Possible steps to overcome the current crisis of the New Economy.

(Access here the Portuguese version)

“A first step and relatively simple is to make available again through the Internet the information about the achievements of both NEN and NEI that disappeared (!) together with their sites.”

Poster of a conference sponsored by the New Economics Institute in July 2012.

Part 3 (final), on the “resignation” of Bob Massie.

The repercussion of this series on the resignation of Massie reinforces the importance of pointing out some of the urgent measures aimed at overcoming the crisis in the movement for a New Economy.

It is worth mentioning that I received no response or reflection that you may find an answer from Massie or NEC, but only from people that are or have been part of the organization. Without exception, they all confirm the problems mentioned here and in some cases with new aspects and facts.

1st – A first step and relatively simple is to make available again through the Internet the information about the achievements of both NEN and NEI that disappeared (!) together with their websites. The Schumacher Society’s one did not disappear only because when the merge took place, the old Schumacher Society split and created the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, absorbing its assets and giving continuity to the work that the old organization performed.

2nd – Another step, deeper, is to understand that the changes advocated by a New Economy will not come top-down or trying to convince the elites of the current system. Nor, without relying on voluntary work, replacing it with paid work, even via scholarships and financing.

3rd – At this point it must be said that coalition has a very strong meaning and requires great identity of purpose, which is not the case among the nearly 120 organizations coopted (incidentally, this work had already been done by NEN) but had not agreed to act in a synchronized manner, as was to be expected.

Thus, it is necessary to back away, humbly admitting the mistake, strengthening the network in the form conceived by NEN (network of individuals and organizations), valuing projects that deepen the understanding and dissemination of the ideas of a New Economy and gradually forging, in practice, a movement that really becomes an instrument of action and change.

It is worth to remember that simply being nonprofit does not guarantee that such organizations are committed and will take the lead in social change movements.

The fact is that except for profit (hopefully) such organizations operate as a private company. Obtain resources on one side and maintain a team so they can develop its plans. They have a council, a board, a hierarchical organization and little appreciation in practice for volunteer work and internal democracy.

4th – Another issue that needs to be reviewed is the religious one. Perhaps because he is a Lutheran pastor, Massie ended up bringing this bias to NEC which culminated with the appointment of a director to handle the relationship with “faith communities”.

The involvement of religion with a mass movement for social change is, in itself, a high risk. About this it’s worth reading “Jehovah and Allah in Gaza“. Mario Sergio Conti in a brilliant and up-to-date article concludes by saying: “One of the steps required would be around a principle increasingly into disuse – the separation between religion and politics, churches and state. But, unlike Zeus, Thor and Tupã, Allah and Jehovah continue to be intruded in human affairs. “

And, I finish with three more suggestions, these more complicated and deep.

5th – Recently, given the difficulties of the transition to a new economy, there has been a tendency to focus on the importance of communities and local action, believing this to be the strategy of action to achieve the desired changes. In fact, this orientation only takes the movement as a whole into a ghetto as well as those who believe that their example in their communities can be the seed of transformation.

6th – For the same reason mentioned in the previous section, people started also to focus on cooperatives and mutuals as if they represented a form of organization that can be the basis for a New Economy. In no way. Many of these organizations represent an interesting option to enable workers to perform their work more democratically and rewardingly, but they are part of the current production system and if they do not act in a similar way as private companies, they just disappear.

7th – And, as I have insisted here, it takes a well thought out strategy where it is explicitly stated why, what and how to get to a New Economy and that a mass movement for such has to be oriented by two pillars, the radical reduction of paid working hours and the internalization of social and environmental costs.

Finally, a word about the difficulties peculiar to Brazil. Apparently, they are the result of our stage of development that makes it impossible to seriously consider the proposal of the New Economy. I don’t think so. Eeventually, it will be easier here to perceive that growth has little to do with real economic and social development.


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