Pessimism About Growth

I’ve been reading a book by Jeff Rubin called The End of Growth. I’m not sure that artists should celebrate the emergence of a steady state economy, and also not sure that predictions about the same are accurate. The merit of books like his is that they vividly convey the three dimensional complexity of the world—four dimensional since it is always changing—and that is always refreshing for any artist. It counteracts any tendency to settle in one’s thinking. There’s no doubt that the pot will boil over, and art will bubble with the rest of it. One day we’ll look at the critics and the ideas we thought were most important with disbelief. Abstraction will still be there, but the political kind may look pretty dated. Unless of course the growth model really is finished, in which case bureaucrats will rule.

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2 Responses to Pessimism About Growth

  1. Francis Lemieux says:

    The main thing I got from the first book, “WHY YOUR WORLD IS ABOUT TO GET A WHOLE LOT SMALLER” is that the rising cost of energy (oil) is in effect like adding a tariff to imported products. When a high level of trade leads to a high demand for oil the price goes up and at a point it is no longer advantageous to import manufactured goods, regardless of cheap labour. With the depletion of oil, or cheap oil, eventually it will become economically viable to return to producing more products locally. This is great in theory. I can imagine plowing down all those moribund, outdated suburban homes in places like Surrey BC and Brampton Ontario and building new complete towns where people can live and work at a diversity of occupations including agriculture and manufacturing, arts, crafts, design etc. But, unless you are a totalitarian state like China, how do you take over thousands or millions of individually owned private properties and transform them into new towns? Much of the land previously committed to agriculture and manufacturing in North America has been converted to commercial residential use.

  2. Francis, I’m sure he believes that will all happen naturally, through the market. The thought that manufacturing will return is a good one. It might make my own dire predictions false.

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