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reflections on av economy.pdf.pdf


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philosophical and not a legal distinction. "The Divine" is not a legal entity whose interests can or
will be represented in a secular court of law. In fact, one of mankind's greatest grievances with the
Divine is that he never seems to communicate his will in a way universally understood and agreed
upon by humanity. Therefore, while Aurovilians can attempt to manage their resources in a way that
they feel is most in line with what they believe to be the Divine Will, which human being has the
final say on how a given scarce resource is to be used must still be clearly established.
The fact that Aurovilians wish to be good "stewards" of property in Auroville does not logically
require any specific economic system. There is in fact no reason to think that a collectivist system
will be more conducive to this effort than a system of private property.
In short, transcending one's sense of personal possessions is an individual yogic accomplishment
and not something that can or should be imposed on a collective level.

2. Utility

In economics, the term 'utility' is used to refer to a person's subjective sense of satisfaction and
happiness. It is assumed that people act with the goal to maximize their own utility. Utility cannot
be measured directly or established in advance. Instead, people "reveal their preference" through
their behavior. Productivity is a function of serving people's utility. In other words, a market
economy produces what people are willing to spend money on in an attempt to increase their
subjective sense of well-being.
An important problem with "consumerism" is that spiritual growth — and even wel-being in any
true sense — falls outside of its sphere: They can neither be produced nor traded. However, it is still
important to understand that the market is finely tuned to react to people's subjective preferences.
Even where no direct exchange of money is involved, it is still important for producers of any kind
to adapt to and reflect their costumers' values. By contrast, in a communist economy (i.e. a plan and
control economy) no such mechanism exists, and production plans are based on the arbitrary
judgment of bureaucrats.
A related point concerns the role of prices. Prices reflect a huge amount of information. In fact, it
could be said that prices are influenced by all events at all times. Remarkably, they combine
objective information (e.g. how many tons of rice are available) with subjective information (e.g.
how much people prefer rice over pasta).
Auroville's most important goal is to move from serving one's own utility to serving the Divine
Will. The first problem has already been mentioned above: No objective information on the Divine
Will is available.
There is also a larger metaphysical question involved here: Does the Divine "need" people to rise in
consciousness that they may serve his utility? Or are higher levels of consciousness reached
"merely" to be able to perceive the perfect unfolding of events according to an omnipotent will?
Potentially, these two views can result in very different approaches to creating an economic system.
The first will try to somehow incorporate "divine utility" into its economic equations. The second
assumes that the Divine's utility (i.e. Ananda) is assured, and leaves the concept of economic utility
entirely in the human sphere. I argue for the second approach.