SOURCE: Riane Eisler

May 21, 2007 09:15 ET

Politics Through a New Lens

LOS ANGELES, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 21, 2007 -- "To solve environmental and economic problems and move to a more peaceful world, we have to leave behind old categories such as capitalism versus socialism, religious versus secular, or East versus West," says Dr. Riane Eisler, author of "The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics," which was released this spring.

Best known for her earlier bestseller "The Chalice and The Blade" (now in 23 languages), Eisler notes that "The real culture wars are not between any of these but between those who believe dominating or being dominated are the only alternatives, and those trying to move to a less painful, more humane and sustainable system."

Applying this new lens to politics, Eisler recommends we start by asking candidates how they plan to allocate funds as this reveals their core beliefs and agendas. Citing a 2006 CIA report showing that, despite our wealth, the US ranked 42nd in child mortality, Eisler points out that "our tax dollars are allocated largely to prisons, weapons, and wars -- but instead of peace and less crime, all we get are more prisons, weapons, and wars."

Eisler's work shows that behind this inefficiency lies an unconscious economic double standard that gives less value to 'soft' or stereotypically 'feminine' activities like caring and caregiving -- the activities that studies show actually reduce crime and promote peaceful solutions to problems. Eisler emphasizes that we need armies and police, but that successful domestic and foreign policies must build foundations for a different way of living and making a living than the one that's led to our current global crises. While changes must be global, because the U.S. is so powerful we must take the lead.

Politician's votes are often emotionally determined, and the studies by Eisler and others show that men who come from harsh, punitive family backgrounds tend to vote for punitive rather than caring policies unless they change the beliefs with which they were raised.

A good litmus test is a candidate's stance on the status of women, according to Eisler. Her studies show that raising women's position is central to the kinds of policies and society we have. She points to nations like Sweden, Norway, and Finland, which have the world's longest life spans, low crime rates, and successful economic systems. These are nations where the status of women is much higher than elsewhere and women comprise 40 percent of national legislatures -- and because women and the "feminine" are not so devalued, many men also support more caring policies."

"Cultures where the status of women is low have more violence," says Eisler. "Viewing housework and caregiving as less important 'woman's work' often also correlates with being more careless about caring for the environment."

To improve the poor state of our country in relation to other developed nations, requires looking at factors not considered in conventional political and economic analyses, Eisler says. We must move toward long-range policies that build foundations for peace and environmental sustainability. Two key areas are:

--  Families. "The most important moral issue about families is not their
    form," Eisler argues, "but what happens inside them. The old discredited
    argument against human rights standards was that no one from outside should
    interfere with what happens inside a country. But people still argue that
    there should be no interference with what happens inside a family," Eisler
    observes. "This maintains traditions of violence and domination, because
    often children who experience or observe violence in homes come to believe
    that it's normal, even moral, to use violence to impose one's will on
    others, in both intimate and international relations." Regarding the hot
    topic of abortion, Eisler states that if people who oppose abortion really
    care about family welfare and protecting children, they should be handing
    out condoms, fighting for parenting education, higher-quality childhood
    education, better healthcare, and stand up to stop all violence against
    children.
--  The Economy. "In addition to changing globalization rules to protect
    workers, small businesses, and the environment, we must go deeper and
    change how we measure the economic health of nations. New measures must
    include work outside the market: the caregiving work in households and the
    life-sustaining activities of nature because these are basic to economic,
    social, and personal health." Eisler also points out that "if we're serious
    about eliminating poverty, policies have to take into account that women
    are the mass of the poor and the poorest of the poor worldwide -- and that
    this is because 'caring work' is not economically valued."
    
Eisler offers fresh solutions to urgent problems like environmental destruction and the growing gap between haves and have-nots in "The Real Wealth of Nations": new perspectives that make it possible to change our behaviors and policies so we truly support peace and democracy at home and worldwide.

"The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics" is available at major booksellers everywhere or online at www.realwealth.net.

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