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The Civil Economy

The Role of Capitalism in Global Warming and the Climate Crisis

Capitalism stands accused as the primary driver of global warming and the ensuing climate crisis. Rooted in the ethos of competition and profit maximization, capitalism's relentless pursuit of perpetual accumulation, fossil fuels and environmental degradation. The prevailing economic systems treat the natural world as an expendable resource, indifferent to the consequences of profit-driven exploitation. Profit maximization, orchestrated by human endeavours, takes precedence over environmental stewardship.

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The Earths Cry

Capitalism has created the jail and become the jailer; one cannot exist without the other. Like an unborn child Humans have become dependent on what nourishes them in the womb. We cannot think that a world beyond might exist; to become aware of the existence of another larger, more marvelous world the child must first leave the world that nurtures and sustains it.

This has made it difficult for Humans to hear the Earths cry, and to consider that there may be another way to live. In essence, the concept of the Civil Economy beckons humanity to transcend the confines of capitalism and forge a new path characterized by symbiosis, equity, and environmental stewardship.

Creating communities dedicated to human flourishing and reversing the effects of the Anthropocene: Establishing a balance between human spirit and environmental consciousness. Recognizing poverty as a construct influenced by prevailing monetary systems. Addressing the concept of ownership to foster community unity and combat Anthropocene challenges. Within a Civil Economic structure, poverty ceases to be a ‘problem to be solved’.

Civil Economy: Embracing Poverty as a Spiritual Encounter

Choosing poverty isn't merely adopting a new lifestyle; it signifies entering into a spiritual realm where one's perspective and existence are fundamentally altered.

“Poverty is a life situation that any person may be confronted with. But if the person in question chooses to relate him or herself to this situation, even to the extent that he or she chooses to live in poverty, the confrontation may be transformed into an encounter shaping and reshaping the person, as well as his or her poverty. This last element, that both poles of the relationship are being transformed, makes the spiritual process broader and more common than the descriptions of conversion “ (cf. Paloutzian, 2005).

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The Civil Economy: A Holistic Approach

The Civil Economy represents a comprehensive, biodiverse paradigm that transcends traditional distinctions between for-profit and nonprofit sectors. It encompasses the entire economic spectrum while drawing insights from historical materialism. Unlike conventional economic models, the Civil Economy advocates for mutual assistance and interdependence, recognizing the interconnectedness of all economic actors.

Addressing Contemporary Challenges

Contemporary societies grapple with multifaceted challenges necessitating a paradigm shift in patterns of consumption, production, and societal organisation. While climate change looms large, its resolution requires a holistic approach that integrates cultural, environmental, spiritual, and economic dimensions. The limitations of capitalism in fostering fairness, harmony, and sustainability are increasingly evident, prompting initiatives like environmental transitions and circular economies.

Creating ‘Restricted Use’

Citizens of these new Civil Economy Communities embrace what the theologian Bonhoeffer described as ‘Costly Grace’, as opposed to ‘Cheap Grace’.

 

Costly Grace is the behaviour that actually ‘costs’ us something. A behaviour or way of being that produces real profound grass root change at a ‘core’ level. In Bonhoeffer’s case this meant aligning himself with not just the words, for that would have been considered ‘cheap’ grace, something he saw in the contemporaries of the time, but he needed to align his actions with his core beliefs. For Bonhoeffer this was to live and act as Christ did and not just giving lip service to those beliefs and values.! This cost him the ultimate price, that of his life, hanged by The Nazi regime April 9th, 1945.

 

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The act of choosing to live with the ‘restricted use’ of money creates a ‘cost’. An individual when they make this choice is entering into a state of self-denial, a ‘state’ not dissimilar to that induced by fasting or taking a vow of silence for a length of time. This self-imposed denial shines a light of the things that money can buy along with the plethora of emotions and ‘hiding places’ within the psyche that a human can seek comfort in. By losing a sense of ownership many behaviours and thought patterns are challenged within an individual, creating a space for a true ‘connection’ to others and the Planet to occur.

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As far back as we can remember, the question of poverty has also been a spiritual question; just to live, the human being has always needed help: from his relatives, the environment, and sometimes the divine.

