postvirtual

The True Meaning of Economy

In #GlobalRevolution, Spain on 10 December 2011 at 14:30

Piedralaves, December 10

Dear people,

The euro, the economy and the concept of ‘debt’ are trending topics in main stream media these days. The euro has to be saved at all cost, or else the economy will collapse, and debt will crush us all. That seems to be the idea. The situation is dead serious, we are on the brink of a catastrophe. Our trusted leaders are our only hope, and fortunately they are doing their utmost to resolve the crisis. We will be asked to make sacrifices, but we can rest assured that we will pull through.

In the meantime, I learned that there has been a climate conference going on in Durban, South Africa, which has received little to no attention from the media. I started to think about that, about the real and the perceived importance of both events. I started to think about what these concepts of economy and debt really mean.

In a world where money can be created by private banks in the form of digits on a computer screen, debt, in a monetary sense, is a scam. As long as we believe in it, we will be slaves. The moment we stop believing in it, we will be free. But because our leaders, our newspapers, our tv channels and our chief economists are all talking about monetary debt as if it were something real, we all keep on believing that it is.

Debt does exist, of course, but not in a monetary sense, not any more. I’ll try to explain. You will have to excuse me for oversimplifying, but I like to reduce things to the basics, and sometimes the basics are much less complicated than they seem to be at first sight. In this case you can reduce them to a simple and elegant equation.

On the one hand we have a planet. This planet possesses a finite amount of resources and a given capacity of self regeneration.

On the other hand we have a human population that is dependent on the planet for survival.

The great challenge of humanity is to make sure that this human population can continue to be sustained indefinitely, by making sensible use of the variable T (technology).

This, and only this, is what the concept of ‘economy’ is really about.

Money is not a part of the equation. On the contrary, the pursuit of money is one of the main things that caused the crisis in the first place.

The crisis – the real crisis – is that we continue to deplete the planet’s resources and exceed its capacity of self generation. And as long as we keep on doing so, we are accumulating ‘debt’.

This debt is real. This debt is heating the planet and it’s growing fast. Unlike the monetary debt, the real debt will have to be repaid, all of it, with compound interest. If we don’t start repaying it soon, the debt might become so big that we will experience runaway compound interest. Then it’ll be too late. Then the planet will default on us, and we will all be screwed.

So while the papers are filling page after page about the virtual economic crisis, the Durban Climate conference was addressing the real crisis. And nobody seemed to care.

This is a big problem. We don’t seem to know the difference anymore between what’s really important, and what’s only make-believe. We will have to regain this consciousness, and act on it. In our own best interest, and that of our offspring.

One of the slogans I found here at the 15M encounter in Piedralaves, summed up this feeling: “I wouldn’t be able to look my children in their eyes and say to them that they have to live this way because I wasn’t willing to fight…”

All the best,
Oscar

  1. I don’t think that the debt crisis could be labeled as a “scam”.

    I mean, all the financial and banking system is, in a certain way, a “scam”. But the perspective of a long recession (harder than the one in which we already are!), with all his possible consequences (on social and politic levels) is terribly concrete and real.

    At least, concret as the natural environment crisis.

    see you soon oscar,
    d.

  2. Dear Oscar,

    It’s as simple as you say! Why can’t people see that? There will be terrible problems because of the crisis, but the worst of them all is the destruction of the Earth. That is, if we don’t do anything and let it happen.

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