A "Whole" Economic System With Household "Centers"

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Burl Humana

How do you start a new economic system? Just start one! That doesn't sound very easy because of the ingrained nature of our current economic system. However, Christopher Alexander's concept of "wholeness" and the theory of "centers" is a perfect fit for a new generative economic system.


According to Alexander "wholeness" starts with a blank slate. When one dot appears on the slate a "center" or multiple "centers" are created in relationship to the "whole". When a second dot appears on the slate the environment is changed and new "centers" are created, "centers" within "centers". As dots appear on the slate the "whole" is awakened and becomes alive. The whole is not made up of entities but the entities are defined by their relationship to the "whole". "The structure which is created is essentailly a structure of centers and the process by which this structure is created is one operation which is performed over and over again." It consists of making, elaborating, strengthening, or completing some center which exists, or begins to exist, or has the potential to exist."


In the graphic above, think of each dot as an economic household. The first household creates an economic pattern on the blank economic "whole". The second household creates an economic pattern and the economic environment begins to change. The household pattern dots are repeated over and over as more households create a pattern. Each is an economic household "center "and becomes part of a larger structure of economic household "centers". A new economic system comes alive as more "centers" appear on the economic "whole". It is a paradigm shift in that our old economic system is not destroyed but a new type of household economic system comes into view. More people see it, participate in it, and believe in the economic "whole". A generative economic structure is formed as the creation of household economic patterns are created over and over again. The above graphic is ceiling detail from the Palacio de Comares, Alhambra, Granada. This graphic gives us a visual picture of what the "whole" system of houshold economies could look like. This two dimensional visual view of a household economic system may help you realize how households can be conected by their "centeredness". Now imagine this household economic system in three dimensions all tied together by computer technology. Each houshold is tied to any other household with shared "centeredness". Inside each household economy are the human values that create life for the individual household pattern. The economic "whole" is awakened by the economic household "centers". The household "centers" are alive because of their relationship to the "whole". There is a helpful, holistic relationship between the economic "whole" and the economic "centers". A "whole", new economic paradigm is begun.


The difficulty in starting the new economic system is not in overcomming the old, engrained economic system. The difficulty is in learning to see the "centers" of the new economic system. For this we need to be trained or made aware of "wholeness". Christopher Alexander begins our technical training in the Appendices of his book "The Phenomenon of Life". First he gives a mathematical "Definition of Wholeness", then "A Detailed Example of Wholeness (W)". Alexander explains "The Cognitive Difficulty of Seeing Wholeness". Then he draws "A New Type of Mathematical Field Reguired to Represent Living Structure and the Bootstrap Field of Centers." Christopher Alexander's context is to architecture but he realizes his concepts are important to all living structures. "For the sake of our own welfare, the world must be made so that it contains and is built from, living structure." This is a call to action to develop living structures. One of the most basic of these structures is our economic system. Christopher Alexander is calling us to put "life" in it and he has given us the elementary training tools. I believe we can do this! Watch my patterns for updates on how this begins to happens and join me with your ideas and comments.

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