The Economics of Separation

portion of a book by Charles Eisenstein


The converging crises of our time all arise from a common root that we might call Separation. Taking many forms—the human/nature split, the disintegration of community, the division of reality into material and spiritual realms—Separation is woven into every aspect of our civilization. It is also unsustainable: it generates great and growing crises that are propelling us into a new era, an Age of Reunion.

Separation is not an ultimate reality, but a human projection, an ideology, a story. As in all cultures, our defining Story of the People has two deeply related parts: a Story of Self, and a Story of the World. The first is the discrete and separate self: a bubble of psychology, a skin-encapsulated soul, a biological phenotype driven by its genes to seek reproductive self-interest, a rational actor seeking economic self-interest, a physical observer of an objective universe, a mote of consciousness in a prison of flesh.


The second is the story of Ascent: that humanity, starting from a state of ignorance and powerlessness, is harnessing the forces of nature and probing the secrets of the universe, moving inexorably toward our destiny of complete mastery over, and transcendence of, nature. It is a story of the separation of the human realm from the natural, in which the former expands and the latter is turned progressively into resources, goods, property, and, ultimately, money.

Money is a system of social agreements, meanings, and symbols that develops over time.

It is, in a word, a story, existing in social reality along with such things as laws, nations, institutions, calendar and clock time, religion, and science. Stories bear tremendous creative power. Through them we coordinate human activity, focus attention and intention, define roles, and identify what is important and even what is real. Stories give meaning and purpose to life and therefore motivate action.

Money is a key element of the story of Separation that defines our civilization. Part I of this book illuminates the economic system that has arisen on the foundation of the story of Separation.

Anonymity, depersonalization, polarization of wealth, endless growth, ecological despoliation, social turmoil, and irremediable crisis are built into our economic system so deeply that nothing less than a transformation of our defining Story of the People will heal it. (A paradigm shift) Technocracy edits

My intention is that by identifying the core features of the economics of Separation, we may be empowered to envision an economics of Reunion as well,

An economics that restores to wholeness our fractured communities, relationships, cultures, ecosystems, and planet.



Sacred Economics: