Old and New Paradigms (I)


Old and New Paradigms (I)

Written by Alfonso Elizondo



The old paradigm of the economy is a linear formula for taking, using and wasting. In the new paradigm, the economy will be cyclical, like the paradigm of nature that takes with gratitude, uses with moderation, replenishes what it has taken and returns what’s left to the earth so that it becomes fertilizer, without waste, without polluting and without depleting.


According to the old paradigm, growth is to be paid for at any cost, while in the new paradigm the growth of the economy does not have the slightest importance. What really matters is the growth of well-being and happiness.


In the old paradigm, development targeting the poor becomes aid or charity and in the new paradigm the focus is on the causes of poverty and on working to achieve justice and solidarity. With the old paradigm, development is introduced from the outside in, with economists looking at the poor and determining what they need, be it a road, a school, a hospital or an industry. They bring in people from outside to build these things and have them paid in the form of taxes, tolls, insurance or cash contributions.


In the new paradigm those who come from outside do not control or are not the owners of local resources, and they respect the culture, traditions, knowledge, medicine and all the local ways of life. They support themselves and develop from the inside out. Since they really want to help, they become integrated into the local community, live within it and derive their way of life from the same sources found in the local community.


In the old paradigm, much attention is paid to raising the standard of living, acquiring cars, computers and other consumer goods. On the other hand, in the new paradigm what matters is the quality of life and not the quantity of possessions. What is more important is health, creativity, culture, craftsmanship, food, family, friendship, reciprocity and time to be something in life, rather than the struggle to have more material goods.


In the old paradigm, bigger is better – big dams, big factories, big companies, big armies and big governments. In the new paradigm small is desirable, so value is placed on substance and not on size. In the new paradigm, the greatest achievements are the practice of agriculture, taking care of the countryside, the integration of rural communities, the role of villages as commercial centers, the conservation of nature and the renewal of manual and traditional modes of production.


In the old paradigm, machines dominate, mechanization is better than manual labor and progress is measured by the amount of work done by machines. It is expected that all paradigms will have a technological solution and that technology is the answer to all human needs. However, in the new paradigm, human work is worthwhile; for example, serving, manufacturing by hand, building, tending kitchen gardens, cooking and many other human activities have intrinsic value. The machine is an aid to human hands but does not replace them.


In the old paradigm the monoculture takes precedence, chain stores occupy the main streets; they are the same brands, the same clothes, the same foods and the same restaurants. The same architecture is also spread throughout all the world’s cities. In the new paradigm, cultural diversity and biodiversity are crucial factors in social organizations and human settlements. Social differences are fundamental in all aspects of human life. Everything local is protected – food, clothes, local dances, etc., although the cultures of other countries are respected and learned.


In the old paradigm, globalization is the fundamental basis of trade. Countries make a few products and export them. Competition, mergers, absorptions and monopolies by the powerful are encouraged to the detriment of the weak. The preference is for the small and local in the new paradigm. Trade is a way to improve human relationships. Instead of globalization, local formulas enable the sustainability of the environment and strengthen local communities.


Addendum: In Part II I will try to conclude this interesting discussion about new and old paradigms.