A Citizen’s Economy
For many, the notion of a citizen’s economy may first appear as an utopian dream. On further reflection, however, I think it will be seen as a necessity if we are to create a sustainable and just global economy.The first premise of a citizen’s economy is that it belongs to citizens—not to some citizens or citizens with property, but to all citizens. And who is a citizen? We can return to the original meaning of citizen: a member of a city, so all who belong to the city are citizens. Citizenship, in other words, is based on membership, not on ownership. So what is a city? A city is the place where people must cooperate in order to live together. This cooperation does not stifle diversity, conflict, or even competition. In fact, it does the opposite. It facilitates it and allows it to flourish.
Today, of course, systems of cooperation include urban and rural areas. Few places still exist beyond these systems, especially when we think of issues like global warming or sustainability. We are all citizens today (belong to systems of cooperation) because we live in relationships with one another, even if some refuse to acknowledge this.
A citizen’s economy would begin with this basic premise and then citizens would design an economy based on such civic norms as reciprocity, moral equality, and representation. This would require a change in our current thinking as big as the change we need if we are going to move our economy toward justice and sustainability.