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Challenging Economic Thinking

The work on Future Justice starts with the way we think and act because narratives are powerful drivers of our societies. The organising narrative today is economic performance, expressed in monetary growth. We live under ever-present cost-benefit justifications in most areas of life.  Wellbeing is considered to be directly linked to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measured each quarter. This system is addicted to short-term profit and ever expanding levels of consumption.
 
When calculating costs and benefits, humans and nature appear only as inputs for our production processes. Products and services including waste products that do not have an official price simply do not appear in this reality. The assumptions behind this modern economic model are that humans are selfish, greedy and insatiable and that markets function automatically, void of personal contact and group psychology.

Modern economics ignores life and threatens human survival on this planet. To illustrate the waste and destruction behind this way of thinking and acting, the World Future Council has coined the phrase “Dead World Model of Economies”.

Source: Constanza, R., J.C. Cumberland, H.E. Daly, R. Goodland, and R. Norgaard. 1997. An Introduction to Ecological Economics. St. Lucie Press, Boca Raton, 275 pp.

Economic thinking for Future Justice on the other hand is a means to achieve higher ends of social wellbeing and a healthy environment.  Flourishing nature, human creativity and positive social relations are the wealth of the future. This narrative acknowledges and supports the intrinsic value of people, nature and community and uses the term “growth” only when referring to developments actually enhancing life. We call this the “Living World Model of Ecological-Social Economies” and observe a growing global consensus behind this outlook on cooperation, production and trade.

Source: Constanza, R., J.C. Cumberland, H.E. Daly, R. Goodland, and R. Norgaard. 1997. An Introduction to Ecological Economics. St. Lucie Press, Boca Raton, 275 pp.

Read Councillor Frances Moore Lappé's story of empowerment here and Councillor Riane Eisler on causes and effects of Dominance Economies versus Partnership Economies here.

“Human beings are creatures of the mind; for us there is no unfiltered reality. Our big organizing ideas cohere into a story – what some call our frame, worldview, or mental map. This story explains our reality. It determines – in many cases, literally – what we can see and what we cannot see. It is carried in often-unexamined assumptions about human nature itself.”


WFC Councillor Frances Moore Lappé


 

 

» Acknowledgements