“It’s the Economy, Stupid!” and the Environment

Environmental Ethics 37 (4):465-484 (2015)

Abstract

The current economic/political system, neoliberalism, has touched every aspect of life globally. The doctrine of neoliberalism consists of three central propositions, that the market is real and part of the natural universal law; that unlimited economic growth is both possible and even desirable; and that human nature is coincident with market values and based solely on self-interest. All three of these propositions are seriously flawed and have caused immense human suffering and staggering environmental destruction. This paper is a reminder of the failures of neoliberal policy and an appeal for change to a new institutional arrangement in which development trumps economic growth. This position is in contrast to Francis Fukuyama’s end-of-history thesis. He alleges there are no economic/political ideologies to compete with neoliberalism, the “TINA principle: There Is No Alternative”: the West has won. It is time to reintroduce Henry David Thoreau’s, and to a lesser extent, Adam Smith’s moral economies. Both have encourgaging insights, often overlooked by current academic economists, which could figure prominently in the conception of a new economy.

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Robert Chapman
Pace University

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