Tag Archives: Herman Daly

Overcoming the growth mania through the social economy

In his splendidly provocative Tools for conviviality, Ivan Illich (1973) describes the pursuit of growth as a general affliction of industrial society. He writes that “While evidence shows that more of the same leads to utter defeat, nothing less than more and more seems worthwhile in a society infected by the growth mania” (p.8). His conclusion is that

society must be reconstructed to enlarge the contribution of autonomous individuals and primary groups to the total effectiveness of a new system of production designed to satisfy the human needs which it also determines. (p.10)

The analysis of the ‘growth mania’ is taken further by Herman Daly (1974) in “Steady-State Economics versus Growthmania” (pdf here). Daly decries the growth orthodoxy, the desire for “growth forever and the more the better,” calling it “a rigorous exercise in wishful thinking” (p.154).

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Filed under capitalism, David, green politics, sustainability

Green capitalism: road to serfdom, road to participatory economics, or road to nowhere?

Many people in the environmental movement believe that the economy can be successfully ‘greened’. Assuming this ‘greening’ expresses a real desire for substantive change (ie, it’s not just a marketing exercise), some important questions must be asked. For example, just how are greens’ key objectives of sustainability and participatory democracy to be achieved in the context of a market economy? What would a market economy that can achieve these objectives actually look like?

In an article published in the journal Environmental Politics in 2007, Dan Greenwood has provided a very useful examination of the problem, by comparing the analysis of free market advocates (eg, Friedrich Hayek) with the tradition of ecological economics (which began with Herman Daly) that allows a role for markets but demands a “thick layer of democratic, non-market institutions” (p.74) to overcome the failures of the market.

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Filed under capitalism, David, green politics