The term economy originally comes from the ancient greek word “oikos” which means household and “nomos” which in greek philosophy meant something like the agreed conventions, norms or ways in which society is organised and chooses its laws by way of reasoning and consensus. Economy or Oikonomia thus meant the way in which the household is organised - or “the order of the household”. Actual households in ancient Greece likely fell short of the democratic ideal that Circles strives for, specifically regarding how slaves and women were treated. Bearing that difference in mind, let’s envision a household that we would want to live in. In this section we’ll explore how Circles can make our economies more like that one.
In order to organise Circles, we would like to pose a different understanding of household as one which does not divide between what is known today as the private and the public spheres of life, towards a more communal understanding of household, a planetary household which we all inhabit and are part of in all of our local and situated experiences and territories. In this sense, to create a self-sustainable household, we must first start locally, observing and interacting with our environment. Understanding our context is part organising sustainable households. Just as we never enter the same river twice, every social ecological region of the world is distinct from others, with their own histories and practices.
The Circles system is designed with the idea of differentiation and interdependence. No person is an island. While local democratic autonomy is important, it can only be strengthened and expanded through its interdependence with other regions. The current globalised Household works in a deterritorialized way, whereby flour is grown in Canada, shipped to China to mass produce bread loafs and transported to Germany for the final baking process, marketed as “freshly baked bread”. This is a very wasteful household. Circles can be used as a tool for local communities to empower each other economically. By spending it on the things that are made and maintained in their regions, people can take an active and democratic role in organizing the systems that they rely on. Particularly, communities can use Circles to realign the flow of goods so that it matches their currents of trust. This means relying less on a global hodgepodge of uncaring corporations, and more on an awareness of who we trust (and who trusts us) to ensure that necessary goods make it through to our household.