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Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition
by Charles Eisenstein


Core Argument: Our current money system, based on scarcity and competition, fuels the crises we face today – environmental destruction, social inequality, and spiritual emptiness. Eisenstein argues for a radical shift to a "sacred economy" rooted in abundance, gift, and cooperation, which he believes is essential for human and planetary well-being.

Key Concepts:

  • Money as Debt: Eisenstein criticizes the fractional reserve banking system, arguing that it creates money as debt with interest, necessitating perpetual economic growth and leading to social and environmental exploitation.
  • The Illusion of Scarcity: He challenges the dominant economic paradigm that resources are fundamentally scarce, claiming that this belief fuels competition and prevents us from experiencing true abundance. He argues that the Earth naturally provides for all, but our economic system distorts this reality.
  • The Gift Economy: Eisenstein envisions a world where gift-giving forms the basis of economic exchange. This goes beyond simple barter, emphasizing reciprocity, gratitude, and the natural flow of resources. He uses examples of indigenous cultures and open-source software to illustrate the principles of a gift economy.
  • Right Livelihood: He stresses the importance of finding work that aligns with one's passions and serves the common good. He criticizes the current system that often forces individuals into jobs they dislike for mere survival.
  • Reclaiming the Commons: Eisenstein advocates for returning to a system where essential resources like land, water, and air are shared as a common heritage, accessible to all.
  • Negative Interest Money: He proposes alternative currency models, including negative interest money, which loses value over time, discouraging hoarding and encouraging circulation, thus promoting economic activity based on needs rather than endless accumulation.
  • Transition to a Sacred Economy: While acknowledging the challenges, Eisenstein believes a shift is possible through individual and collective action. He emphasizes the importance of changing our consciousness about money, embracing cooperation, and promoting alternative economic models.


  • Utopian Vision: Critics argue that Eisenstein's vision is overly idealistic and lacks practical solutions for transitioning from the current system.
  • Romanticising Gift Economies: Some question the scalability of a pure gift economy, particularly in a globalized world with complex needs.
  • Lack of Concrete Policy Proposals: While Eisenstein offers philosophical frameworks and broad principles, he provides few concrete policy suggestions for implementing his ideas.


"Sacred Economics" offers a thought-provoking critique of the current economic system and proposes a radical alternative. While some may find his vision utopian, Eisenstein's work encourages critical thinking about the role of money in our lives and inspires the exploration of alternative economic models based on cooperation, sustainability, and a deeper connection to ourselves and the planet.