Life-Grounding Kate Raworth's "Doughnut Economics"
By John McMurtry
I could never take Doughnut Economics seriously because it adopted a junk-food model of economics which by its design was hollow at the core. After examination in response to Project Sanity's question on its value as a guide for the world today, I have found the product to be well-meaning and in a sane direction, but insubstantial as its model and title implies.
To strike straight to its core meaning and graphic presented on p. 38 ff, we find all the nice clichés of the day like “peace and justice", “gender equality”, “social equity”, and the basics of “food, water, health, education”, “energy” etcetera. This is fine and far better than the dominant economics that is a form of liquid mechanics which is in principle life-blind. Moreover, it does touch base with the universal human life necessities I have defined and spelled out in my work since the mid-1990s, but sadly with no criteria to tell any of them from their masked opposites – for example, “food” from junk-food masked as food, or “peace and justice” in defined reality distinguished from what is called peace and justice by corporate governments or even identity activists.
This clarity of meaning is what is needed most of all to know what we are talking about– principled bases and concepts of understanding defined to precisely rule out their phoney forms and claims which are typically opposite what they appear as. I would even say there is not one problem we face as a species which is not permitted, furthered and masked by nice-sounding concepts without any life-grounded meaning or even elementary criterion. Unless we know, for example, what “education”, “healthcare” and “networks of information” mean – central to Doughnut Economics - against their many false pretenders, we are literally lost. It may feel good and easy to chant slogans together, and there are many who enjoy that, but it will play into the hands of the system for which the only truth is what sells for a private profit - and they use all of these undefined slogans to do it.
For example, “healthcare” may be claimed to be free operations and prescriptions for the public, or pay-up, but there are no life standards even now to ensure in either case that they enable rather than disable people’s life capacities through time. “Provide for every person’s needs” is a wonderful project alive since the nineteenth century’s “to each according to his needs”, but unless we know what these needs or necessities truly are – the italicised distinction - we are again happily lost in our promos with no definite meaning – the mind fuel of the ongoing disaster.
The reason for the “Primary Axiom of Value” was to find a life-ground of meaning that could be relied upon against all sophistries and slogans, all fads and cultural conceits, and especially all philosophies of the past governing us which are in truth without any defined universal life value base or compass to guide against delusions. The “Universal Human Life Economy” was written for the same reason. to define the complete set of human life needs, and no others, with no conceivable distortion, neither too narrow nor too broad in any circumstance, to release us from the endless bullshit, ill or well meaning in motive.
What I find in ‘Doughnut Economics’ is an attempt to do this without the life-coherence principle or the logical tools. But it is a journalistic medium and NGO on an illustrious campus which should be an ally in the life re-grounding of the race which must and will come.