The Big Ideas of 2010

Islamonomics

An epic rethink of the neoclassical model.
Islamonomics
Guards tackle a man accused of looting in Nakuru, Kenya, where ethnic violence swept the streets after the contested December 2007 elections. Hundreds of Kenyans were killed and thousands injured when fighting broke out between the Kikuyu and Luo tribes.<

The two billion people living in Yemen, Somalia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Honduras and the slums of the world don’t give a damn about stimulus packages, financial regulation and the fluctuations of the Dow Jones average … they don’t fret about free markets, democracy or individual entitlement … these pillars of neoliberal capitalism mean very little when you’re fighting for every scrap of your meager existence in a favela or shantytown. The only things that matter there are the scant bits of food on the table, having a place to go to when you fall sick and the struggle of parents to guarantee their children one more tomorrow. Perhaps, as the disparity between global wealth and destitution continues to grow, people living in the impoverished parts of the world will begin to opt out of the Western model of economic thought and embrace a version of Islamonomics instead. When confronted with the possibility of a brutal future, the central idea of all Islamic thought, that of a “just society” built upon compassion, justice and equity, has powerful appeal.

If liberal capitalism continues to falter and favor the rich and if our market-based economic logic cannot be “the rising tide that lifts all boats,” then a mass reevaluation of economic theory may sweep the globe. In an effort to rectify profound economic imbalance and save themselves, people may embrace a form of Zakat: the practice whereby all who are able donate a portion of their wealth to the poor. They may decide to protect what’s left of the natural wealth of their country by designating swaths of area Hima: inviolate zones that are protected from the reach of multinational corporations. And they may embrace the notion of Haraam: the idea that all wealth obtained to the detriment of others is forbidden.

It would be an epic rethink – a tectonic paradigm shift; a great leap beyond the brand of soulless neoclassical thinking that defines our economic reality today. It would inject an element of humanity into the callous philosophical systems underlying the World Bank and the WTO and forever shift the foundations upon which economic summits and university curriculum stand.

Kalle Lasn

28 comments on the article “Islamonomics”

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Wal-Anonymous

This is brilliant, and bound to fail. You cannot move mountains, you can only move a shovelful at a time. That is success. Let's hear about how to get our shovels working and not how to move mountains.

Wal-Anonymous

This is brilliant, and bound to fail. You cannot move mountains, you can only move a shovelful at a time. That is success. Let's hear about how to get our shovels working and not how to move mountains.

ken vallario

in the jewish tradition there is the notion of the jubilee, a cyclical elimination of debts...also a good idea, as is the notion of forgiving enemies that comes from christian thought.

although, i understand the desire to connect with those Islamic peoples' around the world who suffer from the poverty, of which western civilization has some complicity in, i find this kind of idealization of religion a bit simplistic, and it can either be interpreted itself as multi-cultural education, or worse, a simplifying of the 'other.'

Dubai is a city erected under Islamonomics and its shadows grow longer every day over its own forms of indentured servitude.

the religions of the past are historical accounts of revelatory revolutions long past. tomorrow's religion will be the documentation of the new miracles that free us from the inequity that is endangering every man, woman, child, tiger, bumble bee and river.

ken vallario

in the jewish tradition there is the notion of the jubilee, a cyclical elimination of debts...also a good idea, as is the notion of forgiving enemies that comes from christian thought.

although, i understand the desire to connect with those Islamic peoples' around the world who suffer from the poverty, of which western civilization has some complicity in, i find this kind of idealization of religion a bit simplistic, and it can either be interpreted itself as multi-cultural education, or worse, a simplifying of the 'other.'

Dubai is a city erected under Islamonomics and its shadows grow longer every day over its own forms of indentured servitude.

the religions of the past are historical accounts of revelatory revolutions long past. tomorrow's religion will be the documentation of the new miracles that free us from the inequity that is endangering every man, woman, child, tiger, bumble bee and river.

Hadrian, London, ON

As much as I would like to support this dramatic shift in principle, I can't see it actually working. Just because you say a society is built on "compassion, justice and equity" doesn't mean everyone will buy into it. Look at the US constitution, for example, which promises to "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility... [and] promote the general Welfare".

Obviously there are major (and possibly irreconcilable) cultural differences that are part of the equation, but my point is that just because you say that everyone will care about each other doesn't mean they will. There are forces at work greater than the stated 'goals' of a society.

Hadrian, London, ON

As much as I would like to support this dramatic shift in principle, I can't see it actually working. Just because you say a society is built on "compassion, justice and equity" doesn't mean everyone will buy into it. Look at the US constitution, for example, which promises to "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility... [and] promote the general Welfare".

