Lift Review: Sacred Economics
Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the age of transition, by Charles Eisenstein 2011
The title "Sacred Economics" may deter some readers who feel the book is for committed religious readers and/or economists. Not so!
The most committed atheist, as well as religious and non-religious readers, will surely appreciate the ideas in this book, and its focus on the true meaning of sacred, in Eisenstein's eyes. "The purpose of this book is to make money and human economy as sacred as everything else in the universe." That is, all sacred things are unique and also related, "part of nature, the world, and the flesh".
As for economists - all of them should read this book, and see the ideas explained in the language of the ordinary reader. Very few portions of the book will challenge the reasonably-educated reader. Eisenstein expresses his ideas clearly, with fascinating explanations and examples, and often with humour. It's a big book, but it's not heavy.
Many books about economics describe the problems without offering alternatives; others offer impossible solutions; others offer solutions for those in power (who of course aren't interested in reducing their power). This writer offers solutions for us as individuals to act on. This is so refreshing and inspiring.
The book is in three parts: The Economics of Separation; The Economics of Reunion; and Living the New Economy.
One of Eisenstein's basic ideas is the need to shrink the importance of money and grow the importance of true wealth - that is, wealth of nature, of goods and services, of relationships, with reduced monetary control. And he shows how this is being done and can be improved, with plenty of clear explanations and examples.
We see this happening around us now, in many cases brought about by increasing economic difficulties - in the P2P (peer-to-peer) revolution; in the growth in strong local community action where centralised controls have failed; in complementary currencies and timebanking; in actions to support the sacredness of the natural world; in efforts to reduce the wastage of resources; in the growth of the "gift culture", to which Eisenstein devotes a whole section. An example is "The attitude of the giver says, ‘ I will give you this gift - and I trust you to give me what you think is appropriate.'" It's the difference between a fee and koha.
This book is for our time, our situation, our needs. Read it now.