 

Poverty is the human condition of living with all kinds of shortcomings. In the time of the Biblical fathers, wealth was considered a blessing, poverty a curse (Ryan, 2015). Later, in the time of the prophets, who saw that the wealthy were not always the servants of God, the image of the poor and suffering Servant of God was introduced.

 

Francis of Assisi – “il poverello” – (The Poor little man) was a saint, particularly because he was poor with the poor (Lambert, 1998, p 41). And to this day, helping the poor is very often connected with religious motives (Speelman, 2017b). In the light of this, it seems good to delineate how poverty can be described as a spiritual theme, not only as a problem that must be fought, but also – however strange this may sound to modern ears – as a virtue and a pathway to a good life.

In a spiritual approach, poverty may appear in different forms.

Let us first try to clarify the elusive term ‘spirituality’. The most fruitful description of this field seems that of Kees Waaijman, who approaches spirituality as an interactive process between a ‘power greater than ourselves’ and the human being, which reciprocally shapes both the Higher Power and human poles of the relationship (Waaijman, 2002, p 430).

 

Consider what happens when a person talks to a child: they kneel before the child, raise the pitch of their voice a bit and talks in short sentences? And does not the child, at the same time and unconsciously, grow because they are talking to a grown-up human being? Spirituality, then, is what happens when a human being gives him- or herself in a relationship and is being shaped through that relationship, while at the same time, as an effect of this communication, the other pole of the relationship (divine, human, or other) is being shaped as well.

 

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A Civil Economy therefore proposes to use a generic approach in which the spiritual domain is described as a personal engagement which, influenced by cultural and spiritual environments, shapes the person in question, as well as the reality he or she is engaged with (cf. Wong, 2012, Oosting and Speelman, 2017).

 

Poverty may be such a reality. Poverty is a life situation that any person may be confronted with. But if the person in question chooses to relate him or herself to this situation, even to the extent that he or she chooses to live in poverty, the confrontation may be transformed into an encounter shaping and reshaping the person, as well as his or her poverty. This last element, that both poles of the relationship are being transformed, makes the spiritual process broader and more common than the descriptions of conversion (cf. Paloutzian, 2005).

 

By embracing the principles of relinquishing ownership and adopting restricted use, alongside the establishment of the Civil Economy, a genuine commitment to Planetary Health can be fostered.

Planetary Health

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The concept of Planetary Health seeks to address global human and environmental sustainability challenges through collaborative efforts spanning various sectors, including the economy, environmental stewardship, and holistic health encompassing mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. When individuals achieve harmony with themselves and their surroundings, the planet experiences a collective sense of relief. Breaking free from the notion of ownership allows for a deeper engagement with Earth's condition.

 

Undoubtedly, our global environment is undergoing profound changes, evidenced by record-breaking temperatures, the alarming decline of vital pollinators, the collapse of fisheries worldwide, and the extensive use of land for sustenance.

 

We find ourselves in the Anthropocene era, characterised by humanity's significant impact on Earth's ecological balance. While advancements in public health have been made over the past century, the stability of our planet's ecosystems has rapidly deteriorated, endangering recent gains in public health and development. The prevalent economic systems and emphasis on ownership exacerbate the challenges posed by the Anthropocene.

The challenges we face extend beyond climate change; they encompass a broad spectrum of environmental disruptions, including the sixth mass extinction, pollution on a global scale, land and water scarcity, shifts in land use, and marine degradation.

 

These anthropogenic alterations to our environment directly affect our health, influencing the quality of the air we breathe, the water we consume, the food we produce, and our vulnerability to infectious diseases. Addressing these challenges requires collaborative efforts across disciplines and borders to safeguard global health.

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Usus Pauper

The concept of the Civil Economy, inspired by principles such as 'vivere sine proprio' and 'usus pauper,' originated from the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi and early Franciscan communities in the 13th century.

 

A Civil Economy embraces 'usus pauper' as a guiding principle, allowing communities to coexist with the world without the divisive notion of ownership.

 

Drawing from Karl Marx's principles of historical materialism and the forces of production, new relations of production are formed in accordance with the 'usus pauper' principle.

 

The model enables the creation and circulation of currency while mitigating the impacts of the Anthropocene.

 

It aims to build sustainable human-to-human (H2H) communities, fostering a symbiotic relationship between individuals and the planet.

 

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The Simple Preacher Foundation will help to create a community employing the principles of A Civil Economy.

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