A way out of the neoliberal workhouse
Review for Citizens' Voice, June 2004
Davies, Geoff : Economia: New Economic Systems to empower people and support the living world
The ANU's Dr Geoff Davies is an internationally recognised geophysicist who has come to a realisation that the pseudo-science of economics is much more than a laughing stock for those with the ability and inclination to see through it. In fact, as we know, its latest fashionable by-product, neoliberal or 'neoclassical' theory, poses a terminal threat to rational human society and is capable of destabilising nature itself.
Davies joins the select body of scientists whose observations expand into the remote applications of their work and into the ethical and political consequences of complying with what Socrates called 'the unexamined life'.
So Davies has written a large and comprehensive book (500 pages) which pulls together many familiar criticisms of corporate greed and the ruthless way in which Western capitalist society has been structured to work for corporations rather than people. It is wonderfully readable and easily the most inspiring critique I have seen of the legalised robbery which passes for economic productivity these days.
Since our world is a 'complex adaptive system', authoritarian methods and solutions aimed at exclusive control are inherently unsustainable. 'Economia' proceeds to dissect out the errors in current trading, value and monetary systems. In particular, he shows how token money (a medium of exchange and debt) is abused when turned into a hoarded store of value, resulting in transfer of debt to future generations. "Token money is economic fire, and we have left it in the hands of incendiarists" (p 333).
Finally, in Part 8-- Living in Gaia, detailed practical alternatives are spelt out for healthy money, stabilising markets, productive investment, responsible ownership, creative reduction of waste and re-legitimation of government. A crucial factor here is reversal of "the neoliberal bias against knowledge and education" which corporations and governments have erroneously classed as costs rather than an investment. We must create "economic systems which are perennial in the same sense as the living systems of the earth" (p 465).
This book is essential reading for all of us and, as social scientist Hugh Stretton has noted, it is "distinguished by such common sense, hard science, practicality, surprise, fine writing and expert contempt for orthodox economics, that it's a joy to read for visionaries and sceptics alike".
'Economia' can be purchased locally for $39.95 from ABC shops. As a sample, the Contents, Preface and Introduction can be downloaded from http://www.geoffdavies.com/Economia.html