Foundations of a Love Economy

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* Book. Dare to Care. A new foundation for economics and finance. Louis Bohtlingk.


Video introduction at

Introduction and Context

From the foreword by Hazel Henderson:

"My first encounter with Louis Bohtlingk was in late 2010 in an hour-long phone conversation. We explored each others' mission and goals for transforming finance, money-creation and our shared belief that the way economies are structured function to distort human behaviour and inhibit our natural impulses toward trust, bonding, sharing and cooperation. At that time, Louis had not encountered my life's work of researching and developing the concept of the Love Economy and creating new metrics beyond economics to measure the unpaid sectors and overall quality of life. As I explained my passion, based on what I had learned from my mother, Louis and I shared an epiphany. Louis invited me to co-author a book with him, as we compared our life experiences and what he and his wife Sandra have discovered during their workshops on "Meeting the Mystery of Money." I saw the immense value of their many years of empirical research on how dysfunctional economic structures and theories can stunt human development, upset relationships, cause unnecessary conflicts, warp lives and foreclose on possibilities for our children in creating more loving, harmonious societies.

Louis and Sandra's work had been recommended to me by my two dear, long time friends John Steiner and Steve Schueth and this convinced me to help Louis with this book. I urged Louis to be the author of this book, and I acceded to his plan to visit with me for the month of November 2010 for daily consultations in drafting his book. In this way, we sought to blend our experience with what was wrong with economics, the current dysfunctional, social structures and beliefs based on these false theories; to elucidate the overlooked "Love Economies" existing unnoticed by economic statistics; and lay out the rich menu of deeper, more cohesive ways of being and behavior within our human behavioral repertoire. I have always known that each human being is a wondrous package of potential, shaped by evolution, nature and nurture – for good: the glass being at least half full. As Louis and I sat in my living room each day, we explored the many social forces influencing human behavior. I had also agreed to write this Foreword, and I enjoyed introducing Louis to my own research and to key books in my 5,000 volume library at Ethical Markets Media. This typical global internet company, ranked a 6 on Google with over 30,000 links, is based in the garage of the 100 year old house I share with my spouse of 20 years, computer pioneer Alan F. Kay.

One of my dearest friends and mentors, E. F. Schumacher, author of Small is Beautiful, who wrote the foreword to my first book, Creating Alternative Futures, subtitled "The End of Economics," always told me that being a successful change agent meant choosing not to take credit or fame but to "fly under the radar." I followed his advice and realized that to challenge the vanities, absurdities and power of the economics profession I would not need to grow an organization but instead become a strand of cultural DNA, a living, stable molecule of information that does not grow – but replicates itself. For years, my personal business card read "intellectual boutique for re-designing cultural DNA." I saw economics as a piece of malfunctioning source code, deep in the hard drives of our institutions and colonizing the minds of people – truly a dysfunctional strand of cultural DNA, replicating misinformation in our body politic that needed teasing out and correcting. This effort brought me a sustainable income and livelihood over the past 40 years, writing and thinking, and as a lecturer for many organizations who heard my high-fidelity birdcall.

Since I published my first of several articles in the Harvard Business Review in 1968, I have circled our beautiful planet speaking to groups in over 50 countries. All wanted to know what was wrong with economics and how I had moved toward systems thinking and multi-disciplinary analyses of our dysfunctional, conflict-ridden societies at war with nature. I joined with groups of renegade scientists and futurists and served as a science policy wonk on advisory councils at the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment, the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Engineering, as well as with the Calvert group of socially responsible mutual funds in Washington, DC. All these various organizations were trying to see beyond conventional economics, long before its disastrous effects on all our lives in the financial meltdowns in Latin America and Asia. The Wall Street collapse of 2007-2008 is still causing pain, hunger and misery to millions of innocent victims around the world. Without deep reforms, we all are risking another collapse.

