I may be the problem.
In his new book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, Charles Eisenstein addresses the disconnect we feel in a world that focuses on wealth and individualism. An emptiness becomes apparent as we begin to crave the community and social spirit which has fallen by the wayside in the pursuit of success, power, and wealth.
Eisenstein’s narrative is a familiar one to me. What he calls “separation,” Marx called alienation. I think the value of what Eisenstein provides in this book is 21st century account of alienation. An account of alienation in the technology era, rather than the account of alienation in industrial era that Marx provided.
More directly, Eisenstein challenges our Hobbesian and Lockean ideas about the relationship of between individual and society. He is challenging our assumptions about our ideological and spiritual outlook of the world. This is what Rousseau did directly and more brutally to the ideas of Hobbes and Locke. Of course, Eisenstein does this without making mention of Hobbes (though he make a reference to “nasty, brutish, and short” on page 6), Locke, or Rousseau.
Charles Eisenstein presented his main argument in this talk at TedxWhitechapel:
Now, how am I the problem? As I read his chapter on cynicism (one of the obstacles to the more beautiful world), I realized that Eisenstein was talking about me. I am skeptical of arguments like those of Eisenstein, partially because I feel that so much of it has been said before. For now, I am going to hold on to my skepticism and cynicism.
However, I do think that his argument is a valuable one. Even if it has been said before, maybe Eisenstein will be the one to get us to listen. Maybe instead of better messages, we need better messengers.