Charles Eisenstein: basic income as “technology of reunion”
Charles Eisenstein is a degrowth activist, speaker and author of several books including “Sacred Economics,” and “The Ascent of Humanity” (some of which are available online for free), as well as a long time proponent of “alternative narratives,” political and economic ideas that challenge our current system. His work combines an interest in ecology with biology, earth healing, and the psyche. His podcast “A New and Ancient Story” airs every few weeks.
In a recent article on his personal website, Eisenstein asks, what is technology? “A fix,” Eisenstein suggests, maintaining that technology has become an addiction for our society, incapable of solving the problems we face today. “The entire scientific-industrial system has created” a “mindset of quantification, engineering, and control.” Eisenstein suggests that instead of pursuing the traditional “technology of separation” we must begin to pursue the “technology of reunion:” an expanded definition of technology. We must transcend the “story of separation” and enter instead into “the story of interbeing,” where “humans are not separate from nature,” and where “what we do to the world, we do to ourselves.”
Included in his examples of technological reunion are regenerative agriculture, homoeopathy, as well as the truth and reconciliation process. Alongside these, he places a “universal basic income (UBI) and community-based forms of resource sharing.” According to Eisenstein, the Society of Separation is sceptical of UBI, asking, “If basic needs were met, what would compel people to work?” He suggests UBI instead should be thought of as a way to support the impulse to grow and create things for the betterment of society, something Eisenstein believes one must take as given before UBI can be considered. UBI also supports “contributions that are hard to quantify,” such as lovingly raising children, caring for the elderly, or creating art and music.
UBI then fits into Eisenstein’s larger narrative of “the new and ancient Story of Interbeing”. “Some of these technologies will sound outrageous,” admits Eisenstein, who includes alongside UBI “sacred architecture; sound healing; hypnosis and mind/matter techniques; nonviolent communication; compassionate listening; sociocracy, holocracy and other group decision-making methods.” They may be difficult to take seriously because, on Eisenstein’s view, they “come from outside the boundaries of what we as a society have agreed to be real.”
For Eisenstein, UBI is a part of a new conception of technology, one of restoration rather than separation.
Article: Charles Eisenstein, “Institutes for Technologies of Reunion.” charleseisenstein.net, April 5 2017.
Credit Picture CC Taco Ekkel