The revolution is already happening


GLOBE-Net, December 3, 2013

By Michael Townsend

We do not have to be constrained by our current dysfunctional system of capitalism, argues Michael Townsend. People are already finding and implementing more attractive alternatives. A quiet revolution is under way …

Capitalism is at the crossroads. Since the onset of the worst financial crisis in living memory, capitalism is suffering a crisis of liquidity, reliability, and confidence. It is facing accusations of failing to create shared wealth, of neglecting the planet, of generating an ever-widening gap in our societies, and even in failing its primary allies – the shareholders.

Our system of commerce is naturally undergoing a wise degree of introspection: Can it survive, will it evolve, or will a new system emerge from a scorched landscape of creative destruction? These questions have been our constant companions, since the teams at Earthshine and TSSS set out on our journey in search of Capitalism 2.0, almost two years ago.

Thankfully, we are not alone. More and more people are asking questions, and exploring new possibilities. We have found at least at least ten different new recipes for better forms of capitalism, including: Breakthrough, Clean, Community, Conscious, Constructive, Cooperative, Mindful, Progressive, Responsible, and Sustainable. We have also discovered more radical visions for a New Economy, a Sharing Economy, and a Collaborative Economy. Inspiring stuff!

But, while each new prescription offers value, too many are configured on the same old paradigm, with the core tenets of capitalism – including growth and consumption, and dysfunctional money and financial systems – largely untouched. With only incremental changes, it is highly likely that we will continue to see the same old problems associated with the concentration of wealth and power.

[stextbox id=”custom” float=”true” width=”300″ bcolor=”e5e5e5″ bgcolor=”e5e5e5″ image=”null”]We really do need a total paradigm shift: a new way of working and living. [/stextbox]We need to create a new system that will support the transformation to a sustainable and low carbon economy, providing opportunity and wealth for the many, not just the few.

But let’s not completely throw the baby out with the bath water; while incremental reforms are unlikely to lead us to where we really need to go, there are still some positive aspects that we might draw upon, from all these new models. As with any good design, we can and should be influenced by the full range of possibilities, pulling together the different components into a consistent and comprehensive new design.

And so we have developed an initial synthesis – drawing on the range of elements identified by the multitude of visionary thinkers explored – leading to nine design principles for a more sustainable and fair economic ecosystem:

1.   Less growth, more wellbeing.
2.   A broader view of what capital means.
3.   Based on responsible enterprise, adding real value, where it is needed.
4.   Holistic systems thinking; aligned with the circular economy.
5.   Enabled by a well-functioning money system.
6.   Away from speculative bubbles, towards creating longer-term real wealth.
7.   Shared ownership and distribution of resources and wealth.
8.   Based on collaboration and striving together.
9.   Founded on new institutions and greater systemic resilience.
These principles for a better future are seductive, but we need to move beyond high-level statements, and get to the nuts-and-bolts of what a more sustainable system will look like and, quite importantly, how it will operate for our collective benefit.
In a practical sense, there is much cause for hope. Despite the very real challenges involved, we have found a huge amount of good work already going on – albeit largely under the radar. There is also a surprising amount of cohesion and consistency in both design and direction. We get a sense that a genuine transition is not only possible, but it’s already happening – a quiet revolution, with a gradual migration towards a better system.
Read more: here


GLOBE 2014-SmallClean Capitalism: Financing Sustainable Innovation will be discussed at GLOBE 2014 taking place March 26-28, 2014 in Vancouver Canada, where practical solutions and innovative strategies will be  illustrated. Check here for more information.

 First appeared in ECOLOGIST, November 28, 2013. Reprinted with permission by Michael Townsend, Founder & CEO Earthshine Solutions, and author of A Journey in Search of Capitalism 2.0.

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