Rethinking and Rewiring Wealth and Poverty

"I question wealth" often means "I am angry that others are wealthy ...", adding for instance "... the top 1% of the world's population now own more than 50% of the world's wealth" or "... because they are robbing the poor".

But that is usually a negative questioning, arising from reaction or anger which prevents understanding, rather than a positive questioning that seeks to understand and know what action to take. I will try to raise the positive question about wealth, to understand it, what its validity is, what problems go with it and why it goes so wrong.

I will question the very nature and idea of wealth, and our assumptions about it that lie underneath, and fuel, our reactions and arguments. These assumptions underlie much of our positive as well as negative questioning. In doing so, however, I will also question its presumed opposite, poverty, and our assumptions and accepted positions on it. In doing so I will not be taking sides for left-wing or right-wing, capitalist or socialist, but will try to bring both into a wider picture.

I will be questioning at both the structural and individual levels. Some focus on the individual (and e.g. families, businesses, etc.), some focus on the structural ("the system"). I want to understand both as part of a wider picture.

In this wider picture, I will refer to multiple aspects, multiple ways in which we function, multiple ways in which reality can be meaningful, of which the economic aspect is only one. It is the economic aspect that makes the concepts of wealth and poverty meaningfulness and it is the laws of the economic aspect that make wealth and poverty possible as realities. Other aspects include the biotic, which makes health and sickness meaningful (as concepts) and possible (as realities), the juridical aspect, which makes justice and injustice meaningful and possible, the ethical aspect, which makes goodness and meanness meaningful and possible, and so on. In all, I might make reference to fifteen aspects, those delineated by the Dutch philosopher, Herman Dooyeweerd (see "").

Warning: This wider picture is enabled by taking a Creational perspective. That is, I believe that God created, that God gifted Creation with laws that enable it to function with dignity of genuine responsiveness and responsibility, and that these laws are diverse in kinds, and that even in their diversity these laws work together in harmony to bring about what in Hebrew is called shalom and, in Arabic, salaam: a rich well-being of all. I presuppose multiple ways in which things can be meaningful - not only economic but also aesthetic, social, biological, physical, ethical, and more. Currently I know of no other foundation for a wider picture as good as this; it has been employed in research across a wide range of fields (sustainability, information systems, business, engineering, and even art) [Note-1]. So this is written for Christians, but it is also written, as far as possible, in a way that others can understand it.

I will, however, not be taking a theological approach, which tries to argue a case from religious beliefs. Instead, my approach is philosophical and practical, though it will be informed by some statements or principles from Scripture.

Here are some of the issues I will be touching on:


Note 1. See Foundations and Practice of Research : Adventures with Dooyeweerd's Philosophy, by A. Basden, 2019, Routledge.