(Read Part I here and Part II here.)
Ecoism and Egoism (and maybe these terms are terrible, but hey, it’s a start!) are the two terms I’d like to propose we use to evaluate and describe social and economic policies.
I believe these terms can replace, or at least supersede, Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism. Independent of any particular economic arrangements, these terms will allow us to evaluate social activity based not upon the arrangement, per se, but rather upon how a form of social contract is being applied. This will enable us to assess and develop complex policies, the modern entanglements of public/private arrangements, and the new modes of living made possible by technology with fresh eyes and without the baggage of the old CSC labels. In Part III, I will list the salient descriptive points of the new terms, and in Part IV, I will give an example of how they can be applied.
The general principles of the two terms are clear by their names. Egoism describes any systemic activity that derives primarily from the action of the human ego process. This process is naturally occurring, it’s what allows us to function, and is manifest both in individuals and also in human systems of organization where it takes the form of a corporate ego structure. Unfortunately, the ego process also has some serious negative side effects. These are the subject matter of all spiritual traditions and have been described using terms such as “fallen,” “neurotic,” “ego self,” etc. Ego processes that are allowed to function without examination and the corrective transformation made possible by the activities of what most traditions have called the “spiritual life” tend to follow a predictable pathway towards violence and death.
Ecoism describes any systemic activity that attempts to function from the perspective of a life-giving, wholistic view. This is the vision of every spiritual tradition, and the principles of these traditions can be extracted from their religious contexts to suit any general area of human function. In addition, the Ecoistic point of view takes into account the understandings of modern science regarding ecological systems and principles to aid us in appreciating the cooperative interconnection of all life and the “laws of nature” that govern this interconnection.
Using these general assumptions and perspectives, we can derive bullet point descriptions of each approach.
Egoism—A policy, economic, or social arrangement can be described as Egoistic if it largely conforms to the following:
- Policies and arrangements, over time, reward the few.
- Adopts a tribal approach and viewpoint. Creates categories of people that result in division.
- People function mostly out of self interest and from an “ego” point of view.
- Values constant increase in consumption.
- Focuses on and encourages people to increase their psycho-spiritual attachment to things and particular social arrangements.
- Highlights and emphasizes control. Freedom may be promoted, but only for some.
- Prioritizes an individual (cult of personality) or an individualistic view of reality. A systems understanding is either ignored or reduced to a one-dimensional collectivist understanding.
- The non-human natural world is largely ignored as a vital participant in social and economic systems.
- Attempts to avoid responsibility for the waste generated by social and economic activity.
- Laws and boundaries are seen as inflexible and are arbitrarily enforced.
- Encourages propaganda and fear, often through the creation of false mythology.
- Seeks to limit people’s participation.
- Causes trauma and encourages violence.
- Uses history and tradition to stifle change and maintain power.
- Cooperates with other harmful isms—sexism, racism etc.
- Use of resources results in gain for a few.
- Death-dealing for many if not the majority, even as it denies the reality of death as part of our human experience.
Ecoism—A policy, economic, or social arrangement can be described as Ecoistic if it largely conforms to the following:
- Values and practices freedom and cooperation.
- The focus of policy development is the good for all and is anti-tribal.
- People function out of both self interest and the interests of others and are willing to limit their self interest for the good of the whole.
- Takes a systems view of reality and includes the non-human world as a vital part of our economic and social systems.
- Values both individual responsibility and social concern and caring.
- Attends to the wisdom of our entire natural system.
- Laws and boundaries are seen as flexible tools.
- Has an economic and social understanding of Enough.
- Takes responsibility for the waste generated by social and economic activity.
- Encourages and fosters psycho/spiritual detachment, letting go, and service to others.
- Encourages listening.
- Encourages the acceptance of both life and death as inherent parts of our existence.
- Values education and personal growth as being vital for healthy systems.
- Encourages maximum participation in all decisions and walks of life.
- Attends to truth and reality. Myths are used to help reveal truth, not obscure it.
- Encourages healing and promotes peace.
- Appreciates history and tradition for what wisdom can be found there and then applies such wisdom in new ways to current situations.
- Attempts to free people from harmful ‘isms.’
- Uses resources wisely for the good of the entire ecosystem.
- Life-giving for all.
Reality Changing Observations:
1. What is your response to the descriptions of each label?
2. Would you characterize our local/national social and economic policies as Egoism or Ecoism? Is it a mix? Which side of the mix is more prevalent?
3. How do these descriptions connect with church culture?