Friday, October 01, 2010

Growth and justice

"Economic growth is the magic formula which allows our conflicts to remain unresolved. While economies grow, social justice is unnecessary, as lives can be improved without redistribution. While economies grow, people need not confront their elites. While economies grow, we can keep buying our way out of trouble. But, like the bankers, we stave off trouble today only by multiplying it tomorrow. Through economic growth we are borrowing time at punitive rates of interest. It ensures that any cuts agreed at Copenhagen will eventually be outstripped. Even if we manage to prevent climate breakdown, growth means that it’s only a matter of time before we hit a new constraint, which demands a new global response: oil, water, phosphate, soil. We will lurch from crisis to existential crisis unless we address the underlying cause: perpetual growth cannot be accomodated on a finite planet."

- George Monbiot, "This is about us".

This piece, worth reading in full, was written during the height of the Copenhagen conference last December. Yet it has not been rendered irrelevant by the (unsurprising) failures there. This is another way of saying that ecological responsibility cannot be divorced from justice. Though Monbiot doesn't see it, I believe that justice can only be sustainably pursued by love.


byron smith said...

Perhaps those who think economic growth is the be all and end all should be called economentalists.