Sunday, August 19, 2012

Growth Fetish by Clive Hamilton


  • Growth Fetishism
    • The Growth Fetish - Ch. 1
      • "In the thrall of the growth fetish, all the major political parties in the West have made themselves captives of the national accounts." - 2
      • "Cargo cults and the growth fetish both invest magical powers in the properties of material goods, possession of which is believed to provide for a paradise on earth....each has prophets whose role is to persuade ordinary people to keep the faith, to believe that more cargo or more money will arrive and will take believers to a plane of ecstasy." - 4
    • Economists on Wellbeing - Ch. 2
      • John Stuart Mill, "the best state for human nature is that in which, while no one is poor, no one desires to be richer, nor has any reason to fear being thrust back by the efforts of others to push themselves forward." - 9
      • fore neoliberal economists, "wellbeing is produced by pouring goods and services into a receptacle marked 'human being' -- as if people were production processes that convert commodities into happiness." - 12-13
    • The Great Contradiction - Ch. 3
      • "Americans believe that the value system that dominates their society is wrong" - 14
      • "Americans believe that materialism has overtaken society, with dire consequences" - 14
      • "Americans are ambivalent about the contradiction they face. They can see that materialism is corroding the society and themselves, but they are too fearful to change their behaviour in any significant way." - 14
      • "Americans understand, albeit somewhat vaguely, that rampant consumerism is destroying the natural environment." - 15
    • Political Implications - Ch. 4
      • "The individual is not the citizen but the consumer, and for the consumer to be powerful everything must be brought into the realm of the market." - 17
      • "Social democracy is being superseded by a sort of market totalitarianism." - 21
  • Growth and Wellbeing
    • Income - Ch. 5
      • "with respect to income, people judge their wellbeing not by the absolute amount of their income but by its relative level." - 27-28
      • "more income does make a difference to people who are very poor and lack the basics of food, shelter and health care. But this does not change the fundamental observation that in rich countries increasing income through more economic growth does not improve levels of national wellbeing." - 33
    • Personal Happiness - Ch. 6
      • "the more our media, advertisers and opinion makers emphasise financial success as the chief means to happiness the more they promote social pathologies." - 40
      • "psychiatric disorders are frequently misdiagnosed and improperly treated as physical disorders because of the general social fixation on correcting deviations from a happy ideal rather than acknowledging widespread social distress." - 41
    • Values and Meaning - Ch. 7
      • "The purpose of life is not to be happy; it is to understand ourselves so that we can achieve personal integration or reconciliation with our selves. It is a process rather than a final state." - 48
      • Karl Marx, "The bourgeoisie...has politically torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his 'natural superiors', and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous 'cash payment'." - 52-53
    • Alternative Measures - Ch. 8
      • Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI): "incorporates a range of factors that influence wellbeing and aggregates them into a single index that can be compared directly over time with GDP." - 55
      • "The economy spits out what it does not need -- redundant workers, toxic wastes -- and by this act they no longer appear in the national accounts...The economy values only what it needs; what it does not need has no value." - 60-61
  • Identity
    • Having and Wanting - Ch. 9
      • "margin of discontent" (cf. Mishan) - difference between what you want and have; discontentment can be reduced by either increasing possessions or decreasing desires - 62
      • "One of the ironies of the modern world is that choice has been elevated to supreme status precisely at a time of social and cultural homogenisation across the globe." - 66
    • Consumption and the Modern Self - Ch. 10
      • "in consumer society people attempt to create an identity not from what they produce but from what they consume." - 70
      • "as the sociologist George Simmel told us many years ago, the individuality of modern urban life is a pseudo-individuality of exaggerated behaviours and contrived attitudes." - 71-72
      • "We are subtly schooled to feel that to possess is to capture power; indeed, that possessions are the source of power in our society." - 75
    • Marketing - Ch. 11
