A Market for Values

I have proposed the establishment of a market for organisational, moral and cultural values.
The following are links to some of my publications on the topic (beyond my book “Exchanging Autonomy. Inner Motivations As Resources for Tackling the Crises of Our Times”, Xlibris, 2014):













Climate change is only the final outcome of a social and economic model analyzed by Max Weber in its bureaucratic, formally rational structure, as well as by Karl Marx and the Frankfurt School. The quest for jobs, social positions, money and possessions has become the very essence of economic growth and of our notion of welfare, making us forget that these are only instruments, means for achieving some goals and for pursuing values.

Capitalism implies the need for most individuals and companies to compete with others in order to have access to money, via labour and productive capital. This fact alone implies that values, meaning notions of good and bad, useful or useless, are always subordinated to what one does for a living. If we add to this picture the hyperspecialisation of professions and division of labor, the set of values that a company or an individual stands for is very limited.

Therefore, our societies are not communities. As most individuals and companies know that their notion of good is only confined to their particular interest, there is no incentive to compare values, to change them, to spread them. The only tool that society has to reach an overall agreement is represented by elections (in order to decide who will hold power) and consumer choices (in order to decide who will have money).

The very destruction of the basic prerequisite for human existence (i.e. nature) is only the “natural” consequence of a system where the basic prerequisite for the existence of a community is missing: the ability to choose values as something more than a mere consequence of one’s role in the social fabric.

Against this backdrop, a market for values would offer the chance to get utility and profit not from the mere exchange of objects and reified, limited, atomistic social functions, like in today’s markets. A market for values would make it possible to get utility and profit from one’s holistic, freely chosen relation with society and human nature as a whole. There would be an economic incentive to choose values, before determining one’s social function.

In a nutshell, cities (and other local communities), companies and individuals would be able to exchange their experiences highlighting the benefits of principles such as environmentalism, social justice and inclusivity.

It would be possible to exchange documents, each of which would list the experiences referred to a given value. Those would be certified on the basis of quantitative indicators, decided by law (at the national level) or international agreement, such as a given reduction in CO2 emissions (for companies), a given increase in green areas (for local communities) and a given amount of donations to green charities (for individuals) in the case of environmentalism. Indicators referred to social justice may include a given reduction in wage dispersion (in companies) and in Gini index (in local communities).

The price of a document would be proportional to the number of experiences listed in it, and the price of the experiences referred to each value would be determined by demand and supply. Each document would be exchangeable with others referred to other values, as well as with goods and services.

The economic incentive to take part in these transactions would be the possibility to resell a document at a price higher than the purchase price, which would be possible thanks to adding new experiences - after having freely chosen the kind of quantitative target to be pursued - and to a possible increase in the price of the experiences.

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Marco- Every single one of your references are inaccessible – they are behind some Italian wall. Can they be posted in an accessible location?

The search for social position is not what “our system has become” – it is what human beings do – take a look at Thorstein Veblen’s famous book “The Theory of the Leisure Class” from 1898. Trying to claw your way to the top is not a characteristic of capitalism – it is a feature of H. sapiens (or at least of a significant part of the population). That is extremely important to understand – it is what Socialists usually ignore, which is why Communist systems murdered such enormous numbers of their own citizens – they thought they were rooting out a cultural construct, while they were actually trying to eradicate a fundamental trait of humanity.

Any replacement for the existing system, if it is to have any chance of humanely updating what we all agree is a system that is inexorably leading to catastrophe, must and should take this into consideration. There is no way to root out the competitive instinct – and many reasons not to do so. The question should then be: how can this fundamental and often wonderfully useful trait be directed in optimal pathways? This relentlessly leads toward the education system – from their earliest life – at least after 1 year old – young children must be educated 1. to love their fellows – preferably in as racially, socially, intellectually diverse a setting as possible; and 2. to love nature – trees, forests, deserts, animals, plants, fungi – not only scientifically but to feel protective toward all aspects of nature. This is how values are created – starting very very very young.

The nature of the competition which would be taught would be competition in exactly those qualities – competition in how to best protect and serve their fellow beings and planet.

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