Citizen Action Monitor

Tim Jackson calls for a systematic re-construction of economics capable of delivering a lasting prosperity

Ironically, rampant consumerism provides an opportunity to recalibrate our capitalist economic system.

No 2092 Posted by fw, November 07, 2017

To access all other synopses from Prosperity without Growth, click on the Tab titled “Prosperity without Growth” — Links to All Posts in the top left margin of the Home page.

In this synopsis of Section 1, a very short Introduction to Chapter 8, “Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow”, Tim Jackson asserts that, harmful as it may be, rampant consumerism also presents us with an opportunity to recalibrate our capitalist economic system, transforming it into “an economy capable of delivering a lasting prosperity.

He concedes the challenge is formidable, but believes it is doable. The aim of Chapter 8 is to frame the process that will lead to “a systematic re-construction of economics that offers both meaning and hope to the idea of social progress.

(For my own purposes, I label this synopsis Section 1, and title it “Introduction”, neither of which is used by the author).

Tim Jackson is a British ecological economist and professor of sustainable development at the University of Surrey.

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Introduction, a synopsis, from Chapter 8, “Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow” of Tim Jackson’s book, Prosperity without Growth, Routledge, 2nd edition, 2016-17

A primary purpose of an economy is to provide for society’s essential material needs.

Equally important are our social activities that give our lives meaning, a sense of identity, enable us to experience the joy of friendship and love, the emotional immaterial qualities of what it means to be human.

Although immaterial, social activities do have an associated material cost. The language of goods communicates who we are: love and affection are expressed with gifts; possessions reflect social status; and shopping satisfies our insatiable appetite for novelty.

In and of itself, materialism is neither a human frailty, nor an expression of human greed. However, as Tim Jackson observes, ‘hyper-materialization’ has infiltrated our culture and social lives to such an extent that “there are pathologies in consumer society” —

Consumerism entails handing over vast swathes of social life to material expression: a process driven, as we’ve seen, as much by the structural needs of the economy as it is by our own desires and needs, accelerated massively by advertising, marketing and the demand for economic expansion. … The tragedy of consumerism is not just that it is damaging the planet. But that it is doing so in pursuit of false gods and elusive dreams.”

Harmful as it may be, rampant consumerism also presents us with an opportunity to recalibrate our capitalist economic system, transforming it into “an economy capable of delivering a lasting prosperity.

The challenge is formidable. But as Jackson sees it, it is doable. The aim of this chapter, he declares, is to delineate the framework of a process leading to “a systematic re-construction of economics that offers both meaning and hope to the idea of social progress.

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