Seeing beyond the falsehoods of modern history through the lens of associative economics
21 to 24 March 2019 | In Memory of D’Arcy Mackenzie1
Vancouver Waldorf School
2725 St. Christopher’s Rd. North Vancouver, BC VTK 2B6, Canada
What is wrong with today's world? Might it be that we took a wrong path a hundred years ago, but that now we have a second chance to get it right? That is the simple but challenging thesis of this conference, with the aim of exploring the economic and historical insights of Rudolf Steiner2, to see if humanity can yet find a path that is truer to its possibilities.
The First World War ended in a way that saw responsibility for modern historical development being ‘captured’ by the Anglo-American peoples. Since then, the world has been subject to globalization, rampant corporate economics, endless war and a constant division of the world into two camps. Now, all is coming unravelled, with a growing divide between the rulers and the ruled, and macro policy in increasing disarray. On the other hand, everywhere people are searching for new ideas and new economic pathways, ideally based on free initiative and responsibility for one's own balance sheet – meaning the need to find the right types and amounts of capital.
Why is this happening now? Because, surely, now is the time when we can understand better the importance of individuals using their unique skills and capacities to serve their communities. And for communities, in turn, to capitalize them so that they are able to serve.
Now especially is a time when, in terms of open access to credit and effective financial literacy, firmer foundations can be given to the undertakings of young people and social entrepreneurs alike. So that through entrepreneurship and its universal language, accounting, our micro actions can give rise to a new macro landscape.
This conference will bring together people who are looking for or pioneering such change. Through engaged participation and dramatized expression of the themes, back-grounded by two keynote talks by economic and monetary historian, Christopher Houghton Budd, Ph.D, we will explore our understanding of the last one hundred years and the prospects for change based on associative economics. In particular, we will have the chance to focus on two specific themes – rethinking the economics of labor, introduced through a research presentation by economist Marcelo Delajara – and the economics of farming with introductory considerations offered by Anna Chotzen.
What did happen and what could have happened in the last hundred years?
Rightly understood, the events that took place 100 years ago remain the fulcrum on which the healthy future of humanity rests. Had it not been for the alluring but false ideas of Woodrow Wilson and the misplaced idealism of Karl Marx, Rudolf Steiner’s observations concerning the threefold nature of social life would have been the main contender for re-organising society. This is still the case today, but how can we see through the divisive and confusing events of the last hundred years to look again at what Rudolf Steiner had in mind and how his version of events might have continued up to now?
What do we envisage for the next hundred years?
A lot can happen in one hundred years. A main difference is that nowadays the individual is capable of far greater agency than was the case in the early 1900s. And yet our macro-understanding of economic affairs has run out of road, while viable micro responses remain uncertain and elusive. We spend our energy looking into alternative ways of conducting business or understanding money, rather than going into its deeper and ultimately inherently social nature – an opportunity, perhaps, to look at Rudolf Steiner’s contribution to modern finance?
Christopher Houghton Budd is a British economic and monetary historian with a doctorate in banking from Cass Business School, London, England. For more than 40 years, his work as a practical entrepreneur, academic researcher and author of many books owes a great debt to the contribution to economics made by Rudolf Steiner. He is convenor of the Economics Conference of the Goetheanum, under whose auspices this event is held. His experience ranges from small businesses to local politics, from funding independent schools to the economics of farming, and from ‘action research’ to formal contributions in financial policy debates.
Marcelo Delajara is Director of the Economic Growth and Labor Market Program at Centro de Estudios Espinosa Yglesias (CEEY). He holds a PhD in Economics from Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona) and has worked at Banco de México, CIDE, UDLA-Puebla and in various universities in Spain, Ecuador and Argentina. He is currently an Affiliate Professor in the Economics Division of CIDE, host of the program Economía en Tiempo Real on RompevientoTV and guest columnist at Forbes and CNN Expansión. His current research explores Rudolf Steiner’s notion of true price in link with defining and measuring dignified income at CEEY.
Anna Chotzen is a committed advocate for farmers and champion of sustainable and equitable food systems. Among her many interests is her commitment to supporting farmers in achieving financial viability. Her current pursuits include her position as the Business & Marketing Manager at Viva Farms in Skagit County, WA; exploring farmland succession and tenure options; and interviews with farmers about their financial literacy and record keeping practices. Informed in part by her recent intensive study of associative economics in Folkestone, England, she is always asking questions and steadily putting together her vision of a food system that works.
1 The late D’Arcy Mackenzie (30 April 1960 – 12 February 2018) was a respected economist and accountant to whose memory this event is dedicated.
2 Rudolf Steiner, 1861 – 1925, an Austrian-born philosopher/scientist whose contributions to many fields of endeavor include his fundamental assertions regarding the threefold nature of social life and his particular approach to economics known as ‘associative economics’.