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Growth Fetish Paperback – April 20, 2004
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About the Author
Clive Hamilton is Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Australia's foremost public-interest think tank. He has held visiting academic positions at the ANU, University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and the University of Cambridge. Described in the press as Australia's most influential economist on the left and Australia's leading environmental economist, he is the author of six books and his views feature regularly in major news outlets.
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Top customer reviews
Some parts of the book have aged better than others. CH's praise for the liberating power of non-regular employment (Chap. 6) was already off-base as to the situation in some countries, such as Japan, at the time he wrote; it's certainly too rosy a picture for many other Western economies post-2008 crash. (It's amazing how many tenured university professors who've never been unemployed love to recommend to others that losing a career isn't so awful: judging by the CV on his website, CH seems to have held various prestigious positions, sometimes several at a time, continuously since getting his Ph.D. in 1984.) On the other hand, while the chapter on politics focuses on the Third Way of Blair's Britain, its observations remain remarkably pertinent to the policies of the Obama era. The existence of such a chapter is also refreshing, since more recent books in this genre are much more focused on economics and the environment. Apropos of which, CH's chapter has a nice typology of philosophical attitudes toward the environment (@191ff) that remains useful, even though global warming has become even more serious than it was in 2003.
Unfortunately, the final chapter about the "post-growth society" probably never was very pertinent: it's heavy on grand utopian wishful thinking, such as that a post-growth society will "engender and reflect a historic transformation of consciousness" (@214), provide "an opportunity ... to trigger a cultural renaissance" (@226-227), and will "encourage a reinvigoration of democracy" (@217). Among other issues here, it is far more likely that a revived and strengthened democracy will be a pre-requisite for attaining any "post-growth society" than a result.
Nonetheless, if you take this last chapter with a grain of salt, there's plenty you can learn from this book if you're new to the idea that economic growth might not always be a good thing. If you've already read a few books on de-growth, this one won't tell you many things that will seem new -- but I give it a healthy star-rating because it deserves credit for having said them before many others did.
This book demonstrates integrative thinking of a high order and is a welcome change from the plethora of writing that is full of critical thinking about world affairs but does little to suggest a way forward for the growing number of people who feel there is more to life than increased consumption.
I believe it is a "must read" for thinkers in all fields everywhere.
If you are wondering what infinite consumption is doing to us as a race then you should read this book.
If you are wondering why the choice has gone out of politics as every party tries to seize the middle ground then you should read this book.
If you are wondering why GDP seems to grow but your life doesn't get better then you should read this book.
If you've ever wondered why we need thousands of hair care products which differ only in how they are marketed, you should read this book.
Basically, you should read this book. Someone ran off with my copy, but I'll buy another. It really is that good. You'll find yourself picking it up again and again, and like Shakespeare you'll take something different away from it every time.