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Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition Paperback – July 12, 2011
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"This brilliant and beautifully written book is an indispensable must-read for all those who believe our economic system is terminally sick and in need of radical, sacred rehaul. Charles Eisenstein has the great gift of being able to make complex ideas both thrilling and inspiring. I hope this book begins a serious, worldwide conversation on how we can reinvent our attitude to money."
—Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism
"While political pundits, financial analysts and Occupiers fumble on how to transcend the intensifying global financial crisis, Eisenstein is trailblazing bold new ideas and possibilities for how we conduct monetary exchange."
—Jonathan Phillips, Huffington Post blog
"If you want a convincing account of just how deep the shift in our new axial age is and must be, look no further than this brilliant book by Charles Eisenstein, one of the deepest integrative thinkers active today."
—Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation
"With his breadth of knowledge, enthusiasm, commitment, diligence, and sensitivity, Charles has become a beacon of hope for others. Your heart and mind will be opened by this treasure of a book that shines with wisdom of crucial importance to our troubled world today."
—Kamran Mofid, founder of the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative
“[Sacred Economics] meticulously explains why our current system will inevitably give rise to cyclical and worsening economic crises. [Eisenstein] exposes the myths and lies that sustain power structure, the social and spiritual devastation in which we are all complicit, and lays the foundation for a way of thinking that can restore hope and help us emerge to a positive future. … Eisenstein’s book provides some of the most creative and hopeful ideas out there.”
—New Consciousness Review
“[Charles Eisenstein] puts his money where his mouth is. Sacred Economics: Money, Gift and Society in the Age of Transition is published under a Creative Commons copyright. … This arrangement, similar to that of open-source software, is a tiny sample of the economic system that Eisenstein predicts for our future. … Of course, a new economy means the old one needs to go. That would be scary news if not for Eisenstein’s optimistic way of describing the transition. He effectively argues that when we dismantle monetization, we give birth to community. Together, we can help noble impulses become profitable enterprises. Money may have caused our biggest problems, but redefining it could help us solve those same problems.”
"'If anything is sacred in this world, it is surely not money.' So says Charles Eisenstein, who believes that people can act outside of the money economy, despite the power it has over their lives."
"Eisenstein is no revolutionary or anarchist. In fact, he’s an evolutionary. While reading Sacred Economics, I realized I had not achieved an objective relationship with our money system. I don’t have money. It has me."
Also by Charles Eisenstein:
The Ascent of Humanity:
"Brilliant and original, with great depth of insight and understanding, Eisenstein's Ascent of Humanity easily ranks with the works of such giants of our age as David Bohm, Julian Jaynes, Jean Gebser, Whitehead. It is a profoundly serious, indeed somber portrait of our times, even as it opens a door of honest hope amidst the dark destiny we have woven about us. Accept the challenge of this major accomplishment and discover the light shining within it."
—Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Magical Child, Evolution's End, and The Biology of Transcendence
"Quite marvelous, a hugely important work... This book is truly needed in this time of deepening crisis."
—John Zerzan, author of Future Primitive and Elements of Refusal
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.79 pounds
- Paperback : 469 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781583943977
- ISBN-13 : 978-1583943977
- Product Dimensions : 5.99 x 1.07 x 8.98 inches
- Publisher : North Atlantic Books (July 12, 2011)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 1583943978
- Best Sellers Rank: #48,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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For example, he frequently uses the word “abundance” despite the obvious lack of abundance in the de-growing economy that he knows is coming, an economy vastly reduced in size and consumption. He disparages techno-utopianism even while suggesting that perpetual motion machines will yield all the energy we’ll ever need (p. 443). He opposes income taxes and never even mentions wealth taxes, despite the implied plutocratic governance and the kinds of social dysfunction from extreme inequality documented in the book The Spirit Level. Nor does he discuss unearned income from monopolistic practices or speculation. Somehow a new gift culture of non-accumulation and non-profit is supposed to take over, even without any legal sanctions or penalties to prevent abuses.
