I am working on a new book project that should be done this fall and will be published by Palgrave Macmillan. Here is an overview:
Everywhere we look there seems to be evidence that a perfect storm is looming. We are entering into an era during which climate change and massive species extinction, extreme polarization of wealth distribution, the ascent of reactionary politics and divisiveness, resource depletion, and grand episodes of instability are on a path of convergence in real time. They are pathological system conditions and they are all anthropogenic. Specifically, so much of what is causing this pathology is economic in nature—conditions surrounding economic production, distribution, finance, and consumption. As these conditions continue to become more pathological, they will no doubt will be the most pernicious challenge faced by humanity as we tread our way through the twenty-first century.
These pathological system conditions are causing us to drift toward what is becoming “triage economy” in which we are being forced to shift increasingly large amounts of resources to cope with this damage. In terms of the amount of money spent to repair, relocate, and reconstruct there were over fourteen billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the United States in 2018 alone. Congress last month passed a bill authorizing the spending of another $19 billion in disaster aid funds in anticipation of more to come.
A concern raised here is that so many of us are becoming numb to all this and burying our heads in the sands of cognitive dissonance as a way of avoiding anxiety. And like so many mythological “boiling frogs” accepting these pathological system conditions as the new “normal.” By doing so, finding solutions become increasingly difficult.
As a way to address some aspects of these converging conditions and crises, this book presents a case for Buddhist economics, or what I am specifically calling Socially Engaged Buddhist Economics. One main theme that runs through this project is that Buddhism can help us make positive changes in our economic systems and thereby help address our anthropogenic crises. Specifically, it provides a philosophical basis for dual process of transformation. One part of the process in to look deeply inward into our minds and spirit to dissolve and liberate ourselves from the internal vexations that make us suffer. The other is to extend from this place of liberation to work toward liberating our social structures from the same vexations. This dual process of inner and outer liberation can become the basis for transformation of our economic lives.