Civilizing the Economy A New Economics of Provision

Civic Ownership ????

Posted Jun 30, 2012 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, No Comments

So you get on a bus and it takes you into the city.  You get off the bus and look around.  A question comes to mind:  “Who owns this place?”

What kind of mind would entertain such a question?  It must be one that is embedded in a language of ownership and property relations.  You can assume it is an Anglo-American mind, shaped by the long legacy of John Locke and Adam Smith that placed the ownership of property, even one’s self as property, as the foundation of freedom. 

The Supreme Court’s Decision on Universal Health Care

Posted Jun 28, 2012 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, 1 Comment

One of the key themes of Civilizing the Economy, and my work since its publication, has been that of clarifying the relationship between the commercial and the civic, Today, the Supreme Court’s ruling on universal health care made an important contribution.

Ten Characteristics of “alternative economies.”

Posted Jun 26, 2012 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, 1 Comment

This Thursday, I finish a short course on alternative economies at the UC Extension, Osher LifeLong Learning Institute.  We have covered, to varying degrees, the following: a civic economy, an economy of provisions, a commons economy, peer to peer economy, a sharing economy, a gift economy, a local economy, a sustainable economy, and a democratic economy.   Lots of alternatives, and there are probably more.  In reviewing them, I have come up with the following ten characteristics:

Ten Characteristics of “alternative economies.”

  1. They are more concrete and local than our current global financial economy.
  2. They are more specific about wealth than the abstract measurement of GDP or even the accumulation of assets.
  3. They focus more on the provisions of everyday life, such as food, housing, clothing, health, and entertainment instead of stocks and bonds.
  4. They rely more on relationships of trust than the self-interest of disconnected individuals.
  5. They are more contextual than most traditional economic thought.
  6. They include people and the planet in their vision instead of focusing only on profit maximization.
  7. They recognize the limits of growth.
  8. They elicit the participation of all instead of only property owners.
  9. They see themselves as belonging to the earth rather than the earth belonging to them.
  10. They are part of the future, if we are to have one.



Lisa Newton’s Review of Civilizing the Economy

Posted Jun 21, 2012 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, No Comments

One of the leading scholars in business ethics and sustainability, Lisa Newton, has provided a review of Civilizing the Economy in the current issue of Business Ethics Quarterly.  No doubt, she “gets” what I tried to share. Check it out in your library or at this site:

Business Ethics Quarterly

Volume 22, Issue 3, July 2012

Pages 597-60

The Sun as the Source of Power

Posted Jun 18, 2012 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, 1 Comment

We know now that all energy ultimately comes from the sun.  Some traditional people knew this.  They worshiped a Sun-God.  That is not possible for us.  The gods today have become parts of various advertising campaigns.  Still, the source of light and life is nothing but the sun and its legacy on our planet.  Ultimately, power resides not in money or position, but in the utilization of the sun and its currents, like wind and waves.  If these are democratized, we can become a democratic community, if they are not, we cannot.

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.

Adam Smith Atlantic trade banks biosphere citizen Citizens United city civic civic conversations civic economy civic membership civilizing the economy common citizen Commons corporate citizen corporation as property corporations democracy disagreement economics of dissociation economics of provision Egypt future health care reform invisible hand John Locke Kant libertarianism membership money moral equality ownership property property relations protection reciprocity Scotland slavery Smith and slavery Smithian economics sustainability taxes the civic tobacco trade Wall Street

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