Jane Jacobs: The Nature of Economies

I have just 10 minutes ago finished Jane Jacobs, The Nature of Economies, and I just have to write about it.

I am totally stunned, and deeply sad that I never was able to meet her. In this book she speaks directly to me from beyond the grave completely confirming the approach I have been following in rethinking what currency is and what it means to humanity.

She ends the book with two answers to one question “what are economies for?” :

“… To enable us to partake, in our own fashion, in a great universal flow.”

“economies have a lot in common with language… like language, economic life permits us to develop cultures and multitudes for purposes… that’s its function which is most meaningful for us.”

For a while now I have take Art Brock’s lead in defining currencies as:

Information systems that allow communities to interact with flows

I’ve also written about how money is just the first word or sentence in a much bigger “language” or as I’ve been calling it, “expressive capacity,” that allows the social being to shape the flows that constitute it. But more importantly how such a new expressive capacity will allow us to integrate the flows at all levels of wealth. So to hear both of these ideas as the final punch in a whole book which is all about the shifting our understanding of economics is towards seeing it in the broader integrated context of the flow processes of the natural world, has me completely floored and overjoyed.

Part way through the book it also occurred to me that what we currently call economics is to some unnamed future science is as alchemy is to chemistry. So I thought I would try to name that science:

Since economy is oikos/nomy = home/management

I thought this might work:rheonomy from rheo/nomy = flow/management

I also like how rheo sounds like the Spanish: rio or river, and it’s also a good pun because its: realnomics… :-)

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