Green Valuta: Governing a Planetary Economy (2021)


A Collaborative take on Regrowth, Planetary Economic Activities, Natural Ecosystems, the Global-Local Economic Society,

and an Alternative Currency System: a Redistributive Economy, that Encourages Resilience, Inclusion, and Increased Equality, as well as it must

Support Nature, Diversity, Adaptiveness, and Provide More Justice Among Us. 

Work in progress...


A Historical Shock as an Opportunity to Create Structural Changes

"As the coronavirus continues its march around the world, governments have turned to proven public health measures, such as social distancing, to physically disrupt the contagion. Yet, doing so has severed the flow of goods and people, stalled economies, and is in the process of delivering a global recession. Economic contagion is now spreading as fast as the disease itself. [...]. In this uncharted territory, naming a global recession adds little clarity beyond setting the expectation of negative growth. Pressing questions include the path of the shock and recovery, whether economies will be able to return to their pre-shock output levels and growth rates, and whether there will be any structural legacy from the coronavirus crisis." (Carlsson-Szlezak, Reeves, and Swartz 2020).


The Global Nerve of Hope: From an Existential Historical Shock Towards a Planetary Economy

Indeed, the global nerve after a historical shock or a so-called exogenous shock is shaky, uncertain, and unpredictable. Our hopes for the future is, nevertheless, one of a glimmering, and sparkeling kind. However, because of the pandemy raging around the globe, we can all feel the tensions, just by taking in the news from a television, scrolling social media apps, reading the newspapers, or by listening to the radio. It is, most certainly, a frightening, heartbreaking, and devastating historical event for all of us! In this crisis we need each other! And, In togetherness, we need to start asking the right democratic questions (Piketty 2017). Also important to stress: Krugman (2020c) argued before the coronavirus that "the rules of the game changes" after a profound crisis. But, he refered to the financial crisis in 2008-2009 (Krugman 2020c). The financial crisis was not a global crisis, it only effected parts of the world. However, its measures had global repercussions (Georgieva 2020). The pandemy, adds further dramatic consequenses for our global world, our health, our loved ones, our lives, and our livelihoods, as well as for geopolitical stability, the base of economic prosperity; microeconomics, and macroeconomic stability. And, in the midst of this turmoil, this brooding global society, we must take a halt. Because, it is more than legimate to turn existential; on the behalf of our current economic system, and ask ourselves: what is an economy, if it fails to support the majority of humanity, and nature? Because, the corona crisis, also creates vast opportunities to rethink our economic system, for the better. We must ask ourselves: what works, and what does not? It is time for a fundamental transfiguration or transformation of the economic system. From a dysfunctional economic system; with lacks in adaptiveness (Hylland Eriksen 2019), and redistribution deficiency, we must create an economic system that is more redistributive and collaborative, inclusive and resilient, tolerant and diverse, as well as adaptive on all geographical scales. It has to make humanity and nature, recover, thrive and rise again, and secure a more geographically evenly dispersion of advanced technologies, and resources. It must emphasise on technological fairness, at the expense of technological power abuse, monopoly, and exploitation. Additionally, it must accentuate on a healthy economic and political power balance globally, hence it must also address pressing geopolitical matters, macroeconomics, international currents, and urgent global issues tied to natural ecosystem resources, ecological responsibility. We must base our global economy on renewable energy and renewable resources, in order to create a sustainable economy for the future. Given the situation our global society is in: it is time to change the rules for the better, and create new and holistic or governing economic principles for our future, that safeguards a just and fair redistribution of resources. We must not let this historical shock change our planet, our world, for the worse. Furthermore, we must shape a sustainable economic system, within the framewoorks of an adaptive governance system with citizens empowerment, local responses or simply bottom-up approaches. This global-local, social-ecological, socio-economic, and socio-technical system, must be able to take on the challenges, that our global economy is currently facing. These global economic system challenges are: a potential economic instability due to the corona crisis, heightened job insecurity and income inequality (Chang 2010b, d and f), which leads to increased social and economic inequality (Piketty 2017, Krugman 2020a and b), and a continous and emerging gap between financial assets and the real economy (Chang 2010c), a lack of an adaptive global governance, and a need for a more just and fair redistribution of resources (Dryzek 2005). Also, the rise of humanitarian crisis, inequal provisions of environmental burdens and problems (Dryzek 2005), and uneven spread of advanced technology geographically (Dicken 2011b), increased national debts, increased household debts (Rajan 2020), and market failures (Chang 2010g). Additionally, uneven distribution of food, and irresponsible production, and unhealthy consumption patterns. The problems are piling up! Nevertheless, even though we need an alternative economic model sorely, it is important to note that the alternative system which will be stated, is not an all-inclusive answer to all these societal problems mentioned. Stay patient clever reader, and keep your hopes high: it's time to step up the game! The most fundamental question in this context is, however: are we up for it? Are we up for a system change of our current economic system?


A Planetary Economy as a Potent Game Changer for Humanity, and Nature

From a critical eye on our current economic system, towards narrowing down the scope of this brief paper. The author has had to make her internal trade-offs, based on a careful selection of literature, which may highlight the most pressing and relevant and urgent challenges, and critiques of our current economic system. The uneven distribution of food, and irresponsible production and consumption patterns, will e.g. be adressed more thoroughly in essays planned separate to this brief paper. And, the increased gap between the real economy and finance, will not be analyzed in this text. Because, as Krugman (2020) argue: finance is not a part of the real economy. Therefore, it does not necessarily have direct effects on how our real economy performs, or works. However, finance and its effects on the real economy, requiers more of an in-depth study, which this brief paper cannot provide space for. Furthermore, the technology requiered in societal progress, and in producing problemsolving technological innovations, to answer to our environmental problems, is in general not an all fix, that would be naïve to think, unrealistic to achieve, or perhaps even dangerous to rely on (Miller 2017). The dilemmas, catches, and advantages of advanced technology, will be discussed more rigoroursly in this brief paper in the section; discussing the world as a case. And, it will be compared with the challenges and opportunities of eco-pessimism, among other comparisons. More importantly, the author has chosen to address what the majority of people, and nature need the most: the unprivileged and underestimated part of humanity, and nature. And additionally, we must sophistically maneuver among the challenges that the oponents of capitalism are up against, and respond to these urgent issues in a constructive manner. Because evidently, the economic language is also the language of power (Moene 2020). In other words, free market capitalism equals power, and dominance. I must pull myself together and step into the chamber of power. Moreover, as problematic the economic and social, political, and environmental trends in our global economic system are, we have to confront these demanding societal challenges now. Certainly, these systemic societal problems will only get worse, if we do not pull the problems by the root instantly: we are up against the wall! We must confront the heart of the matter, and get into this powerful, difficult, and demanding "game" right now. As a starter, the essence to our problems about capitalism stems from, or more precisely; the achilles heel of our global economic system, is presented by the Norwegian economist Jakobsen (2019f), in the following quotes:

"Although competition means that resources are allocated in an efficient and rational way, this does not necessarily mean that the distribution is fair. [...]. When the market economy, both nationally and globally, contributes to the ever-increasing differences, with the consequence that some live in abundance while others starve, it shows that liberalism's demands for equality and justice are not met. [...]. [T]he economy should assure that human welfare, efficient use of resources and adaptation to ecological frameworks are met. [...]. Since a pure market economy has not built in any principles, that ensures us that resources are distributed in a fair way, the consequence of the differential treatment is instead that the distance between rich and poor increases in a self-reinforcing way. [...]. The solution may lie within an economic paradigm based on a foundation that unites humanism with ecological responsibility" (translated from Norwegian by the author, note: the different quotes has been pulled together by the author, see: the brackets in the text, or the full text in Norwegian, in Jakobsen 2019f, p. 70 and 73, or pp. 58-73).

The most pressing challenge of the current economic system seams to be the lack of a fair and just distribution of resources (Jacobsen 2019, p. 70). This, implies that we must create a more equal and redistributive economy: a different planetary economy, which brings together both humanism and ecological responsibility (Jakobsen 2019, p. 73). Jacobsen's perspective builds on Daly and Cobb (1989; in Jakobsen 2019f, p. 180). They argue that mainsteam economy shows a lack in the "ability to handle issues related to over-consumption of natural resources and fair distribution of goods." (Daly and Cobb 1989; in Jacoobsen 2019f, p. 180). In their point of view, collaboration embedded in "network-based interaction becomes more important than competition between autonomous market participants." (Daly and Cobb 1989; in Jacobsen 2019f, p. 181): "Everything (also the market) is connected through dynamic relations (the web of life)". Since everything is connected through relationships, they add: "relations are more important than objects, and that the description of change is more central than mapping what is". To acheive such a profound change to our mainstream economy, a move from competition to interaction and collaboration, and a move from analyzing the status quo to engage in transformation, is fundamental. Also, in order to face urgent societal and environmental needs. The author, however argue, that rather than a move from competition to collaboration, we need a balance between the two entities, in which collaboration must become more prominent, than currently is the case. This balance, among other key balances in macroeconomics, international currents, and geopolitics, will be adressed in this brief paper. That brings us to the author's contribution, to this highly challenging and demanding discussion of global system change, to our current economic system. Let me explain the use of existing theory, and notions, that unfolds the theory discussion of this brief paper:

