A Dignity Economy
Creating an Economy that Serves Human Dignity and Preserves Our Planet
by Evelin Lindner
published Jan. 2012, XXX + 429 pages
ISBN (print) 978-1-937570-03-3
This book’s publication has been hastened by the Occupy Wall Street movement. This movement gave the author the motivation to bring an unfinished manuscript to the level of publication. The first version of this manuscript was presented on August 20, 2009, at a conference at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Since then, it has been growing almost daily and has had many titles. It is not a traditional manuscript planned at the drawing board, designed "to sell." It is rather a snapshot taken at one moment of an ongoing process, an ever unfinished book, a "walking" book, part of a journey.
The economic crisis has many labels, ranging from "subprime crisis" to "credit crunch," to "financial tsunami" or "economic Armageddon." Around the world, people are coming to a single diagnosis: "Something is deeply unhealthy in our world." This book advocates a deep paradigm shift, not just from one rigid paradigm to another rigid paradigm, but away from rigidity altogether. Away from massive institutions toward a global movement that is co-created by people and their enthusiastic energy. We need a dignity revolution, and not just in Tunisia or Egypt. Now we need a global dignity revolution, a world dignity movement, a movement that creates inclusion, both locally and globally.
About Evelin Lindner
Evelin Lindner is the founding president of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network (www.humiliationstudies.org). She holds two Ph.D.s, in Medicine and in Psychology, and publishes extensively. Her book Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict was honored by Choice as 2007 Outstanding Academic Title. Other books from Evelin Lindner include: Emotion and Conflict: How Human Rights Can Dignify Emotion and Help Us Wage Good Conflict (2009), and Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security: Dignifying Relationships from Love, Sex, and Parenthood to World Affairs (2010).
In 2009 Evelin Lindner received the prestigious Norwegian "Prisoner's Testament" peace award.
More about Evelin Lindner at the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies web pages.
Books by Evelin Lindner
Clicking the cover pictures will direct you to the Amazon website:
- Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict, 2006, Foreword by Morton Deutsch
- Emotion and Conflict: How Human Rights Can Dignify Emotion and Help Us Wage Good Conflict, 2009, Foreword by Morton Deutsch
- Gender, Humiliation, and Global Security: Dignifying Relationships from Love, Sex, and Parenthood to World Affairs, 2010, Foreword by Desmond Tutu
- A Dignity Economy: Creating an Economy That Serves Human Dignity and Preserves Our Planet, 2012, Foreword by Linda Hartling and Uli Spalthoff
- Honor, Humiliation, and TerrorHonor, Humiliation, and TerrorAn Explosive Mix – And How We Can Defuse It with Dignity, 2017, Foreword by Linda Hartling
See more publications by Evelin Lindner at the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies website
Excerpt from Chapter One:
Linda Hartling and I, since we are not economists, hesitate to analyze economic topics. On the other hand, we cannot avoid witnessing the humiliating effects of existing economic practices and institutions. Furthermore, since economic structures represent the largest frames within which human activities are played out, they are of utmost importance and cannot be overlooked. If the largest frames were to introduce systemic humiliation, in the way apartheid did, this would be extremely significant. Under apartheid, since it was an all-encompassing system, all lives and relationships were tainted with humiliation. It was impossible to dignify apartheid by merely being kinder to each other or creating well-intentioned small-scale initiatives: the entire system had to be shaped anew at the appropriate large-scale level. What if today's apartheid is represented by the fact that (exponential) growth is incompatible with sustainability?
Or should we encourage everybody to agree with Herman Cain, United States Republican presidential candidate, to individualize systemic problems? He said on October 5, 2011: "Don't blame Wall Street. Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself." Should we follow Cain and try to make people fitter for a rat race that might be unfeasible and damaging for us all and our environment?
We often feel as helpless as the Archbishop of Canterbury, who called for a "rehumanising of economics", and a "discussion on the relationship between wealth and well-being," in a debate at the British Library on Tuesday evening, on October 1, 2010. "The Archbishop described himself as an 'economic illiterate.' He said the Church had been 'hypnotised by the assertion of expertise' on issues related to the economy."
How to buy
You may buy A Dignity Economy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and major bookshops.
Or - preferably, as this contributes to the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies cause - directly here:
An ebook version (ePub) is forthcoming.
Table of Contents
Foreword by the Directors of Dignity Press
Foreword by Linda Hartling
Foreword by Ulrich Spalthoff
Part I: Where Do We Stand? Where Might We Go?
