In the past decades we have moved from an economy that was one part of our lives to a society that has come to serve the economy.
There’s almost nothing that hasn’t already been invaded by market thinking: From the intimate act of caring for our loved ones, over the naming of public spaces to most delicate things such as personal data or clean air. Our individual value and status in society highly depends on how we perform on the job market, and wealthy people usually have it easier to influence the rules of society. We even determine the well-being of our society with a monetary value, the gross domestic product. We have given the economy so much power that we have lost control over it. Sovereign nation states were forced to save bankrupt banks with tax payers’ money after the 2008 financial crisis because they were “too big to fail”.
Clearly, markets serve a purpose and can serve human needs. But where is the market a useful tool to organise productive activity and where does it corrupt or degrade what’s traded or managed through market mechanisms? How do we value the goods in question – what should be morally accepted to be traded or treated as a commodity and what not? Is it a valuable approach to use market mechanisms as quick solutions to social problems, without addressing their deeper root causes? Is it wise to use monetary incentives to protect nature or alleviate hunger in the short-term if it in fact undermines long-term goals for a sustainable and just world by strengthening extrinsic over intrinsic values?
Economic activity today spins around the whole globe and things like the ocean or fresh air are global commons. This is why we need to deliberate these questions not as citizens of our respective countries, but as global citizens of our common home Earth.