Monday, December 7, 2009

Post global

We are, I'm thinking, moving into a post-global world.
It is, in some ways, a post-apocalyptic world.
The great global system crashed, and now we know that turning every place into every other place just isn't very smart. Because you lose too much of the particulars that add up to a reality worth living in and being passionate about.
We lost track of the basics - of how life and lives are sustained - because we made money the measure of all things. But we didn't measure everything in money, not the things like sanity and safety, breast-milk and soil fertility, coral reefs and fresh eggs. So we were making flawed calculations and flawed decisions, becoming more and more alienated.
We are going to need to learn how to assign value to particulars, without making these places, people, or things globally interchangeable. We are going to have to learn how to value what is most valuable, in some kind of common language like money. I'm not sure how this is going to happen but it will, because there is no other way.
And we could lead the way.

3 comments:

Haole Wolf said...

I can't help but hear the post- titles you offer as futuristic "newspapers": The Post-Apocolyptic Tribune; The Evening Post-Global ... or as some political version of Post-Modernism (embodying Post-Post-Modernism, Post-Post-Post-Modernism, etc. into that artsy infinity) -- the system crash leads us back to diversity -- it was, after all, unsustainable to make every other place look the same (and not in line the Second Law of Thermodynamics, either). That makes me happy, in some intangible way, like we can start again with a new and improved plan.

The reclamation of passion, of the essential joys of life, movement away from fungible, cold cash and back to barter, to trade, to gifting, to recycling and freecycling and maybe, just for fun, to commodity monies like shells and beads and bicycles. There are so many objects here in the islands (fruits at the lead) that are treated and shared like money, there is a constant feeling of abundance.

The perfection of the priceless world of nature and art turns economics on its head -- if I create a song so beautiful it is priceless, then by comparison, the deflation of anything using cash becomes even more apparent. What is the worth of a share of stock compared to something like that? The seriousness of money is a mutual illusion -- just as the tulip craze in 16th Century Holland -- when a tulip seriously worth more than a kingdom one day can become worthless in money (though not in beauty) the next day. Our monetary system is based on trust (long past the time of gold redemption or even silver certificates).

I want to hear more about how we could lead the way. What are you conjuring, M?

Pajamahorse said...

Some great musings here. Thank you for sharing them.

I think you have hit the nail. Perhaps not squarely on the head, but a glancing blow. I’m pleased you did not bend the nail nor hit your thumb, so take another swing.

I think the declaration that the global system has crashed is premature, and I hope I never see it. But I do think it has tripped on its shoelace. While it regains its posture, the giant is unaware that its other shoelace is untied…and that its fly is open and it has ‘kick me’ sign on its back. No matter.

The more important ‘kernel’ here is this new system that we must somehow learn to value things locally- not “globally interchangeable”. You see, part of the beauty and infinite value of the things you cite is the fact that they don’t need to be valued at all, and there is value in that. They don’t need to be converted into some human form of currency or commerce and then back again. Their value is intrinsic, assumed, more direct, more efficient, organic. Why would we mess with that? Does a baby (or calf) need to value its mother’s milk via an external trading tool? An extreme example to be sure. We would only screw it up.

There is immeasurable value in the simplicity of this sub economy, and its boundless nature itself adds value. I find it interesting that what I call the sub economy was once the primary economy and will always exist. I think the best we can do is to be aware that it exists; use it wherever and whenever we can, not shed too much light on it. Only then will it evolve in its own organic direction and pace. But it may already be perfect or close to it, requiring no evolution, enhancement, development, etc.. Everything seeks its level. We should not be so bold as to assume that our intervention will improve it.

Now, if you are talking about a local currency as a trading tool and for value storage, do a Google search for community currency. I think is a creative way to encourage a more locally sustainable economy, as you suggest. BTW every time I make this suggestion I get the oddest looks from people.

Money is not in itself good or bad. It is a tool. But like a gun (or a hammer) it becomes a vehicle for good or bad in the hands of the people that wield it.

Haole Wolf said...

Ithaca, New York has the most vibrant local currency I know of ( http://www.ithacahours.org/) -- based on an hour of work -- whether you are a doctor or a pie-maker. This makes for a labor-equity approach which is fairly radical in its premise. It formalizes and expands notions of barter and circulate and recirculate in the local economy, stimulating fun and useful interactions.

A Ka'u Hours currency (with Nene figurehead, no doubt) would be fascinating in its overlap with tourists passing through...