What do global banks, multinationals and Western civilization in general have in common?
They have become so big and “prosperous” that their size has become an obstruction in the literal and figurative sense of the word. Everything with “too” in front, per definition is bound to fail on the long run.
In order to achieve a level of sustained well-being, strategies of unilateral growth have to be altered in an approach focused on balancing every aspect of an equation. Some economist and marketers find a positive analogy in a “leaky bucket”: on the short term the cheapest option to retain a business, on the long run a definite recipe for failure. Shuffling money without a clear picture what you actually sell or buy can’t have a durable impact on society in general. Unfortunately the figurative water leaking from one bucket into the next can be controlled a few times, yet eventually will find it’s way in an uncontrollable pond of lost possibilities.
A statement to be illustrated with another analogy familiar to human nature. In times of scarcity one eats what is available, hopefully sufficient to obtain enough strength to perform one’s daily “labor”. In times of abundance and desire, tempted to grant ourselves more and more we cross borders. We easily eat too much, resulting in a growing amount of fat people in the US and Europe up to a point that a new race has been created: the “Homo Obesitas”. Sadly so, our first instincts are not focused on solving the problem by eating less, adapting to a healthier lifestyle. We’d rather ignore the problem by creating a new market encouraging to continue living an unhealthy life, while filling the next “leaky bucket”. It’s not hard to predict that after light food and large-size fashion the next step will be healthcare. The costs are already exceeding tremendously, eventually resulting in an uncontrollable sea, even ocean of “Russian Roulette Medi-care”.
In the case of sanity of the human body we might be tempted to pull the plugs in time, unfortunately on an economical level we have failed and are still failing to find the right equilibrium to sustain a sane level of “financial traffic”. Since we have let go the reins of control on the banking system, almost automatically we were allowing boards of directors and executives to reward themselves with large bonuses and golden handshakes. In todays “almost-end-of-crisis-era” the similarity with the “Homo Obesitas” is remarkable, with the only difference that the behavior of the “Homo Economicus” was and still is not considered to be unhealthy!
The fact that people at the bottom of the economic ladder are exploited for the sake of Profit - with a capital “P” - is being ignored also. Slavery in countries like Bangladesh, China and North Korea are taken for granted until the moment Western consumers will start realizing that a pair of trousers of € 9,95 retail price just can’t be produced in a fair manner, providing workers a salary to live a decent life.
In the last year we have seen the start of an unstoppable movement that is demanding a fair life for all: on a local political level, but especially on a global economical level.
Synchronous with the current revolutionary wave, we see new creative initiatives occurring focused on a self-sustaining survivalism. The “real” economy has already competition from secondary economies taking place on e-bay or people sharing their resources. Yet the newest is to boycott the first economy where possible, introducing local or complementary currency to be an option for “real money”.
A currency system is based on trust, while making agreements about economic leverage. So why not replacing the well-known “gentlemen’s agreement” by a “worker’s agreement”, introducing their own currency system, sharing economic prosperity with the people they trust and to whom they grant their business.
In Brixton in London locals are circumventing the influence of the pound by also having the possibility to pay with the Brixton pound and on the isle of Crete in Greece the Kaereti is an effective replacement for the Euro. With a group of friends or colleagues you can even create your own insurance system, based on solidarity instead of making profit. When you have a group of twenty people paying an “x” amount of money per month, there will always be enough to pay when one of the participants has a problem, since it is rather unlikely that all twenty will have problems at the same time.
Many more examples could be given. Let’s simply accept the fact that parallel economies can exist perfectly next to each-other. Problems are everywhere and not necessarily better to manage by centralized organizations and large scale cooperations. Maybe the best slogan for parallel initiatives could be: “Small scale, easy to manage and multi-choice.”
This article has also been published in the Dutch Trend Magazine Second Sight: http://www.secondsight.nl/issues/http://www.secondsight.nl/making-worlds/parallel-initiatives/