Sunday, May 06, 2007

Building A New Paradigm: A Podcast Interview With Riane Eisler

Adam Smith published the Inquiry Into the Nature and Cases of the Wealth of Nations in 1776 and Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels released The Communist Manifesto in 1848. Both publications advocated for economic models, capitalism and socialism respectively, that promised to advance the human condition. Although both paradigms made important contributions during the industrialization era, neither capitalism nor socialism appears equipped to guide humanity in a post-industrial information age economy.

Several weeks ago, Berrett-Kohler published renowned social scientist Riane Eisler’s new book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating A Caring Economics. Eisler postulates that both capitalism and socialism represent systems and cultures of “domination.” People who provide caring and nurturing are devalued while exploiters and hierarchies are rewarded. Eisler’s book attempts to take the best from both systems to replace “domination” with “partnerships.” It is her contention that the real wealth of nations is in fact “human capital” and traditional measurements such as the Gross National Product, are insufficient.

Eisler believes the next phase of human development needs to be a transition from domination/hierarchical systems to partnership-oriented models. According to Eisler, partnership oriented societies structured by “hierarchies of actualization” prioritize the well being of people over short-term considerations such as a corporation’s quarterly balance sheet or a nation’s raw economic output.

In Chapter Ten, which is entitled, “The Caring Revolution” Eisler writes,
“Many of our economic habits were shaped by a warped story of human nature and an economic double standard that gives little or no value to the essential work of caring and care giving. The measures of productivity we habitually use include market activities that harm our health and natural environment while assigning no value to the life-supporting activities of households and nature. The money that central banks and circulate bears little relation to any tangible assets. Quarterly corporate reports fail to factor in the health and environmental damage a company’s products or activities cause. Government policies, too, are often based on fantasies rather than realities, as dramatically shown by the George W. Bush administration’s denial of the urgent need to take action against global warming.

We have a choice. We can keep complaining about greed, fraud, and cutthroat business practices. We can put up with the daily stress of unsuccessfully juggling jobs and family. We can tell ourselves, there’s nothing we can do about policies that damage our natural environment, create huge gaps between haves and have-nots, and lead to untold suffering. Or we can join together to help construct a saner, sounder, more caring economics and culture.”
Eisler is the author of five books, including her international bestseller, The Chalice and the Blade: Our History and Our Future. She was born in Vienna, fled from the Nazis with her parents to Cuba and later emigrated to the United States. An attorney and longtime social activist, among Eisler’s honors are inclusion as the only woman among twenty illustrious thinkers including Hegel, Adam Smith, Karl Marx and Arnold Toynbee in Macrohistory and Macrohistorians. She received this honor in recognition of her work as a cultural historian.

Eisler obtained degrees in sociology and law from the University of California, taught pioneering classes on women and the law at UCLA. She is a founding member of the General Evolution Research Group (GERG) and the Alliance for a Caring Economy (ACE). She serves as a commissioner of the World Commission on Global Consciousness and Spirituality with the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other spiritual leaders. Eisler is also the co-founder of the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence (SAIV) and president of the Center for Partnership Studies that promotes initiatives to advance a way of life based on harmony with nature, nonviolence, and gender, racial, and economic equity.

Eisler agreed to a podcast interview with me about her life, book and worldview. Please refer to the media player below.

This interview can also be accessed at Itunes by searching for "Intrepid Liberal Journal".


ADDENDUM: My thanks to Mike Finnigan for linking this post in today's blogroundup at Crooks and Liars.

1 comment:

Me said...

Found you via C&L. Off to listen to the podcast now.