Muddling Toward Frugality (1978) updated--with a ""sustainable economy"" set against the industrial economy of Megatrends...


THE FUTURE IS NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE: Returning to Traditional Values in an Age of Scarcity

Muddling Toward Frugality (1978) updated--with a ""sustainable economy"" set against the industrial economy of Megatrends and its ilk. ""The sustainable economy will increasingly be the only alternative as jobs are lost,"" Johnson writes. ""But the most important reason to distance oneself from the industrial economy is simply because it means a better life. . . richer in the more important ways."" Objectively, this is twaddle: we're going to have to deal with the problems of industrial economies, and most of us will have to go on building the best lives we can in their shadows. But subjectively Johnson's selflessness-and-community preachings have appeal. He reminds us that we have potential ""for good as well as bad""; he speaks, cheeringly, of ""traditional wisdom"" as a renewable resource. For those who've just come in, his early chapters review the problems of industrial society (energy scarcity, lower productivity, governmental impotence); opportunities for a ""sustainable society"" (vegetable gardens, solar and other alternative energy sources, repair and reuse, decentralization); means of ""living on less"" (not heating the whole house, not keeping in style). Then he shifts to the gains--the value of ""meekness over military ardor,"" of ""synergism"" (or traditional roles) over ""autonomy,"" of ""family"" over ""affluence and individualism."" Typically: ""Nurturing must be one of the supreme examples of synergism, providing parents with joy and satisfaction and the child with the essentials needed for healthy development."" As against the alleged ""barrenness of modern life,"" this sounds great; alongside the realities of family life, past and present, it's as simplistic as Johnson's view of the world economy. But the comfort-factor is operative--just as it is, for those with an antithetical outlook, in Megatrends. A mediating text, however, with more pizazz, is Paul Hawken's The Next Economy.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 1984


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dodd, Mead

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1984