As more things are done and created within a community or region, there is less dependence on international actors and events. Logistics and transport have been reduced. Value chains are shorter which makes them easier to control and to update qualitatively. Less money gets lost to unnecessary middlemen [i.e. “a dealer, agent, or company intermediate between the producer of goods and the retailer or consumer” acc. to Merriam-Webster dictionary]. Businesses are usually small or medium-sized. There are no fast-moving, publicly traded shares to avoid short-term investment horizons and purely profit-oriented decision-making. Most organisations are well-organized cooperatives, where everyone has a say and vote on the future of the operations which avoids former suppression of workers. The individual regions can sustain themselves better (sufficiency and subsistance) and if money is needed for a transaction, it is probably going to be paid in one of the regional currencies.
Financial speculations on everything including food crops are long gone and now banks such as many other organisations are cooperatives. Money is not created through (uncovered) credits given out by banks anymore. Instead, to support the population in the best way possible, the welfare governing body regulates the money supply. Paying back credits required economic growth, which could not be sustained anymore – recession followed recession.
Economy in general is a means and not an end. People have left the path of mainly chasing endless economic growth (measured by GDP) since it was a destructive one. They have realized that well-being is not related to money (after a certain threshold). Inequality within and between countries has spurred social unrest. Therefore, the possession levels have been more equalized through taxes and salaries. Also all people can be employed as jobs are better distributed. Most people have reduced their working hours to have more time for care, subsistence and leisure.
People do not feel the need to differentiate via status symbols such as big cars and brand clothing. They all have similar standards of living and enjoy their community. Providing everyone with a good life is more important than consuming unnecessary and wasteful things. Those cryptocurrencies that used insane amounts of energy (equalling the use of entire nations) are down as well.
Capitalism and the long unquestioned economic growth paradigm have led to ever-increasing consumption and exploitation, failing to solve inequalities, poverty, health and environmental problems. Not everything has to have a market value and be commercialised. A new system focused on nature and people has been introduced instead, providing benefits for everyone. Public and private investments have been shifted from destructive to creative/creating industries. The new communal and sustainable future is based on renewable energies, green cities, social ties, healthy nutrition and regional provision of most goods. There is also knowledge exchange and a good relationship with the other regions of the world, also for the delivery of goods that cannot be produced regionally.
There are still many people needed to solve all the questions regarding alternative socio-economic systems to the current one. However, one thing is clear: The current state cannot continue because we won’t reach sustainability and social prosperity with the current ever-expanding path. It has already led us past several planetary boundaries and we are on track to destruct further. We have to free ourselves from old paradigms which are still used by most people (including researchers) in all social sciences and invent better ways of acting and living. But there is also an increasing number of people who question the status quo, the current paradigms, and come up with solutions. We can all start to work on them. In each chapter of the dream, I mention many initiatives that can be taken individually, by groups and in public engagement. Join movements for a better world and help to design the future instead of just letting it come in any form.
Further information on alternatives to the growth paradigm can be found (for example) here:
- Concept of the Economy for the Common Good (in German and English): https://www.ecogood.org/de/ and https://www.ecogood.org/en/
- Explanation why green growth/only relying on technological innovations is not realistic: https://www.bund.net/fileadmin/user_upload_bund/publikationen/nachhaltigkeit/nachhaltigkeit_gruenes_wachstum_entkopplung_studie.pdf (German summary); https://mk0eeborgicuypctuf7e.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Decoupling-Debunked.pdf (full report in English)
- Explanations of degrowth/postgrowth in German: https://www.degrowth.info/de/was-ist-degrowth/ and https://utopia.de/ratgeber/postwachstumsoekonomie-geht-es-auch-ohne-wirtschaftswachstum/
- Video with Niko Paech on postgrowth (in German): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DKN_GRzLUY
- Definition and dimensions of degrowth in English: https://degrowth.org/definition-2/ and https://degrowth.org/dimensions/
- A possible future of finance: https://degrowth.org/financial-dimension/
- Also have a look at e.g. post-development concepts, Buen Vivir, Ubuntu, Economy of Permance and Feminist Economics!
According to the UN environment, you can already do the following regarding money: https://www.anatomyofaction.org/moneyactionsmain
Source of header image: https://www.onecommunityglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Revenue-Streams-Facebook-Meme.jpg