TWO CHEERS FOR THE AFFLUENT SOCIETY: A Spirited Defense of Economic Growth by Wilfred Beckerman

TWO CHEERS FOR THE AFFLUENT SOCIETY: A Spirited Defense of Economic Growth

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Beckerman, head of the Department of Political Economy at University College, London, sees zero economic growth as a ""middle-class racket,"" by which he means the plaything of the rich to preserve their salmon streams and grouse moors against the plebs. The book argues that solutions to pollution, energy shortages, and general ecological crisis demand growth and its analogue -- technological development. Beckerman's tone is mostly the rather understated sarcasm of the London Economist, and he makes dubious claims of current improvement -- not only that British smoke emission has dropped significantly in the past 20 years, and rivers are cleaner, but that mass unemployment has been eliminated and trade cycles have been replaced by ""minor fluctuations."" Far more incisive are Beckerman's refutations of Barry Commoner and the Club of Rome on the basis that discovery of reserves and development of energy processes can qualitatively change the very definition of raw materials. In contrast, zero economic growth can only mean ""poverty, deprivation, disease, squalor, degradation and slavery to soul-destroying toil for countless millions of the world's population,"" a fact which, Beckerman quietly notes, most of his colleagues seem to take with equanimity.

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 1974
Publisher: St. Martin's