Teoretiker behöver komma ner från sina torn och gå in i gyttjan!

När man som jag är uppvuxen i ett idealisthem blir man bestört när man märker hur många teoretiker som aldrig kommit ner från sina torn på akademin och fått lera på sina stövlar.

Båda mina föräldrar jobbade på gräsrotsnivå med utvecklingsfrågor, solidariska projekt och hållbarhetsfrågor från den dag jag föddes både inom Emmaus och inom andra projekt och det blev även ett naturligt val för mig. Senare under livet har jag studerat många av de fält vi jobbade med praktiskt inom akademin på en teoretisk nivå. Eftersom jag gått den väg jag gått – från gräsrot till akademi – kommer gräsrötterna och viljan att jobba med projekt ”i världen” alltid att locka eftersom det var i de projekten mitt intresse väcktes för hur vi kan skapa en hållbar värld ekologiskt, social och ekonomiskt.

Som vis och modig teoretiker tror jag att man också kan gå den andra vägen: Efter att man blivit fullproppad med teoretisk kunskap, lärt sig analysera, teoretisera, tänka kritiskt och filosofera och förhoppningsvis också fått en del egna insikter kan man ta steget till gräsrotsnivån och bli en del av de sammanhang och system man studerat och vill förstå bättre.

Jag har nyligen bekantat mig litet mera ingående med ekonomen som vågade stiga in i gyttjan – Manfred Max-NeefHan är också ekonomen som har försökt göra om sitt språk till ett som kan förstås av andra än ekonomer och teoretiker.

Här intervjuad av Amy Goodman på Democracy Now. Hela intervjun finns både som video och text och nedan en del av intervjun i text.

What I have learned from the poor is much more than I learned in the universities.

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“We have reached a point in our evolution in which we know a lot. We know a hell of a lot. But we understand very little. Never in human history has there been such an accumulation of knowledge like in the last 100 years. Look how we are. What was that knowledge for? What did we do with it? And the point is that knowledge alone is not enough, that we lack understanding.

And the difference between knowledge and understanding…Let us assume that you have studied everything that you can study, from a theological, sociological, anthropological, biological and even biochemical point of view, of a human phenomenon called love. So the result is that you will know everything that you can know about love. But sooner or later, you will realize that you will never understand love unless you fall in love. What does that mean? That you can only attempt to understand that of which you become a part. If we fall in love, as the Latin song says, we are much more than two. When you belong, you understand. When you’re separated, you can accumulate knowledge. And that is — that’s been the function of science. Now, science is divided into parts, but understanding is holistic.

And that happens with poverty. I understood poverty because I was there. I lived with them. I ate with them. I slept with them, you know, etc. And then you begin to learn that in that environment there are different values, different principles from — compared to those from where you are coming, and that you can learn an enormous amount of fantastic things among poverty. What I have learned from the poor is much more than I learned in the universities. But very few people have that experience, you see? They look at it from the outside, instead of living it from the inside.

And you learn extraordinary things. The first thing you learn, that people who want to work in order to overcome poverty and don’t know, is that in poverty there is an enormous creativity. You cannot be an idiot if you want to survive. Every minute, you have to be thinking, what next? What do I know? What trick can I do here? What’s this and that, that, that, that? And so, your creativity is constant. In addition, I mean, that it’s combined, you know, with networks of cooperation, mutual aid, you know, and all sort of extraordinary things which you’ll no longer find in our dominant society, which is individualistic, greedy, egoistical, etc. It’s just the opposite of what you find there. And it’s sometimes so shocking that you may find people much happier in poverty than what you would find, you know, in your own environment, which also means, you know, that poverty is not just a question of money. It’s a much more complex thing.

AMY GOODMANWhat have you learned that gives you hope in the poor communities that you’ve worked in and lived in?

MANFRED MAXNEEF…….The more you have, the more greedy you become, you know. And all this crisis is the product of greed. Greed is the dominant value today in the world. And as long as that persists, well, we are done.”

När Amy Goodman frågar Max-Neef vilka principer han ger vidare till blivande ekonomer svara han:

“The principles, you know, of an economics which should be are based in five postulates and one fundamental value principle.

1. the economy is to serve the people and not the people to serve the economy.

2. development is about people and not about objects.

3. growth is not the same as development, and development does not necessarily require growth.

4. no economy is possible in the absence of ecosystem services.

5. the economy is a subsystem of a larger finite system, the biosphere, hence permanent growth is impossible.

And the fundamental value to sustain a new economy should be that no economic interest, under no circumstance, can be above the reverence of life….Nothing can be more important than life. And I say life, not human beings, because, for me, the center is the miracle of life in all its manifestations. But if there is an economic interest, I mean, you forget about life, not only of other living beings, but even of human beings. If you go through that list, one after the other, what we have today is exactly the opposite.

Growth is a quantitative accumulation. Development is the liberation of creative possibilities.

Every living system in nature grows up to a certain point and stops growing….But we continue developing ourselves. Otherwise we wouldn’t be dialoguing here now. So development has no limits. Growth has limits. And that is a very big thing, you know, that economists and politicians don’t understand. They are obsessed with the fetish of economic growth. 

I’m the author of a famous hypothesis, the threshold hypothesis, which says that in every society there is a period in which economic growth, conventionally understood or no, brings about an improvement of the quality of life. But only up to a point, the threshold point, beyond which, if there is more growth, quality of life begins to decline. And that is the situation in which we are now.

…. And your country (US – 2010) is an example, in which the one percent of the Americans, you know, are doing better and better and better, and the 99 percent is going down, in all sorts of manifestations. People living in their cars now and sleeping in their cars, you know, parked in front of the house that used to be their house — thousands of people. Millions of people, you know, have lost everything. But the speculators that brought about the whole mess, oh, they are fantastically well off. No problem. No problem.

….And even in those conditions, they continue with those stupid wars, you know, and spend more, more, more millions and trillions. Thirteen trillion dollars for the speculators; not one cent for the people who lost their homes! I mean, what kind of logic is that?” (Läs eller se hela intervjun).

 

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