Economic growth is probably the most common and obvious concept in the western world to look at when seeking to formulate the conditions for success and prosperity. Society believes that economic growth is important because otherwise everything would stop. There would be a recession with fewer jobs, less consumption, less business and less investment. Economic growth testifies to vitality, a positive direction and a prosperous society.
Anything that makes the wheel turn increases economic growth; new technologies that make it possible to produce more, more money that comes into circulation in society, more consumption, more manufacturing, more employees and so on.
But what is not emphasized by politicians or economic analysts is that the western culture is driving people into a mist that, before long, we will not know how to get out of; a consumer culture that leads us away from our own abilities and our inherent power and puts us in danger of turning into mere consumers rather than creators of our own reality.
We must have a job, right. Yes the current society and its basic framework give us no other choice. But despite establishment's persistent and unrelenting harping on about wage-earning being the most important part of life, reality tells another story: From a 2013 Gallup survey it is clear that only 13% of the world’s population are engaged with their work. In the US the figure is 29% and in western Europe 14%.
Most people will agree that stress, money and efficiency are playing increasingly important roles in their lives. People are burned out and have less energy. They try to find time to exercise, to be with their loved ones, to play with their kids, to just be; time to call old friends they have lost touch with. They try to solve the problem technically with the help of a rigorous time-optimization regime but lose moments of presence and quality. They sacrifice time for reflection, simplicity and togetherness.
A sense of unreality and emptiness has, over the years, spread across our western societies parallel to the increasing stress and drive for efficiency. Nobody knows why this is happening ... or so it seems.
Today, as growth is driven by capitalism, whether it is applied in the West or in countries like China, the aim is not to develop humanity but to benefit a few.
We believe we're developed because we can consume, when, in fact, we are the ones being consumed.
Our society needs growth in some sense if we are to develop; especially in the poorest parts of the world. But the necessary growth should be in harmony with our environment, with adapted technologies and, most of all, in tune with people and influenced by people.
The economic growth not only contributes to the climatic and environmental problems, this runaway train creates an even worse "human climate problem".
This is the third reason why this society got to go.
Author and debater