Mindful Consumer Network – MCN

Posted: 26/07/2011 in Finance, Insight
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Through Insight we have established that the prevailing corporatocracy is damaging to society. Of course we would like to do something about the way these people behave but this is impossible to do. their greed and the measures to ensure that their wealth increases have worsened and continue to worse depite the efforts of many people seeking beneficial change. This is a reality insight demands we accept.

Let us examine one of the phases in which this greed brought a crisis – the Cold War. This was a supposed war I grew up with in which I was afraid of “Reds under the bed”. For years communists were vilified, and it was only when I began to study communism for myself that I discovered what they were frightened of. Nothing. It was the corporatocracy who was excluded from markets in the Soviet bloc who were fuelling the Cold War. Following the symbolic fall of the Berlin Wall the chimera of the communist threat disappeared as gradually the corporatocracy accumulated those markets.

And here is the clue to what we can do. As the movie Ethos says, the consumer can decide. Consider a supermarket, do we have a choice? Far from it, we have a vast choice of similarly-produced processed foods. For most people this choice is sufficient, but what about the choices for those who value their health? They cannot buy authentic organic produce (guaranteed), but where can you buy such produce? Locally. By this I mean establishing local markets where you can buy produce that you know is genuinely organic – here is an example. For all the people who buy organic produce and prepare foods for themselves, this is less capital that can be accumulated by the corporatocracy. This of course is small potatoes initially. maybe it would grow to have an impact but significantly you are healthier. What if all the activists ate all their food in health food cooperatives whose locally-produced organic credentials had been verified. Even if this did not have an impact they would at leats know that the money they were spending was not being accumulated by the corporations and their government stooges.

What if we purchased our clothes through Fair Trade networks? Of course this starts to become more expensive but for many activists such expenditure is not beyond their means. Of course such Fair Trade networks need to have credentials guaranteed but there are mechanisms in place to do this, it is just necessary to become aware of them.

But the biggest problem we have is that we contribute money to state investment schemes, in the UK through our NI contributions. Where are our pensions invested? Do we know? Can we know? It is this investment we need to reclaim. To do this we will lose money as compared with leaving these investments where they are. But this is a mindful act, not a financial decision. There are certain investments that are sustainable such as wind power companies. There are funds that are available which are ethical – although funds termed ethical by some of the established fund companies are dubious. If a Mindful Consumer Network were to become organised, maybe an MCN could employ or have access to financial advice that optimised ethical investment. I suspect that if there were sufficient investment money available such advice would soon appear.

What about savings – our money in the bank? Can we do anything about this? Yes, there is an ethical bank, a bank whose investments are totally sustainable – Triodos Bank. Comparatively the interest is weak, but the money is invested sustainably and ethically.

We cannot do anything about giving the money for purchasing a car – that has to go to the car transationals, but mindfully we can begin to look at the impacvt of the fuel we use on the environment. Perhaps we lose something in terms of speed and acceleration with an electric car – or hybrid, but in today’s modern cities when can we use such power. There are fuel alternatives that will financially hit our pockets but not damage the environment. Such purchases cannot allow us to withdraw from the accumulated pool that is the corporatocracy, but we can at least reduce the impact on the environment.

We have limited control of the purchase of our houses, but we can begin to think environmentally of how can best use this necessary expenditure. This needs to be investigated.

Such steps are piecemeal, they might cause additional expense, but over a period of time the cumulative affect might be beneficial. Even if that were hard to measure the truth is we could know that we are not contributing to the accumulated capital of the corporatocracy – our money is not contributing to war, famine, poverty and death.

Then finally we consider the money itself that we use, what if we using community currency such as Ithaca Hours. People connected with the heritage of E F Schumacher have long been proposing such currencies, and there are pockets in which these currencies function viably. Are there ways in whch such currency schemes can be developed? Can we use our MCN to work with such currencies. Can such networks establish connections between like-minded people where skills are traded with such nominal currencies? Teachers teach the children of plumbers and have their toilets fixed – no money changes hand but the job is done. Such barter can exist for the benefit of people without contributing to the accumulatinbg coffers of the transnational capital of the corporatocracy.

The mindful acts of such an MCN are not earth-shattering, nor are they going to inflict noticeable damage on the existing mechanisms of accumulation. But there is peace of mind. Such peace of mind can bring clarity, a perception that will allow a calm appraisal of daily life. If you wish to continue with political activism, if you wish to demonstrate, collectivise, or any
other such mechanism of protest, using your money in a mindful way does not prevent this. yet how many people are mindful in this way? And of course as Buddhists how many practising Buddhists extend their insight into a mindful recognition that their money is being accumulated in the corporatocracy with all their heinous consequences – war, famine poverty and death.

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