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Ending the economic monoculture that impoverishes us, inspiration from Edgar Cahn

mercredi 18 novembre 2015 par Jean Bourdariat

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Before the Bataclan, Paris

More than 120 dead and 300 injured a war situation in Paris, a political roadmap to the far right, the social situation in France, the politics of our country and of Europe in the Middle East, refugees.

To sum up, if at all possible, the contradiction between the globalization of finance and instant information on the one hand, and yet the exclusive economic system of our countries on the other hand, seems to be the primary cause of frustration and conflicts that have hit us hard head on. Not to mention also that such massacres occur several times a month in the Middle East and East Africa.

I am herewith following on from the thoughts of Edgar S. Cahn at the Stirling conference, words that he expressed hours before the massacre in Paris. Perhaps everyone will get something from it. Edgar Cahn attended the Time Banking UK annual conference, which this year took place at the University of Stirling, Scotland. It was in the late 1980s that in order to better engage the residents in their community and to develop mutual aid, Edgar S. Cahn thought about the time currency model and created the first time bank. After an academic career spanning over 50 years he continues to meet groups of citizens running projects inspired by his ideas worldwide.

For Edgar Cahn, a sense of justice is the foundation of time banks. Inequality has now reached an unacceptable level. We cannot accept the manner in which people are marginalised, left out of society.

What threatens humanity, he says, is the monoculture. In the past, large-scale cultivation of potato allowed Ireland to survive deprivation. However, the arrival of potato blight in the mid- nineteenth century transformed this monoculture into a disaster : a million dead, two million refugees. Deprived of the plant that was the basis of their diet, the Irish would starve while landlords continued to export food into Britain.

Monoculture increases profit, but when problems surface, all is lost. The risk is incalculable. Like monoculture drains all the nutrients and depletes soils, the current economic monoculture generates huge profits for the few while it absorbs all "nutrients" of society, families and individuals.

The volume of financial transactions reaches the incredible figure of 5000 billion dollars a day, while only 2% corresponds to real physical transactions. Prices are high, and the values are falling. The human being seems to be worthless. What matters only is financial returns, and the consequences are kept hidden.

Facing this economic monoculture, what should we do ? We must learn from agriculture on how to restore the ecosystem, diversify currencies, and educate : it is about bringing back "nutrients" in our society. That is why we need the time currency and time banks, and we also need a "learning currency”.

We can’t see a computer’s operating system, but without it, the computer will not function. Families are the operating system of society, which has been destroyed by the economy. We must change our operating system, and place at its very heart a promise of equality and justice. We are the operating system.