Beyond capitalism and socialism: could a new economic approach save the planet? | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

A holistic approach to the economy is necessary to avoid social, environmental and economic collapse, according to a new report by the Capital Institute Dead fish clog the Rodrigo de Freitas lake in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Scientists claim that the fish were starved of oxygen because of pollution. A holistic approach would look closely at the environmental impacts – such as a fish die-off – of economic activities.

To avoid social, environmental and economic collapse, the world needs to move beyond the standard choices of capitalism or socialism. That’s the conclusion of a new report released Wednesday by US think tank Capital Institute.

The non-partisan think tank argues that both systems are unsustainable, even if flawlessly executed, and that economists need to look to the “hard science of holism” to debunk outdated views held by both the left and the right.

Jan Smuts, who coined the term “holism” in his 1926 book, Holism and Evolution, defined it as the “tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts”. For example, in the case of a plant, the whole organism is more than a collection of leaves, stems and roots. Focusing too closely on each of these parts, the theory argues, could get in the way of understanding the organism as a whole.  Viewed through this perspective, the capitalist tendency to isolate an economic process from its antecedents and effects is fundamentally flawed.

The Capital Institute, created by former JP Morgan managing director John Fullerton, says that society’s economic worldview has relied on breaking complex systems down into simpler parts in order to understand and manage them. For example, this traditional economic view might view automobile manufacturing separately from the mineral mining, petroleum production and workers on which it relies. Moreover, this view might also not acknowledge the impact that automobile manufacturing has on the environment, politics and economics of an area. Holism, on the other hand, would view the entire chain of cause and effect that leads to – and away from – automobile manufacturing.

The Capital Institute report, titled Regenerative Capitalism, emphasizes that the world economic system is closely related to, and dependent upon, the environment. “The failure of modern economic theory to acknowledge this reality has had profound consequences, not the least of which is global climate change,” it says.

A long chain of cause and effects

According to the Capital Institute, the consequences of this economic worldview are vast and far reaching, encompassing a host of challenges that range from climate change to political instability.

For example, the current capitalist system has created extreme levels of inequality, the report says. This, in turn, has led to a host of ills, including worker abusesexismeconomic stagnation and more. It could even be considered partly responsible for the rise of terrorism around the world, the report claims. In other words, this inequality has become a threat to the very system that is creating it. Without radical change, the report warns, “the current mainstream capitalist system is under existential threat”.

What is needed now, the Capital Institute argues, is a new systems-based mindset built around the idea of a regenerative economy, “which recognizes that the proper functioning of complex wholes, like an economy, cannot be understood without the ongoing, dynamic relationships among parts that give rise to greater wholes”.

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Source: Beyond capitalism and socialism: could a new economic approach save the planet? | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

Mainstreaming new economic models – sign up for our New York event | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

Mainstreaming new economic models – sign up for our New York eventJoin us on Thursday 12 November 2015 to explore the successes and failures of neoliberal capitalism, the emergence of alternative economic models and the potential for grassroots activity to create meaningful change Demonstrators protest in Frankfurt, Germany against government austerity and capitalism earlier this year. Photograph: Michael Probst/APWednesday 7 October 2015 12.08 BST Last modified on Wednesday 7 October 2015 12.42 BSTShare on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+Shares100 Save for laterA growing number of individuals and organisations are questioning an economy based on limitless growth. There are two broad reasons, they argue, why such an economy is doomed to fail: firstly it exploits the people and depletes the resources it relies on to survive; secondly it is accompanied by unacceptable – even unworkable – levels of inequality, financial instability and social unrest.

Source: Mainstreaming new economic models – sign up for our New York event | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

William Connolly. If everyone lived in an ‘ecovillage’, the Earth would still be in trouble

Difficult – and important – reading.

“But personal action is not enough. We must restructure our societies to support and promote these “simpler” ways of living. Appropriate technology must also assist us on the transition to one planet living. Some argue that technology will allow us to continue living in the same way while also greatly reducing our footprint.

However, the extent of “dematerialisation” required to make our ways of living sustainable is simply too great. As well as improving efficiency, we also need to live more simply in a material sense, and re-imagine the good life beyond consumer culture.

First and foremost, what is needed for one planet living is for the richest nations, including Australia, to initiate a “degrowth” process of planned economic contraction.

I do not claim that this is likely or that I have a detailed blueprint for how it should transpire. I only claim that, based on the ecological footprint analysis, degrowth is the most logical framework for understanding the radical implications of sustainability.”

via If everyone lived in an ‘ecovillage’, the Earth would still be in trouble.