One who intends to leave others better off for his having existed.

11/6/13

"Maybe what’s practiced in the USA isn’t capitalism at all." but “Growthism.”

"[Growthism] seems to be a toxic admixture of capitalism for the poor, who are ruthlessly whittled down, in brutal Darwinian contests; and socialism for the rich, for whom there appears to be no limit to bailouts, subsidies, and privileges. It’s a lethal cocktail of cronyism for the powerful; and endless struggle for the powerless.

...It’s not just a system or a set of institutions. It’s a mindset; an ideology; a set of cherished beliefs. And one that’s hardened into dogma. A dogma which is palpably failing; but can’t be dislodged... a cult, whose priests and acolytes threaten mysterious, terrible, divine revenge whenever their authority is questioned.

Growthism says: growth must be achieved at all costs...

Growthism is willing to sacrifice everything for more growth. Even the very rights which enlightened societies once held to be inalienable. Are you concerned about the rise in extrajudicial mass spying, drone strikes, private security guards, military contractors, or even just the analytics that provide detailed information on what you say, do, and search to both the government and private companies? Too bad! Those are our growth industries, and woe to whatever or whoever stands in their way. Who cares about freedom of speech and assembly or the right to privacy when what we really need is good, growth-creating jobs? Jobs like becoming butlers and maids (or coaches, consultants, and “service-providers”) to the super-rich, who can purchase the “right” not to be frisked, stopped, or surveiled. Heaven forbid people protest. Why, that might hurt growth!

Growthism, then, is antithetical to democracy. Basic political and human rights, from the perspective of a growthist, are niggling sources of inefficiency that must be erased, rubbed out, sanded down. They are sources of social friction and tension that make people less productive workers and that encourage them to do things like wonder, question, agitate, challenge, defy, rebel, and think. Dammit! We don’t want a citizenry! We want a workforce.

...That is the great mistake growthism makes. But growth is not an end. It is a means. A means to, at best, expanding eudaimonia; the capacity to live meaningfully well. And a means, at least, to expanding human freedom.

And because it is a means, not an end, growth is necessary—but not sufficient.

...And nowhere is that more evident that in the USA; where the economy is “growing” but the majority of people under 40 are worse off than their forebears.

...Growthism is a kind of cult. Like all cults, it asks us to deny reality; to sacrifice ourselves; to sever our ties with all that we love; and to indulge in magical thinking. Its high priests soothe us with incantations that have been flat wrong for decades. Its acolytes recite the prayers that have failed to bring rain for years. And still, they tell us: keep the faith. One day, salvation will be yours.

Growthism’s great crime—and yes, it is a crime; for it is costing you and I, right here, right now, lives we should be living, instead of the days we find ourselves limited to—is that it prevents societies from developing a sophisticated conception of what prosperity is. And hence, how to attain it. It is failing because it is stifling us from reaching past the tired, rusting idea that prosperity is merely stuff and trinkets, ...and that it might, instead, be health, friendship, purpose, wisdom, resilience, happiness, a searing sense that all one’s days have mattered.

...Capitalism’s devolved into growthism. And growthism’s to this age what alchemy was to another.

...the truest wealth of life is having lived a life that matters.

...Maybe it’s time for each of us to take a deep breath, tell growthism to shove it, and chart our own new course."

Umair Haque

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