Citizen Action Monitor

Tim Jackson is blunt. Our situation is dire: “Society is faced with a profound dilemma.”

In his final chapter, he recaps key arguments and explains the critical importance of achieving prosperity without growth.

No 2147 Posted by fw, January 18, 2018

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 short Introduction to Chapter 11, titled “A Lasting Prosperity”,  Tim Jackson paints a bleak outlook for planet Earth if we don’t dig ourselves out of the hole we find ourselves in. Our best hope, perhaps our only hope, is to “conceive a renewed vision of the role of the state.”

As he does with all his chapters, Jackson begins this one with a contextually appropriate quote:

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. Steve Jobs, 1998

(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.


Introduction, a synopsis, from Chapter 11, “A Lasting Prosperity” of Tim Jackson’s book, Prosperity without Growth, Routledge, 2nd edition, 2016-17

Tim Jackson is blunt. Our situation is dire:

“Society is faced with a profound dilemma. To reject growth is to risk economic and social collapse. To pursue it relentlessly is to endanger the ecosystems on which we depend for long-term survival.”

It’s the capitalist profit motive that drives our perpetual search for newer, better, cheaper, or status-elevating products and services, effectively locking us into an “iron cage of consumerism.” “Affluence itself has betrayed us,” deplores Jackson.

Worse still, the gravity of this dilemma is largely ignored by the media, the public, and policymakers. And even when it pops into the collective consciousness, the best we can come up with are “delusional strategies”:

That we can decouple (disconnect) exponentially expanding economic activity from carbon emissions that continue rising and show no sign of falling any time soon;

That carbon-sucking geo-engineering technologies will miraculously save us by removing emissions from the atmosphere;

That “capitalism’s propensity for efficiency will stabilize the climate and solve the problem of resource scarcity.”

There is a way out of this existential dilemma: Jackson puts it this way —

“None of this is inevitable. We can’t change ecological limits. We can’t alter human nature. But we can and do create and recreate the social world. Its norms are our norms. Its visions are our visions. Its structures and institutions shape and are shaped by our norms and visions. This is where transformation is needed.”

Jackson directs our attention to Chapters 7 (Flourishing — Within Limits), 8 (Foundations For The Economy Of Tomorrow), 9 (Towards A Post-Growth Macroeconomics) through 10 (The Progressive State) for practical proposals that could propel us towards prosperity without growth.

In this final chapter, Chapter 11, he summarizes the key arguments presented in his book and explores their wider implications in terms of why we must strive to deliver prosperity without growth.

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