      • "in reality economic growth can be sustained only as long as people remain discontented. Economic growth does not create happiness: unhappiness sustains economic growth." - 80
      • "The expense associated with creating and sustaining a brand, including advertising and sponsorships, explains the cavernous gap between what it costs to actually manufacture a pair or shoes, for example, and the price the consumer pays." - 86
    • Overconsumption - Ch. 12
      • "Both the pharmaceutical and the food industries profit from obesity and, once again, the medical profession and drug companies play a crucial role in diverting us from asking what it is about our society that gives rise to these pathologies." - 94
      • "There is...an intimate relationship between the creation of self in consumer capitalism and the destruction of the natural world. This is the unbridgeable gulf between the 'sustainability' that politicians and business people talk about and the deep ecology of the environmentalists." - 97
  • Progress
    • The Idea of Progress - Ch. 13
      • "In developing the idea of progress, the intention was to find the impersonal laws that explained the sweep of human history." - 99
      • Francis Fukuyama, "Technology makes possible the limitless accumulation of wealth, and thus the satisfaction of an ever-expanding set of human desires" - 103
    • Oppression and Liberation - Ch. 14
      • "Conservative resistance to the demand for self-determination conflates the pursuit of self-determination (individualisation) with the pursuit of selfish interests (individualism)." - 104-105
      • "The democratic impulse -- which to date has taken the form of collective struggles to be free of autocrats, plutocrats and oligarchs -- has segued into something else, a search for authentic identity, for self-actualisation." - 106
      • "the counter-culture was never a revolt against capitalism: it was a revolt against the social conservatism that held capitalism back." - 111
    • Globalisation - Ch. 15
      • "it is the spread of political ideas backed by economic power." - 118
      • "while many nations achieve political independence after the Second World War, their leaders had absorbed the most intoxicating idea of their colonisers, the belief that the first objective of any state should be economic growth." - 119
  • Politics
    • The Third Way - Ch. 16
      • "a means of grafting traditional social democratic concern for equality and social justice onto an economic system based on free markets." - 122
      • "Nowhere in the writings of the Third Way can one find an analysis of how social structures condition thinking; nor can one find discussion of class consciousness or false consciousness or any inkling of why people believe what they do. The political superficiality of the Third Way is the ideal counterpart of the emptiness of modern consumer capitalism." - 130
    • The Power of Economic Ideas - Ch. 17
      • 1995: "US economists David Card and Alan Krueger created a sensation by showing that employment growth was higher in those US states that had rising minimum wages." - 136
    • Power and Equality - Ch. 18
      • "equality of opportunity can never be enough if an unacceptable level of inequality is built into the very structure of the capitalist economy." - 140
      • "social justice has become individualised and divorced from the essential structure of capitalism at a time when capitalism has reached its most purified form." - 141-142
  • Work
    • Rethinking Work - Ch. 19
      • "The arrival of the age of abundance for the first time provides the possibility of the liberation of work." - 151
      • "in a post-scarcity world work can be liberated from the bonds of wage and salary payment, so that it can be considered a creative self-realising activity." - 153
    • The New Labour Market - Ch. 20
      • "purposeful work, rather than paid employment, provides the rewards people most crave." - 157
      • "Abandoning the idea of a career is in fact a process of self-liberation, an act of taking control of your life. In a post-scarcity society, one can fail in one's career but succeed as a man or woman." - 164
    • In Praise of Housework - Ch. 21
      • "Because housework contributes to a warm, loving and nurturing home environment, we are mistaken to think of it merely as an activity that produces 'household goods and services'." - 167
      • "The commodification of household work brings the value system of neoliberal economics into the realm where homo economicus is least welcome." - 169
    • Work in a Post-Growth World - Ch. 22
      • "An essential feature of a post-growth society, perhaps its defining feature, is the dissolution of the boundary between 'work' and 'life', so that work becomes life." - 171
