I believe the world is in crisis right now. We are seeing a climate catastrophe, with record die-offs of bees, our oceans choking in plastic, 5.5 million deaths per year due to air pollution (mostly in countries where the IMF can impose a ban on environmental and labour laws), Africa, India and areas of the Middle East no longer have the rainfall they had just decades ago. All of these are symptoms of the way our current economic system is designed to extract value from everything in the form of money, and gather it in fewer and fewer places (by allowing only banks to create it for free, and charging everyone else interest on it).
Being forced to grow into new territory, the capitalist economy then imposes itself on foreign economies (either through ‘aid’ in the form of loans or through the barrel of a gun), and domestically into relationships that previously did not involve money, replacing trusting relationships with economic, transactional ones, not only removing our need to rely on our neighbours, but gradually eroding our ability to trust them, as well. In a world where we find ourselves bombarded by lies, where we cannot trust our politicians, our advertisers or the news, it’s more important than ever to build trust with the people in our communities.
Meanwhile, money is the tail wagging our economic dog, and every other system in society has been set up to serve the interests of money. When everything is optimized only for the extraction of wealth, you create the crazy contradictions we see in the world today: We’re producing more than enough food to feed the world, yet people are starving. We have a growing number of homeless people in cities with growing numbers of empty houses people can’t afford to rent. There’s more urgent work to be done than ever to clean up our oceans, the air, replant our forests, and recycle waste, and still we have rising unemployment.
When every system is serving money alone, fundamental change in our economic system will not come from our banks or politicians. Instead, it is coming from the rest of us, as we empower ourselves and each other to work in new and better ways to support not only each other, but our natural environment as well.
There are thousands upon thousands of people around the world building the pieces of a New Economy already, and millions more who wish there were better systems they could take part in. From community currencies to urban farms, co-housing, cooperatives and social enterprises of all kinds, people are leading the way to build a secure future together. In the process of building these new economic systems, they’re forming bonds and relationships that make up a community.
Whether you divest your money from the mining or war industries, join a local community exchange network, buy a solar panel or begin growing some of your own food, there are steps anyone can take in the right direction. Do your friend a favour or ask someone for help. Reach out to the people in your neighbourhood and find out what they’re struggling with. Find out what you think should be done better, and find out who agrees with you. There are alternatives out there already, and the New Economy Network of Australia and New Systems Hub seek to bring those alternatives together and make them easier to access.