Chapter 10: Our Economic Food Web

Below is a diagram of a biological food web that has been applied to our economy. In the past, this economic web would have been mainly a small local system. Over time it has become much larger and in many cases, global in scale. Powerful business interests are shaping the global economy, with local communities having less and less control. If we are not careful, we are going to create a system in which those at the top of the web will control, and those at the bottom will serve.

In the past, companies and communities were the same thing. Think of places such as a one factory town, or a community that are based on one industry, such as fishing. Members of these communities worked together in an industry. In many cases, companies have outgrown their communities, and are now global in scale. In effect, they have become organs in a much larger global organism.

What the wealthy elites are now doing to our society is what we have been doing to other life forms for thousands of years; exploit them! We need to be more integrated with others in our community, so we can have a voice and eliminate this exploitation. The powerful will continue to consolidate greater and greater wealth and power unless the community pushes back!

Companies are just groups of people working together, like a large family, a super-organism, that is providing goods and services to the communities that they serve. Just like the individual members of a community, companies should be accountable to the communities that they serve. They should not be exploiting them.

For many of us today, our social relationships are developed in the workplace, and less so in our communities. The corporation has replaced the community for our economic and social needs. The company, like the community, should be modeled after the family. With both male and female qualities, that are essential to a healthy system, such as protection and care. All participants involved in the corporation, this super-organism, should share in its success, including its workers.

IBelow are two diagrams comparing a region with an economic food web. They are basically the same thing. They both represent a competitive economy. In both cases, there is a dominant living system at its core that helps organize the overall system. In the case of the region, the urban core functions as the dominate integrated system, helping to organize the rest of the region. In the case of the economic food web, the dominant living system helps shape the overall system by its position in the web. This dominant living system could be a community, an institution, or a company; like a top predator in a food web.

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Read Chapter 11: Scales of Living Systems and their Emergent Properties