Louis and I talked continuously about all these issues of confusing money with real wealth (healthy, knowledgeable humans and the vast ecological assets of Nature) and how this had led to error-prone money-creation, the politics of economics and credit-allocation and their ultimate source in human ego-drives for power and control. For many years, I had discussed these same issues in patriarchal societies with my long-time friends Riane Eisler and her spouse David Loye. David's many books influenced me as a futurist and his later partnership with Riane has led to their collective and individual work through their Center for Partnership Studies. Louis and Sandra had also observed corrosive effects of patriarchal structures within the family, evident in their workshops.

Thus, I have special joy in writing this Foreword, since it brings together so many strands in my life, as well as those of Louis and Sandra and those they touch. I am particularly thrilled that my Love Economy work can reach further, as well as the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators. We no longer need economists or any single discipline to measure national progress. We can use the multi-disciplinary systems "dashboard" approach Calvert and I pioneered, allowing a single website to display 12 indicators tracking national trends, including those not properly captured by GDP and money measures: health, education, environment, human rights, energy efficiency, re-creation and even infrastructure, which is also ignored in GDP.

That is why Ethical Markets Media has funded surveys on Beyond GDP with global polling firm, Globescan, which confirm since the 2007 conference I co-organized in the European Parliament ( that ordinary people in 12 countries widely understand the need for including all these indicators of quality of life in GDP. Correcting GDP by including all the forms of wealth beyond money: well-educated populations, efficient infrastructure and productive environments could show that so-called "insolvent" countries in the euro-zone are actually more prosperous and healthier than the financial markets and their bond vigilantes understand from their focus on GDP, as I wrote in "GDP: Grossly Distorted Picture" (CSRWire January 23, 2011).

These and other sins of omission and faulty theories instead lead market players to buy credit default swaps, betting that these European countries will default – hoping for a killing. Similar economic models caused the financial collapse and now fuel current speculation in oil, food and other commodities, causing hunger, hardship and political uprisings. The "austerity" and budget cuts in many countries, including the USA, are part of the latest form of class warfare between Wall Street and Main Street. Main Street is losing as economic fundamentalists force cuts on teachers, fire-fighters and police; strip their rights to union collective bargaining and jeopardize their pensions. I deeply hope Dare to Care becomes a huge best-seller and can help to finally end the ideologies of economics and even its reformist hybrids: ecological economics, social economics, behavioral economics (all stolen from other disciplines and more scientific research) as I described in The Politics of the Solar Age in 1981. Economics has colonized public and private decision-making for too long, as conferees agreed in the 2004 "What Next in Economics" I co-sponsored here at Ethical Markets with Sweden's Dag Hammarskjold Foundation. I agree with Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan (not the movie!), that economics is actually useless for decisions in our modern world and that business school curricula should be reformed or they should be shut down. While those statements may sound extreme, I believe they are part of a necessary challenge if we want to lead our lives based on what’s for the benefit of all of humanity (what Dare to Care is fundamentally about). I urge all readers to also read our 2010 statement on Transforming Finance, recognizing finance as a part of the global commons and to join the over 80 world experts in signing it at

Lastly, I salute my fellow researchers of the Darwin Project ( led by David Loye's books, Darwin's Lost Theory of Love and others by him and Riane Eisler, which show how Charles Darwin's work was hijacked by Victorian elites in Britain to justify their social privilege as "the survival of the fittest." This poisoned phrase, as admitted by The Economist in 2005, was coined not by Charles Darwin but by Herbert Spencer, its editor, and had led to the narrow focus of the economics profession on competition, as I recounted in my Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy (2007). The Economist went on to admit that economics has ignored the other half of human behavior and societies: cooperation.

This is what my work, including my Love Economy research and Louis' Dare to Care seek to bring to the light of day."


Dear Reader, I wish to share with you some of the wisdom and insight I have learned in the process of writing this book. Throughout this book, I will share some of that collective wisdom which has been shared with me and which has inspired me. The first is from John Steiner (networker, social activist, consultant, philanthropist, and a resident of Boulder, Colorado, USA), who previewed the book: “This is a remarkable book that, perhaps uniquely, brings together a range of information, vision, experience, possibilities, love, and caring about the kind of financial world a majority of earth’s citizens would clearly want if they knew it was an option. It also courageously chronicles the experience, vision, and actualization of its author. It is a treasure trove. One suggestion to the reader: As we each have our own particular religious, spiritual, psychological, humanistic, personal approach to life and to the world, so does the author. Therefore, as you’re reading through his experienced and heartfelt approach to demystifying money and draining the fear so many of us have around money, (mostly about not having enough), while offering a plausible and historically relevant alternative, do provide yourself whatever metaphors and framework work for you. In other words, feel free to translate Louis’ approach into your own. In fact, as you’ll see, he is inviting such participation to reach ever larger audiences and actively engage you. With deepest respect and appreciation to Louis.”