      • "It is the cultural rather than the economic power of capital that convinces them they must work longer and harder: they do so because of their belief about how much income they need in order to maintain an acceptable lifestyle and because income and job status remain central to social status. In other worlds, people have become habituated to high levels of income to sustain their sense of worth." - 173
  • Environment
    • The Voraciousness of Growth - Ch. 23
    • The Conquering Spirit - Ch. 24
      • Ecological Footprint: "for each person is defined as 'the biologically productive areas necessary to continually provide their resource supplies and absorb their wastes"; US - 10.3 hectares, UK - 5.2 hectares, Japan - 4.3 hectares, Germany - 5.3 hectares, China - 1.2 hectares, India - 0.8 hectares (Ecological Footprints of Nations, Wackernagel, 1997)
      • "Commercial opportunity is the handmaiden of the conquering spirit latterly expressed in the invasion of space. Private sector investment in space-related activities is expanding enormously and is already giving rise to intense pressure for unfettered access to space for commercial purposes." - 189
    • A Philosophical Transition - Ch. 25
      • Instrumental Value Theory: "while humans are valuable in and of themselves, the non-human world is valuable only insofar as it contributes to the wellbeing of humans." - 191
      • Instrumentalist attitudes to Nature
        • "the environment is valuable to humans because physical resources provide economic value." - 192
        • "preoccupied with the physical transformation of resources but recognises the physical limits to material growth." - 192
        • "instrumental value can be had from preserving rather than exploiting some aspects of the natural environment." - 193
      • Intrinsic Value Theory: "Environmentalism begins from an intuitive rejection of all instrumentalist approaches...the value of the environment is not dependent on humans attaching value to it, and certainly not on humans deciding whether it contributes to their economic welfare." - 194
      • "the marketplace is intensely impersonal, a place where actions are motivated by self-interested calculation between distinct individuals. It allows the full expression of instrumentalist desire." - 196
    • Environmentalism and Social Democracy - Ch. 26
      • "Proposals that would see higher taxes on environmentally damaging activities, with the revenue used to reduce taxes on employment and investment, are known under the rubric of ecological tax reform." - 200
      • Environmental Koznets Curve: "as poor countries industrialise environmental quality will initially deteriorate but as they become richer they will express a greater 'preference' for environmental quality" - 202
  • The Post-Growth Society
    • Political Downshifting - Ch. 27
    • Eudemonism: The Politics of Happiness - Ch. 28
      • "It reaffirms a necessary role for public ownership, but it does not propose any expropriation of private property. It is, however, anti-capitalist in the sense that it argues that society and governments should no longer cede special significance to the objectives or moral claims of the owners of capital." - 212-213
      • "the function of the government will be reoriented so that it provides sustenance to life-affirming activities outside the market." - 215-216
    • Starting the Transition - Ch. 29
      • "Reduction of working hours is the core demand for the transition to a post-growth society." - 218
      • "The transition to a post-growth society would begin by imposing restrictions on the quantity and nature of marketing messages" - 219
      • "Short-term speculative capital movements should be severely penalised by an international transactions tax." - 220
      • "A recasting of tax systems...would supply the revenue for a basic income to be provided unconditionally to all citizens." - 222
    • The Post-Growth Economy - Ch. 30
      • J. M. Keynes, "for the first time since his creation man will be faces with his real, his permanent problem -- how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well" - 225
      • "In the longer term, stabilising population size will reduce the pressure to create new jobs each year so as to absorb new entrants to the labour market." - 228
      • "It is erroneous to believe that humans became creative only in response to financial incentives." - 232
    • Power and Social Structures - Ch. 31
      • "The deprivation model is simply the obverse of the growth model; they are both preoccupied with more income." - 233
      • "Whatever the merits of the trickle-down theory in poor countries, it certainly stops working beyond a certain point in rich countries." - 235
      • "Whereas Marxism called for the power of capital to be destroyed, eudemonism calls for it be ignored." - 237

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