From the Myth of Capitalism to Embodied Economics Event Logo

From the Myth of Capitalism to Embodied Economics

by Public and Community Events

Virtual Webinar

Mon, Oct 18, 2021

7 PM – 8 PM (GMT+2)

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Join this Gerhart Center Webinar Series titled "From the Myth of Capitalism to Embodied Economics" session featuring Denise Hearn, senior fellow, American Economic Liberties Project.

Session outline:
Introduction to me/my story:
  • My life has been animated by a simple question: How can we create the conditions for human flourishing? Later in life, I’ve added ecological flourishing, recognizing that humans are fundamentally embedded within and extensions of nature.
  •  This question has led me to work across diverse industries: youth mentorship and education, social impact bonds and impact investing, macroeconomic research, federal policy.

The myth of Capitalism book findings:
  • In 2018, released The Myth of Capitalism book & findings — in part, an answer to the question: what are the structural drivers of inequality?
- Corporate concentration — effects
- Asset manager concentration — effects
- Proposed solutions
  • Dissatisfied with the solution set we provided, I went down many rabbit holes. If concentrated power and wealth are crucial problems, what do deconcentrated/decentralized systems look like, and how do we design them?

Systems Thinking / Why Solutions Fail:
  • I read Donella Meadow’s work on systems thinking (12 leverage points for systems change). I learned that many solutions offered are attempts to create negative feedback loops (corrective measures — like legislation and regulatory policy). They are ways of putting the brakes on positive feedback loops (which are naturally stronger). These efforts do not eliminate positive feedback loops or deal with larger questions about paradigms and systems incentives and goals, which foster the feedback loops in the first place. The system inherently generates outcomes b/c of its goals: efficiency and profit, expansion of market share, etc.
  • Outline of current attempts at reform and why they struggle:
- ESG, impact investing, corporate reform, etc. — tinkering at the margins, vs. providing substantive changes
- capitalism vs. socialism — a false dichotomy
- Riane’s Eisler’s work on Systems of Partnership & Systems of Domination

Need for New Paradigms:
  • To create the conditions for human and ecological flourishing, we need new paradigms that express and undergird new values.
- Economics is nowhere near a values-neutral discipline — it has ignored some of the most foundational elements of human experience

Embodied Economics:
  • Enter: Embodied Economics and the “Forgotten / Foundational Five:”

- The Body
- Care
- Power
- Interconnectedness
- Nature
  • What would a world look like, economically, that was designed around the needs and realities of our bodies, embedded in natural systems?
  • Economic policy doesn’t acknowledge your body, but it impacts your body, including the food available for you to eat and the care you can receive. Economic policy and financial markets have ignored nature while simultaneously facilitating its destruction. Economics rejects community and interconnectedness while tying us together in an interdependent global system with near-infinite opportunity and risk. The economic policy builds power for some and has done so for centuries while claiming we all have equal power as consumers in the market.

Intangible value point
  • Embodied Economics is about imagining together what economics that centers the Foundational Five would be. It is as much a thought experiment as it is a provocation to do things differently.  It is about asking different questions about how the world works — questions informed by our humanity.
  • Embodied Economics is about economics that starts with you.


Denise Hearn's profile photo

Denise Hearn

Senior Fellow

American Economic Liberties Project.

Hearn is co-author of The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition — named one of the Financial Times’ Best Books of 2018. Her writing has been featured in The Financial Times, Quartz, The Globe and Mail, and The Washington Post. She has presented to audiences around the world on competition policy, macroeconomics, and new economic thinking.

She is a Senior Fellow at the American Economic Liberties Project, an anti-monopoly organization, and co-lead the Access to Markets initiative. She is also Board Chair of The Predistribution Initiative, which aims to improve investment structures and practices to address systemic risks like inequality and climate change. Hearn has an MBA from the Oxford Saïd Business School.


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