Another previewer, Ruth Turner of Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, described the Book as:

“An excellent, eye opening and inspiring resource for healing (transforming) self and society.” We’ve had a number of people reviewing the book and it is clear that many experience the book in the way Ruth describes it. We need a deeply personal transformation in relation to transforming our financial and economic lives in the direction we want to go. We also need to co-operate with each other at a local, national, and international level and transform our financial and economics systems and how they are being regulated, where needed. In order for us to be able to make the changes proposed in this book, it is very important to understand that the inner and outer worlds are constantly interactive and that we need to be aware of both. Without making the inner shift from fear to love, without working on ourselves, we can never come to the creation of a better world. At the same time, when we do not deal with the form of our outer world, the way we all live together and have organized ourselves and do not apply our inner changes to this, we will not make the progress we need. Peter Blom of Triodos Bank says: “Positive solutions also require authenticity – not in a vague introspective way, but in a meaningful sense that is linked to our actions. True innovation that makes a lasting sustainable difference will come from people who combine an inward and outward focus.”

I quote my dear friend and colleague Jon Freeman from his latest book Future Money – a Manifesto for Surviving Global Bankruptcy3: “Throughout, it has been stressed many times that the shift comes from within. The actions that Louis lists (see the Four Actions, Chapter 2) are foundational aspects of that internal impulse. Out of that impulse we can individually and collectively take the steps which will deliver a sustainable form of economic life and a healthy version of money.”

Moving from Fear to Love. Fear and love are two fundamental experiences in all human beings. From the force of fear come the emotions of greed, desire for power, possessiveness, and selfishness. From the force of love come the emotions of sharing, caring, loving, giving and receiving. Love empowers us; fear disempowers us. Love gives us a sense of expansion; fear creates a sense of limitation. Love moves us forward; fear holds us back. Love creates a sense of abundance; fear a sense of scarcity. Fear thinks we can’t change; love knows we can. I acknowledge that both are serving us; that both play their rightful part and that by moving through the experiences of fear and love, we learn our lessons and mature into seeing what a new and sustainable approach to finance and economics can look like. Through the balance of light and dark we find the door. What goes on in our money system is symptomatic of that which plays itself out internally, deep inside of us all.

This book is about wanting to create a platform to see how we can find clarity about maneuvering ourselves through the huge and profound economic and financial crisis we are in; to see how to rebuild the monetary system, where needed, and give our economies a truly sustainable foundation for generations to come. It is a platform for us all, whether we build the roads or clean the streets, take care of children at home or do volunteer work; whether we are artists, crafts people, work in government, at university or in business; whether we play in the movies, or are kings or queens. We’re creating a platform for all of us to work together. We are in a situation where whole economies and countries can fall. What do we need to do to create true stability, freedom, equality, and fairness? In this book I will share a range of possibilities and inspirations received by me and others and many practical examples of their application to help us think and feel together. Profound change starts with the premise that the answers we look for lie in our midst and that we need each other and our communication, so that we can become clear about our direction. As individuals, we only know so much, but when we combine our efforts, we can come to the clarity we need. I can’t stress strongly enough the importance of understanding the need to work together to find the answers! It is through the magic of all of us coming together that we can make things work. We can create a powerful tapestry containing all the different colors held by us as global citizens, communities, and countries. Each individual, each group, each country is so unique. I met a new friend from China, telling m that in China everything is based on relationships. He said: “Although we are not religious, we are very spiritual and think about the meaning of life.” I met some people from Iran a few days later and they shared some fascinating aspects of their country. There is so much we can learn from each other. When we all work together, and really listen and respect each other, we can come such a long way. I want to create a space for all our unheard voices. We each have our perceptions, visions and ideas of what we want our world to look like. Unfortunately, most of us feel helpless in relation to what the governments decide or what big corporations do and thus we become unclear about how we can help to create our world. We want to create a shared space where we can all speak and be heard; for us to see where we can take all that we are feeling and seeing and understand how to channel this into manifesting the world we want.

