Hear Rowan Williams', Archbishop of Canterbury's words (go here to listen or read in full):
'..... far from being a materialist culture, we are a culture that is resentful about material reality, hungry for anything and everything that distances us from the constraints of being a physical animal subject to temporal processes, to uncontrollable changes and to sheer accident.''The economics of consumption are based on a belief in progress. Thus, for example, when our country and world face the first shrinking global market since WWII, we must realize that this is inevitable and necessary. Do you really believe that we can create a market that will be ever increasing, ever profitable, ever growing?
There seems to be an ontology based on the myth of progress that produces the epistemology that says we can overcome aging, dying, sickness, disease, poverty, etc. Sure these are all well and noble pursuits (obviously some more than others), but reality doesn't seem to work this way. We must work toward solutions to the above mentioned problems, not by trying to defy the reality of the world and ecological economics, but by living faithfully within the means given to us on this planet. An ever expanding market is unsustainable. Rising tides raises all boats, good for the boat owners, and drowns all boat builders.
For every summer there must be a winter, for every birth a death. The market must shrink, it must go up and down in ways that are meaningful. Shrinking is part of the ontology of earth, the seasons, the tide, the ebb and flow. Markets, governments, and people die to make room for new ones.
Other notables from Rowan Williams "Ethics, Economics, and Global Justice:"
We are delivered or converted not simply by resolving in a vacuum to be less greedy, but by understanding what it is to live as an organism which grows and changes and thus is involved in risk. We change because our minds or mindsets are changed and steered away from certain powerful but toxic myths. ...the state that promises maximised choice and minimal risk, is in serious danger of encouraging people to forget two fundamentals of economic reality – scarcity as an inexorable truth about a materially limited world, and concrete productivity and added value as the condition for increasing purchasing power or liberty, and thus sustaining any kind of market. The tension between these two things is, of course, at the heart of economic theory, and imbalance in economic reality arises when one or the other dominates for too long, producing an unhealthily controlled economy (scarcity-driven) or an unhealthily hyperactive and ill-regulated economy (based on the simple expansion of purchasing power). But forget that tension and what happens is not stability but plain confusion and fantasy. We have woken up belatedly to the results of behaving as though scarcity could be indefinitely deferred: the ecological crisis makes this painfully clear. Implied in what has just been said is a recognition of the dangers of 'growth' as an unexamined good. Growth out of poverty, growth towards a degree of intelligent control of one's circumstances, growth towards maturity of perception and sympathy – all these are manifestly good and ethically serious goals, and, as has already been suggested, there are ways of conducting our economic business that could honour and promote these. A goal of growth simply as an indefinite expansion of purchasing power is either vacuous or malign – malign to the extent that it inevitably implies the diminution of the capacity of others in a world of limited resource. Remember the significance of scarcity and vulnerability in shaping a sense of what ethical behaviour looks like.
Patience, trust and the acceptance of a world of real limitation are all hard work; yet the only liberation that is truly worth while is the liberation to be where we are and who we are as human beings, to be anchored in the reality that is properly ours. Other less serious and less risky enterprises may appear to promise a power that exceeds our limitations – but it is at the expense of truth, and so, ultimately at the expense of human life itself. Perhaps the very heart of the current challenge is the invitation to discover a little more deeply what is involved in human freedom – not the illusory freedom of some fantasy of control.