* Economics: The World as One Economy

Rudolf Steiner, 1922 (GA 340). Trans. by C. H. Budd

Available at the Centre for Associative Economics.

One-world Economy

In the 17th century, the state implicated itself in economic life when it should have followed its own path, allowing economic life to grow beyond the confines of nations and become a global, cosmopolitan affair. The hey-day of the gold standard at the end of the 19th century marked the moment when economic life should have gone global, requiring the competing empires of that time to give way to a worldwide commonwealth. The change needed then is with us still – an understanding that modern economic life is global and synergetic, and as such should be mindful of all stakeholders and respectful of people and planet, not just profit.

In lectures given in the summer of 1922*, Rudolf Steiner described this as ‘associative economics’, the name deriving not only from the necessarily collaborative nature of a shared worldwide economy, but because he envisaged that economy conducted by “associations”. Quite what he meant by ‘association’ continues to be debated, but one clear feature of his image was that a one-world economy needs a one-world money. For him that could only be bookkeeping, allowing diverse currencies to exist because they would now be governed by the universal logic of accounting, rather than the divisiveness of national rivalry.