had guessed and because of globalization more difficult to deal with.

A recession lasting beyond next year doesn't exactly sound like poverty and despair sweeping across the land, does it? Is our problem the economic collapse or the lack of enough economic collapse to provoke real change? It's like the problem isn't the end of oil so much as still having too much oil.

I like this piece by Riane Eisler that imagines we could transform into a caring economy. Why, she asked Monday in a conversation on our Phone Forum that you can listen to here, do we pay people more to look after our water pipes than after our children? The fastest way to get money into the economy, into the hands of low income people who will spend it, is also the way to stimulate the deepest transformation of our economy. Give the money to the caregivers, the day care workers, the women and men looking after elderly or sick relatives at home, the people caring for our environment. Caregivers of all kinds, those building human potential and the natural economy: they are underfunded, many are poor, and they will spend the money on essentials. And nothing is more essential than a caring economy.

What is a spiritual progressive? Well, there's the gloomy prophet type, I'll grant you that. But there's also the visionary who dares to believe that crisis can be used to make dirty politics clean and make the money-grubbing economy, not just the home, the place where we care for each other. What kind of unrealistic utopian would have imagined in the terrible years of slavery that within less than two centuries there would be an African American President? What kind would imagine today that business could run for social goals, serving the people? I go for spiritual progressives like Riane Eisler and Muhammad Yunus and Michael Lerner.