As a starter, the highly demanding global system change of our current economic system, is explained by the author's following eleven arguments and claims: first, the statement of claiming to create an alternative to capitalism is presented. Second, the discussion of the tabula rasa situation we are in is addressed. Third, a clarification of the author's outsider role, and external observant stance follows. Fourth, an emphasise on pluralism, synthesis, and decomposition, will be claimed. Fifth, the last methodological tool will be discussed: system transdiciplinarity, and the metadiscipline dilemma, as well as connectivity, holism, and transformation. The fifth methodological tool, moves from methodology to theory: it is a unification of methodology and theory, that paves the way for global system change to our current economic model. Sixth comes the theoretical parts. The author suggests a three folded theory discussion. To break it down, it starts out with the author's discussion of the world as a case: capitalism and its No 1 oponent, key balances in macroeconomics, geopolitics, international currents, as well as next: the advantages and dilemmas of advanced technology. Then, seventh, the author will identify seven groups of problems or challenges to our current economic system; free market capitalism. Nineth, the author will move on to a responsive discussion of the seven cornerstones of existing theories, and notions, to narrow the gap between challenges of our global society and theory, and to scrutinize the stated problems of capitalism. And, tenth, the author represents three real life cases, that supports the author's core theoretical concept. These three cases are: (1) EU as an optimum currency area (OCA), and the impossible trinity (IT), (2) New Zealand and Costa Rica's pioneering body of environmental lawmaking, and constitutional reforms, as well as (3) the case on green points in Paris, London, and New York. And finally, in the eleventh part of the arguments and claims, the author moves on to the author's visual, conceptualized and constructed theory. It is the core of the alternative stated, and it goes like this:

To be clear: the alternative builds on existing theory, notions, and cases, as well as the author's own visualizations, theoretical concepts, theoretical constructions, and concerns. To begin with, the author will turn to suggest ten reinvented and reimagined governing economic principles for a planetary economy, as the first part of her alternative to capitalism. Altogether, the ten principles, will be applied on the core theoretical and visual concepts further into this brief paper: three holistic and visual models, with three system narratives, as well as a metamodel of these (model four). The first visual model and descriptive system of the alternative is a global environmental contract with suggested constitutional reforms, that builds on the theory stated in the three theoretical parts, and New Zealand and Costa Rica as a case, as well as international environmental law (IEL). And, the second visual model of the alternative is the green valuta, regrowth, and the multiple loop economy synthesis. This part of the alternative stated, builds on the EU as a case, and existing theory and notions, and it has to co-work with the environmental contract, and the third of the visual models: collaborative and competitive, resilient and inclusive local communities, embedded in citizens empowerment, and advanced technology. Hence, these three models suggested, must support a co-working, co-creative and co-evolving global-local, socio-economic, socio-technical, and social-ecological adaptive governance system, which is the fourth conceptual, and visual model. Or to simplify, the three visual models and system descriptions, have to be interdependent theoretically, and interdependent as an actual alternative, that can be applied to our global society. It means that that the first three visualizations and narratives of the alternative, has to co-work theoretically and at the global-local level suggested. More precisely, it has to work on multiple levels (methodologically, theoretically and visually), and in reality on all geographical scales: the global, the regional, the national, and the local scale. Overall, the three visual models and descriptive system, must create an interdependent metamodel, or simply: a planetary economic system. This fourth visual model, puts together the theoretical concept of the three former models and systems, into a holistic whole. Altogether, the core research question of this brief paper should build upon the methodology, theory, notions, discussions, and visualizations, suggested in this action plan introduction. And, address the achilles heel of our current economic system, presented by Jacobsen (2020e). It is time to turn our curiosity to the cut to the core research question of this brief paper. If we put our minds into it: how can we make our global economic system; an economy for the majority of people, and nature? Is it doable?

It is time for a game changer for humanity, and nature! Let us, if only momentarily, try to distract our attention from the pile of problems in front of us. We must not become paralyzed by the amounts of difficulties we are confronted with. We briefly have to ignore the profound feeling of being stuck in a system failure. And then, quickly turn our curiosity to the cascade of benefits and opportunities for nature and humanity, embedded in an alternative and well-funtioning planetary economic system. The alternative suggested should, most of all, strive to be fit for a sustainable future: our common future (UN 1987). To achieve this, we must seize the opportunity, that have been handed over to us, in the shape of a historical shock. We must, most certainly, exploit the tabula rasa situation we are in, in order to reimagine and reinvent the current economic system we live by, to create a better future for all. However, to accommodate such profound system changes, we must start by running up that hill, or climbing that mountain. Everyone have to take their part in the opportunities and challenges ahead. This, by creating and sharing fascinating and problemsolving concepts and thoughts, innovations and actions, technology, and ideas, as well as environmental measures, fit for an ecologically responsible, and humane future: a game changer for the majority of people, and nature. But, what if everything, as we know it, falls apart?


Five Methodological Tools that Supports the Author's Conceptual Bird-Eye Perspective

The First Methodological Tool: Strategy – Stating the Alternative

In Case of an Emergency or What if the Capitalist System Should Collapse?

In every circumstances, it is fundamental to have an alternative plan or method. The most fundamental methodological choice of strategy must therefore; as difficult it might seam, be to create a well-functioning alternative to the capitalist system. This, in case of emergency, or if everything should fall apart. If our global economy fails to co-work, co-create, and co-evolve with nature on a global-local level. If it fails to support a fairer distribution of advanced technologies. And, if the present economy fails to provide us a more equal and just social and economic alternative: it will leave us; the majority, if not futureless, then certainly less prosperous, and with more restricted livelihoods and freedoms, than the privileged few. This is why we need to make the most out of the crisis or historical shock we are in, to change the rules of the game, that we reluctantly have had to play by, up until this point. And, then suggest reform-friendly principles for our future. We must put our trust and enthusiasm in problemsolving mindsets, and believe that there are multiple economic system combination possibilities, that has not yet transpired to us. These might be far better suited to approach our urgent societal matters, such as social and economic, institutional and political, as well as technological, and environmental challenges, concerns, and hopes for the future. We are not stuck forever! Given this, the core question that comes to my mind is: why not switch to a more preferable "game", with better future prospects for humanity, and nature? Our current free market capitalist system, has proven to us that it is surely not as sustainable or resilient, responsible or adaptive, stable or equal, redistributive or collaborative, tolerant or diverse, as we would have anticipated. And, which we legitimately can demand from a well-functioning global economic system, in the future. To elaborate on this, whether we like it or not, we have to pave the way for system changes of our dysfunctional capitalist model, since it does not work for the majority of mankind and nature. In other words, our current economic system suppress, or ceases to support our natural ecosystems, and the majority of mankind. "The globalized economy is so destructive, for both humans and ecosystems, that a new economy is needed." (Nordberg-Hodge 2016; in Jacobsen 2019c, p. 288). Furthermore: "The dominant paradigm based on the idea of the economic man must be replaced by an acceptance of the "man in the community"." (Daly 1991; in Jakobsen 2019g, p. 179). We have to change because we have pushed ourselves; our natural ecosystems, our physical surroundings, and humanity, to the limits. Kumar argued in 2002: "We are now at a crossroad, either we can continue on the same path, or we can choose an economy that serves the best interests of the community." (Kumar 2002; in Jakobsen 2019a, p. 238). However, in 2021, we are still at the same crossroad. Let's get it right this time! Sen supports the vison of the man in the community, and refers to Smith (1997), who argues that

"[m]an ought to regard himself, not as something separated and detatched but as a citizen of the world, a member of the commonwealth of nature, and to the interest of this great community, he ought at all times to be willing that his own little interest should be sacrified." (Smith 1997, p. 22; in Sen; in Jakobsen 2019a, p. 242).

Indeed, 2021 may be the pivot year for global system change, in which we take the right turn in the crossroad, and make a move towards solidarity with the commonwealth of nature. Because, there are human and planetary limits to growth, which we have surpassed (Meadows et al 1972). This, measured by e.g. increased job insecurity and income inequality, and increased ecological footprints, which makes human beings live in economic uncertainty, as well as to live in a dysfunctional economic system: a global society which degrads natural ecosystems and – supports economic and social inequality (Meadows et al 1972, Dicken 2011a). In short, we have had to live in an economic system, in which economic growth has caused increasement in e.g. population, food production, industrialization, pollution, and consumption of nonrenewable natural resources, and it exceeds social, and ecological boundaries globally (Meadows et al 1972, Raworth 2012, 2017). Our core aim must therefore be to create a future world in balance, in which nature's given boundaries, and social limits, are not exceeded (Meadows et al 1972, Raworth 2012, 2017). In other words: we have to e.g. construct an innovative environmental contract globally, in which each country commit to constitutionally protect nature, and human beings. Additionally, we need an alternative to capitalism; in case of a collapse, an emergency, or most certainly: in case of a continuous system failure to justly support humanity and nature, in an ecological responsible, humane, and lifesaving manner. 

