Riane Eisler, best known for her international bestseller The Chalice and The Blade, just published The Real Wealth of Nations. In a Sept 16, 2009, address at the United Nations she laid out the difference between Partnership economics and Domination economics and the continuum between them. She concludes that the real wealth of nation is in people and nature, not Wall Street gamblers.
As American Christians, we must read the Bible from our own social location–which is the heart of Empire. Empires are built on Domination economics, so it is useful for us to understand Riesler’s analysis. Domination economics are predicated on death of humans, communities, and the natural world. (For example, some corporations allow “acceptable human losses” in order to justify profit.)
However, healthy nations and communities thrive when they practice Partnership economics–where investment is in human resources and real work, not capital for its own sake (like including the work that is done in the home as part of the GNP or fairly compensating childcare workers, etc, and paying women a fair wage).
Reiser argues that our emerging global community needs a “new economic story” for what human communities and economies can be. The message of Jesus in the gospels is one such “new story.” Gospel economics teach us that the purpose of an economy is to serve and protect human life, relationships, and the natural world–more on the model of partnership economics. (See all the resources at the Sabbath Economics Collaborative for more on this topic.)
The Manna Story in Exodus 16 and Numbers 11 teaches us about organic wealth–wealth that serves life, rather than promoting affluence or poverty.
Here’s an excerpt from Eisler’s talk:
We need to move beyond the tired old argument about capitalism vs socialism and vice versa. We need to retain and strengthen the partnership elements in both the market and government economies and leave the domination elements behind — and we need to go further: to a new economic system that recognizes what old systems did not: that the real wealth of nations, the real wealth of our world, is not financial (as we just saw when the derivatives, the credit swaps, melted into thin air) that the real wealth of nations consists of the contributions of people and of nature, and that therefore need what we have not had, economic systems that give visibility and real value to most important human work–the work of caring for people, starting in early childhood, and caring for our Mother Earth.
We urgently need this new economic system if are to effectively address global warming, and if we are to prevent further catastrophic problems. We urgently need it if are to more effectively address seemingly intractable problems like chronic poverty and hunger.
Read Riane Eisler’s whole speech here.
I’d recommend reading The Real Wealth of Nations. Eisler’s analysis of the value placed on human work and caring for children, elders, and families across global economic trends is not something you’ll find in most U.S. media.