Chapter 1: While Critical Voices Get Louder, a Sense of Helplessness Prevails
Chapter 2: Let Us Join Hands and Dig Up the Facts!
Chapter 3: Where Might We Go? Toward a Dignity Transition
Part II: Dignity or Humiliation? That Is the Question!
Chapter 4: When Scarcity and Environmental Degradation Become Systemic
Chapter 5: When Mistrust Becomes Ubiquitous
Chapter 6: When Abuse Becomes a Means of "Getting Things Done"
Chapter 7: When Fear Becomes Overwhelming and Debilitating
Chapter 8: When False Choices Crowd out Important Choices
Chapter 9: When Our Souls Are Injured by the Homo Economicus Model
Part III: What Should We Do? Let Us Unite As a Human Family!
Chapter 10: We Need a Panoply of New Strategies for Dignism!
Chapter 11: We Need to Humanize Globalization with Egalization!
Chapter 12: We Need Many More Voices and a Clear Direction!
Appendix I: Quotes
Appendix II: Selected Publications
This book provides an excellent critique of the impersonal market economy which dominates the world. The author illuminates how it turns people into commodities so that they are often dehumanized and robbed of their dignity. The book is also a passionate call for the development of a dignity economy which draws heavily on her rich personal experiences, as well as a vast literature, and suggests how this new economy could be fostered.
- Morton Deutsch, E.L. Thorndike Professor Emeritus of Psychology Director Emeritus of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (ICCCR), Columbia University, New York City, U.S.A.
A Dignity Economy looks at the root causes of our accelerating global economic, ecological and moral crises. With her breath of knowledge, enthusiasm, care and sensitivity, Evelin Lindner has become a "beacon" for others, including myself, to follow. This book is a must-read for all those in search of new avenues for a more humane and socially, as well as ecologically just world. This manifesto of hope for a better world, should be read by all, and especially by the youth; the future leaders.
- Kamran Mofid, Ph.D. (ECON), Founder of the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI), Co-founder/Editor of the Journal of Globalisation for the Common Good, and Adjunct Professor at the Dalhousie School of Business, Dalhousie University, Canada
The book A Dignity Economy is a welcomed synthesis of thinking and analyses about the economy in general. Lindner's well researched citations and references make it a most useful anthology of the ways to cure our economic problems. It is a blueprint on how to live peacefully, equitably, and sustainably on planet Earth for the common good of humanity. It reflects the author's original thinking and her vast practical experience. Her conclusion about the need for democratizing globalization and for more relevant global economic institutions is to the point.
More precisely, I certainly agree with the ethical position that the economy exists to serve the people and not the other way around. I made a similar argument in my book The Code for Global Ethics, when I stressed that “[Economic] oppressors, abusers, and exploiters have to be reigned in so that workers and consumers do not become the victims of market manipulations. State regulation of business practices to ensure the efficiency and fairness of markets is consistent with a well-functioning market economy” (Prometheus edition, p. 187). As Lindner explains in her book, the prisoner’s dilemma game teaches us that cheating comes naturally in purely financial transactions. The present ‘laisser-aller’ can only lead to other crises and possibly to even more severe crises. A profound re-thinking in these matters is thus necessary and Lindner's book is a great contribution to that effort.
- Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay, Ph.D, Economist, Emeritus Professor, University of Montreal, Canada, Former minister in the Quebec government, author of The Code for Global Ethics
This is an indispensable book. Anyone committed to building a better world should read it and take seriously what it says. Besides the author's own insights drawn from her unique experience as a scholar who has lived and worked in many cultures, I found important ideas distilled from dozens of authors I had never heard of before. Although you may be put off at first by the author's rather breathtaking honesty, humility, and down-to-earth-ness, as you get into the book you will soon realize that it is one that anybody who loves humanity and Mother Earth must read and think about.
- Howard Richards, Ph.D., Research Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, U.SA., founder of its Peace and Global Studies Program, and co-founder of its Business and Nonprofit Management program, co-author, together with Joanna Swanger, of Dilemmas of Social Democracies
In her new book, Evelin G.Lindner honors DIGNITY as more than an economic right-responsibility: she helps persons and organizations to view and experience economic activity as an environmentally and relationally dignifying force. Evelin G.Lindner's new book eloquently and powerfully shows how the world can be educated to both economize and humanize, for these are the two sides of a much-needed coin: DIGNITY
- Francisco Gomes de Matos, a peace linguist from Recife, Brazil, and co-founder of the Associação Brasil América, and the World Dignity University Initiative
A Dignity Economy is accessible, eloquent, inspiring, even visionary. It deserves a wide circulation which should include both specialists and lay readers. Evelin Lindner is the perfect author for this study, given her long experience in dealing with the broad significance of human dignity and the appalling lack of it in the world order.
- Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Richard J. Milbauer Emeritus Professor of History, University of Florida, and Visiting Scholar, Johns Hopkins University, author of numerous works in history relating to honor: Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South (1982); The House of Percy: Honor, Melancholy, and Imagination in a Southern Family (1994); The Shaping of Southern Culture: Honor, Grace, and War (2001) [...] Wyatt-Brown is currently preparing books entitled Lincoln's Assassination and the Undoing of Union Victory and Melancholy's Children: Modern Southern Writers and Depression.
Evelin's book, A Dignity Economy, is exceptionally important, inspiring, and timely. It courageously opens a crucial debate on how we can reshape our minds to fit the expectation of a dignified economy, which is manifestly affected in whole or in part by the clash between the politics of empathy and the politics of authority.
- Yves M. Musoni, an artist and an independent researcher, is a Congolese Tutsi, who was forced to leave his country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1996. He spent 13 years in Rwanda before immigrating to the USA as the winner of the US Diversity Visa Program
This book is astonishing. It inspires me with a touch that is so powerful that it almost blows my head off. Dr. Evelin Lindner has this fantastic writing ability of a great philosopher: making it impossible for you to stay the same after having read her thinking. This is a book about a new economical system for our world today and her insights and deepfelt analysis carries with them a profound energy that asks the human family for more best practices, for more social entrepeneurs and investors of a noble kind.
I am grateful that I have been able for the last 8 years to work with SEKEM in Egypt, an ethical and ecological business in the desert, producing high quality cotton, herbs and sustainable energy. This has been my way of responding to the call that Evelin now advocates – a call that is heard all over the globe: Let us make our economy serve the people and the planet in a sustainable way.
- Ragnhild Nilsen, artist, public speaker, social entrepeneur, and writer
Like Shakespeare's famous query, the following question is posed: "Dignity or Humiliation?" Evelin Lindner - the world's leading scholar on the experience of humiliation and human dignity - provides a monumental response in her new treatise: A Dignity Economy - Creating an Economy that Serves Human Dignity and Preserves Our Environment. Right from the start, Lindner punctuates her mission: "This book is about a new how." And she is steadfast in her means: A Dignity Economy is chock-full of new strategies for "dignism" (a new word in her lexicon). Thought leaders, scholars, activists, and students will relish Lindner's plethora of economic initiatives for the new ethical economy - one that also cherishes and enhances the biosphere. Moreover, A Dignity Economy provides a crystal-clear vision of our future of equality in dignity - a future that Prof. Dr. Lindner denotes as "co-globegalization." I highly recommend this groundbreaking new work.
- Mark Singer, Professor and author, among others, of Seminal Ethics – Discovering Your Ethical Core, Punim Publishing, U.S.A.
I have been honored, nay, blessed by this (I'm searching for appropriate adjectives) OK, human, REALLY HUMAN, Evelin Lindner, who graciously requested that I write "a few sentences" for inclusion in her latest Dignity Economy book, an epic tome of fascinating and formidably-researched insights as to what makes us and the world tick, or not. From the Far Past to the present-day while positing myriad answers from a thousand sources to burning questions: "What to do?" and "Where might we go?" "Who should we trust?" etc., she outlines replies from an incredible selection of "experts" in philosophical, economic, technical, social, cultural and political fields plus her own insights evolved from her own 40 years of global wanderings.
Evelin Linder is one of those rare avartarish, once-in-a-millennium beings, who arrive on Earth when humanity is in total crisis, yet who do not really exist on the mere terrestrial plane but float spiritlike above earth's creatures many of whom live in fear and ignorance, yet desperately seek salvation. She is thus actually a "transparency," a sort of two-way mirror, the one pointing outward toward, well, the Cosmos; the other, inward, reflecting the reader (or companions) to ourselves in minute often embarrassing detail, but yet joyful of being enlightened within the global framework.
She herself, therefore, personifies the perennial "paradigm shift" she expertly reveals, which measures giant evolutionary changes in human affairs, while personally experiencing and minutely logging the answers to her myriad, provocative questions.