The Second Methodological Tool: Seize the Moment

A Tabula Rasa Perspective to Structural Changes, Created by an Exogenous Shock

That said, it is time to find an environmental cure to our societal problems, that must be embedded in a structural change, and a radical change of our global society, by the means of a planetary, redistributive, and collaborative economic model. This economic model must put resilience and diversity, a just and tolerant global society, respect and adaptiveness, trust and care, openness, transparency, and governance, as well as inclusion, at the top of the list. It must also transform the economy from being linear to resource generating loop systems, that alternates between different growth types to favour humanity, and nature. In order to support this new world order: the post-corona order, with new power configurations, new options to collaborate, new planetary perspectives, and new geopolitical alliances, we must change our global, national, regional, and local economic societies radically. This century, the 21st century, is a milestone historically. We are in a groundbreaking shock. This represents a vast and powerful opportunity, to change the inequal, unjust, and unfair economic system we have constructed, which causes an over exploitation of nature. This economic system favours the priviledged few, rather than the majority of people. We need to start rearranging and redistributing the resources we possess more fairly, and more equally socially and economically, environmentally, and politically. To acheive that, we additionaly need to start rethinking the organization or the arrangement of our global economic society. And, start this transition towards sustainability, by evaluating tabula rasa options to the arrangement of our present economic system, in which we decide what to keep, and what to throw away. At least: we must make a real effort in trying to leed the economy into more sustainable patterns. These sustainable patterns must supports the majority of mankind, advanced technological fairness, and nature jointly. We must enable nature and humanity to co-work, co-create and co-evolve, socially, technologically, politically, institutionally, and ecologically. It is time to open up for a real conversation and a dialogue with nature. The corona crisis might make most of us to rethink our lives and our exsistence, as well as urgent existential matters tied to our global society. Because of that, we have already become more prone to adapt to changes. We must accept that we are in a favourable tabula rasa moment! The 21st century could be the year of fundamental, and rapid societal system changes, with global repercussions. The world is tossing and and turning, and changing as I write. The structures are changing. We must seize the opportunity. But, remember: we create the structures, we are the structures, only we can change them. We must breake free from pre-existing chains of societal problems we have nutured, and start reinventing and reimagening what kind of societal principles we need, to improve ourselves, our world. Because, what the earth needs, is what we need too! We too are nature. It is time to clean the table, and take in all the impression from existing economic theories and notions, in order to reimagine and reinvent these. Let us start out by rethinking theoretical concepts, and notions in our mindsets, and at least to reimagine and reinvent our existing theories, and notions. The tabula rasa moment is here. We must let the structural changes unfold, and not fight against it. And, do everything in ower power to steer the structural changes in the right direction. The 21st century is our pivot moment for ecological responsible actions and behaviours. In order to create something original, or odd, fit for a different era: we must take a moment and pause to think, and then innovatively navigate into the unknown. The final acheivement of this global system change quest, must be to make sure that we have kept the best from the past, learned from our mistakes, and added a twist; an original theoretical concept. This innovative goal, must be present in all the steps required to solve this riddle: the global system change challenge. And, the result must be fit for an ecological responsible, and humanist future: it must work for all of us, and nature, jointly. But, what kind of position is best suited to take on such an ambitious; or perhaps even unrealistic challenge, and unsound quest?

The Third Methodological Tool: The Outsider

Navigating into the Unknown: The Insider-Outsider Paradox in Qualitative Research, and the Participant-Observer Perspective 

The global upheaval we are experiencing, creates an opening for the objective outsider's perspective of reinventing and reimagining economic theories, and notions: a tabula rasa situation, in which we have to sort out what to keep, what to learn from, and what to throw away, in terms of theoretical concepts, and notions. In order to acheive this, it is of great importance to take a position; such as an outsider's role, and furthermore, own this position. More importantly It is to state, what kind of stance, objectiveness and preconseptions, and biases, which is embodied in the understanding, that follows such an self-proclaimed position. This, in order to make sense of the author's perception of reality from the outsider's point of view:

"The qualitative researcher's perspective is perhaps a paradoxical one: it is to be acutely tuned-in to the experiences and meaning systems of others—to indwell—and at the same time to be aware of how one's own biases and preconceptions may be influencing what one is trying to understand" (Maykut and Morehouse 1994, p. 123; in Corbin Dwyer and Buckle 2009).

While the insiders have access to meaning systems, notions, and theories, cultures, and interpretations of these, the outsider's obvious advantage is based on the same arguments. But, it is a freedom from these meaning systems, cultures, theories, and notions, as well as its interpretations. This makes the outsider prone to be objective, free from indoctrinated knowledge, and innovative, in the best sense. Because: "When we see ourselves and society from the outside, we discover connections that are not so easy to see from the inside." (Kumar 2013; in Jakobsen 2019a, p. 240). Moreover, the author's outsider role, is most certainly, the creative-intuitive, and visual-spatial, human geographer and architect's approach, an holistic and societal perspective, an outsider perspective. Architecture; as seen as the art of creating spaces, is more visual, spatial, creative and conceptual, a human geographer can, however, be defined as the art of investigating the influence of differences in geography on human behavior or human phenomena. However, Shiva argue that: "The idea of an objective and value-free science is an illusion that arose in Europe during the Enlightenment." (Shiva; in Jakobsen 2019a, p. 250). He further adds that, all knowledge mirrors our cultural roots and identity, which are tied to a specific ethical stance (Shiva; in Jakobsen 2019a, p. 250). The lack or myth of objectiveness and value-freeness in science, is a point of view that is supported by Harari (2017). But, there are still differences between being an insider or outsider to a field of study, in which the outsider tends to be more objective than the insider, when these two positions are compared (Kumar 2013; in Jakobsen 2019a, p. 240). In a tweet Musk (2021) distinguishes between being an external observer and being an insider participant. Taken this consideration into account, there is a difference between being an employee and empoyer in the global economy, and being a mere observer of the game of free market capitalism. Nevertheless, from the insider-outsider approach and observer-participant perspective, and to the qualitative approach of this methodological section: the author has chosen qualitative research towards a global economy, rather than economy as a dismal science. This means that the author will try to grasp the global economy as a system of governing economic principles, rather than a complex with given rules. It is, thus, important to note, that the global economy is a system and a complex. The difference between a system and a complex will be discussed in the next methodological section. However, how the global economy is interpretated, all depends on the role, position or perspective of its observers or participants. And, it is of great importance to take a stance, a role, a position in the game of free market capitalism. Since the author chooses a qualitative approach in this brief paper, the goal is to enhance accessibility and democratization of knowledge (open science). In short, the task is to reimagine and reinvent economic theory, and notions, to fit the purpose of this brief paper, which is to create a global system change of our economic system, an alternative. Addititionally, the motivation is to construct an integration of knowledge, through synthesis, decomposition, and pluralism, in order to construct a foundation for a planatary economy of the future. These methodological terms will be discussed next, in order to make sense of the world, our future, as well as to add more methodological equipments to our toolkit, that will support the alternative bird-eye perspective on the future of our global economy. And finally, to create order in an otherwise messy world.

The Fourth Methodological Tool: To Create Order in a Messy World

Conceptualizing, and Constructing Theory for Global Changes to Our Economic System: Synthesis, Decomposition, Pluralism, and the Lack of Governing Economic Principles

Since humanity is part of nature, our global society can be regarded as a natural system guided by principles, or a natural complex guided by rules (Kahil 1990, p. 11). These rules and principles continuously change, whether we like it, or not (Kahil 1990, p. 11). While the economy as a dismal science, may be regarded as a complex goverened by rules, qualitative research conciders the global society as a system, which may be guided by principles. While principles are more loose, less specific, and more of a guiding kind, rules are more specific, and fixed. Principles and rules must work together in a future economic system: future principles can become rule changing, and on the other hand these rules may have an effect on future principles of our economic system, and e.g. on our social and environmental behaviour. But, as Jakobsen (2019f, p. 73) argued "a pure market economy has not built in any principles", which would have ensured us that a redistribution of resources, should have happened in a just and fair manner, that benefits humanity and nature. Our global economic society is, therefore, unjust and unfair for the majority of mankind, and nature. Economy as a dismal science have matemathical rules and alogrithms, but we lack any kind of collaborative and redistributive governing economic principles, that could have tied together humanity, and nature in a social-ecological way. Because, while our nature is a complex, our global economy is a system, just as well as it is a complex. To create a future planatary economy for mankind and nature, we have to integrate knowledge, and create a holistic perspective on nature and the economy as a complex and as a system (system transdisciplinarity). Furthermore, to understand the global economic society as a system, the author applies two cognitive styles to understand our challenges, when facing demanding global system changes. Let us start by defining the two thinking styles suggested: synthesis and decomposition. While the cognitive process of a synthesis is to build or construct a theoretical concept piece by piece or argument by argument, a decomposition breaks wholeness or theoretical concepts into parts, to scrutinize these. This, the author applies to global system changes theoretically. Because, it is easier to understand a system built element by element, or a theoretical wholeness divided into parts, than understanding a whole system at once. Examples of systems are food security, the Nordic model, the institutional art world, capitalism and natural ecosystems. Both cognitive styles; addressed to understand holistic systems, such as e.g. the global society, are, are as mentioned, core processes needed to conceptualize and construct conceptual theory on global system change. More importantly, these two procedures aims at creating coherance, and system understanding in this brief paper. The strategic choice of either option; a synthesis or a decomposition, is to understand and relate to core research questions methodologically. Such questions stated are: what feels most natural in identifying the characteristics of the problem(s) addressed? What brings the most original twist? Or, what unfolds the concerns of the system analysis? And finally: what kinds of arguments supports the coherence of the system inquiry most thoughtfully? Indeed, the synthesis-decomposition procedure aim at finding solutions to impossible or infinite intellectual quests such as e.g. global system changes, by creating an alternative or different planetary economy. This, is executed by taking into account theory that are pluralist, heterodox, complementary, and eclectic, which may support a variety of approaches to a planetary system change, towards a more environmentally-friendly global society. It also expresses my enthusiasm about the myriad of critical and dissenting ideas, embedded in a broader perspective on the field of economy, such as e.g. a system transdisciplinary approachs, or as defined next: pluralism:

"Economics is a hugely varied field, with an amazing colourful array of different paradigms, methods and focuses, and pluralist economics is [a study] that includes all of these [, by] introduc[ing] critical and dissenting ideas" (Fischer, Hasell, Proctor, Uwakwe, Ward-Perkins and Watson 2018, p. 2 and 4).

I have decided to define the key notion; pluralism, because it is perhaps the most unfamiliarly notion of the four terms, mentioned right before the quote. However, these four notions mentioned are befrended. Since heterodixity, complementarity and eclectisism is more familiar to us, these notions are more intuitively defined. Heterodoxity is; in this context, conceptual theory that separates itselves from standard or traditional perceptions, such as e.g. by being odd or original. Complementary; in this brief paper, means that different conceptual theories; alike colours, creates a neutral or a balance, when combined such as e.g. a complementary valuta. However, mixing two entities does not always result in a neutral or a balance. At times the result comes from a discrephancy between the expected result and the unexpected and actual result, thisresult is a so-called incogruence. That brings us to the last term; eclectic, which in this short text, may be understood as theories, and notions deriving from a broad range of sources, a relevant mix of quite differentiated theories, and notions, that when applied, supports the global system change approach. Every alternative theory and notions, that supports the authors system account in this brief paper is added into the text by using these four methodological notions, as a sprinboard to accumulate knowledge with relevance for the alternative stated. Altogether, these four terms favours a system account, or a more percisely pronounced; a holistic process, such as e.g. to create order when tidying up a messy room. In this case, the messy room is our fragmented global society. We have to tidy up our messy global society, and clean up, as well as to restore our natural ecosystems. That brings us to the next mehodological tool, that may; perhaps even further, pave the way for a more holistic understanding of our messy world, in which the author moves from a methodological to a theoretical perspective on the economy. This joint perspective builds on system transdisciplinarity, holism, connectivity, and transformation, that must take a qualitative and integrated stance, on our current economic system, and how we can transform it, to create a better future for all of us.

The Fifth Methodological Tool: From Methodology to Theory

A Qualitative and Integrated Perspective on Economics: System Transdisciplinarity, Holism, Connectivity, and Transformation

It is important to note, that transdiciplinarity needs to be scrutinized or explained more thoroughly, than this brief paper can provide space for. In short, it strives to create unity or wholeness out of pluralist, eclectic, complementary, and heterodox theoretical theory in this context. Furthermore, what separates transdisciplinarity from interdisciplinarity, is the aim of creating holistic systems and approaches, that fills in the gaps of an otherwise fragmented and incomplete global society. Indeed, the quest of transdisciplinarity is to unify and integrate knowledge. This, in order to create a system account or a holistic understanding, and solve our most pressing environmental, economic, social, institutional, and political matters. And, address what structural challenges and systemic opportunities, our global society has to handle, through the current era of systemic global change era we are experiencing. Indeed, this historical schock will pave the way for structural processes or system changes to our global society, which will be accomodated by system transdisciplinarity and connectivity as a methodological tool, and theory on transformation. Let us start out by clarifying system transdisciplinarity as a notion.

“The notion of transdisciplinarity exemplifies one of the historically important driving forces in the area of interdisciplinarity, namely, the idea of the desirability of the integration of knowledge into some meaningful whole. The best example, perhaps, of the drive to transdisciplinarity might be the early discussions of general systems theory when it was being held forward as a grand synthesis of knowledge. Marxism, structuralism, and feminist theory are sometimes cited as examples of a transdisciplinary approach. Essentially, this kind of interdisciplinarity represents the impetus to integrate knowledge, and, hence, is often characterized by a denigration and repudiation of the disciplines and disciplinary work as essentially fragmented and incomplete.

If we now look at these rough and ready distinctions through the lenses of the three conceptual strands noted above, some interesting results emerge. First, consider the theoretical-practical wisdom distinction. Strictly disciplinary activities tend primarily to be concerned with theoretical understanding, while multidisciplinary activities, and perhaps even some interdisciplinary projects, are more concerned with practical results. Transdisciplinary activities, to be sure, tend toward addressing questions of theoretical understanding, especially those of the unity of knowledge, but the distinction between theoretical concerns and practical questions in interdisciplinary work seems worth making.” (Petrie 1992, pp. 299-333; in Evans 2014).

This systemic transdisciplinary approach, synthesis and decomposition, as well as the plurealist way to address urgent global societal matters, are tied to the environment, the sphere of politics, the economy, and social matters of just and fair redistribution in this brief paper. It intersects or supports Mokiy's (2020) perspective on 'system transdiciplinarity as a metadiscipline'; with an inherent metanarrative, metatheory, and metamodel. Transdisciplinarity strives for unity of knowledge (Nicolescu, 1997; in Moghadam-Saman 2018 ). Morover, it “[…] involves intense interaction between academics and practitioners in order to promote a mutual learning process between them.” (Steiner and Posch, 2006, 4; in Moghadam-Saman 2018). While this brief paper does not involve an interaction between researchers and practioners, it involves four metamodels: visualizations as a methodological tool, versus descriptive systems, or as in Mokiy's (2020) metaclassification; metanarratives and metatheory. The idea of this brief paper, is to show that metanarratives or descriptive systems can co-work, co-create and co-evolve with visual models or metamodels; in a synergetic way, to pave the way for a metadiscipline. System transdisciplinarity, is a system of systems, in which the core system (e.g. the global society), is more important than the parts or fragments or smaller systems, such as e.g. the European Union (EU). Since it is a connected system explanation of the interaction of systems fragments, it is also a metadiscipline. However, in this lies also the weakness of system transdisciplinarity. Indeed, since it takes an holistic approach to our world, it might underestimate the power of details. This is the dilemma of any system transdiciplinary or metadiscipline approach. In short, this brief paper is, however, not a general system theory of economics, in the spirit of Keynes' ambitious project. But, it takes a holistic approach to solving our current societal and ecological challenges. 

"To solve the problems [our global society is up against], it is necessary that we change our understanding towards wholeness and contexts instead of focusing on parts and division. On the personal level, we must move away from an "I" to a "we" consciousness, and at the system level, we must move from an egocentric to an ecocentric economy. This means, among other things, that we must develop relationships with others, with the whole system and with ourselves." (translated from Norwegian by the author, Scharmer 2019; in Jakobsen 2019c, p. 272).

Furthermore, we have to change our

"perception of reality which is characterized by separation between people and between people and nature. The solution lies in an awareness that everything in reality is integrated, and that we are part of the whole, and that we all have the whole in us." (translated form Norwegian by the author, Eisenstein 2007; in Jakobsen 2019c, p. 269).

Because, as Eisenstein continues: we are "interbeings", which means "to be one with everything" (Eisenstein 2007; in Jakobsen 2029b, p. 269). Therefore, since we are part of the global society and nature, we also have to start creating a "planetary consciousness", and a "harmonic interaction between humanity and nature", to endevaour our societal and ecological problems (Lindner 2011, Klein 2014; in Jakobsen 2019c, p. 264 and 266). Additionally, we have to connect and communicate, and make "a brench with established routines and frames of understanding" our current economic system, in order to face the societal and environmental problems we are up against (Lindner 2011; in Jakobsen 2019c, p. 266). Moreover, to acommodate such societal and environmental problems stated prior in this brief paper, connectivity and holism may, therefore, be the key to understanding the relationships between the people, and nature. Because, Nordberg-Hodge (2016) builds on an integrated view of nature and mankind, in which she argues that such an integrated perspective, has to be conducted through an holistic perception of reality (Nordberg-Hodge 2016; in Jakobsen 2019c, p. 289. We are connected. This point of view is supported by Zakaria (2020). The economy must therefore have an integrated and connected, pluralist and qualitative, as well as a system transdiciplinary approach, that transforms itself, or moves towards an ecological foundation.

"Manfred Max-Neef points out that economics within a holistic worldview cannot exist in isolation from other disciplines. He gives good reasons why ecological economics must be developed as a transdisciplinary science. [...]. Peter Söderbaum points out that a transdisciplinary approach is required where economics, ecology and social sciences are central. Quantitative growth is being replaced by a focus on qualitative development, which is characterized by increasing complexity." (translated by the author form Norwegian, Max-Neef, Söderbaum; in Jakobsen 2019g, p. 179).

Altogether, connectivity, holism, pluralism, and system transdiciplinarity, works as the author's core guiding methodological and theoretical principles, in order to create an alternative economic system, and to handle global system changes theoretically, such as transformation. Since system transdisciplinarity and connectivity, may be regarded as a metadiscipline approach, it supports the author's bird-eye perspective, and the creation of conceptual theory, visualizations, and notions, of the alternative. In short, this methodological and theoretical approach must support transformation of our economic system towards a paradigm shift of our current economic system an integrated global system change of our global society, in which ecological and societal changes must co-work, co-create and co-evolve. That said, the author will set out to identify seven key problems within our current economic system; capitalism, and suggest seven responsive cornerstones of theories, and notions, to these. This does not mean that there are other issues, that should be discussed in the light of ecological responsibility, societal change, and economic sustainability. But, the author has had to sacrifice some topics, to create some unity and coherence, and to narrow down the scope of this brief paper. Let us start out by scrutinizing the contextual patterns, of the world as a case, through three groups of urgent real-world issues from political economy, captitalism, socialism, the welfare state, key balances in macroeconomics, international currents and geopolitics, as well as in advanced technology. These theoretical discussions effects real-world issues, such as e.g. political systems, competition, work, equality and justice, or simply all of our world's citizens, and these urgent matters will be analyzed next.


