Daniel Pinchbeck: What if economy worked like a human body?

"We're going to realize that humanity is in a symbiotic relationship with the whole system of the earth. We're like a gigantic planetary superorganism."

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Man stelle sich vor, in einem menschlichen Körper würden die einzelnen Organe untereinander um mehr Macht konkurrieren statt gemeinsam das Ganze zu stärken. Genau das passiert in einer Wirtschaft, die nur auf Profitmaximierung ausgerichtet ist, sagt Daniel Pinchbeck, Direktor des Center for Planetary Cultures in New York. Lässt sich das System überhaupt von innen ändern?

Imagine the organs in a human body competing with each other to become more powerful rather than working together to strengthen the entire system. That’s what is happening with a society whose economy’s only task is to maximize financial profit, says Daniel Pinchbeck, Executive Director of the New York based Center for Planetary Cultures. But is there a chance to change the system from the inside?

 

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It's becoming more and more evident on every level that we're undergoing a time of profound disruption, rapid change. If you look at the ecological evidence. Within a few decades we're going to have a very, very different planet.

Capitalism developed in a certain way to support certain types of masculine, competitive, acquisitive, exploratory modes, and our power structures developed in a certain way like in the US, people who go to the Ivy League they master subjects but they also master the art of succeeding within power structures. So then establishment media, these are like thorough states of power structures. People apply that same type of sensibility they've developed to stay on top in those structures rather than being able to step back into a kind of systems design approach, just like Buckminster Fuller advocates where we sort of let go of our biasses, our establishment kind of constructs and rethink our relationship to the planet from the bottom up.

We're going to realize that humanity is in a symbiotic relationship with the whole system of the earth. We're like a gigantic planetary superorganism. And the organism has organs, and in a strange way like you got to ask yourself what are the organs in the collective human body, and you might say that corporations are the closest thing to those organs, like a media company is like our eyes and ears that take in raw data and convert it into memes so then the whole system operates according to what it sees. Energy companies are like a blood or circulation system that puts and brings energy fuled into the whole body. A sanitation company is like the liver or the kidney, breaking down waste matter. But the problem is that the corporations have been designed like artificial life-forms, and we created a game called the stock market, and we inject these life-forms into that game system. And we say the only way that they can survive and flourish is by enhancing financial profit and shareholder value. So since that's the prime directive we‘ve given to our artificial life-forms that's of course what they do. To maximize purely financial value you have to see things like ecological health and human health as kind of meaningless externalities. So it's very natural for corporations then to evade environmental restrictions, to corrupt governments, work with lobbyists and so on. We're kind of forcing to do that by the logic that we created and also within a corporation if that's the only directive to maximize financial value it's automatically over time going to self-slave sociopathic personality types because those are the people like the CEO of British Petroleum who went yaghting 3 days after they despoiled the Gulf of Mexico. That's an automatic process in this system. So ultimately we're going to have an awakening what we realize we need to redesign the game that we've created, so it's not just about financial profit, it's about biodiversity, the health of diverse local communities, local communities, local languages and cultures that also adds to the resilience of the system. And I think that we're going to have to come to that realization relatively soon.