Neotraditional Economics

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Here we investigate the possible congruence between pre-material and 'post'-material economics, i.e. peer to peer influenced economics.

For an introduction to Michel Bauwens' motivation, see his mini-essay: Importance of Neotraditional Approaches in the Reconstructive Transmodern Era.

For another view, see Charles Eistenstein's 2011 book on Sacred Economics.


Spiritual Economics

Unlike modern economics, traditional, religiously-inspired economic doctrines were not based on the accumulation of material assets, but on immaterial 'spiritual' assets. This may make these premodern traditions particularly relevant for our age.

Comments by Michel Bauwens: "Granted that we can learn from tribal gift economies that were based on reciprocity. But can we also learn from feudal economics? My perspective on this changed through a talk with Apichai Puntasen, a Thai social reformer and scholar who lectures about `Buddhist Economics'. Traditional religiously inspired economics, and I believe this would apply not only to Buddhist, but also to Islamic and why not Christian-inspired approaches, are in fact centered around the immaterial `spiritual' growth of the person, outlawing interest-based approaches based on greed. In any case, the above link is an essay showing that such tradition-inspired economics are far from dead, in fact, they are growing and forming a `new traditional economy'."

To read:

"This paper argues that a new economic system is emerging in the world economy, that of the new traditional economy. Such an economic system simultaneously seeks to have economic decision making embedded within a traditional socio-cultural framework, most frequently one associated with a traditional religion, while at the same time seeking to use modern technology and to be integrated into the modern world economy to some degree. The efforts to achieve such a system are reviewed in various parts of the world, with greater analysis of the Islamic and neo-Confucian economic systems.

Although the new traditional economy may not exist as a fully developed system in the full Polanyian sense, it exists as a perspective in the form of an ideal model which has become an ideological movement of significance around the world in many societies. Where it has come the closest to actually existing has been in societies where its adoption has been carried out gradually and only partly consciously, with the resulting synthesis thus most fully respecting and reflecting the genuine traditions of the society in question. It is this successful synthesis of the modern and the traditional which lies at the heart of the new traditional economy perspective and its appeal for many economies seeking a path in a transforming world economy."

Andrew Paterson on the tradition of rural cooperation

Andrew Paterson:

"It is very clear to me that there is much scope to explore cooperative movement and 'talkoot' traditions (both rural and urban) in Finland, in relation to recent contemporary collaborative cultural, activist, online (swarm) practices. I think it is important to connect the rural and older generations in Finland with the organisational strategies of the young-er/-est generation.

Speaking on the regional, international level: In Latvian, Lithuanian, Swedish language, there is the word 'talka', (in Estonian, 'talgud', in Russian, 'subbotnik') which as you can guess means the same as 'talkoot'..

My Latvian friend Signe Pucena -- who as a cultural producer, researches cultural heritage traditions, as well as being part of the new media scene of Riga in the past -- were talking about this recently when she came to visit for Pixelache... We believe that returning to this rural discourse will be important.. As there is a need to resurrect the cooperative movement to collectively cope with the current financial and infrastructural crisis.. The post-communist period of the last 20yrs has not only discredited any socialist discourse, it has also encouraged self-enhancing development and individualism... She predicts that in Latvia, they will have to learn again to work together, rather than alone, and use a non-stigmatised vocabulary for it, which doesnt refer to Socialism or Communism.. ('talka' is not as commonally used a word as it is in Finland).. As you know the rural traditions of this part of the world still hold strong association and value.." (email april 2009)


"the civilizational religious cores remain cultural sources of differing programs of modernity and as such have a continual impact on the socio-economic, political-institutional, and technical-scientific dimensions of modern societies."