Three Groups of Urgent Issues: Political Economy, Capitalism, Socialism, and the Welfare State, Key Balances, and Advanced Technology

Group One: Free Market Capitalism and its No 1 Oponent - Political Economy

The Four Roots of Political Economy, and Capitalism

The First Root: Smith and the Invisible Hand versus the Spark of Social Liberalism

The Second Root: Richardo's Analysis of the Political Economy and Taxation

The Third Root: The Malthusian Trap, and Malthus' Principles of the Political Economy

The Fourth Root: Marx and the Discussion of Social Economy, Marxism, and Socialism

Free Market Capitalism and Socialism as the Two Crazy Twins 

An Ecological Responsible Welfare State System: Tugs of War Between Capitalism and Socialism, and Political Compromising, and/or Changing International Currents, and Incongruence?

This is indeed an intriguing question, but let us start this discussion on the welfare state with the most obvious question: what do we need welfare states for? Krugman and Wells argued in 2018h: "the rationale for the welfare state rests in part on the social benefits of reducing poverty and inequality, it also rests in part on the benefits of reducing economic insecurity." (Krugman and Wells 2018h, p. 512). We simply need a welfare state because, as human beings; luck or misfortune, can hit us all. However, to tell the story of economic inequality, economic insecurity and poverty, and how to reduce these unfavorable societal components or its dehumanizing effects, the author will try to explain this challenge form a Norwegian perspective, with all its grandeur, and misery: what is the price for a well-functioning welfare state? However, to start this discussion on the welfare states, it is important to clarify what a welfare state is. In this emerging curiosity, we should turn our attention to Krugman and Wells, for a clarification, and an enlightenment (2018h):

"The term welfare state has come to refer to the collection of government programs that are designed to alleviate economic hardship. A large share of the government spending of all wealthy countries consists of government transfers payments by the government to individuals and families that provide financial aid to the poor, assitance to unemployed workers, guaranteed income for the elderly, and assistance in paying medical bills for those with larger health care expenses." (Krugman and Wells 2018h, p. 506).

These are the inherent characteristics of a welfare state. To adress the three core questions of the opening to this brief section on the welfare states, the author will try to decipher the logics of the welfare state; its principles and ideas. As Ellingsæter (et al 2020a, p. 21) explains, there are three models of western welfare states: the social democratic, the liberal, and the conservative. In the social democratic welfare state the state is the core welfare institution, in the liberal the market is more in charge, and in the conservative, the family is the governing welfare institution. This brief section on the welfare state will elaborate on the social democratic welfare state.  The author will, therefore, take a swift look at the Norwegian welfare state, while adressing the political and economic matters of the welfare state (the political economy). While the Northern European countries are so-called coordinated market economies (more state and less market), countries such as UK and USA, are more liberal marked economies (more market and less state). In other words, more state means more socialism, and more market means more free market capitalism. Because, of this there are different balances between free market capitalism and welfare, and socialism in these countries, in which the Nordic countries have a stronger state, as well as stronger and more active citizens, in order to achieve a favorable, and most needed balance. However, in 2021, USA scored 87% on voter turnout, Sweden 82%, Denmark 80%, Norway 78%, compared to 69% in the UK, and 67% in Finland (World Population Review 2021). But, 2021 has been a special year, a year of great upheaval and vast turmoil, this has engaged voters, particularly in the USA. However, all the welfare states have among the highest scores on voter turnout in the world. Citizens in these countries seems to be enthusiastic about their welfare states, it provokes debates, it is questioned, and it receives support. Because, there is something special about a well nutured welfare state, in which its politically active citizens are particularly excited about: it supports the idea of fairness. That is not bad, or? According to Rawls (1971), most people behind a veil of ignorance would "do unto others as you would have them to do unto you if you were in their place" (Rawls 1971; in Krugman and Wells 2018h, p. 507). Hence, the argument support the idea of justice and fairness of the welfare states: we care about each other, thus we also care about ourselves. Nozick (1974) however argued against Rawls (1971): "justice is a matter of rights, not results, and that the government has no right to force people with high incomes to support others with lower incomes" (Nozick 1974; in Krugman and Wells 2018h, p. 507). Does these kinds of arguments foster egoism, or knowledgebased self-assurance?

From knowledgebased self-assurance to a knowledgebased service economy. Note this: the Norwegian welfare state contextual apperance is in a Scandinavian knowledgebased service ecoonomy, in which workers are among the highest educated in the world. From 1970-1993, Norway spent the most in the world on public primary education, this is not the case in 2021, but we continue to prioritize public education, like the other Nordic countries do too (Our World in Data 2021). Knowledge in Norway and in the other Scandinavian countries is democratic, and in most cases public. Furthermore, the Norwegian welfare state has had to adapt to changes, such as: (1) societal changes, (2) new ideological currents, (3) new professional knowledge, as well as (4) shifting group interests and expiriences with established practicies (Ellingsæter et al 2020b, p. 372). Additionally, these changes results in more "coordinated income settlement, cooperation between the trade union movement and strong employers' organizations, active employment policy and good vocational training." (Ellingsæter et al 2020c, p. 35). In short, a strong focus on employment. Altogether, in order to succsseed, the Norwegian welfare state has had to be flexible and adjust to changing contextual, and societal inputs as a knowledgebased service economy, with a strong driving force of democratic compromising, conflict handling, and consensus in the political landscape. Because of this, Norwegians are prone to adjust to changes!

"Economists Erling Barth and Kalle Moene pointed out that in Norway and the Nordic countries there was a favorable interaction between capitalist dynamics and institutions that were not controlled by the market strong organizations, coordinated wage formation, a compressed wage structure, central negotiations combined with local negotiations based on corporate productivity. The result was many winners and few losers." (translated from Norwegian by the author, Barth, Moene and Wallerstein 2003; in Ellingsæter et al 2020c, p. 35).

But, why are there so many winners in the Norwegian welfare regime? The Norwegian welfare state and its future, are more and more in the hands of Norwegian politicians. This political landscape is decided by a tug of war between three types of actors: protagonists (reform), consenters (followers), and antagonists (oponents) (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 23). Rather than being a tug of war between free market capitalism and socialism, the making and the continuance of the Norwegian welfare state is a tug of war between these three types of political actors. Since the Norwegian welfare state has become more decided by the state and core political actors, it makes sense to claim that the Norwegian welfare state has moved more in the direction of socialism (the state and political actors), rather than free market capitalism (the market and capitalist actors). While the economic situation have favored an expansion of the Norwegian welfare state, this is not the case for other European countries, according to Ellingsæter (et al 2020c, p. 27). While oil and gass drilling and exploration in Norway, have supported a strong state, and an expansion of the Norwegian welfare state; compared to free market capitalism, in other European countries the economic progress has been weaker; which has put pressure on the role of the state to cut down on benefits and services (Ellingsæter et al 2020c, p. 27). However, the fruits of the massive economic growth in Norway could have been provisioned differently. In more liberal welfare states, such as USA and UK, the focus have been on more private consum and saving, rather than public services, and benefits, even though the USA and the UK are rich countries. The Norwegian state and politicians have rather spread the economic resources, based on economic growth, among their citizens more redistributively and universal, or simply more just and fair. However, there has been a shift from welfare to workfare in the Norwegian, as well as other Nordic welfare states. In Norway this has been executed by more power to the labour market in order to provide for citizens' livilihoods. High levels of working citizens have not just created tax incomes, it is also a shield against poverty. In short, in the new welfare state the welfare state's benefits and institutions, are woven together with the public, and solutions on the market only functioned as a supplement (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 372).  Ellingsæter (et al 2020a) concludes:

"Although the welfare state until the 1960s was driven by the parties' gathering on income security and redistribution as a common goal, the new welfare state was more of a compromise, where the parties came together to unite conflicting ideas and principles market and state, autonomy and regulation, solidarity and individual responsibility." (translated from Norwegian by the author, Ellingsæter et al 2020c, p. 383).

Ellingsæter (et al 2020a, p. 21) continues to argue on the Norwegian social democratic welfare state, that it is particularly distinguished from other welfare states in its aim to seek full employment, utilize the principle of universialism, it has a wide risk coverance (it covers economic insecurity), it is generous in its benefits, and it has well-developed services that are financed by taxes (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 21). But, these attributes, such as universialism, also thrive in other types of welfare states, but its presence is more moderately. However, the term universialism, might need some clarification. Universialism as a principle for welfare, means that benefits are given to everyone in the same situation. This differs from selective benefits that are targeted on people that are poor. Universialism is a principle that builds trust between the citizens and the state, since it is a right that is given equally to all people in the same situation. Ellingsæter (et al 2020a, p. 21) even argue that the social democratic welfare states in the Nordic countries, is often presented as the most universal, compared to other types of welfare states, such as the liberal, and the conservative. They continue to argue that the notion of welfare states as being universal, is tied to the political ideology of social democratic politics in Scandinavian countries (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 21). Universialism and redistribution between rich and poor, are the cornerstones of principles of the Norwegian welfare state, and in other Nordic welfare states. Since the Norwegian welfare state is governed by the state, political actors have changed the relationship of the three governing institutions of the welfare state, such as the state (social democratic), the family (conservative), and the market (liberal), towards a stronger state (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 22).