We invite all who are reading this book to share ideas, inspirations and initiatives in relation to how you visualize the changes we need to make. We would love to hear about your situation, your community, your country. We want to hear what you think, see, and feel about the issues we raise in this Book. Feel free to make proposals about how we can work together more. Let your voice be heard! We will create an online platform for this purpose into which we also will involve the experts. To help us all move forward together in making the shift towards an economy and financial world we really would like to see, we have opened up the space to work together with seven levels of transformation. We begin by working on ourselves and assisting each other with deep transformation. Then we move to working in teams, then connecting and bringing the teams together and then to turning that work into political action. We must promote necessary changes in legislation and regulations and then we can start any needed new projects and initiatives. It is only in this way that can we all move towards building a new Earth. You can read more about this in our closing chapter “Conclusion.”


A few years ago, I felt that we needed to start to work on a much larger scale. I wanted to write a book and this is where our adventure begins. In March 2010, I met my friend and colleague Jon Freeman, an author, consultant in organisational development and Director of the UK Centre for Human Emergence. Jon attended our workshop “Meeting the Mystery of Money” and felt our Vision needed to be shared worldwide. He says in the acknowledgments of his new Book, Future Money: "It is Louis Böhtlingk who triggered this book, which was not part of my plans. Although I had been developing a close interest in economics from the time of the credit crunch onward, it was Louis’ vision of a “Care First” world, and his beautiful, elegant articulation of the transition that we are making, which pushed my button. He has the mythos of the change, to which this book supplies something of the logos and the content began to formulate itself during conversations with him. His vision is very much “an idea whose time has come” and the first impulse behind this book was to support him. He and his partner Sandra are above all people who practice what they preach."6 I want to share with you some more quotes from his book:

“The historical picture is one in which we have allowed money to become master. We have made it into a god, and developed belief systems in which we put the money first.7 The money-first world is coming to an end because it has neither made us happy, nor established a means by which billions of humans can live sustainably.”

“Cultures which have remained closer to the natural world continue to recognise themselves as caretakers of the garden. It would seem that when we gave our power to the God of Money, we left the garden. It is time for us to go back. Our way back is by replacing a money-first world with a care-first world. All the items on our list of requirements for future money will be fulfilled when both our thinking and our systems embody that care, when we apply the principle of stewardship to balance the needs of all life. Those requirements arise out of a choice to care for each other, for ourselves, for the planet’s other life-forms, for its resources, for its climate and its oceans.9 And we will need money. We will need a fair, flexible and responsive system with which to express our real Values and support our sharing of the Earth’s Gifts.”

“The conscious choice is our first step, our deliberate decision to put the money-first world behind us. What follows has to be a re-engagement with the feminine, the heart-centred knowing that engages our deep humanity. That instinctive response is also the one which feeds the human spirit reawakens our love for ourselves, for each other and for the Earth.”

I believe that many subjects in Dare to Care can be categorized as “soft”. The business and financial world is often described as “hard”. I only look at what works and what doesn’t work. It is my experience that these soft heart based concepts are very powerful and uplifting and can help to shape a new foundation. In the field of economics and finance we need warmth, common sense and, foremost, care. I say Dare to Care, because care is quite a step to take in the world of money. It takes courage, because it is connected to overcoming our fears and conditionings. I invite you, as a reader, to travel with me on a journey through the land of money and see whether we can come to a place where we feel empowered and relieved in the notion that “Yes, we can resolve this situation together”. It is possible when we dare to care, dare to share, dare to love, dare to give and dare to receive."

More Information

  • "We have created a point a contact by E-mail ([email protected]), which can be used to connect with us and respond to any of the above invitations."


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