Civilizing the Economy A New Economics of Provision

The First Step: Civic Desires

Posted Oct 19, 2011 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, 1 Comment

By civic desires, I am referring to what we desire as members of the city—the original meaning of “citizen.”  Civic desires are about what “we” want instead of about what “I” want.  They are the first step toward developing intentions, engaging in deliberation, and making choices.  We can thank the occupiers of streets throughout the nation for igniting such desires.

Civic desires are quite different from consumer desires.   As a consumer, my wants are based on my view of what I need.  As a citizen, wants are based on what I believe—on shared values.  As a consumer, I belong to a crowd.  As a citizen, I belong to a community.  As a consumer, I want a job. As I citizen, I want to become involved in the work that needs to be done.  As a consumer, I want things.  As a citizen, I want a just distribution of things.

It is not easy or simple to maintain civic desires.  Political campaigns are now run by marketing consultants and voters are treated like consumers.  Check out the GOP debates—a mixture of cheap television programming and live advertising.  Actually both political parties are largely run by focus groups and other commercial marketing strategies.

So the real contest is whether the commercial will continue to occupy the civic, or will the civic occupy the commercial and thereby provide a civic foundation for our economy.

One Response to “The First Step: Civic Desires”

  1. JD Moyer says:

    October 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Well, here's my list: 1. A vibrant public school system, early-childhood through university. 2. High quality national health care system, including effective public health/preventative medicine to keep costs low. 3. Modern, high-quality, green communications, transportation, water, and energy infrastructure. 4. Well-staffed local emergency services (police and fire). 5. Streamlined, effective, non-corrupt, bureaucracy/government for tax collection, administration, providing services and planning, etc. 6. Minimum necessary military/intelligence for self-defense (not enough for foreign occupation). 7. Constructive international engagement/foreign aid.

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Marvin T. Brown, Ph.D teaches business and organizational ethics at the University of San Francisco and Saybrook University in San Francisco.

This book is the culmination of 30 years of teaching and writing on business and society from a communicative perspective. Visit for more information.

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