However, the new welfare state turned out to be more decided by political compromising, rather than consensus, and tighter and interwoven connections with the market, rather than a tug of war between free market capitalism and socialism (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 374 and 380). Social regulations of the market and union movements have contributed in limiting the power of the free market in Norway (Ellingsæter et al 275). The principle of universalism says that "most schemes cover all citizens, that the benefits are distributed as one right, and that everyone has equal rights." (Ellingsæter et al 2020b, p. 375). This should strenghtenen the social community, solidarity, and strive to rip down existing class divisions (Elllingsen et al 2020a, p. 376). To ensure that resources are also just and fair, some benefits and services are added in a selective manner (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 376). So that economic resources are redistributed. Altogether, these measures provides more equality and social integration into the Norwegian society (Ellingsæter et al 2020a, p. 378). This makes Norway a suitable nesting place for social-ecological system changes, based on learning processes of social interaction and ecological interaction, globally and locally. In sum, the keywords to a Norwegian style welfare state is: "universialism, generous benefits, high levels of employment, and high levels of tax financing" (Ellingssæter 2020a, p. 380).

The new Norwegian welfare state was therefore not a tug of war between capitalism and socialism, it was a democratic tug of war between political parties with "conflicting ideas and principles (Ellingsæter et al 2020c, p. 383). Moreover, the most obvious challenge to create a welfare state is that it is quite expensive. But, most reliable studies of universialism and redistribution shows that rather than leaving it up to the free market, or the family, leaving it up to political compromising parties, or simply democratic decision making, has proven to be quite a success story in Norway. And, theory on the other Scandinavian welfare states has proved to us that human development, universialism and redistribution to fight poverty, social and economic inequality and economic insecurity, can take place, even though the country is not financed by an oil and gass industry. Finland, Denmark and Sweden all score in top ten of the world's most innovative countries in 2020 (Asheim and Mariussen 2010, pp. 52-56, Ceoworld Magazine 2020). Due to oil and gass dependance, Norway fails to create innovation among the top ten countries in the world (Asheim and Mariussen 2010, pp. 52-56 and pp. 68-71). Furthermore, welfare is a matter of politicians' prioritation, doing what is right for the citizens, and it is a matter of free choice: to redistribute and share. Or, to leave it up to the free market, such as in the USA and UK; in which human development and social mobility, becomes the injured party. Welfare states that are social democratic creates happy and more equal citizens, and lesser unemployment rates. It is important to note that all formal models and principles may not be applied on all cases or on all countries: different contexts, may need different solutions (see: universialism and eurocentrism in Brohman 1995, p. 121, and in Tvedt 2021). However, even though the Norwegian welfare state has been able to redistribute the resources more equally and justly, it has come at huge costs for the environment. This is not unique to Norway. While all the Scandinavian countries scores high on everything that is about human development, they "fall toward the very bottom of the Sustainability Development Index." (Hickel 2019). The environment will suffer the same destiny in all Nordic countries, such as Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland, if not an ecological reconstruction takes place in these countries, in which we become more ecological responsible (Hickel 2019). But, why are these welfare states so bad for the environment?

"Ecologists say that a sustainable level of resource use is about 7 tonnes of material stuff per person per year. Scandinavians consume on average more than 32 tonnes per year. That is four and a half times over the sustainable level, similar to the United States, driven by overconsumption of everything from meat to cars to plastic. [...]. As for emissions, the Nordic countries perform worse than the rest of Europe, and only marginally better than the world’s most egregious offenders – the US, Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia. Yes, they generate more renewable energy than most countries, but these gains are wiped out by carbon-intensive imports." (Hickel 2019).

The solution may lie in welfare states that scores high on human development, such as more equality and social progressiveness, education and health, happiness and less poverty and economic insecurity, that are also able to reconstruct their societies ecologically, and cut 70% of their emissions (Hickel 2019). This means e.g. "scaling down fossil fuels, shifting to plant-based diets, retrofitting old buildings instead of constructing new ones, requiring consumer products to be longer-lasting and repairable, and improving public transportation." (Hickel 2019). However, to repeat a core argument; the expansion of the Norwegian welfare state comes with a pricetag, and an a disturbing gust from mother earth: we are thriving economically, by harming nature, and people that are hit by natural disasters! It is simply not just or fair! And, it does not promote environmental justice! But, how can we change this situation for the better? While the Nordic countries may learn other countries something about human development, other countries such as e.g. Indonesia, Philipphines, India, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and, Bangladesh, may learn the Scandinavian countries something essential about having the lowest ecological footprint in the world (NationMaster 2012). And, we might also come to the conlucion that universialism and redistribution does not fit all contexts (Bohrman 1995, p. 121, Tvedt 2021). We also must considering creating some new governing principles and models, fit for a more complex and comprehensive, ecological responsible and sustainable future, with changing contextual inputs.

Furthermore, while the welfare states are connected to theory on the political economy, such as free market capitalism and a strong state and socialism, the key to the most favorable solution lies in the term incongruence. When we put pressure on the welfare states or melt it down to its basics; metaphorically like a laboratory chemestry experiment. And, reconstruct it by adding some movement, such as changing contextual matters, geoplolitical rearrangements, and new international currents, the welfare state might turn out quite differently. This turmoil might result in an incongruence of the original form: an ecological responsible welfare state system. Because, while we like to think that we are particularly ecologically conscious in our Scandinavian countries, theory and statistics, shows that this is evidently not the case. We need a meltdown in form of a turmoil of international currents and geopolitical pressure, in order to make the welfare states more adaptable to change, and to become more resilient, as well as to turn more ecologically responsible. Because, the Norwegian welfare state is not ecologically responsible, neither are the other Nordic welfare states. But, these Nordic countries can become more sustainable, and ecological responsible, in the future. Politician and citizens needs summon up a real and genuine discurse on urgent environmental matters, and on ecological reconstruction or simply: make a reality check on their environmental status. Also, we have to start listen to the scientists, and their perspectives on comprehensive environmental matters. To create systemic change, the state and its politician, and the citizens, have to actively support environmentally friendly businesses and innovations, projects and technology, as well as more eco-friendly livelihoods, and consumption patterns. And, start the transition from an oil and gass exploration and drilling dominated economy, to a more renewable, and sustainable economy. So, to be clear, the welfare state suppports the majority of people, but it does not support nature, yet. However, national welfare states are also influenced by what is going on in global geopolitics, macroeconomics and international currents. The move towards sustainability, is not just a local or national task, it is also about creating global governing economic principles, that can shape a united fight for a better future, collaboratively, and globally. It has to be more ecologically responsible and sustainable, as well as more just, and more fair. In short, it is all about striking the right key balances in geopolitics, macroeconomics, and international currents, in which an ecologically responsible welfare state system, supported by citizen empowerment, may play a key role in the shaping of a new economy. 

Group Two: Striking the Right Key Balances

Geopolitics, Macroeconomics, and International Currents

Collaboration, and Cooperation, versus Rivalry, Competition, and Strategic Action

“The more powers compete and pursue strategic advantage at the expense of addressing shared technological, environmental and economic challenges, the more likely it will be that a broader sense of friction will develop across the global system. A rivalrous global system will in turn make it more unlikely that shared priorities are fulfilled” (Brende in WEF 2020).

"Cooperation, [...] will ultimately prove more beneficial to individual states – and to the world at large" (Brende in WEF 2020): “At a time when power dynamics are in flux, there is an opportunity for stakeholders to make the decision to shape geopolitics in a cooperative, rather than competitive, manner” (Brende in WEF 2020).

State and Citizen Empowerment

Economic Growth and Ecological Responsibility

Economic Integration versus National Sovereignty

Interdependence and Independence

Sustainability and Development

Individualism versus Collectivism

The Separation of Power and Global Unity

Monetary and Fiscal Innovations, versus Macroeconomic Risks, and Vulnerabilities

Risk Reward versus Increased Equality

The Geopolitical Situation of (Two) Powerhouses: USA versus China, and/or Russia

Globalism versus Anti-Globalisation and Localism

Group Three: Advanced Technology

Discussing the Dilemmas, Catches, and Opportunities of Advanced Technology

Techno-Optimism versus Eco-Pessimism

"current generations are taking more interest in what their lives might look like in 50 years, rather than focusing on what their lives look like today. The rise in techno-optimism, a belief which centers around the notion that future technologies will solve our current problems, is a seductive siren song of distant hope—and it is actually quite dangerous." (Miller 2017).

However, Miller (2017) clarifies his arguments:

"Technology [also] remains among humanity’s greatest assets. It has succeeded in extending human lifespans, increasing capitalist productivity, and making interplanetary travel possible. However, despite its venerable list of achievements, it remains nothing more than a tool. Without a responsible and steady guiding hand, it becomes useless, and perhaps detrimental." (Miller 2017).

Acemoglu's Perspective on Automation, Job Insecurity, and Income Inequality

Harari's Discussion of Surveillance and Freedoms

Power Abuse, Exploitation and Monopoly versus Competitive Fairness

"Korten claims that poverty, increasing inequality, environmental destruction and social disintegration are largely due to globalized companies becoming more and more dominant. The consequence is that deeper values such as democracy, justice and environmental responsibility are weakened. An economy in which the richest people define the rules of the game, so that they can maximize their own financial return without regard to the consequences for others, will inevitably undermine the social and environmental basis of viable societies. It is therefore important to increase knowledge and awareness of the consequences of economic globalization and the expansion of corporate power. [...]. According to Korten, the biggest problem today is that large companies own more and more of society's values. This leads to a concentration of power and a weakening of democratic processes." (translated from Norwegian by the author, Korten; in Jakobsen 2019c, p. 275).

