On Regenerative Systems: A Critique of Regenerative Capitalism

In his powerful essay on Regenerative Capitalism, John Fullerton describes breakthrough thinking, which moves us away from ideological divides that tether us to a worldwide economy that is destructive of human values to a system that supports people and planet, in the vein of Paul Hawken and Amory Lovins.

Conventional economic design places us at the mercy of abrupt climate change and social and ecological collapse. Regenerative systems, through their implicit design, do just the opposite. They recover, restore, and regenerate.

We can lament the impending calamity or we can thwart it by discerning the universal principles and patterns the cosmos uses and applying them as a regenerative, healing model for economic design “to build stable, healthy systems throughout the real world.” Regeneration is a big step beyond sustainability. It is a consciousness that will enable us to design systems we want, to create the world we want.

It is time to jettison dichotomous thinking, the ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ of multi-national greed, predatory corporate practices, and partisan politics, and seek a higher good through appreciating and celebrating our commonalities and our interconnectedness by designing economic systems, institutions, and businesses with a triple bottom line—profitable and supporting, not destroying, for earth and community.

One need only to reflect on the resistance of global capital to workers’ rights, human rights, and environmental quality principles as the present basis for international commerce. Multinational corporations have strangled human and moral concerns in the legislative cradle and have made the maximization of profit at all costs their highest expressed value. This has led to the creation of a wide gap of wealth, deterioration of living conditions, and loss of political freedom. A worldwide econo-technic system has arisen that is mindless, soulless, predatory, and ecocidal.

Long before we learned of the term ‘regenerative capitalism,’ as a member of congress, I fought for trade agreements that included the right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike, and the right to decent wages and benefits. I worked to bring about prohibitions on child labor, slave labor, and prison labor, and to require that environmental quality principles be detailed in all agreements. It is a testimony to the enduring power of a morally bankrupt and politically corrupt economic system that such efforts were given short shrift by leaders of both political parties. But once again the trumpet sounded for the rights of the people and for a reconciliation with nature.

Regenerative capitalism expresses the potential of ‘business as an agent for world benefit.’ It has percolated in the hearts of those who gathered at World Summits on Sustainability and Conferences of Parties on climate change and UN sessions to save the planet.

It is our opinion that the first step toward a regenerative economy is regenerative organic agriculture, as exemplified by the work of the Rodale Institute, which restores the vitality of our land, the purity of our food, and the health of our bodies. In their inherent methodology, regenerative organic agricultural practices create the conditions for the reversal of climate change, acknowledging that healthy soil is the cheapest, most extensive, and viable means of sequestering carbon through the very regenerative process of photosynthesis. Nature’s intelligence provides the model for us to look to as we move forward.

Agro-ecological is the term given to regenerative agricultural practices that look to the dynamics and relationships between organisms in nature and optimize these dynamics to maximize environmental health and food production. Similarly, we may consider coining the term econo-ecological to embody the true nature of regenerative economics.

It is time to look to the natural world to help us redesign the economic system. Nature has been supporting, revitalizing, and developing life for millennia through its very intricate system intelligence based upon organism relationships. It is time to measure wealth in terms of the health of the whole. It is time for human and moral values to be given full weight in a redesigned economy, which puts a benign, authentic human face on economic activity and GDP.

Through the shroud of photochemical smog that is now wrapped tightly around the globe, a shaft of light penetrates to illuminate a path towards a wholesome change in climate: reconciliation with the natural world, enunciation of unifying principles of health for human networks, and a plan for practical action.

The state of our earth exemplifies the desperate need for regenerative consciousness through the means of regenerative agriculture, regenerative economics, and regenerative social systems. Recognizing the necessity for redesign of present systems is an extraordinary challenge, but it is a joyful one. For the first time, we can see a path through devastation to regeneration. The idea of bringing our economy into harmony and balance with nature requires an evolutionary shift of thinking that perceives the economy and the biosphere as one, not through extraction but through remediation.

The impact of a regenerative capital model can be felt at the community, local, and regional levels where regeneration is being carried out, demonstrating the resilience of community, the intention to thrive and prosper, and birthing co-operative ownership. Such an intensification of community effort gives proof to the maxim of thinking globally and acting accordingly. Each of us must eat. It is through our choice of food that we can shift the greatest system for regenerative change: the agricultural system. ‘Consumers’ are creating a burgeoning organic movement that has the power to reverse climate change, prevent dead zones, create conditions for food security, reduce reliance upon fossil fuels, reduce water consumption and pollution, increase efficiency, and so much more.

There’s no need to fight. We need to act.

Regenerative capitalism is the wave of the future, if there is to be a future. It moves us from the nihilism of crass consumption to the possibility of prosperity through harmony. Each day each one of us makes choices that impact the world. When we begin to think holistically about our role in the economy and act in a way
consistent with the understanding that as we choose, so chooses the world, we dwell at the threshold of a new world.

Dennis J. Kucinich served 16 years in the US House of Representatives, where he stood for peace, healthcare for all, education for all, and monetary policy reform. He is a former Democratic candidate for President. As Mayor of Cleveland, Dennis came to national attention for resisting corporate demands to sell the city’s municipal electric system.

Elizabeth Kucinich is an internationally acclaimed advocate for regenerative organic agriculture and its relationship to food security and planetary and human health. She has dedicated her life to working towards bringing social, environmental, and economic systems into balance. Elizabeth is on the board of several notable organizations including the Rodale Institute, the oldest organic research institute in America.


by The Center for Planetary Culture

pp49 CPC1

The visionary design scientist Buckminster Fuller believed humanity faced a choice between ‘utopia or oblivion.’ According to Fuller, we will either establish a world where everyone on Earth receives a research grant for life in whatever subject interests them or we will fall by the wayside, like the vast majority of species before us. With the acceleration of our technological capacities and the deepening
the critical threshold where we choose our path.

With our position paper and Wiki, we invite the global community to work with us to envision our current situation as an opportunity for an evolutionary leap, and document what lies beyond it. We can move beyond the limits of outmoded ideologies and cultural obstructions to build a new human society based on symbiosis, resilience, cooperation, and the rational application of our technical powers. This Wiki will critically explore and analyze the current system and highlight the many amazing alternatives and experimental projects that show us the trajectory toward a world that works for all.

Over the last several decades, governments and corporations have shown they are incapable of reacting to the ecological crisis with the necessary urgency. Recent reports from scientific bodies like the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make it evident that we have now reached a critical threshold. A global movement of civil society must arise as a third force. We have only a short window of time—perhaps a few years—before the crisis becomes overwhelming. For a civil society movement to succeed, leaders and civilians must organize around a cohesive vision and shared strategy.

Technically, nothing prevents us from reconstructing human society rapidly, using the communications infrastructure and social tools that evolved in the last decades. Sustainable technologies for permaculture, bioremediation, holistic health, rainwater harvesting, alternative energies, and so on can be mass distributed or manufactured locally. We can use mass media and social media to re-train the global population and disseminate a new set of values and principles that support a holistic and sustainable way of life. Facing rising seas, we can construct eco-cities that act as scaffoldings for living systems, supporting local communities, with food and energy produced on site.

Through a coordinated movement of civil society based on Gandhi-esque principles and organized through social technologies, we can dismantle the military industrial complex and institute a peaceful world.