Economics, Traveling & Brian Davey’s Credo

“Sharing the same motivations and rules of the self interest game created a common orientation and thus a common operating system for economic actors to participate in.”  Brian Davey, Credo, 9. 

For a few days I’ve been sleeping in airplanes and hotel rooms.  There is nothing in a hotel room that tells you about life.  There is a bed, a TV, and some electrical outlets.  The closest thing to life is the water piped in, and the view if there is one.  Everything non-human has been disappeared except as it appears on the breakfast, lunch or dinner plate.  “There is no there there,” as Gertrude Stein once said so famously of Oakland, (By which she meant the place that she had known had been disappeared).  What does it mean to live in a place which is no place, an abstraction made concrete (and of concrete),  a place where appetite is untethered from its context and therefore unlimited in scope and blind ferocity?

These are the places we made in the name of a certain kind of pantheon of economic Gods – in the name of Efficiency and Innovation and Growth and Jobs.  These are the names of the orthodoxy now.   It is difficult to argue with the gods.  It always has been.  These are the places that we make under the influence of our gods – hotel rooms, office buildings, airports.  They represent the ideals of our civilization.  They are clean to the point of sterility, air-conditioned,  anonymous, secure, profitable.  These, it seems, is the realm we make when the rules of the game are determined by the lowest common denominator of humanity: unmitigated self-interest. We make places that are stripped of all life and love of life.  We make places that are cold, efficient, and impersonal.  We make places that reproduce our lowest common denominator – our blind self-interest, our infinite appetite.

As I am traveling in this world of placeless hotel rooms, the  DJ Avicii, a mere boy in his 20’s but a superstar of the Electronic Dance Music scene, is dying of a drug overdose in another hotel room in Muscat, Oman.  It is a lethal world, this world, even for those who are its “winners,” and infinitely more so for the “losers.”

Why am I traveling in the karmic realm (avicii) of hotel rooms and airports?  To protect its opposite paradoxically enough.  Brian Davey’s speaks of such places:

“People living in human communities situated in specific biological communities (eco-systems) may come, over time, to recognise that the eco-system in which they live has a “balance level” of health. This is is not the same as what economists understand by equilibrium but a dynamic negotiation between the different elements beyond which “tipping points” occur and the system slips into a different state altogether. The sense of responsibility for the maintenance of a place and the way of life embodies and embeds a recognition of the need to stay back from these ecological tipping points. This is based on a keen appreciation of the needs of the whole human community, as well as the need to maintain balance in the community of species of which it is a part (the eco-system).”  Davey, 32.

What if we thought about economics in terms of looking at the whole picture of life on Earth?  What if we let economics be about our better selves – the selves that love and nurture our children without pay, that serve as volunteers in our communities, that feel  and act on our connection to the environment?  What if we advocated for a kind of economics that saw the whole picture of what it means to be alive instead of the current definition that has us fighting over scarce resources, selling ourselves to the highest bidder, bull-dozing “empty” land to make into hotel-rooms, and sacrificing our health and happiness in the name of success?

This is all to say that I am reading Brian Davey’s book Credo (available for free online) where he advocates for just such another kind of economics, and that it’s worth checking out, as well as the website for FEASTA  of which Davey is a frequent contributor.

Also here’s a picture of some lovely snowdrops – which I had never seen before – at Jody’s house.  Amazingly beautiful little things!

8 Replies to “Economics, Traveling & Brian Davey’s Credo”

  1. Thanks for the Davey link… looks interesting.

    The snowdrops a nice touch as well:

    I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these…

  2. Michelle,
    Are you off traveling again or are you still writing of your last journey when you visited Indiana?
    I wish you could still be here to walk in the woods and see all the woodland plants in bloom, briefly catching sunlight to reproduce before the trees fill out their leaves shading the ground beneath. There are no mosquitoes, gnats, or biting bugs to bother us. It is one of the most beautiful times to be in the woods.
    Spring has finally arrived and the daylight is sunny and bright but not yet hot. Nights are still very cool only occasionally slightly frosty. The birds are busy finding mates and soon will be building nests and laying eggs. I don’t know if Hawaii has distinct seasons or not, but here in the Midwestern region we enjoy four distinct seasons.
    I hope you recover from your travels and settle back into life on the ranch.

    1. Hi Jody, I went on another trip so the close conjunction of the two gave me a little insight into the world of the transcontinental frequent flyer such as that young man Avicii and our “elite” who travel for work around the country and world.
      I look forward to some pix of your woods in spring. There is nothing quite like Spring in the temperate zone.


  3. Interesting insight into hotel rooms and other placeless places, Michelle, and Aye! to the economics of our better selves.

    It’s puzzling that instead we settle for an economics of our lesser selves – of accumulation, ownership, and hard competition – and then justify the resulting mess by projecting those values back into Nature (the law of the jungle etc) despite the evidence all around of connection, symbiosis and tenderness.

  4. Hi all, was listening to PBS yesterday and heard a interesting court decision from Columbia. Lawyers sued the government on behalf of children of the country. Saying the deforestation of the Amazon Basin in Columbia was causing harm to quality of life for future generations a violation of their constitution. The courts found in favor of the children and has given “personhood” status to the trees, animals and river basin. Ordering the government and associated agencies to, within 48 hours, begin plans to achieve net zero deforestation of the Amazon Basin in Columbia by 2020. Sounds pie in the skyish but a hopeful development in our quest for redefining societal relationship to our biomes. Unlike our courts that have found corporations as people. This decision might enhance nascent behind the curve efforts to aid environs. Hope this decision in Columbia can begin a trend globally as similar approaches in cases in Uganda and Phillipines go forward.

    1. Thanks, Colby, that’s amazing. A court in New Zealand made a similar decision in favor of one of their rivers. I had not heard about Uganda and the Philippines so I’ll have to look that up. Looks like we need to get our act together here in the US or we’ll be behind the curve!

  5. That’s a ray of sunshine from the Amazon, Colby!

    I can imagine how hard corporate interests are going to fight this approach as it catches on.

  6. Thanks Colby for that news. An amazing concept !
    Used to say that the US mainland would look a lot different if the coastal inhabitants had asked the Mayflower folks to fill out an Environmental Impact Statement. Certainly the same concept applied here in Hawaii when the Euros arrived. If only we had known, but we are apparently not that smart. Now that we see a little about how it works and how it doesn’t, learning the hard way, how the impacts are not always understood or foreseeable, maybe we should think about a different approach. Perhaps we should return to a multi-generational compact or contract. Institutionalize the concepts incorporated in the Iriquois Federation Great Law of Peace about the seven generations. That all citizens, nations, and corporations, no matter which individuals, parties or factions rise to power, were required to participate in and adhere to. Or is this too much like religion in the sense of an aspirational goal defined more by its lack than its practise each and every day.

Comments are closed.