The London Paper, December 2008
Obomnenie, March 2009 [A Russian health & sustainability website; click to read the article in Russian!]
Recession = bad. Right?
Well, that’s what we’re being told. Our current economic situation is being depicted as a crisis – a negative occurrence from which we need to recover quickly and get back to ‘business as usual’.
Essentially, we’re being asked to continue as cogs in the wheel. The government is urging us to spend, spend, spend – to stay on the treadmill and keep the treadmill going at all costs.
What happens if the wheel stops turning, if the treadmill halts?
In all honesty, with hand on heart – how was ‘business as usual’ working out for us? Perhaps it felt secure, familiar, comfortable somehow. We knew how to get ahead, the rules of the game, and perhaps the system had rewarded us with money, status, and a glow of achievement.
How about happiness? Have we been radically happy? Deeply fulfilled? Full of energy in the mornings, basking in wholesome contentment in the evenings?
You see, I’m not so sure it was working out so well for us pre-recession. If we look to our conscience, we know that grave atrocities were being done in the name of progress. Unfair trade, exploitation, irrevocable damage to environments and species. And I wonder if the situation here was really that great… Corporations got fatter, we worked harder – all to maintain perpetual economic growth.
The good news is – we’re finally being offered a way out of the earn-spend-earn-spend cycle. It’s like we’ve come down on Christmas Eve and seen our dad wolfing down the mince pies and sherry. Suddenly, the truth has been exposed and although they’re frantically trying to put the Santa disguise back on, we can’t believe it any more – much as we’d like to. We won’t be fooled.
Change can be scary. We may want to cling on to familiarity but let’s allow ourselves to imagine, for a moment, that the new ways could be preferable. Imagine an economy which feels equitable at local, national and international levels. One which involves creative, innovative ways of sharing and trading with each other, which invites us to make the most of our gifts and offer our unique contributions. An economy which is based on respect for our planet and which honours our common essential needs as human beings.
I’m not an economist but I know I want something different. I see this recession as an opportunity to choose, as a society, a new model. I’m calling for it and I know others are too. Would the new economists please step forward….
© Corrina Gordon-Barnes, 2008. All rights reserved.
Your column was fantastic – encouraging instead of just scathing and pessimistic as most reports of the crunch tend to be, and very well written – Katie
The 96% “more” vote that Corrina got for her column about building a fairer economy helped to restore my faith in the human race – John
It’s straight, it’s fresh, it’s inspired, it’s from the heart, it’s well expressed, it’s passionate, it’s intelligent. It’s your view and it’s one which exposes possibility, rather than cynicism – Mark
I love that you call the old ways into question – I don’t wanna be a cog nor on the treadmill. What you wrote speaks to a growing hunger and thirst for change – Annie
** Since writing this article, I have come across the work of the New Economics Foundation who are doing phenomenal work in envisaging economics ‘as if people and the planet mattered’. I highly recommend their literature, including Nine Meals From Anarchy, From The Ashes Of The Crash, and The Great Transition which can be downloaded free-of-charge from their website **