Human life is privy to a panorama of holiness, the sight and experience of which we’ve grown immaculately skilled at obscuring. As Emerson observed: “Heaven walks among us ordinarily muffled in such triple or tenfold disguises that the wisest are deceived and no one suspects the days to be gods.”

Richard Linklater takes this a step further in his film, Waking Life. A scene documents a conversation between filmmaker Caveh Zahedi and poet David Jewell, in which they discuss the unnoticed ubiquity of ‘holy moments’. Not only each day, but each moment is a god:

“You know, like this moment…

The Intellectual History of a Tangled Relationship, with Barnaby Raine

Episode Link:

Barnaby Raine joins me on the Musing Mind Podcast to discuss the intellectual history of how capitalism has shaped the ‘self’, our subjective experience of who & what we are, from Marx, to Rousseau, Durkheim, Lukács, Adorno & Horkheimer, Marcuse, Foucault, Fanon, & finally to the present with folks like Mark Fisher & Lauren Berlant.

Reading each of these theorists from that particular vantage point — how does living in a capitalist society affect, shape, and guide the development of my own subjective experience — sheds a rich light on their ideas. If we accept the idea that economic systems…

Why We Stubbornly Cling to GDP

Why, despite widespread criticism, do we still cling to GDP as primary metric for economic vitality? In the same 1934 report where Simon Kuznets first introduced the concept of GDP, he cautioned:

“Economic welfare cannot be adequately measured unless the personal distribution of income is known. And no income measurement undertakes to estimate the reverse side of income, that is, the intensity and unpleasantness of effort going into the earning of income. The welfare of a nation can, therefore, scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income…”

The GDP question is a metaphor for our economy on the whole…

A Policy Proposal

Executive Summary

This document proposes a basic income for the U.S. in the form of a negative income tax (NIT).

It proposes an income floor for all adults (18+) in the economy of $13,000 per year, indexed to the federal poverty line. This proposal leaves aside the question of how best to include minors, but no basic income is complete without either a reduced rate income floor for minors, or a child allowance passed alongside.

Under this proposal, an adult earning $0 annually receives the full $13,000. As their earnings increase, their NIT benefits are phased out with a 33% tax rate…

(Consider the Basic Income)

Drawing by Paula Ensign

Basic income could be like injecting a syringe of vitality into our weary veins, from which a rush of economic possibilities would re-color our perception of the world.

These days, the only thing that feels so certain as the need for socioeconomic change is the learned sense that nothing will, in fact, change. The powers that be will prevail. We will lead the lives society arranges for us, like schoolchildren who awaken to find their outfits already hanging on the doorknob.

We may harbor the inchoate idea that the whole of life should perhaps be arranged differently. But we’ll learn…

Poverty, Inequality, & Post-Scarcity

This is an essay about Universal Basic Income (UBI) in the same way that arguing with your spouse over leaving dishes in the sink is really about the dishes. Sure, the dishes matter. But there are deeper, subliminal forces at play. Those are what really matter.

UBI spearheads a resurgent utopian energy to ground economic policy in radical, pragmatic visions of a better world. UBI matters, but coaxing that renascent energy into bloom really matters. The conviction behind this essay is not that we need a UBI. …

Complexity Economics & Ending Poverty

Though we remain mostly unclear as to whether chickens precede eggs, or eggs precede chickens¹, a sentiment is afoot that new ideological paradigms precede radical policies and structural change.

From systems theorist Donella Meadows, novelist Marilynne Robinson, to progressive economist Mariana Mazzucato, we find variations on the idea that policies emerge from paradigms, rather than paradigms emerging from policies.

This logic tells us that to supplant the status quo with a new system — one that determines not to desecrate the planet, not to let working classes languish in toil and precarity while income shares of the top 0.1% …

Art by Cynthia Decker

Scarcity is often considered a natural, eternal condition. There is not, and cannot be, enough for everybody, wrote Thomas Malthus in 1798:

“…the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.”

Because of resource scarcity, life is not free; we must earn our livings. Surely, life has never been ‘free’. All species appear to organize their lives around the pursuit of vital resources, and secure them with expenditures of dollars, or labor hours.

But what if, for the first time in the history of sentient life on earth, humans in the…

Designing for Emergence

What is the universe, and what might it want? Obviously, I’ve no idea. But we’re mythopoetic creatures, and even the humblest among us cannot help but weave stories about what we are, where we are, and what we might do in response. We live inside these woven stories like cocoons suspended in oblivion.

The philosophy of networks coming into being through the work of Christopher Vitale is one such story. It is a networkological metaphysics, in that when it zooms out as far as imaginably possible to survey the universe, it sees a network.

Metaphysics are necessarily imaginal exercises. They…

Moving beyond neoliberal individualism towards digitized cultures of interdependence & democratized liberation.

Every morning I wake up to the kind of decision that might look small on the surface, but for which that visible surface is just the tip of an enormity that lies beneath. Do I roll out of bed and sit on my meditation cushion, or just pour the coffee and get right to work on whatever essay is open on my computer? …

Oshan Jarow

Interested in many things, like consciousness, meditation & economics. Sure of nothing, like how to exist well, or play the sax (yet). More:

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