- Shmuel N. Eisenstadt (paraphrased) [1]

  1. Bioculture: the South-African report, Imagining a Traditional Knowledge Commons introduces a new approach to licensing traditional knowledge
  2. Clean Slate Edicts
  3. Debt Forgiveness
  4. Jubilee Shares
  5. Spiritual Environmentalism
  6. Religious Interdictions of Usury and Interest
  7. Hungarian Prof. Janos Mate: Economies of Value Orders

More Information

  1. Tag with some material on the topic:
  2. New Traditional Economy

Documentation by Spiritual Tradition



  1. The Earth’s Blanket — Traditional Teachings for Sustainable Living, by Nancy J. Turner, University of Washington Press, 2005: “explores the wealth of ecological knowledge and spiritual connection to the natural world that is fundamental to indigenous cultures and lifeways.”.
  2. Beyond Western Economics REMEMBERING OTHER ECONOMIC CULTURES. By Trent Schroyer [2]

Other material:

  1. The Greening of Religion through Sacred Earth Theory, a short history
  2. Economies of Value Orders. Dr. Janos Mate.


  1. Abdul-Baha: Bahai Economic Principles



In French:


  • Alanna Hartzok: Earth Rights Democracy: Public Finance based on Early Christian Teachings: This paper makes a case for a new form of democracy based on human rights to the earth as a birthright, linking this to the Judeo-Christian Jubilee Justice tradition and Old and New Testament teachings. It presents a tax fairness practical policy approach based on the ethical stance of these teachings.

Catholic tradition

  • Caritas in Veritate: re-iteration of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, focused on economic issues, by Pope Benedict (2009)
  • Books by Julian Fox.
  1. Digital Virtues
  2. Hacking the Way to Heaven
  1. Wikipedia intro
  2. Stefano Zamagni on new directions for thinking about a civil economy
  3. Luigino Bruno on the Economy of Communion and Charism
  4. Pierpaolo Donati’s relational vision of the common good

Orthodox tradition

  1. Radical Orthodoxy
  2. What's so radical about it?: details its focus on participation

Protestant Tradition

Mormon Tradition


  1. The Indian Tradition of Knowledge Sharing]
  2. Vandana Shiva has argued for the wisdom of many traditional practices, as is evident from her interview in the book Vedic Ecology (by Ranchor Prime) that draws upon India's Vedic heritage.


See also:



  • The Jewish tradition of debt cancellation or Debt Forgiveness
  • "Making Another World Possible: The Torah, Louis Kelso, and the Problem of Poverty"


"Why is it that after centuries of concerted efforts to eliminate it, and decades of unprecedented economic growth that should have accomplished it, poverty not only is still with us but actually is increasing? Starting with a passage in the Old Testament, the source of moral behavior for believers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, this author argues that the postulation of the labor theory of value and scarcity by Adam Smith, and accepted as part of the basic framework of the discipline of economics, has prevented us from formulating public policies that would enable us to implement the way the God of the Abrahamic faiths intended the poor to be cared for. Substituting modifications in economic theory proposed originally by Louis Kelso, a model acknowledging the independent contribution of capital in the productive process is proposed that would enable us to formulate policies for the production and distribution of wealth and that would make the scourge of human poverty a bad dream of the past."


  1. Sabbath Economics Collaborative: network that encourages cooperation and communication among theologians, economists and activists who are working with contemporary issues of faith and economic justice.
  2. Video series: From Mammon to Manna: Sabbath Economics and Community Investing. A DVD presentation featuring theologian Ched Myers and financial advisor Andy Loving [4]


  1. Jubilee Economics (based on Jewish-Christian traditions)

Native Religions


  1. Sacred Farming

Native Americans of North America

  1. Field of Plenty

Latin America

  1. Walter Mignolo's work on Communal Systems in Central and South America
  2. The Ayllu and Marka System‎
  3. Pochamama: mother earth related deity of the Yasuni of Ecuador and how it relates to the Commons and Peer Property


  1. Maori Business Philosophy

Documentation by Country or Region


  • Kemitism, African-inspired need-based, commons economics


Sri Lanka

  1. Seettu: Sri Lankan traditional community financing [5]