the tool of neoliberal capitalism, stands up to Greek democracy and stares it
down. Oh well.
remarkably comfortable with soulless economics.
Francis, speaking this week in Paraguay, cried to the nations of Planet
Earth: "I ask them not to yield to an economic model . . . which needs to
sacrifice human lives on the altar of money and profit."
we have yielded to this economic model, in thought, word and deed:
"At issue," USA
Today informs us, "is whether Greece has taken adequate steps to cut
spending and raise taxes to deserve the new three-year, $59 billion infusion of
funds it has requested, and whether it can be trusted to follow through on the
austerity program it has proposed as the price for new loans."
The pope's words haven't penetrated the pseudo-objective certainties of
financial reporting, much less the dark sanctuaries of money and power. But they
must. And eventually they will, or human evolution is dead. An allegedly
impersonal economic structure, which quietly benefits the infinitesimally few
who have far more than they need, is no foundation for our future.
economic system is a relic of the Industrial Age, or perhaps it's a relic of
the Agricultural Revolution. It's imbued with deep prejudices - human beings
can be bought and sold, the nurturing of human life (women's work) has no
monetary value whatsoever - and reinforces our place outside the circle of
life, separated from one another and from our deepest values.
change and poverty are intertwined, the pope cries out in his stunning
encyclical, "Laudato Si" - "Praised Be" - which reaches well beyond
traditional Catholicism in its scope and message . . . and well beyond the
parsimonious morality of global capitalism. We must, he declares, "look for
solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity" and "replace
consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of
we cannot bring about a change in humanity without a change in our economic
system, which asks for sacrifice only from those who already have next to
nothing and has no language that values generosity, except the sort that flows
from the poor to the rich (but then it's called "interest"). The present
system does not acknowledge our connectedness to one another or to the planet or
in any way understand that true, lasting prosperity emerges from sharing and
giving, not exploitation.
the campaign of bullying - the attempt to terrify Greeks by cutting off bank
financing and threatening general chaos, all with the almost open goal of
pushing the current leftist government out of office - was a shameful moment
in a Europe that claims to believe in democratic principles," Paul
Krugman wrote recently in the New York Times. "It would have set a
terrible precedent . . . even if the creditors were making sense.
more, they weren't. The truth is that Europe's self-styled technocrats are
like medieval doctors who insisted on bleeding their patients - and when their
treatment made the patients sicker, demanded even more bleeding."
God are we worshipping?
his book Sacred Economics, Charles Eisenstein writes: "It is hugely
ironic and hugely significant that the one thing on the planet most closely
resembling the forgoing conception of the divine is money. It is an invisible,
immortal force that surrounds and steers all things, omnipotent and limitless,
an 'invisible hand' that, it is said, makes the world go 'round."
thus Greek ATMs have no euros to dispense. "Without more help from the
European Central Bank," the USA Today article continued, "the Greek banking
system may soon run out of cash" - implying that cash has the same sort of
objective existence as oil or wheat or diamonds. That's absurd, of course. Its
existence is purely symbolic: an exchange medium with a commonly agreed-upon
value backed by a government or central bank.
describing the mysterious persistence of this medium, wrote that "if the money
doesn't start flowing from Frankfurt (the headquarters of the central bank),
Greece will have no choice but to start paying wages and pensions with IOUs,
which will de facto be a parallel currency - and which might soon turn into
the new drachma."
in other words, is a function of social need. It is not an independent entity
controlled solely by a financial priesthood, whose terms for its use - high
interest rates, austerity, endless debt and poverty for some, endless freedom to
exploit the human and environmental commons for others - are absolute.
a currency that serves a humane, intelligently conceived economic system, one
that has at its core an awareness that all life is sacred. Imagine this reality
reflected, rather than spurned, in every financial transaction that takes place,
no matter how small, no matter how large.
Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound
(Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at koehlercwgmail.com or visit his website at
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