I came across this excellent book recently, and whilst it was published first in 1993, it seemed to me whilst reading it that ‘The R Factor‘ remains a helpful and provocative bunch of ideas.
The origins of this book can be identified in the authors dissatisfaction with political discourse, and the various political and economic models that distribute wealth and power in the world. Schluter and Lee identify the lacking element in many systems, namely that of relationships. Where a lack of relationship is the case, other problems arise. A system that does not contain an inbuilt understanding of the importance of relationship will never be a truly good system, the authors propose.
The opening observations centre in the idea of a ‘mega-community’, what present-day readers might identify as the ‘global village’. From this – and the idea is even more important in this digital age – the authors identify the importance of relationships at every level of government and business, in such a way that (at least for me!) the reader is brought to agree with them that a solution, an alternative, must be found. This focus on a ‘mega-community’, as well as observations about large companies/organisations, gives this book an almost prophetic edge, with some rather amusing references to fax machines detracting minimally from the important observations that Schluter and Lee make.
With the lay of the land described, the problems identified, and fairly firm hints of a response in place, Schluter and Lee begin to sketch their idea of what ‘Relational Market Economy’ and ‘Relational Democracy’ might look like. This is perhaps the most interesting part of the book, a positive and constructive section, presenting an intriguingly simple and genuinely attractive alternative to the way our world often works.
It is worth noting as this review comes to a close that this is a Christian book. But the convictions of the authors do not intrude on the reader, as the faith is only explicit towards the end. Schluter and Lee helpfully ground their political ideas in the basics of Christian Doctrine, primarily the Doctrine of the Trinity. This book is a helpful example of a Christian engagement with politics/organisation/economics, that is both a helpful contribution and non-Dogmatic, whilst being distinctively Christian. The authors aid the simpler-minded among us (like this blogger!) by providing a helpful glossary of key terms and ideas at the end of the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was provocative and interesting, entertaining in its ’90’s-ness’, yet also very relevant, as it touches on the underlying themes of our culture and global culture. I would recommend this book to those fed up with current power structures, to those interested in how a relationship-based economic/democratic model could work, and wanting to see how good ideas don’t age! It is well written, entertaining, and worth engaging with.