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Growth: Our New God

We are constantly reminded that we are living in a dramatically polarized time in our history. Gerrymandering, media echo chambers, and the radical regulatory reductions in campaign finance laws have produced a class of leaders who can preach to their base and draw increasingly stark battle lines in the sand.

 

And while this narrative helps sell books and commercials, and gives politicians an easy sales pitch to their donors, the truth is that there is a surprising amount of consensus among our leaders in how our society can flourish. Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, the left and the right… They have more in common than we think, as leaders of nearly all political persuasions have all bought into the underlying notion that GROWTH IS GOOD. Growth has become the tool that leaders point to when advancing their ideas for moving society forward. Not only is growth good, but growth has become our new GOD. Our political debates are not centered around questioning the current growth model; growth is simply assumed to be beneficial to all, and the key component of social progress. Growth has become the main pillar upon which society rests…

 

Unfortunately, growth is a false god. There are three main points to remember when questioning the GOD OF GROWTH: 1). We live on a planet that has finite resources. Humans are not immune to the physical reality that all living things need resources to survive, and there is a limit to how much our planet can provide. Many scientists would argue that we are already extracting more from our planet than is sustainable. 2). Our population as a species is still increasing. We may have as many as nine billion on the planet by the middle of this century, and many of them will want to engage in the sort of conspicuous consumption that is the hallmark of many contemporary developed nations. 3). There is very little evidence to suggest that increasing one’s material wealth past a certain point leads to an increase in one’s happiness or satisfaction, and many studies would seem to suggest that that plateau takes places around the $15,000 GDP per person mark. In other words, more stuff and money doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness and fulfillment once your basic needs are met.

 

We must demand that our political leaders stop preaching the gospel of growth. The GOD OF GROWTH no longer serves our needs, and may actually be a devil in disguise.

 

It’s time to think about switching churches.

 

 

 

Check out this great video to see how growth may actually be increasing deprivation, degradation, and inequality for both our species and the whole planet.

 

Watch Adam Curtis’ great overview of the recent history of ideas that have placed the GOD OF GROWTH at the center of our modern world.

 

2 Comments

  1. katielowell

    Your third bullet point under “God of Growth” reminds me of this Barry Schwartz’s Ted Talk, The Paradox of Choice. Does maximizing individual freedom really maximize happiness? Schwartz has convinced me otherwise, thus I am inclined to agree with your third point.

    175 salad dressings… really?!

    Please forgive the outdated-ness of the video. http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice#t-96925

  2. vavrok

    After watching the second video posted here, I was intrigued by the idea that Ayn Rand was so influential in creating the Silicon Valley business mentality. Were those entrepreneurs inspired by her writings and philosophy or did they use it to back up their existing beliefs? How influential are her ideas today?

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