But if you skip over such lapses, Eisenstein has a number of practical policy recommendations for the way down, based on solid readings in several fields. These include negative interest rates to keep money circulating and prevent concentration of wealth, taxing unearned rents on property and resources of all kinds, carbon and pollution taxes, a “social dividend” or basic income for all, more expensive but fewer and more durable and repairable goods, voluntary donations instead of fixed pricing, internet based work and credit systems, and meaningful rather than regimented work.
Eisenstein fully understands the need to reduce the interest rate to below the growth rate to decrease inequality, just like Piketty (who refers to “return on capital” instead of interest rate). This also prevents inflation in a contracting economy and provides an incentive to postpone exploiting resources that will be more valuable in the future, such as depleting fossil fuels and minerals. Even Keynes thought Silvio Gesell’s proposal for negative interest had merit. Eisenstein wisely suggests a fully transparent and traceable digital currency that would automatically decay in value according to this negative interest rate. The result is smoothly declining material wealth if all goes well, though in a typical contradiction he covers all bases by suggesting that there would also be a short dark age of “facism, civil unrest, and war” (p. 439)
This is an important book for an audience of a certain environmental and spiritual bent, as it takes very seriously the “collapse part of the phrase “ecological overshoot and collapse”. Other authors and progressive politicians suggest that it will be an easy transition to a sustainable economy if we just replace fossil fuels by renewable energy.
Sobering to read but read it anyway! There are answers here that can save lots of needless suffering but it will take the rigor to understand the beast that occupies us in order for us to transcend it and build a new more sustainable economic system.
A must read for any thinking person who cares about the future our kids and grand kids will inherit.
Top reviews from other countries
"[... Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World provided a convincing vision of the future based on the disintegration of advanced civilisation due resource depletion.] The problem is that industrial civilisation shows no sign of slowing down, let alone of pressing the auto-disintegrate button any-time soon. On the contrary, hyper capitalism has proved to be a tough old bugger, akin to Wile E Coyote from Looney Tunes; it takes a hammering from every side yet always comes back to terrorise us again. Even after its founding assumptions are disproved and worldwide waves of protest decry its idiocy, the bastard just won't die. Land-grabs, adverts targeting children and new oil drilling techniques ensure that Greer's expectation, that the metaphorical Wile E will finally just top himself, is optimistic to say the least.
Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein is equally visionary, but starts from a different premise; the monetary machine that directs human affairs has gone AWOL and now benefits no-one, least of all the degraded psychopaths at the top, who try in vain to control the beast. Like Greer, Eisenstein encourages de-monetising your life, focussing instead on true wealth; the people and environment that surround you. Unlike Greer, he believes in creating a much better world: "Are we so broken that we would aspire to anything less than a sacred world?"
This may seem utopian, but Sacred Economics provides pragmatic solutions at every level. Individuals can replace monetary relationships with real ones, buy less and re-use more. Communities can set-up social enterprises. And, when the current batch of growth-obsessed politicians get booted out of office, nations can implement a raft of sensible measures to exorcise the financial demons from our economy.
Sacred Economics is a cracking read that I cannot recommend highly enough. If you're not sure about beg-borrow-or-buying such a chunky lump of paper, you're free to grab every chapter of it from the internet, where it has been placed in its entirety under a Creative Commons licence at sacred-economics.com"
To this I would add that Eisenstein strays a little too far into the "sacred". (One example: "By the same token, by fostering within ourselves a realization of the sacredness inherent in materiality, and by aligning our work with that sacredness, we lay the social and psychic foundation of an economy in which more and more of the things we make and do for each other are beautiful, personal, alive, and ensouled." - Even ignoring the fact he invented the last word in that sentence it is nigh on possible to understand!) At this stage Eisenstein would have been well advised to stick to the concrete economic and pragmatic reasons why his suggestions are sensible. But this should not stop anyone from buying (or downloading, for free from his website) this generally very well written book. Clearly infinite economic growth is not feasible, and this book provides the best "non-collapse" narrative for dealing with it that I have read. Tim Jackson's "Prosperity without growth" ( Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet free online) provides the best political response I've read, and this links well with an emerging political/activist movement of Degrowth.
In summary please get this book and spread the message. You will not regret it for one moment.
Every banker and corporate mogal should be made to read this book and if they still believe in thier ways then I would suggest councelling.