Walking One's Talk

July 2013

In Rare Albion, it goes without saying – that is, one is taught it from birth, in school and through the way money is understood and handled – that one needs to be aware of the effects of one’s actions in economic life (as in life generally). One’s actions as they affect other people, the environment and even oneself. To this end, great care is taken to ensure that financial and economic arrangements do not mask this. Money is never a thing in itself, always a proxy for goods, for the goods exchanged so that all may be fed, housed and clothed. Credit or capital is also never a thing in itself but always a proxy for the creativity, the innovativeness of human beings. Moreover, were it not for creativity there would be no goods to exchange. Credit in that sense is the parent of money. Not credit as created by fractional reserve lending, although that in itself is not an issue: credit created by believing in human beings, in what lives in their will to do – especially what they will do for other people.

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There is an interesting link between learning to walk and learning to talk; and this gives special meaning to ‘walking one’s talk’. The two go together: in young children, that is. In adulthood, of course, it is possible for walk and talk to part company; for people to do what they would not normally think of doing and to think of things that cannot be done.

It is the key feature of economics, any economics, that one does whatsoever one thinks. That one’s image of life and of human beings or the earth, or indeed the economy, becomes one’s behaviour in regard to them. If one thinks all there is to life is oneself, one should hardly be surprised to find oneself alone, alienated, unpartnered (in the economic sense), and seeking protection from life; hiding behind hedges of security.

Conversely, if we put the needs of others first, treating one’s fellow men as one would one’s children, how else could it be that one also had one’s own needs also met? That resources were shared, not privatised. That effort was leveraged not duplicated? That both capital and money circulated instead of being hoarded, diverted into useless channels or siphoned off; and in circulating made possible the circulation of the means of production and of goods also.

All these things can be thought and done. In Rare Albion they are the stuff of economic life, the substance of policy. 

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In Rare Albion, people do not talk of freedom in the abstract, but of freedom as the companion of responsibility. Not that freedom has in some sense to be earned or repaid, as if a debt, but that its mark is that the one who feels free feels also that he has a responsibility towards his fellow men, that they should be as free as he is.

So it is that economic life in Rare Albion does not stand under the sign of self-interest and is not underpinned by ideas that the devil should take the hindmost or that it is the fault of the poor if they are born or find themselves poor. Quite the opposite, individual responsibility leads one to include one’s fellow men, not exclude them. To want to be sure that all are fed before food is thrown away, that all are housed before one buys a second house only to have it stand empty most of the time, that all are educated to a high standard, not only one’s own children, and that all have access to credit on terms they can afford. For as that great hero of Rare Albion, Aristotle, might have put it, if people do not have resources they will not be able to do fine things. And it is in doing fine things that people are truly people, truly human.

In Rare Albion there is no socialism in the sense of a dictatorship of the proletariat, or of statism, meaning the state running economic affairs, education and much else that it is not properly cut out for. But there is thought for others. And not out of sentimentalism, but out of economic wisdom. For what does it profit anyone, for example, to criminalise young people and then lock them up at great expense, so that, having strayed, they then fester, instead of finding their path in life and contributing to society? In Rare Albion, rather than spending large sums of money incarcerating youth, that money is invested in them.

They are given credit lines not sentences. Because some one who has been believed in will repay his ‘credit’ a thousand times over and seek to do the same to others. In Rare Albion, to give some one credit for an idea is at once a figure of speech and an act of financing. Because credit calls forth responsibility, not out of duty, but out of a generosity that knows no bounds and seeks no glory.