It was the British the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who famously said, in the 1980’s, TINA, There is No Alternative – to capitalism, of course.
Naturally there is an economic continuum within it: from neoliberalism to Keynesianism; or from the ‘ugly face’ of capitalism (for example Robert Maxwell in the old millennium) to ‘creative capitalism’ (Bill Gates in the new one). But, overall, there is perceived to be no alternative to this one ‘western’ economic system, and to the neoliberal free market enterprise of which it is constituted. How absurd can this be? Can you imagine a music critic, by way of one analogy, saying, if you don’t like European classical music the only alternative is American rock’n roll, ignoring the fact that Indian or Chinese classical music, jazz, the blues, heavy metal, country and western, Zimbabwean marimba music, and innumerable other such culturally laden forms are genuine musical alternatives. So why on earth is economics perceived to come in only one or at best two different a-cultural if not a-moral guises?
For us, nothing could be further from the truth. There are real, and many, alternatives to the economic mainstream. The trouble is, of course, that they are hidden from us, by the prevailing academic establishments – in economics departments and business schools alike. Integral Economics as a Whole Moving Beyond One Overarching Capitalist Thesis
It is for that very reason, that we provided, in theory and practice, under the guise of our (1)
Integral Economics, a wide range of economic and business alternatives to the conventional wisdom. As originally Trans4m, and now TCA, we have made a point of drawing on such alternatives, from the four corners of the globe as well as from the center. In other words we have established Integral Economics from, and for, the whole world, as opposed to from one, or at best, two, worlds, whether North and South, or indeed East and West.
For too long the powers that be – academics and practitioners, politicians and the business community – have, for us, inauthentically pointed ‘east’ or ‘west’, with seemingly no place else to go. From the outset, these have been falsely conceived categories, indeed twice over.
For firstly, in the last century, the so-called ‘east’ was actually the ‘communist’ world, as opposed to the capitalist ‘west’. So east was not really ‘east’, in terms of the Middle, Near and Far East, in Arab, Indian, Chinese or Japanese cultural terms. Then, toward the end of the last century, another ‘emerging east’ came to the ascendancy, first Japan and the Pacific Tigers (South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong) and subsequently China and India. Yet these so-called far ‘eastern’ countries adopted more or less the same kind of economic system as our ‘western’ one; give or take a few, most especially Japanese, variations (in the 1950’s to 1980’s before the Japanese miracle faded) along the established ‘western’ lines, of protectionism versus free trade, state intervention versus laissez-faire.
In other words, by and large, ‘western’ capitalism has ruled the roost, across both the Asian east and the Euro-American west. Moreover, when we come to compare ‘north’ and ‘south’ in conventional terms, it is primarily in terms of the rich (north) versus the poor (south). So again, there has been no real economic variety to draw upon. While at the end of the last century, there was some kind of distinction between Germanic and Scandinavian ‘northern’ economic systems and the ‘western’ Anglo-Saxons (UK and US), such differentiation has become increasingly blurred.
Our aim, then, is to challenge all that, by moving beyond one overarching capitalist thesis, with its other virtually defunct communist antithesis, as well as from the somewhat limited comparisons like ‘North versus South’ or ‘Neoliberalism versus Keynesianism’. Instead we offer a more clearly differentiated and integrated, altogether integral economic perspective,
with a particular and purposeful focus, as we shall see, on a culturally and spiritually laden, developmental economy and enterprise, with, as such as we shall see, variations on an associative theme. In that way we enable the whole diversity of economic approaches to dynamically and constructively interact, in order to create a humanistic and holistic, as well as rational and pragmatic, altogether centered economic approach. In the process, we lay the foundations for a new integral economic paradigm. Such a paradigm is inclusive rather than exclusive :
by differentiating and integrating diverse economic perspectives from all worlds, thereby building on the best of the South, East, North, West and Center
by building on the diverse elements of a living social system, which in our integral framework are, in archetypal terms: o Religion and Humanity(Center)
o Nature and Community (South)
o Culture and Spirituality (East)
o Science and Technology (North)
o Finance and Enterprise (West)
Releasing Economic Gene-ius For us then, while nature and community is indeed our source of economic and enterprise origination, or local Grounding, culture and spirituality constitutes, or rather should
constitute, in our integral terms, the now local-global Emergent foundation. In other words, social science and technology, subsequent to such, then provides the duly emancipatory “newly global” Navigation, for such a culturally an spiritually informed “developmental” economy, be it for example in Senegal (south) or Slovenia (north), India (east) or Ireland
(west). The ultimately transformative, now global-local enterprise Effect, then needs to build on all that has come locally, locally-globally, and newly globally before, set within an all round integrative polity.
In summary then, and as can be seen in the Figure below, we have identified four integral, economics paths – self sufficient (southern), developmental (eastern), social (northern) and living (western) economics, drawing most specifically, and in turn, on nature, on culture, on 4 knowledge and on life itself. Each such economy, serves to progressively release GENE-IUS,
by way of Grounding, Emergence, Navigation and Effect in turn.
Lessem R and Schieffer A (2010) Integral Economics : Releasing the Economic Genius of your Society. Abingdon. Routledge
Lessem R (2016) Integral Advantage : Emerging Economies and Societies. Abingdon.
Routledge Mamukwa E, Lessem R and Schieffer A (2014) Integral Green Zimbabwe : An African Phoenix Rises. Abingdon. Routledge
Piciga D, Schieffer A and Lessem R (2016) Integral Green Slovenia. Abingdon. Routledge