Economic growth has taken on the place of the numinous or the divine in our mainstream culture. It takes the place of ‘God’ and is the ultimate source of ‘meaning’ and the means by which we ascribe ‘value’ or ‘worth’ to anything. People and things are ‘meaningful’ or ‘valuable’ not in themselves due to their own nature but only by virtue of how much they contribute to economic growth. But on the other hand the basis of this value system is being slowly eroded in some ways at the moment
The logic of economic growth can easily be refuted with primary school mathematics, but people still defend it voraciously. The reason they defend it so stubbornly in the face of all reason is because economic growth has taken on this ‘numinous’ quality in the modern world and from a mainstream perspective has become the ultimate arbitrator of all values.
It seems likely to me that as we are forced to realize that we have limited resources, that we have to mutually co-exist with the earth without destroying it and that unlimited growth is no longer possible the next stage will be that ‘the snake will bite its own tail’ and we will begin to perceive the divine in our bodies, in the earth and in community again. We will experience ‘a transvaluation of all values’ to use Nietzche’s term. Once we recognize that our lives and well being are dependent on the earth and community and that nothing is of any value without it, we will start to see these things as numinous and the source of all value again.
Part of the change that needs to happen is psychological: the system as a whole will change when people throw off their internal control systems and transform their survival fears. We need to collectively remember our worth arises from our being and not from our contribution to economic growth.
So perhaps part of transforming the money system is to move away from this false sense of self based on worthlessness, survival fears and scarcity. Somehow we need to face our own deepest survival fears. It is these fears which feed ‘the machine’ and which it feeds and lives upon. We need to find an authentic self that is rooted in our intuition, our body and in serving community.