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I = S - M

The modern way of thinking about economics has been I = M - S Where I is the I as in me, M is what is 'mine' and S is what ...


The cardinal fault of modern economics is its conception of value. Value is absolute in its relativity.

The first effect of this is that modern value can only mean the upliftment of any one thing, say A, at the degradation of some other thing, say B. If A rises in value, B must diminish in value. Such a conception of value betrays a view of society that is split. Life is seen as a see-saw game, with some values gained only at the cost of others lost.

This conception of value, so absolute in its relativity, harms us all. It drives a wedge through the person. Unwhole individuals create split families, unstable societies, and rudderless economies. There is so much suffering in rich and poor worlds alike. False values diminish us all and lead us on a downward spiral.

I introduced the idea of dignity value at the Goat Island Performance Group's Last Symposium in 2008. It is a very simple concept. Dignity value is the inherent value in every thing and being. Value simply is.

Now the way we, society, creates problems is by assigning the wrong values to things. We have been trained by modern economics to accept the price of something as its value. Krishnamurti pointed out the error in this way of thinking of value with characteristic humor many years ago in old Bombay, when he defined stupidity as the assigning of wrong values to things.

When society assigns values, like the market price, that are different from dignity values, bubbles are born. Eventually they burst, returning values to their dignity values.

By recognizing the dignity values of all things, natural and built, as their only real and absolute value, we can create wholeness.

Human beings are capable of much stupidity. But that is not all we are capable of. We are capable of great thought, great wisdom, great sensitivity, great kindness, and taking upon ourselves the incredibly enlightened guiding principle of nonviolence.

Now I turn to the second effect of the conception of value, absolute in its relativity, of modern economics: There can never be a rise in the value of everything. By its very definition if something rises in value, something else must fall in value, all values simply can not rise.

This is a very limited understanding of the world and the role that humans, sentient thinking and feeling beings, can play in the world over an infinite span of time!

If we look at life in terms of dignity value, we can see that we can create, though few of us can at this point--given how society is organized, a rising dignity value of life. In fact this was the whole reason why Gandhiji started Tolstoy Farm and all his other ashrams.

Gandhiji intuitively understood that when people come together in wholeness and work the earth in wholeness, make things by hand and create communities in wholeness, the work, the land, and the people become one, and the dignity value of every thing and every one involved rises.

We need not just one Tolstoy Farm, but a hundred, a thousand, a million, and more, to create a rising dignity value for every single one of us, our neighbors, and through our neighbors, the world.

So Gandhian economics must begin with a new concept of value, perhaps the one I call dignity value, which is absolute without being rigid. We need to replace the present concept of value of modern economics which is absolute (hence rigid) in its relativity with something along the lines of my concept of dignity value, which is relative (hence flexible) in its absoluteness.

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