Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Humane economics: prosperity vs growth

"It's a story about us, people, being persuaded to spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about." Back here, I mentioned Tim Jackson and his idea of "prosperity without growth". He speaks more sense here, linking economics, ecology and human flourishing in ways that go beyond the many faults of our current GDP obsession.


Matheson said...

Is it surprising that mainstream economists (like Jackson) are now saying more or less the same thing as Marxist economists?

(I recommend the shorter 'animate' video, because it's more fun!)

byron smith said...

Yes, I'd seen that short RSA video and had been going to post it (indeed, in my memory, I had, but I was getting confused with this RSA video). Thanks for the links to the full lecture and Q&A, which was very interesting. As a geographer, I was intrigued by the relative lack of ecological focus. It was there, but only in the background, yet it is the force (or reality) behind the increasing instability of capitalism in his analysis. He points out that during previous crises capitalists have reached for natural "limits to growth" explanations in order to shift the blame away from capitalism, yet (at that stage) in his discussion he left open the question of whether there are ecological and resource limits to growth. Nevertheless, it was one of the underlying assumptions of his whole presentation that it is physically impossible to sustain 3% growth indefinitely and that the increasing ingenuity (or rather, sophistry) required to maintain such a fiction is the symptom of a system that is increasingly unstable. Perhaps his reticence was really just about peak oil as a get out of gaol free card for capitalism. On that, he may have a point, especially given the increasingly clear (right wing) political pattern I'm noting amongst those who seem most concerned about peak oil.

Yet it is analyses that pay attention to the overlapping and intersecting crises of capital, resources and ecology that really interest me. Of course, I think there is a fourth, spiritual and ethical, crisis also linked to these three.