Beautifully constructed and almost painfully ambitious, Sacred Economics is a book that aims to present a variety of options for when the flaws in our economy come tumbling down. Eisenstein addresses why most commodities do not deliver meaningful experiences, why we are so separated from community, and how we have become so complacent working within an economy that uses debt as a means to enslave the majority of people.
Eisenstein emphasizes how important a gift economy would be to building trustworthy communities. He discusses the rhetoric surrounding the illusion of scarcity and how this rhetoric influences people to buy more and preserve less. He breaks down the affects that money has on the human mind and moves on to discuss the fundamental issues behind owning property. These, and more, all reside in part 1, The Economics of Separation.
In Part II, The Economics of Reunion, Eisenstein presents a variety of ways of how economic situations can become cultural opportunities. He discusses alternative forms of money that, if used, would encourage the economy without unsustainable growth. One brave suggestion, a favorite of mine, was to allow money to decay. This would encourage the individual use of money. Since large monetary assets would decrease significantly in value over time, banks and wealthier citizens would be strongly encouraged to pour their money into the economy. Incredibly smart about how he discusses these alternatives, Eisenstein does not assume that any of these changes should happen overnight, nor is he interested in dislocating people from wealth - he simply presents alternatives for if and when the economy collapses and new modes of transactions are needed.
Part III, Living the New Economy, is when all of his ideas begin to tie themselves together. It becomes easier to imagine how some of these scenarios might exist and plenty of examples offer the benefits of newer systems.
"A primary goal of this book has been to align the logic of the mind with the knowing of the heart: to illuminate not only what is possible but also how to get there. When I use the word possible, I don't mean it in the sense of "maybe," as in, "It could possibly happen if only we are very lucky." I mean possible in the sense of self-determination: a more beautiful world as something we can create. I have given great evidence of its possibility: the inevitable demise of a money system dependent on exponential growth, a shift in consciousness toward a connected self in cocreative partnership with earth, and the many ways in which the necessary pieces of a sacred economy are already emerging. This is something we can create. We can, and we are."
I must say, that aside from Eisenstein's thorough research, analysis, and discussion of many aspects of economics that prove there is value in his ideas, I am incredibly pleased at the underlying tone of hope and initiative. It's become incredibly easy for people to sit with their cynicism regarding many parts of life instead of building the character for hope and change. Eisenstein possesses a character full of hope, proactivity, daring, and bravery - all of which made reading this book not only educational but fun. I would highly recommend this book, not only as a means for understanding what the future economy might look like, but because knowing of the possibilities can put your mind and heart at ease.