She reminds me of Lao Tzu's 28th verse in the Tao The Ching: "Know the male, yet keep to the female: receive the world in your arms. If you receive the world, the Tao will never leave you and you will be like a little child."
According to the "Views from My Space" , the ultimate humiliation for us humans, singly and communally, of course, are the nuclear bombs threatening the very existence of humanity itself. Perhaps because Evelin Linder acknowledges without reservation that, as her fellow World Citizen, I have claimed with "due diligence" to "personify" world law as The Bomb's geo-dialectical antithesis , we have united in this sacred and ultimately challenging life-work in the Here and Now.
Indeed, what else is "world peace" between thinking, caring humans?
1: My books of blogs: 1 and 2
2: World Citizen Garry Davis Goes to Court
- Garry Davis, world citizen and peace activist, creator of the first World Passport
I have a background in engineering design and materials, as well as in ecodesign and industrial ecology. In spite of the impressive advances in the science of industrial ecology, including life cycle environmental impact assessment of product-production-service-recycle-systems in the last 20 years, we have not been able to relieve humankind from the grip of consumerism and the economic growth dogma. As a consequence, the damage of human health and of the ecosystems, and resource depletion are out of control.
Evelin Lindner has through her earlier books and her network Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies, in a convincing way shown us that we now have to focus on the damage caused by humiliation, traumatic experiences and lack of dignity and the influence this has on human behaviour. We all have an inner potential for creating a sustainable society and dignified living if these damaging psychological mechanisms were avoided or healed. Dignity for all as the universal long term target - on all levels of relations, from person to person, families, within and between organisations, communities, political institutions and nations - has to be manifested in our economic systems and institutions in balance with ecological sustainability targets and technological development. This book is a rich source of information, inspiration and advice, that will open up for the realisation of these balanced processes.
- Sigurd Støren, Professor Emeritus of Metal Forming and Ecodesign at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway
Evelin Lindner's publication is thought provoking and calls for a new systemic approach to make our economic system more responsive to the needs of the global community in an increasingly inter-connected world. A Dignity Economy addresses the need for building a balanced and equitable economic order that promotes human dignity rather than human greed and ensures a sustainable future for us on this planet.
- Shahid Kamal, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to the Federal Republic of Germany
This argument, in economic terms, for a vision of a global community characterized by empathy and humility, instead of dominance and prestige, is compellingly articulated.
- Dr. Louise Sundararajan, scholar in indigenous psychology, clinical psychologist in Rochester, New York, U.S.A.
A Dignity Economy is a beautifully written soulful book. It is both unique and rare in its spiritual treatment of its subject matter, in its deep and broad interdisciplinary outlook and in its passionate commitment to humanness and moral responsibility. In a postmodern post traumatic cultural climate it dares speak of binding universal truths and offers healing instead of the prevalent despair and alienation. Academia in general and scholarly writing in particular benefit greatly from Evelin Linder's being and doing and this book is an important stepping stone in her intellectual journey - here she makes a remarkable presence in new terrain bringing hope and compassion where it is most needed.
- Ya'ir Ronen, Department of Social Work, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Evelin Lindner offers us another new title A Dignity Economy that focuses on the pressing need to save the global community from its own destructive economic structures. The new book identifies “Unity in Diversity” as an organizing philosophical principles to bring equity and justice to ailing economic systems which have been imposed by the free capitalist market structures. Inspired by peace and justice values and frameworks and supported by an amazing set of data and testimonies, the author builds step by step a solid argument for the need to develop new economic structures that promote dignity and justice for all people regardless of their affiliations. The book is indeed inspiring and adds a significant layer to the authors’ existing work on human dignity.
- Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Ph.D., Director, Peacebuilding and Development Institute, Professor, International Peace And Conflict Resolution, School of International Service American University, Washington DC, USA
To be truly human is all about flourishing relationships and equal dignity, not about more money fuelled by consumerism, extreme individualism and unsustainable growth. Evelin Lindner, in this book, uses her immense depth of knowledge and vast experiences with many cultures throughout the world to explain what would constitute an economy with equal dignity. Humans are meeting at crossroads where the traffic signals are being ignored or not even understood. This book challenges those who ignore, or don’t understand the signals to stop and pause a while, and understand what it really means to be human.
- Brian Ward, Traffic Engineer, New Zealand