Economic Independence

fullcircle process

If you would like to join our fullcircle multilogue on “economic independence” - register here: - Tuesday, January 19th 17:30 CET (this will be the default day and time for multilogues for the time being) Please note that each topic has a separate invitation link!

Let's be clear. There is no such thing as economic independence. Even if we choose to ignore our fundamental dependence on nature, we can never escape explicit or implicit dependence on other humans.

This interdependence can take various shapes on a continuum between full exposure to the complexity necessary for successful economic activity and total detachment from the complexity by adding layers of abstraction.

On one end of this spectrum we live off the land. We know how to cultivate and grow, we put in the necessary work, reducing the dependencies from other humans while increasing our dependency on nature, ourselves, our health and knowledge. At this end we should be prepared to trade the resulting increase in agency for the loss of comfort.

On the other end we primarily use money to feed the layers of abstraction between us and the nature that feeds us. Layers of abstraction filled with other human beings producing the things and providing the services we want, effectively increasing our dependency on money and on other human beings. This increase of comfort also comes at a cost: we lose agency.

Both approaches share a reduction of dimensions in the hope of managing the opposing ends of complexity - and fail. But what if we - in a counter-intuitive move - increased the the number of dimensions in order to weave a complex web of inter-dependencies in the hope that this sneaks a form of economic independence in through the backdoor of the resulting resilience?

About a decade ago Ethan Soloviev introduced the necessary language, enabling us to think such a thing by providing us with symbols for the forms of capital we are already unconsciously transacting, saving and creating. With the help of these we can embrace the full range of economic complexity and interdependence. And while Ethan's list is by no means the only one of its kind and its contents can be discussed, i will use it for the sake of a real world example. One that i know very well. One that is an unpolished, unfinished and imperfect experiment. But also one that works.

When we started delodi eight years ago, we embedded our intention into the name: DELiver Or DIe. It was and is meant as a constant reminder that the purpose of the company is higher and wider than just earning financial capital. While we didn't have the language of the eight forms of capital back then, we intuitively applied a lot of them.

In hindsight we transformed financial capital into material, social, experiential, intellectual, cultural and spiritual capital. While often doing so directly by spending financial capital, we also often decided against earning financial capital in the first place, giving us the space to nurture and grow other forms of capital. Each of these dimension helps strengthen the other dimensions, making the entire operation not only resilient, but a great place with great people and great freedom.

A freedom we would never give up. Once we were offered a substantial amount of financial capital to sell the company. Based on our eight-capital-accounting it was immediately obvious that we would lose so much more than we could ever buy with financial capital that is was roughly a thirty second discussion between the founders to turn down a good seven digit number of cash.

Many of these forms of capital can not be counted. They can only be felt. Having access to feelings, knowing how to read and use them is fundamental precondition for deep economic in(ter)dependence and will be discussed in the next post.