Essay on Oeconomy

Pierre CALAME, February 2009

The definition of Oeconomy is :

The principles, institutional arrangements, methods, and technical modalities of production or exchange that are elaborated and implemented to ensure that society makes optimal use of the planetřs resources and existing technical capacities in a way that maximizes wellbeing. The term is formed from two Greek words: oïkos, meaning Ŗhousehold,ŗ and nomos, meaning Ŗrule.ŗ Throughout the book, Ŗeconomyŗ refers to the current system, in which companies, markets, and monetary relation, as well as all the associated procedures and 521 Ŗeconomic laws,ŗ have become so prevalent that they appear to be self-evident (to the point of resembling Ŗlaws of natureŗ). ŖOeconomy,ŗ however, refers to the future system that we must strive to create. Interdependency on a global scale means that the oïkos—the householdŕnow extends across the entire planet. Oeconomy is the branch of governance that organizes the production of exchange and the consumption of goods and services.

This book is a journey and an exploration, with all the meandering and tentativeness that such ventures imply. My involvement in an informal international movement, the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural, and United World, and, specifically, the World Citizensř Assembly, held in Lille in December 2001, convinced me that the twenty-first century need to undergo three major shifts : in governance, in order to manage interdependencies of an unprecedented size, scale, and nature; in ethics, in order to establish a set of value that different civilizations and different milieus could share and live by; and in economics, in order to transition from an unsustainable to a sustainable model of development. On the first two, progress has been made, notably with the definition of general principles of governance, which will hopefully trigger a genuine Ŗgovernance revolution,ŗ and with the adoption, at the Lille assembly, of a Charter of Human Responsibilities outlining the basic principles of a shared ethical foundation. But how will we make the transition from an unsustainable to a sustainable model of development?…

Pierre Calame, Essay on Oeconomy, Introduction: The Bicycle and the Centurion, p.13

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