We are not just you and me, although you and me are contained in we. We are so much more than that. We are more than flesh and bones and we are more than our immediate self-interest. We include generations before us and generations after us. We are our fore-fathers and -mothers and sons and daughters and grand-sons and -daughters and onward into infinity.
When we are talking about sustaining ourselves, even flourishing upon our beautiful earth, we must take into consideration this broader sense of we.
So why do we act stupidly so much of the time? Why is modern life set up to hurt our future selves so much, to destroy nature beyond its capacity for regeneration, to leave future generations with a legacy of dwindling water, corrupted soil, and a lingering memory of grand-parents with stunted imaginations? I will tell you why.
I remember Krishnamurti saying that stupidity is the assigning of wrong values to things.
This is very important to consider. If we hope to develop an economics that works for we in the true sense of the term, we must stop acting with stupidity. I consider most of the institutions of modern economic life to be quite stupid and the endless commentary by so-called economists sustaining this stupidity to be the compounding of stupidity at a compound rate of interest.
Krishnamurti suggests that the reason for the profound stupidity of modern economic life is that wrong values are being assigned to things. This is what I have lectured and written upon this subject:
What is value? Economists have tried to answer this question for at least two hundred years. I will try to answer it in a minute. There is an inherent value in all things and beings. It is the inherent dignity of a rock, tree, or person that gives it its value. The classical economists as well as the Marxians miss this simple point.
A tree may have no economic value-in-exchange nor reflect any labor expended by humans but surely it has value. I will call the inherent value in all things dignity value. All things natural and created have dignity value. It is when a society departs from the dignity value of things that bubbles are formed. The dignity value of all the so-called financial innovations in the real-estate market and stock market is close to zero. Their existence is of no real value whatsoever.
John Kenneth Galbraith pointed out years ago that bubbles are created by innovations in a subject incapable of innovations. In other words 'new' financial instruments are given a high and rising economic value while their dignity value is zero. The rising economic values of these financial assets in relation to their dignity value creates bubbles. Crashes return things to their dignity values. Bubbles must burst. There is after all a quiet dignity to that.*
Let us let go of this madness and change our lives, our outlooks, our ways of living and loving.
We deserve it.
* Goat Island Summer School Symposium, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), July 2008 and Performance Research 17.1, 2012.