The Illusion Economy

Posted: October 7, 2010 in playa economics

We live in an illusion economy.

Our money — the pieces of paper we all strive so hard to get more of — is not based on, or backed by, anything that has actual tangible value.

The highest aims of the consumer economy — luxury brands, unlimited wealth, ability to waste — have nothing to do with community, connection, love, or real feeling.

We spend our days isolated in plastic cubes, typing on plastic machines, staring into plastic screens, driving in plastic cars down concrete roads, through concrete valleys and  jungles, living in air-conditioned boxes, trying to chase away our feelings of isolation with illusory image-streams that are, themselves, mostly fake.

And all of this, by the way, is supported by long-dead dinosaurs mixed with the power of ancient sunlight. We are literally drinking the fossilized remains of sunny forest paths populated by gorgeous mountains of muscle and bone that have, over centuries, liquefied into the most wondrous powerful complex liquid the world has ever known. And we are shaping this miracle liquid into plastic injection-molded happy-meal cups, and shitty reality TV.

Our relationship with nature, and with each other, is twisted by the idea of the “return on investment”, that is, if we give or invest something into someone or the land, we must be repaid in full, with interest, or it was not worth giving in the first place.  This approach is the antithesis of love.

The richest among us are suffering from a double illusion. Not only are they convinced that money is the real indicator of value, and equal to power, and therefore security, but they have swallowed whole the idea that their greater share of this illusory wealth entitles them to the lion’s share of the earth’s resources.

It is deeply unfortunate that they believe this, and even more unfortunate that the rest of us continue to participate in this illusion, dutifully working in their shops, repairing their Escalades and polishing their diamonds, suffering under the illusion that we, too, can someday be like them.

It’s not true. The planetary resource system cannot support the elevation of all six billion humans to God-like status with power over the weather, the physical environment, and our every biological whim. The discovery of some paradigm-changing method of converting matter to energy is just about only conceivable way we could accomplish this, and only fools would rely on that.

The sooner we wake up from this distorted Western dream of climbing to the top of the Consumerist Mountain, the sooner we can start creating real change — a real place we can co-exist peacefully with nature, borrowing what we need before giving it back, and honoring each other selflessly with our best gifts.

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