Beyond Gold

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At the close of the 19th century the British Empire was at its height. Apart from its national interests, it found itself the ‘author’ of a proto-global economy. That world economy was held together by the gold standard, an international currency invented by Isaac Newton. It was at its hey-day, until swept away by World War 1.

This issue looks at economic history (1) in the light of associative economics (2). Its vignettes and aphorisms review the roles of wheat and gold in economic life, but as tokens of larger dimensions than their material existence alone suggests. 

(1) Economic History

Much of the history cited here was derived from articles originally published in The Present Age, a journal published from 1935 until 1939, when World War 2 intervened. Edited by Austrian historian, Walter Johannes Stein, its main aim was to elaborate the idea of a one-world economy. 80 years on, this issue endeavours to give these efforts new expression.

(2) Associative Economics 

Humanity is now part of a one-world economy. Despite diverse interpretations of this fact, ranging from alternative to neo-liberal, the challenge is to reach an understanding of economics that all can own. This is the aim of associative economics, an approach to economics that is cosmopolitan, non-partisan and based on the idea that economic life is the shared responsibility of all human beings. Its perspective comprehends many schools of economic thought, including the contribution of Rudolf Steiner, whose insights make a valuable contribution to the work of developing a modern humanity-wide economy.

This issue replicates an exhibition currently being held in the Mini Money Museum, part of the Finance Folkestone Project (see The project commemorates all those who lost their lives in World War 1, the loss of a generation from which humanity has yet to fully recover. The idea is of a living memorial, the challenge to develop ways of financing today’s youth so that they can make good what the lost generation was unable to contribute.

It is now 100 years since that event, but something similar seems to be unfolding. Youth unemployment around the word is now nudging 30%. In its own way this is becoming the waste of a generation. With ‘Los Indignados’ in Spain, ‘Graduates without a Future’, the Arab Spring, even the stance of the current Greek government – these are all signs that today’s young people want nothing of the paradigm that consigns them to low-paid, meaningless jobs, degrees with no value, and student loan indebtedness.

Now more than ever we need to capitalise the capacities of young people, give them air beneath their wings, rather than surround them with doubt and hopelessness and the culture of self-serving capital.

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