Rethinking the Curriculum: Toward an Integrated, Interdisciplinary College Education

By Mary E. Clark ; Sandra A. Wawrytko | Go to book overview

7 WILL THE REAL ECONOMY PLEASE STAND UP?

Hazel Henderson


THE CRISIS OF PERCEPTION IN ECONOMIC THEORY

In the past twenty years, as a citizen-activist and self-employed writer, I have come to believe that virtually all of today's crises are crises of perception, caused by our disabling dogmas and belief systems--all of those "-isms." Living in New York in the 1960s, I began to sense that the planet was dying, a very alienating set of sensibilities to be carrying around during a period when people did not even know the word "pollution." In fact, I felt very much like an extraterrestrial (and I still do)! So, instead of going to college, I decided to use my extraterrestrial view as part of my social change tool kit. This was very effective in my community organizing. I helped organize one of the first environmental groups in the United States. 1 It gave me the distance and perspective necessary to study economics and find out what was wrong with it.

Nowadays I feel less alienated, because many people do know what we mean when we criticize environmentally devastating economic policies. To initiate dialogue with economists, I tried to make them see that if industrial society continues to drift in the same direction, more and more of the people in such societies eventually would have to be employed cleaning up the mess. Additionally, more and more people in the future would need to be paid to provide those loving services we used to do freely for each other in family and community.

When I confronted economists in this way they would say, "What's wrong with this kind of society? The GNP is obviously going up and everybody is fully employed." It was back then, around the mid 1970s,

-77-

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