Digitalization and Digital Communication versus Analog Face-to-Face Communication


Seven Demanding Challenges for a Planetary Economy: What Are We Really Up Against?

Note this: the problems stated and the solutions suggested in these two following theoretical sections, are not completely cronological. This means, that the problems that are stated, are not necessarily followed by a set of theories, which will "solve" all the key problems. However, the author seeks to order this brief paper as much as feasible, to create order in a messy world. Altogether, every arguments in this system change narrative on the existing economic system; its ups and downs, have been placed in this text to support the core scientific question: how can we make our global economic system; an economy for the majority of people, and nature? Is it doable? Additionally, as the author argued in the abstract: this brief paper is not an all-inclusive alternative to capitalism. And secondly, some of the problems stated here, will be discussed in this brief paper as a whole, to support the key scientific question. Hence, this brief paper has a methodological system approach (system transdisciplinarity). Furthermore, the author hopes that she will sketch out a sufficient narrative of the core problems scrutinized. And then, bring fourth theory that may paint a clearer picture of the system arguments as a whole, as well as fragmentory explanations, that has taken claims of the macroeconomic situation, in our global economic society. Let us see how it works. We must take a look at what we are up against, by adressing the first key issue, and then build from there. That's it! The first problem presented in this theoretical section is a rather grave one. We are in need of some real system changes, to bring fourth impactful solutions, on how to confront a global world in stress, to put it mildly. If you do not agree that there are societal and environmental concerns or problems to our current economic system, I challenge you to pay extra attention to the following arguments and scientific facts of this theoretical section. Stay focused!

The First Problem: Towards a Potential Societal and Ecological Catastrophe

Our Natural Ecosystems Soaked in Problems, and Our Global Society at High Risk: What is the Solution?

The Second Problem: Crisis, Emergency, and Recession

The Societal Challenges to Our Economic System after a Historical or Exogeneous Shock 

The Third Problem: A Rise in Humanitarian Crisis due to the Pandemy

Dicplacement of the Homeless, Refugees, and Victims of Natural Disasters, Wars, and Famines, as well as the Pandemy

The Fourth Problem: A Rise in Inequality and Limitation of Freedoms due to Covid-19

Social and Economic Inequality, in the Age of Hardcore Economics, and Limitation of Freedoms

The Fifth Problem: Injustice and the Post-truth Era

The Lack of Social and Environmental Justice, in an Era of Post-truth

The Sixth Problem: Lack of an Unifying Adaptive Global Governance

The Need for Global Leadership and Planetary Collaboration; Embedded in Local Communities, and Citizen Empowerment, in a Fragmented Global Society 

The Seventh Problem: The Geographic Uneven Disperison of Technology

The Geographical Uneveness of Advanced Technological Innovations, Infrastructures, and Devices 


Analyzing the Seven Indispensable Cornerstones of the Alternative

In this third theoretical section, the author adresses seven groups of theoretical frameworks, to acommodate the problems stated in part two of the three folded theoretical part. Some of these devices suggested here, answers directly to the the key problems stated above, and the remaining theoretical frameworks are used as theoretical tools for this brief paper as a whole. Let us get started. The first cornerstone of this theoretical part relates to responses to a covid shock, a crisis, which potentially may lead to a long-term recession, if we do not find the right monetary or fiscal innovations necessary, to face the urgent global situation we are in. But, the author still have to remind the reader that there is no all fix, due to the complexity of the pandemy we are in. Let us rather talk about improvements, relief, symptom-suppressing measures, modifications of the problematic societal crisis for mankind and nature. And then, on a good day, work for radical global system changes to our current economic system, a mindblowing improvement. Because, there are glimmer of hope, since we are in this together, we will, and must, find our ways to work our way through the load of preassure upon us. We must turn our curiousity to the promising theories, and notions, for such a strenuous challenge, and put our trust in the seven cornerstones stated, that these will keep this global house steady. We must believe that we "can be better", and achieve greater things (Obama 2020). It is time to make a move towards a better future for all, one cornerstone after one cornerstone. Let us keep the best part of us, learn, and leave the rest to the past. As a starter, the first cornerstone compounds following theories, and notions, to build on, which this brief paper rests heavely on. We have to see how all the problems comes together, and then unfolds theoretically, into this third part of the theoretical argumentation, and start from there. 

The First Cornerstone: The Environment, Limits to Growth, and the Doughnut

Meadows' Limits to Growth, Jakobsen's Perspective on Environmental Responsibility, Hessen's The World at the Tipping Point, and Raworth's Doughnut Economy 

The Second Cornerstone: Economic Theories and Notions for the Aftermaths of a Crisis

Keynes' Approach to Societal Challenges, and a Monetary Take on Our Economic System after a Crisis, How to Deal with Long-term Recession, and Adrian et al's Low-for-Long or Lower-for-Longer

The Third Cornerstone: Humanitarian Relief

Human Worth, Jakobsen's Discussion on Human Vision, and Societal Responsibility

The Fourth Cornerstone: the Cradle to Cradle and Circular Economy

Braungart and McDonough's Original Cradle to Cradle™ Model, and the Promise of Circularity

The Fifth Cornerstone: Political System, Behavioural Economy, and Policies

The Nordic Model, Political Economy, Kahneman, and Tversky's Behavioural Economy applied to Policies

The Sixth Cornerstone: Adaptive Governance, Resilience, Inclusion, and Solidarity

Citizen Empowerment, Ostrom's Adaptive Governance and the Commons, Resilient, Inclusive and Reform-Friendly Institutions, as well as Durkheim's Collective Consciousness (Solidarity)

The Seventh Cornerstone: OCA and IT

Mundell, and the Mundell/Fleming Model: The Concept of Optimum Currency Area (OCA), and the Impossible Trinity (IT)


Cases that Serves as a Nutritious Foundation for Creating an Alternative Economic System

Case One: EU, OCA and IT

Is the European Union (EU) an Optimum Currency Area (OCA)? And, does the IT (Impossible Trinity) apply to the EU? If So, How, if Not, Why?

Case Two: Constitutional Reforms

Environmental Friendly Reforms in Costa Rica's and New Zealand's Pioneering Constitution


Examples of such reformative legislative actions taken, are evident in e.g. the legislation of pioneering environmental countries such as New Zealand and Costa Rica (New Zealand's Resource Management Act 1991, Costa Rica Law 1998). Therefore, look to New Zealand, and Costa Rica for constitutional legislative reforms taken. It is possible, and rewarding for nature, and humanity, it has e.g. resulted in ecotourism, and exciting benefits the restoration of nature in both countries, as well as prosperous business opportunities. Nevertheless, we must ensure that nature's ecological bondaries are not surpassed, and that the constitutional environmental laws suggested, are not violated. An international agreement on constitutional reforms globally, must be created. To acheive this, we must create an adaptive, inclusive, and resilient governance globally with guiding principles, on the matters of the environment, and on how to make environmental friendly legislative reforms come true. It will make the transition towards a more ecological responsible future, more likely.

Case Three: Green Points

The Existing Systems of Green Points in London, New York, and Paris


The Ten System Governing Economic Principles of the Alternative, and the Rise of a More Resilient, Adaptive and Inclusive Global Society

The first part of the alternative stated, consists of ten principles for a planetary economy, which forms the foundation for the second part of the alternative, the visual models. These ten principles can be understood at a system level, and without aquiring any prior knowledge of any other thoretical notions or concepts, in this brief paper. It should be simple to grasp, and cut to the core of understanding the alternative stated. Since the author has chosen to take a qualitative research approach in her bird-eye perspective to our current economic system, it means, that the author will explain system changes by introducing some principles, or guidelines, which again may result in changing the rules of the game. The ten govening economic principles, must answer to the pure free market capitalisms lack of principles, that could ensure that resources is redistributed in a more just and fair manner. It must create a more just, equal, and balanced global society. The first principle suggests that we must start out by outlining collaboration as a principle before we head on to the nine remaining principles: it is the No 1 principle of all planatary economic activity, or at least it should be, in order to transform our current economic system, into more sustainable patterns

The First Principle: Collaboration

Collaboration Embedded in Trust and Care, Respect and Solidarity, as well as Reciprocity

The Second Principle: Redistribution

On How to Redistribute Resources Globally to Enhance Equality

The Third Principle: To Reinvent and Reimagine Relationships

Solid, Healthy, and Dynamic Relationships, that Can Be Applied to Different Geograpical Scales


