Confronting Systemic Evil
For the love of money is the root of all evil
1 Timothy 6:1
Evil is, for me, that which is destructive of life—not necessarily an individual life, but rather the system of life. Evil can also be systemic, as our money driven economic system demonstrates.
Pope Francis reminds us that money itself is not evil. The love of money, however, is evil and our love us money has led us to create an economic system that exemplifies systemic evil in its drive to destroy life to grow the financial assets of those who are least in need. Our worshipful servitude to a system that measures the value of life by the metric of money brings our species sanity and intelligence into question.
Most of the dysfunction of modern human society can be traced to the structure of the institutional system by which money is created and allocated. It is, however, difficult to engage a public discussion of the issues and implications, because the money system is built on illusion, its inner workings are largely invisible, and most people, including most economists, haven't a clue how it works.
Other issues like war, crime, climate change, and job loss seem so much more real and urgent. The fact that the money system drives them all—and much more—is difficult to grasp. How can something as abstract and meaningless as an accounting entry determine the conduct of real world human affairs?
The September 2008 Wall Street crash pulled back to curtain to expose the system's corruption and its very real impact on every aspect of our lives. In so doing, the crash opened a window of opportunity for a much needed and long overdue national and global conversation. I decided to engage the moment by writing Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, now in its 2nd edition, and joining with John Cavanagh and other colleagues to launch the New Economy Working Group.
The call is simple. The Wall Street economy is corrupt beyond repair. It must be replaced by a new system based on principles of real democracy and real markets. We can create a New Economy that mimics the structure and dynamics of Earth's biosphere and serves life. We can rid the world of a true evil, not with the use of guns, but by creating a New Economy for which life, not money, is the defining value.