Tag Archives: limits to growth

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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The changing face of eco-politics

In the 1980s, environmental politics developed a set of fundamental assumptions heavily influenced by socialist humanism. This socialist perspective was a radical break with the benign authoritarianism that had dominated eco-political thinking in the previous decade; while there were some Marxist influences to be seen (particularly in ‘eco-socialism’), the dominant socialist influence on the new thinking was classical anarchism.

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Filed under David, green politics