duminică, 4 decembrie 2011

Pierderea sinelui prin monetarizarea vietii - Charles Einsentein (english)

If Christmas is such an exciting and joyous occasion, it is mostly because the rest of the year is bleak and insubstantial in comparison: once the festivities are over, how depressed do people become when getting on with the daily grind? It is not difficult to see that money, or at least the concept of money that has existed since Antiquity, greatly enhances this sense of blandness pervading our experience of the world. And it does this not just by compelling us to 'earn a living', as the insidious expression goes, but by enhancing the commodification of everything. As a measure of value, money relies for its power upon standardization: all that can be turned into a generic commodity is, so that it can be utilized in financial transactions for the accumulation of wealth.

Physical money denoting the same agreed amount is, by definition, interchangeable: my money is as good as yours. Since financial transactions aim to quantify worth, they deal only with the generic: that which can be quantified. And as the realm of money is extended, more and more of the world is subsumed into the categories of 'goods' and 'commodities' which can be bought or sold, quantified and evaluated.

The economisation of the world consists not only of the standardization of all its parts, but also of their degradation. A given financial transaction involves the input of raw materials and the output of waste: industrial waste and pollution, land degradation, food waste, etc. Economists tend to refer to these outputs as 'externalities', hence they are generally not considered when analysing such matters as the economy of intensive agriculture, with its vast 'external' spillover in the form of a monolithic carbon footprint, topsoil depletion, etc. But it is not just the physical world around us that is degraded by ecomonic transactions; we live in an age in which our very humanity - from our individual talents and our pleasures to our very (brief) time alive on Earth - are considered financial raw materials from which we are encouraged to extract a profit. In this case, the output 'waste' may not be as physically obvious and perilous to the survival of other creatures, but it is no less real. We feel it in our bones, it is dehumanising and we lose a part of ourselves.

In order to convert any segment of the world, including human beings, into an object of financial desire, that object must first be considered scarce and of limited quantity. This is no mean feat when one considers that, for the vast bulk of human existence, mother nature has given to us freely; we did not need to purchase food or clothing, our survival and our safety were guaranteed by the other members of our tribe, and we could construct any objects or items of necessity either alone or in collaboration with our community. Once such basic functions are stripped from us, the economy sees to it that they are packaged and sold back to us: we pay for our food, we pay for our clothing, we buy medicine and houses and furniture and cheap consumer goods. Who comes out of such a scenario the richer? 

We are supposed to be shocked by the fact that over half of the world lives on less than $2 a day, yet we don't stop to consider how so many of them get by on this when we could envisage ourselves starving or freezing to death under such circumstances. Perhaps the aforementioned functions and necessities are provided to many of these people outside of economic transactions; perhaps the entirety of their lives have not been economized. 

By extending programs of economic growth and development, we are fostering the spread and distribution of commoditization, in which each object is to be considered in terms of its objective value. We are also encouraging the dissolution of community spirit and of humanity. Economists tells us that humans are all the same: we all want money. Either in its physical form, or as the standardized and evaluated objects which it necessitates, they insist that we strive to accumulate it. Yet we know that this is not the case; we are not all the same. We have different desires, different values and needs; from the moment we are born until we are indoctrinated into this culture, we sense the plentiful nature of the world and the infinity of all that composes it. We know that it cannot be reduced and that it must not be degraded.

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