Economy is the foundation of culture: the way in which a society organises the management of its resources underpins the emergent features of that society. When we remember that the Greek origin of the word “economy” or “oikonomía” literally means “management of the household,” it follows naturally that an economy created with the primary purpose of managing resources efficiently would be best suited to give rise to a sound culture.
However what we have at the moment is a false economy – a system of resource management with the primary objective of shifting resource access through the separation of debt and capital. Our current global economic module measures its value in digital abstraction – GDP, “market value” and the like. This profound dysfunction at the fundament of our economic practice is the spawning point for various types of distortion across various sectors of civilisation.
“The purpose of a system is what it does. There is after all, no point in claiming that the purpose of a system is to do what it constantly fails to do.” – Stafford Beer
In the absence of cybernated resource governance, it falls to the members of a given community to ensure the system keeps ticking along. Because our economic module is market-based, instead of resource-based, we have a situation in which families have to adjust themselves to fit society, instead of the other way around. Instead of communities built around family values, optimised towards facilitating relationships of attachment and cooperation, we have communities optimised towards competition, as we compete to sell our labour in return for resource access.
The trajectory of a debt-based economy leads any civilisation developing along it to a logical conclusion of increased dysfunction and environmental destabilization.
So this is the social climate in which families struggle to stay connected. This is the cultural climate for which caregivers attempt to prepare children. This is the society from which caregivers attempt to bolster children against. This is the system into which caregivers attempt to integrate children.
The setting I work in is not a private creche, it is a publicly funded creche. Because childcare is not the most lucrative venture when framed in the moving of wealth from the lower class to upper class context, governments and financial institutions are often reluctant to allocate large amounts of financial support to settings unless they are private institutions. This instantly colors a large degree of the organisation of the setting as the Childcare Setting Owner now has to make several sacrifices in order to spread a too-small budget over various necessary expenses.
I observed the creche to be under staffed, with many ECCE practitioners working full hours without the required ‘reflecting time’ necessary to maintain a positive and refreshed mental state being allocated to them. This had a knock-on effect on the quality of care they were empowered to deliver to the children. I overheard one exhausted practitioner saying to another, “working here is like a contraceptive,” – the implication being that working at the setting had put her off having her own children. Even the more good spirited practitioners – and there were many of them – often complained of exhaustion, financial frustration and demonstrated a mild degree of exasperation near constantly.
While the sanitary standards of the setting were kept acceptably high, it is not simply the direct effects of the current global false economy upon the setting we have to bear in mind here, but the effects such an economy has on the family unit and consequently the children coming to creche.
The correlation between access inequality and social problems has been found to be as follows: the greater the access inequality in a particular region, the more and the more severe social problems in that region will be.
The children attending the creche range from different backgrounds and levels of privilege, and would carry in their emotional backpack the stress and anxiety from their home and community life. I observed the children who exhibited more withdrawn or aggressive behaviour were the ones who were in the setting from 6am to 7pm every day, due to having parents with full-time jobs. Twice, a little boy came in with bad bumps first on his head, then on his arm. When I followed this up with his parent, I was informed the child had been in an altercation in the playground. “Kids will be kids,” was the accompanying remark.
What never ceases to strike me as remarkable is the ability for acceptance we have as humans and caregivers, for the systemic mistreatment of our children. This is not, as the Stoic philosophers would advocate, out of the wisdom of accepting that which is not under our control in order to better command that which is. Our present socioeconomic condition, while arguably an inevitable consequence of the neolithic revolution, is not unchangeable, nor is it beyond our capacity to instigate necessary change. This acceptance stems from a learned hopelessness and helplessness, no doubt seeded in our own childhood, which intensifies as systemic violence is consistently reinforced across our own development.
“Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if the plan is horrifying!” – The Joker, Dark Knight.
The cycle continues.
As the issue lays at the foundation of our culture, a suitable strategy to address its symptoms must strike at their root.
I therefore propose, in the interest of public health, a global shift from market economics to natural resource economics – in which the circulation of resources is based on the supply, demand and allocation of those resources (instead of on generating financial profit).
Cybernating such an economic system would greatly reduce the need for mandatory labour, while facilitating communities to thrive in a state of access abundance. Proper waste disposal and recycling loops incorporated into this cybernated, natural resource economy would decrease unnecessary waste and consequential pollution, resulting in a healthier environment.
And all this lays the foundation for a cooperative culture which supports healthy attachments while rewarding empathy to flourish, empowering the family unit and childcare institutions in the wholehearted pursuit of nurturing the optimal development of children.
Joseph, P. (2017). The New Human Rights Movement. United States of America. Ben Bella Books.
Wilkinson, R. Pickett, K. (2018). The Inner Level. United Kingdom. Penguin Random House UK.
Beer, S. (1959). Cybernetics and Management. United Kingdom. English Universities Press.
Horgan-Jones, J. Childcare workers laid off by employers who still had State subsidies. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/childcare-workers-laid-off-by-employers-who-still-had-state-subsidies-1.4218290. Thursday, April 2nd, 2020.
Nolan, C. (2008). Dark Knight. United States of America. Warner Brothers Pictures.
Brodskaya, A. The Global Redesign Institute – Redesigning the Economy to Facilitate Nonviolence. https://globaldesigninstitute.wordpress.com/2019/08/30/why-the-total-redesign-of-global-economic-system-is-necessary-and-how-it-is-technically-very-feasible/. August 30th, 2019.