Integral Economy: The purpose, scope and future of a Turquoise economy – Part II

by editor

This is the second part of a series of posts titled, “Integral Economy: The purpose, scope and future of a Turquoise economy”. Our previous post dealt with the nature and true purpose of economy as the golden mean between economic minimalism and extreme excessivism. In the current post, we will deal at length about the past economies the world has seen and how a Turquoise or Integral economy will be different from them. Inspired from Henry Augustine’s “Integral Politics: An Introduction to Integral Economy”, this article will give you an overview of the future of world economy in terms of perspective too.

The worldview of economy: Economy is generally viewed as an act of exchange of commodities that is related to production. According to Augustine, it is often considered as a “societal system in which people exchange produce”. This Mechanistic worldview of economics is opposed by Michael Holliday too in his post, “The Integral Economy”. Holliday expresses that there is a “convergent pattern” found to be emerging among many different theories which is way ahead of the past economies – Red, Amber, Orange or Green. Holliday adds further when he says, “What they all have in common is a desire to breathe new life into the field of economics – literally and figuratively. Each seeks to reconcile the machine metaphor of mainstream economics with the living, breathing, integral reality within which we all actually exist.” Before we proceed to analyze on what are the aspects of Integral economy, it is better if we have a glimpse of what was economy in the Red, Amber, Orange and Green world.

Economies of the past: Red economy is all about the “power gods”. Only the rulers enjoyed luxury and economic prosperity while the others suffered. Wealth was an attribute to the ruling elite, and ignored to the lowly underclass. But even that wealth was primarily physical, in that it “disallows” them from experiencing any higher holonic components. Another problem with Red economy is, while a selected minority get access to a lot of wealth, the majority suffer. Amber economy is different from Red economy in that, though it is still “hierarchical and oppressive” like Red, it emphasizes more of the “collective” compared to Red’s “individualistic” and egoistic economy.

In Amber economy, the majority feel empowered, instead of sufferance or enjoyment like the Red majority or  minority. When Amber becomes Orange, there is a change in economy. Orange economy can be more likened to Red than to Amber as it is holds self-expression above collective expression. The industrial, the corporate and the capitalist gain prominence. Individual becomes very important and “meritocracy and industry replace aristocracy and title”.

Orange economy emphasizes individuality and autonomy though it is rooted in democracy and justice. Green economy is no different from Orange in terms of ideals, except that “self” is given less importance and the collective gains upper-hand. Self-help groups, charity foundations, non-profit organizations etc. are the economic structures of the society. The social entrepreneur is of significance, while the autocratic industrial tycoon takes the background.

Green economy is the economy of today. Even Green is still emerging and there are already streaks of Integral economy in the horizon.

Turquoise Economy: A definition of Integral or Turquoise economy is difficult as it is still in its emergent stages. It requires a little groundwork, a contemplation over the changing worldview about economy. Michael Holliday opines that there are five defining aspects of living systems in our economies. They are 1. divergent parts like communities, governments, institutions, companies, people and resources; 2. unseen and invisible forces – remember the famous Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” view of economy; 3. open interaction and responsiveness to surrounding context; 4. regenerative and creative aspect; and 5. convergence – all these aspects converging into one whole economy, each with properties of its own.

While thinking of economy, one can easily be dissuaded by the thought that money or economy is something external. This is not true, or at least in the Integral way, only partially true. New theories throw light on the fact that economy is not just about visiting shopping malls and heaping commodities after commodities. It is not a thing of “externality” but something which emerges from an intrinsic set up. Holliday says, “economy is a living subsystem of the ecosystem, an embedded and integral part of the world”. This is why there is talk of “ecological economy” and “econosphere”, that proves that economy exhibits biological tendencies and is literally a bio-entity.

Henry Augustine too supports this view of economy as a natural entity in his essay, “An Introduction to Integral Economy”. He goes to the extent of saying that economy exists to help the human species find self-expression and achieve fulfillment. Economy is the drive behind profession. Economy is important because profession is important. Profession can be considered in two ways – 1. Something that one engages in to keep the world active, in order to sustain economy and the society, 2. Something that one engages in to experience “fulfillment” by expressing themselves through the profession they are meant for.

Augustine opines that like every holon, economy is also a natural holon, a part of the planet without which society cannot function. Its primary purpose is to let human beings find fulfillment in their existence. Augustine gives a new definition to economy and says, it can be viewed as “the Kosmic system in which each soul expresses itself via its respective persona, or circumstances, in order to allow for the greatest harmony and communion with every other soul.” Plato’s views on justice can be applied to this aspect of economy and it can be said that economy exists to allow human beings fulfill their “Destiny”. When one fulfills one’s destiny (or what one is destined to do in life) in the society, there is nothing but peace and rest in the society. It becomes the best society as a professor is a professor because he wants to be one and an artisan is one because he loves to be one. Even if human beings are not able to find fulfillment or their “destiny” still it is good as they keep the economy alive by their profession.

This kind of new economic view does not mean that a new type of economy is emerging, it just indicates the Integral view of economy is on the horizon and a change that is about to happen. British Nobel Laureate and Economist John Hikes explains this in his paper on “Revolutions” in 1983: “Our theories, regarded as tools of analysis, are…rays of light, which illuminate a part of the target, leaving the rest in the dark. As we use them, we avert our eyes from things that may be relevant. …Since it is a changing world that we are studying, a theory which illumines the right things now may illumine the wrong things another time. This may happen because of changes in the world (the things neglected may have grown relative to the things considered) or because of changes in our sources of information (the sorts of facts that are readily accessible to us may have changed) or because of changes in ourselves (the things in which we are interested may have changed). There is, there can be, no economic theory which will do for us everything we want all the time.”

We will discuss more on the reasons for the emergence of a Turquoise economy,  the importance of capital in such a economy etc. in our next post in the series.

Reference Links:

1.. Henry Augustine’s “Integral Politics: An Introduction to Integral Economy”

2. Michael Holliday’s “The Terrain: The Integral Economy”

3. Timothy J Melody’s “Integral Economy Emerging?”

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