The Human Economy
Has been published in a new open source journal created by the Association of Social Anthropologists, ASAOnline.
See the original keynote lecture of the Rethinking Economic Anthropology conference held at the LSE on 11th and 12th of January 2008 here as streaming video.
World society has been formed as a single interactive network in our time. Universal means of communication are now available to give expression to universal ideas. This essay explores the role of markets and money in the human economy. They are intrinsic to the extension of society from the local to a global level. By calling the economy human we put people first, making their thoughts, actions and lives our main concern. ‘Humanity’ is a moral quality of kindness and, since theoretical abstraction is impersonal, economic anthropology should pay attention to the personal realm of experience. But ‘humanity’ is also a collective noun, meaning all the people who have existed or ever will. So the human economy is inclusive in that sense too, requiring us to engage with society in its impersonal dimensions. Money mediates the personal and impersonal extremes of social existence. These reflections lead us to Kant’s Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (1798). ‘Anthropology’ is indispensable to the making of world society. It would then mean whatever we need to know about humanity as a whole if we want to build a more equal world. This usage could be embraced by students of history, sociology, political economy, philosophy, geography, cultural studies and literature, as well as by some anthropologists.