As Simon Mont wrote in Tikkun’s recent issue on the New Economy, “capitalism is collapsing under the weight of itself, and it’s not pretty.”[i]
Our globalised world finds itself caught on the horns of a seemingly impossible dilemma – either cease growing, and so collapse the economy on which we all depend, or continue to grow until we overwhelm and destroy the ecosystems on which we all depend.
As my late mentor, the historian and economist David Fleming, put it,
It is certain that there are no simple answers to this—none that could be proposed without proposing at the same time a transformation in the whole of the way we think, work and order our lives.[ii]
And yet, faced with this fundamental systemic conundrum, our leaders hold tight to their simple answer – growth. Having worked supporting people with drug addiction for several years, it is hard to escape the parallels to the more tragic cases. The dire consequences of our choices are piling ever higher around us, threatening the very continuation of our lives and those around us. And the response is to double down on the current path and turn a blind eye – to sink deeper into denial. It is just too difficult, too brave, to undergo that dark night of the soul – to admit the problem, to seek a new paradigm.
So we hear it over and over – we must keep growth high, keep unemployment low. Donald Trump’s recent Twitter boast that U.S. GDP growth (4.2%) was higher than unemployment (3.9%) for the first time in over a century was both inaccurate and bizarre, but it betrays his allegiance to these numbers.
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