Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Other Economy: Agenda Latinoamericana 2013

The 2013 Agenda Latinoamericana (Latin American Agenda) is now out. Here is Dom Pedro Casaldaliga's introduction to it, as translated by Richard Renshaw (in Spanish and Portuguese here). Click here for the English-Spanish digital edition. Older editions of the Agenda Latinoamericana in multiple languages can be found on the Agenda Latinoamericana website. You can also search the archives of the Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan editions of the Agenda Latinoamericana by year and author at Servicios Koinonia.

In the 2012 Agenda we asked what sort of humanity we can and want to be, what sort of life we can and want to live out, what way of living together we hope for. The 2013 Agenda is located on the battlefield of the economy where the decision is made about the willingness and the possibility of living and living together as humanity with real human dignity. Emmanuel Mounier reminded us that everything is political, even though politics is not everything. Long before and also afterwards, ideologies and powers have reduced everything to the economy. Churchill used to say that "at the origin of every question there is a pound sterling." The Agenda takes up the question of the Other Economy. This is not at all a new topic but one that fits in well with the utopian struggle of so much of humanity through movements and revolutions that have different names but that are always searching for justice and struggling against hunger and slavery, against all the political regimes that have denied land and bread to the immense majority of a single humanity.

We speak of the Other Economy. It really is other: radically alternative and not simply a matter of "economic reforms." The God of Life frees us from cheap reformisms. The Other Economy cannot be merely economic. It has to be integral, ecological, and intercultural, at the service of Living Well and Living Well Together, in the construction of a human fullness. It has to be an economy that dismantles the current economic structure, which is exclusively at the service of the total market and without loyalty to any country, an economy that destroys people and commits genocide on entire peoples. We dream of a systemic change that attends to the necessities and aspirations of the entire human family united in the common home, the Oikos. "Oiko-nomia" is "the administration of the household" that has fraternity/sisterhood as its law.

This other economy can only happen when it is based on a human and humanizing consciousness that denies the scandalous inequality that structures current society. It is an economy for everything and for all peoples, in a communion of struggles and hopes in the way that the campesino had dreams for his nine sons: "more or less for everyone." We are dreaming at the level of family or neighbourhood, of the city or the entire country, of the continent or the entire world. We are always thinking of the poor and excluded, building on the land of the People, based on their sweat, their cry, their song, the blood spilled for so many crowds of witnesses/martyrs.

Viewing the great crisis, the journal, "Iglesia Viva," wrote in its 248th edition: "The only way of getting beyond this crisis and avoiding others that would be even more serious is to overcome inequality in all its manifestations." The reports of the PNUD remind us that the richest 20% of the world population use 80% of the world's wealth and that the poorest 20% have to be content with 1.6%. According to Noam Chomsky 230 families possess 80% of the world's wealth. As long as these statistics of monstrous inequality continue, there will be no peace or justice in the world. The Other Economy has to be one of the socialization of major goods that are the patrimony of all humanity: the earth, water, housing, health, education, work, communication, transportation. The economy of the speculative, financial market rules the world and everything is submitted in this way to a macro-dictatorship of the neoliberal, capitalist economy. Instead of a social policy, the total market and its speculative, globalized financial economy have been imposed. The civilization that rules today is the capitalist structuration of egotism, of arrogance, exclusion and hunger, of premature death for minor reasons.

Ellacuria, the martyr theologian, fought for "the civilization of poverty." I translate that as the "civilization of shared simplicity." If we continue to make profit at any cost the objective of the economy, hunger, misery, violence and predatory behaviour will continue growing. Neoliberal capitalist growth can only be defeated by a "harmonious and world-wide "de-growth." "Living Well and Living Well Together" demands and makes it possible for humanity to really grow by becoming more human at all levels. "Humanize humanity" is the slogan: Ecologically, pluri-culturally, with equality and diversity in the Common House, the Oikos.

In light of religious faith, above all, that other economy will be a real spirituality of compassion in solidarity with all those who have fallen by the wayside, of prophetic indignation in face of all the idols of falsehood and death, of a living together in love with all beings. It supposes an authentic conversion to the Mystery of Life, to the God of that Mystery, to the Oikos that we live in together.

You might say that it is utopian and it is. It is a legitimate utopia if it is lived each day by constructing it through love and hope. A utopian-economy has to advance by inventing itself through daily practice. It will demand that we take a profoundly other look at the notion and practice of private property, which is held as sacred and unlimited. Religions, specifically the Church, have served to justify the enthronement of private property, which is deprivation and dispossession. Yet, in the early years of the Church those venerable theologian/bishops said categorically that "what is superfluous is not yours." The theologian Comblin would say that by accumulating among a few and excluding the majority, private property is waging a war to the death between oppressors and the oppressed. Or, as Cervantes would say: between those who have and those who do not.

In biblical-theological language we have the key to speak of the Other Economy, one that is truly other, the Reign, the economy of the Reign. It is the obsession of Jesus of Nazareth: a total revolution of the personal and social structures. It is a necessary Utopia, one that is "obligatory," because it is proposed by the very God of Life, the Father-Mother of the whole human family.

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