Obviously there are major (and possibly irreconcilable) cultural differences that are part of the equation, but my point is that just because you say that everyone will care about each other doesn't mean they will. There are forces at work greater than the stated 'goals' of a society.

Danonymous

I agree, the world cannot be changed in one step. Even those who want to change the world mainly live in a paradox, consumerism and trade are ingrained into our existence. Even those who want to change it, have to subvert it for their own progress - it would be hard to live outside of the technologically developed world, no communication, phone - internet - tv and still reach enough people with a message to change the world.

Small steps to develop social justice and welfare for people in a poverty stricken existence have to be made, unfortunately it is often the higher classes of the land in which they live who cannot change. However much is tried to influence / eliminate, the green eyed monster will always be lurking.

How can we reach everyone without advertising? Historically, it has tended to be violence that brings around change. How can it be done without either?

Bring back the WORD - but whose? who is really worth listening to?
Homo Sapiens are in a mess of their own devise, we lie to each other, con ourselves into thinking - it's alright, someone else will tidy the mess up, we can buy our way out, we exploit each other under the guise of wealth and commodity.

On a more positive note, there is the potential to create our way out of this mess. If intrinsic rewards can be earned rather than extrinsic rewards be expected, our value system will have gone through a monumental step - change, leading to the reduction of desire.

Clean up the mental environment first.

Danonymous

I agree, the world cannot be changed in one step. Even those who want to change the world mainly live in a paradox, consumerism and trade are ingrained into our existence. Even those who want to change it, have to subvert it for their own progress - it would be hard to live outside of the technologically developed world, no communication, phone - internet - tv and still reach enough people with a message to change the world.

Small steps to develop social justice and welfare for people in a poverty stricken existence have to be made, unfortunately it is often the higher classes of the land in which they live who cannot change. However much is tried to influence / eliminate, the green eyed monster will always be lurking.

How can we reach everyone without advertising? Historically, it has tended to be violence that brings around change. How can it be done without either?

Bring back the WORD - but whose? who is really worth listening to?
Homo Sapiens are in a mess of their own devise, we lie to each other, con ourselves into thinking - it's alright, someone else will tidy the mess up, we can buy our way out, we exploit each other under the guise of wealth and commodity.

On a more positive note, there is the potential to create our way out of this mess. If intrinsic rewards can be earned rather than extrinsic rewards be expected, our value system will have gone through a monumental step - change, leading to the reduction of desire.

Clean up the mental environment first.

bumto

get into advertising, unsell, demonstrate a moral difference. opting out is as useful as a fakir up a pole or a prophet in the desert. congregation will make a difference. connectivity is what matters.

'When confronted with the possibility of a brutal future, the central idea of all Islamic thought, that of a “just society” built upon compassion, justice and equity, has powerful appeal.'
when confronted with the possibilities of a brutal future, i also find the ideas of a just society appealing, and im not even islam!
i know being pro islam is a bit trendy at the moment, sort of representing such an unimaginable shift for some, but arguments are in danger of sounding like that loud girl in anthropology class; motivated but not so well thought out.
the hyperbole is there and the pictures are theres, but theres nothing actively tying them together.
lets start thinking locally, dont worry about the snow caps for now, a slow shift in awareness of value is taking place. highlight further just how base our models have become, clarity and information is whats required. we'll make our own decisions.

'Our situation is paradoxical: never in Europe have the forces of repression been so weakened, yet never have the exploited masses been so passive.'

bumto

get into advertising, unsell, demonstrate a moral difference. opting out is as useful as a fakir up a pole or a prophet in the desert. congregation will make a difference. connectivity is what matters.

'When confronted with the possibility of a brutal future, the central idea of all Islamic thought, that of a “just society” built upon compassion, justice and equity, has powerful appeal.'
when confronted with the possibilities of a brutal future, i also find the ideas of a just society appealing, and im not even islam!
i know being pro islam is a bit trendy at the moment, sort of representing such an unimaginable shift for some, but arguments are in danger of sounding like that loud girl in anthropology class; motivated but not so well thought out.
the hyperbole is there and the pictures are theres, but theres nothing actively tying them together.
lets start thinking locally, dont worry about the snow caps for now, a slow shift in awareness of value is taking place. highlight further just how base our models have become, clarity and information is whats required. we'll make our own decisions.

'Our situation is paradoxical: never in Europe have the forces of repression been so weakened, yet never have the exploited masses been so passive.'

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