think outword

Please visit for more information about this fantastic peer-led training in social threefolding and a list of upcoming events.

Click here for a social sculpture piece made at Art is Movement, a Think OutWord weekend event in Spring Valley, May 2009.

World Economy, A Living Organism!
Print E-mail
Written by Lachlan Grey   

 Much like the complicated organism we call the human body, the world economy also fluctuates through phases of health and sickness. But the task of understanding and restoring this organism to health is a far more involved and complicated process than any one “social doctor” or centralized government could manage: for we are its parts, and its healthy functioning requires our conscious and harmonious participation. 

In order to restore the economic organism to health, a number of new relationships and associations have recently been formed in the realm of economic life. I’m not speaking here of the large-scale, though ultimately superficial restructuring of our current financial systems. It has become very clear that what affects one large economy ultimately affects all economies and that our concepts of autonomous nationalistic economic structures are outdated. Many of the associations I refer to were, at their roots, seeded 86 years ago in a lecture series given by Austrian philosopher and visionary Dr. Rudolph Steiner. Not surprisingly the lecture series was entitled “World Economy” and, over 14 days in 1922, Dr. Steiner offered a look into the organism of economic structures. His ideas breathe life into a typically regimented and difficult area of study, and illustrate a dynamic, flow-oriented approach to how economic, political and cultural pursuits can work together for the betterment of all humanity.

These ideas are beginning to spark a new wave of interest as we struggle on a global scale to develop new forms and tools for growing healthy economic partnerships and associations. Think OutWord, in partnership with the E.F. Schumacher Society, recently (from November 14th-16th, in Great Barrington MA) hosted a weekend intensive study of the lecture series in a dynamic, group-focused, round table format. This peer-led study featured contributions from teachers, farmers, investors, artists, software programmers and philosophers of all ages. The World Economy material provided a solid platform to explore not only its relevance in today’s economic climate, but also created an opportunity to explore the connection between economics and Steiner’s broader spiritual and cultural worldview.

In broad terms the World Economy lectures look at the relationships that man forms with global natural resources and how his will and intelligence are able to transform them. He shows the economic basis for altruism, the channels through which it would naturally flow if the organism were healthy, emphasizing the importance of evolving a spirit of brotherhood whilst still trusting the market to determine its own activity. A deeper study of the work uncovers a host of complex and sophisticated associations between capital, land and labor. It also builds on the importance of social threefolding, (the healthy interaction between the political, economic and cultural realms) and how economic activity ultimately strives to regenerate itself through planting economic and spiritual seeds into the future through the cultural realm.

Steiner talks in depth about the role of money, and offers some very interesting approaches to stimulating a healthy flow of currencies in the market. His observations regarding the congestion of money in non-productive land and the dangers inherent in a free market subject to the whims of the human ego are visionary in there manifestations today. One’s understanding of the interplay between commodities, labor, capital and the human spirit can be transformed through studies of these works.

The format of the study encouraged lively group conversations centered around the lectures themselves, as they were presented one after another by participants who had been charged with the task. Given the current focus on the global economic crisis, the group actively applied Steiner’s ideas to modern day issues, which led to a refreshing and organic perspective on the challenges we all face. It is important to note however that the lectures provide a unique stand-alone body of work that can be viewed as a spiritual and cultural initiation to living thinking and the importance of conscious and mobile thought processes.

There are thousands of initiatives worldwide, working with fresh ideas and new forms for economic activity. These fourteen lectures can only provide another potent tool for the positive transformation of the world economy. Paradoxically, we must look also at creating healthy local and community economic models if we hope to build a vehicle for global economic prosperity from the bottom up.
For those interested in looking further into World Economy and Social Threefolding check out the following organizations: Think OutWord (, the E. F. Schumacher Society (, the Associative Economic Market Network (, the Institute for Social Renewal (, and the Center for Associate Economics (