Monday, July 12, 2010

Market Bashing

"What's more,our dependency on the marketplace devalues the nobility of human existence."

Peter Block and John McNight,The Abundant Community

So many quotes to choose from. It feels a bit jarring to juxtapose "dependency, marketplace, nobility, human existence." Is human existence noble? Block and McKnight haven't made the case yet; in fact, the opposite seems to be true given that consumerism, systems, and the marketplace are human creations. Unfortunately, they equate "marketplace" with consumerism, overindulgence, lack of local production and self sufficiency, extreme "market values," etc. But the marketplace is essentially the voluntary exchange of goods and services -- a human invention that has served us well for a very long time. We've invented various ways to protect market exchanges -- sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Local production, local enterprises still require markets.

Their point, it seems, is that we have given up (assuming we've had them) personal and community competencies in exchange for buying too many solutions in the marketplace. Of course, we could refuse to buy these solutions, but this is challenging when they become so overwhelming, cheap, the thing to do. How do we create a balance between family and community, the marketplace, and government. We may get to this, I hope, but they are throwing lots of things out the window along the way.

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