Creating a planatary economic system is all about alternating between key balances, and make space for an improvement of social relationships, leadership connections and social interaction, between citizens and citizens, citizens and government, governments, and governments. Such relationships must be built step-by-step, and these must be based on openness and tolerance, trust and care, solidarity and collaboration, diversity and inclusiveness,  as well as justness and fairness. We must welcome, and nuture the learnings from the frontiers of the future; the frontline of science and culture, in order to understand what kinds of environmental and cultural challenges, and opportunities we will be faced with in the future. The most radical, experimental, progressive mindsets of the frontline will prepare us for future societal challenges and problems tied to the economy, the environment, advanced technology, and urgent societal matters. All relationships, social interactions and leadership connections at the earth, has to work on all geographical scales, and create insightful environmental measures and policies; fit for each geographical scale, that must, most of all, must strive to create a solid foundation for citizen empowerment, an adaptive governance, and a collaborative planatery economy; in collaboration with nature and in collaboration between all geographical scales. These systems must be based on the principles of realtionships between citizens and citizens, citizens and governments, and governments and governments. It must be based on trust and care, exchange of knowledge and information, solidarity and collaboration between citizens and citizend, citizens and governments, and governmants and governments. The planatary economic model has to be founded on solid, healthy and dynamic relationships, and key balances. Since societal matters, the economy, and the environment already co-exist, these have to co-work, co-evolve and co-create too, in order to make room for adavanced technologies, that are fit for the future and solves our most pressing needs, in the most original and innovative way. Advanced techonological milieus should take advantage of the principles embedded in solid, healthy, and dynamic realtionsips, to create respectful environments, that will improve the cutting edge of social interaction, leadership connections and relationships at all geographical scales, which also includes businesses and technological hubs. Because, as Nelson (2013) argue: innovation thrive in respectful milieus. The principle of relationships, therefore, must be strenghtened in local communities, such as in citizen empowerment, in the national and regional political and economical system, and the geopolitical system. Because, these principles might also create a nuturing environment for innovative citizen empowerment, innovative national and regional politics, for advanced technological businesses, and in geopolitical innovations. Thus, this must, however, be investigated further. Indeed, the purpose of an adaptive governance system based on solid, healthy and dynamic relationships, must be its output. Because, it surely promotes counter creativity, counter evolutionary, counter intuitive co-working innovations, since these are a product of innovative social interactions, at different geographical scales. Nonetheless, it is also important to address possible solutions on how to construct a unifying political and economic system that works, and is fit for the future: a new institutional global-local design. This urgent matter will be discussed next.

The Fourth Principle: Governance

An Adaptive Governance that Supports Resilient, Inclusive, Reform-friendly, and Democratic Cultures

The Fifth Principle: Separation of Powers

Separation of Institutional Powers (Social, Economic, Political, and Environmental) 

The Sixth Principle: Policy Synergy Effects

The Innovative Synergy Effect Amidst Political and Economical, Social, and Environmental Policies


The Seventh Principle: Local-Global Dynamics

Social-Ecological Leadership, and Social Interaction, Embedded in Local-Global Learning-Processes; Citizen Empowerment

The Eigth Principle: Justice

An Increase of Social and Environmental Justice Among Us

The Nineth Principle: An Alternation Between Different Growth Types 

An Alternation Between Growth, Positive and Negative Regrowth, Circularity, and Degrowth

The Tenth Principle: Technological and Competitive Fairness


An Environmental Contract, Green Valuta, Regrowth and the Multiple Loop System, Embedded in Citizen Empowerment

The task of creating the systemic and visual models, that adresses the theoretical and visual concept of this headline and this undertitle, is a tricky-subject in my home, but I will, nevertheless, give it a shot: what else is there to do nowadays? The headline states that the models must have certain attributes. These are as following: first, the models are holistic, and visual, and the systems are descriptive or narrative, or simply suggests principles. Visual models and system narratives or principles, is what we need to change the structures, or to put pressure on the rules of the game. However, the narrative and the visualisations are a unity, the one cannot be understood without the other. Hence, they are interdependent in order to be rule changing, and connot work separatedly. Which also means that the three folded societal end ecological alternative to capitalism, have to interact in a functional matter: the three models, suggested in the headline, have to be coherent, logical, and strive to have relevance to the core scientific question stated: how can we make our global economic system; an economy for the majority of people, and nature? Is it doable? These questions were mentioned in a heartfelt moment by the author in the action plan introduction, and repeated in the opening of the first theoretical part. And, I will stick to the mission of having to deal with, and answer those perhaps unrealistic and highly complex questions. Because, this sets the strategic target of the alternative, that will be stated in the following visual models, and system narratives. In short, it is all you have to keep in mind or question, when you gace at the visualizations, and read the narratives: does the whole picture make sense? Let us get started, by introducing the second part of the alternative, the visual models.

The First Visual Model: A Global Environmental Contract on Constitutional Reforms

An Environmental Contract of Guiding Principles for Reform-friendly Constitutional Legislation Globally, based on Costa Rica Law, and New Zealand's Resource Management Act , as well as to Reimagine and Reinvent International Environmental Law (IEL)

The Second Visual Model: Green Valuta, the Multiple Loops System, and  Different Growth Types, Embedded in a Ratification of Green Points

Regional Green Currency Areas, impacted by OCA (1961) and IT (1962/1963), as well as the Systems of Green Points, and the Multiple Loop Systems


To start with, rather than the linear capitalist system, the author will create a multiple loop system, that may tie thogether different growth types. The loops can be summarized by these key functions: first, it is embedded in socio-economic, socio-technical and social-ecological systems, which serves as three levels in the visual models, that will be stated. Second, it alternates between different types of growth: growth, negative and positive regrowth, and degrowth, in multiple loop systems, suggested as the core theoretical concept of the circular economy (Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2012). Third, the author make claims for a local-global economic and adaptive governance system, which means that the adaptive governance must have a presence on all geographical scales. More importantly, theories on adaptive governance, is rooted within the frameworks of social-ecological economic systems, such as e.g. the ecological economy (Schultz et al 2015, Spash and Asara 2018, Jacobsen 2019a-e). Additionally, this part of the alternative economic system is embedded in institutional economics (Ostrom 2015, Hodgeson 2018), and behavioural economics, as well as complexity economics (Kahneman 2011, Kirman 2018). Both of these; latter mentioned economic systems, discuss notions such as: bounded rationality, non equilibrium, and the economy as an open system (Kirman 2018). This, in contrast to free market capitalism, that is embedded in equilibrium processes, rational decision making in closed economic systems. The classical economists argue, that the economy is calculable, since it is claimed to appear in closed systems (Kirman 2018). However, even classical economists argue that during a historical shock; such as e.g. the covid shock, is a good opportunity to make profound system changes to our current economic model. Fourth and most importantly, the alternative is rooted in theories on the optimum currency area (Mundell 1961), and theories on the impossible trinity by Fleming and Mundell (1962, 1963), to shape a redistributive green valuta currency system. However, this poses an obvious challenge: what is the right balance between national sovereignty, and more regional and optimum currency areas? The most straightforward solution is to make these two geographical levels of economic power interdependent. This will be stressed in the theoretical section and the analysis, and it is perhaps the most demanding make-or-break point of this brief alternative synthesis. Furthermore, the alternative economic synthesis is heterodox, complementary, pluralist and eclectic, and relies on transdisciplinarity, it is therefore an holistic approach. Fifth, embedded in circularity and different growth types, the alternative must have a grip on the environmental, social and economic challenges of a responsible consumption and production system (UNDP in Guterres 2020). These are concerns and opportunities, that free-market capitalism fails to handle safely, and adapt to. Sixth, the five privious steps must work as an planetary and economic adaptive governance system, that connects all levels (local-global), and makes them interact socially and societally, politically and technologically, environmentally, as well as economically. This comprehensive system alternative, therefore, has to co-work, co-create and co-evolve with and within the environment, and its physical surroundings. In other words, this system perspective on global economic activities, must function as a redistributive and sustainable economic system alternative to – capitalism: a planatary economy. Additionally, this alternative must have profound respect for the vulnerabilities and limits of natural ecosystems and physical surroundings as commons (Meadows, Meadows, Randers, and Beherens 1972, Ostrom 2015). Because, over consumption and production, creates irresponsible environmental vulnerabilities and problems, that puts humanity and nature, at high risk. A global economy must strive to find solutions on how to prevent "the distance between rich and poor [to increase] in a self-reinforcing way" (Jacoksen 2019e, p. 73). This situation is inherited by the liberal economists' sins of not addressing their own shortcomings, when it comes to accepting that nature and mankind, have given limits. They should have created preventive, and impactful principles, that are more than mere rational, and efficient market supply and demand distribution, and competition, which has proven to be unfair and unjust in the long run (Jacobsen 2019e, p. 70). More importantly, future global principles must, therefore, be ecological, humanist, and economic, in the sense that these must provide a fair and just redistribution of resources among mankind, that does not diminish nature's path (Jacobsen 2019e, p. 73).

The Multiple Loop System

Green Valuta as a Currency System 

Alternation Between Different Growth Types

An Environmental Ratification System of Green Points

The Third Visual Model: A Three Folded Local Collaboration and Advanced Technological Competitive System

Green Dream Local Communities: Local Embeddedness, and Citizen Empowerment, Embedded in the Author's Answers to two Innovation Contests (2013)

Governing principles: Collaboration and Competition; based on Trust and Care, Respect, and Reciprocity, as well as Solidarity, Competition rooted in Technological Fairness

Governance, Citizens, and Local Businesses, to Strenghten, and Innovation founded on Solid, Healthy, and Dynamic Relationships, which must be Embedded in Ecological Responsibility

A Three Folded Green Collaboration and Competitive System Assisted by Advanced Technologies

The Fourth Visual Model: A Planatary Economy

Governing Regional Green Currency Areas, the Environmental Contract, and Local Citizen Empowerment


Why Can the Alternative Created, Work as a Well-functioning Economic System, for Our Future World?

Can Free-Market Capitalism Destroy the World?


Time to Reflect, and Learn from Past Mistakes

A Rescue Plan for a World in Need: On How Economics Matters

Reality Check: Do We Need an Alternative to Capitalism?

What is Gained, and What is Lost?


A Synergy Between the Narrative and the Visualized, in the Realm of the Possible, and Infinite


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