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About the site:
On the 18th of November the Queen read her traditional speech to Parliament, outlining the government’s priorities for the next session. “My government’s overriding priority” she read, “is to ensure sustained growth to deliver a fair and prosperous economy for families and businesses, as the British economy recovers from the global economic downturn.”

It made me sad to see our government choose something that’s logically impossible as its ‘overriding priority’. That’s why I made this site – to help push the growth debate into the mainstream.

Economic growth is unsustainable – environmentally, economically, and socially, but our whole way of life is built on it. One way or another, we need to deconstruct our economic system and rebuild it for the 21st century.

Beyond Growth doesn’t have the answers, I’ll be the first to admit. But, I’m aware of some places the answers might come from, and I’m watching closely. One day every economy will be steady state, and the idea of endless economic growth will look as foolish as the sun revolving around the earth. It has to, because the only alternative is to hit the wall.

About me:

My name is Jeremy Williams. I grew up in Madagascar and Kenya, studied cultural studies, international relations and journalism, and I now divide my time between freelance writing and programme development. I live in Luton (UK) with my wife Louise, who is a radio journalist. I write the blog make wealth history, and am a member of  Transition Luton, a regular contributor to climate change website Celsias.com, and a friend of Breathe, a network for simpler living.

For all enquiries please email jeremy {at} makewealthhistory.org

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 25, 2010 9:55 am

    HI Jeremy

    The main reason for growth in the economy is that the present banking system of fractional reserve banking encourages private banks to lend and lend and lend because it is profitable for them. When they over-do it the economy slumps and the bubbles the banks created need government bailouts at taxpayers cost.

    We need a full reserve banking system so that banks are not allowed to use depositors’ money for loans.

    If you haven’t already done so can I suggest you visit to find out more.

    All anti-growth supporters (I am one) should also be monetary reformers if there is to be any hope of our aims being realized.

    Cheers

    Bill

  2. December 13, 2010 12:49 am

    Hi Jeremy

    I said in my previous comment that all anti-growth supporters should be monetary reformers if they want to achieve their aims because the present system of banking forces the economy to keep growing.

    But what if anti-growth supporters don’t know about monetary reform? The general public is abysmally ignorant about it.

    So I have a suggestion. Would you allow me to send a video to your members? If so, I will need their email addresses.

    Hoping you will

    Yours

    Bill

    • December 13, 2010 7:52 am

      Hi Bill, I agree. I’m a supporter of the New Economics Foundation, and Positive Money, the campaign to end fractional reserve banking. I don’t have a mailing list, but if you send me a link to the video (preferably youtube or google video), I will post it here.

      • December 16, 2010 11:33 am

        Fabulous that you support Positive Money .

        I could send you the video if I had your email address but I don’t have the know-how to send it to you so that you can post it here.

        So, I have asked Ben Dyson to do it.

        I would still like your email address so that we can communicate privately.

        Mine is:

  3. January 3, 2011 8:16 pm

    Whenever I get into a discussion I bring in the arguments for a steadystate society, which I see as a vital necessity if life as we know it is to survive. We just cannot keep growing as we have been and still are.

    There is one area of growth which is basic and the cause of all types of growth but which seems intractable. That is the growth in population on a global scale. Even in countries such as China and India which have tried to do something about it have failed. Their populations are still increasing.

    Attempts to get people to stop breeding, seem impossible.

    Without we reduce our numbers, nature will do it for us because growth will hit the barriers of climate change and lack of resources. Social conflict will ensue.

    What a prospect. Humanity is fouling its nest. It’s on the road to self-destruction, at least for large numbers of us.

  4. January 7, 2011 11:15 am

    Hi Jeremy

    Do you have a discussion forum on your website?

    It seems that we are the only ones prepared to post anything.

    It would be better to have a general forum, I think, than comments on any particular item, such as About.

    What say you?

    • January 12, 2011 8:57 pm

      No, I don’t have any way of adding a specific forum on here, unfortunately. It’s not a particularly busy site, and I created it as an introduction rather than an ongoing discussion per se. You may be interested in http://www.postgrowth.org, which is a more active community of people interested in steady state economics.

  5. January 7, 2011 12:01 pm

    Hi Jeremy

    I found the following in an article in the Guardian today.

    The description of the alternative to growth life-style sounds attractive to me but how do we get the general public to accept it. Most of them seem to want what they had before the crisis. How do we persuade them that the alternative is better, for themselves and the planet?

    “Weirdly, however, the alternative to growth sounds much more conservative than anything the Tories would dream of straightforwardly suggesting. It involves a revolution so much greater than taking to the street and proclaiming free higher education as “a fundamental human right”, or boycotting Topshop until Philip Green pays more tax. It involves the adoption of serious, sober, studious, self-improving and circumscribed lives that are quiet and careful, disciplined and thrifty, packed with work, mostly unpaid, highly reliant on “simple pleasures” for satisfaction and self- fulfilment, and held together by a small but tremendously reliable and highly decentralised state.

    “If there was a brief vogue for discussion about the adoption of such Quaker-like existences just as the crash came, but people very quickly realised that they didn’t actually fancy it all that much, really. Instead, the hope is still to have it all, for ever, and in this the only real difference between the mainstream left and the mainstream right is how the fantasy gets dressed up. Happy 2050.”

    • January 12, 2011 8:55 pm

      Hmm, I’m not sure that “serious, sober, studious, self-improving and circumscribed” are necessary for a steady state at all. And most visions of low growth economies have much more leisure, not lives “packed” with work. I’ll have to look that article up, it sound like someone who hasn’t read any of the literature.

  6. January 12, 2011 7:58 pm

    Bill Clarke needs to read George Monbiot’s article,http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2009/09/29/the-population-myth/ to inform himself about the population issue. The third world has a population growth issue, but the first world has a consumption growth issue. We are able to do something about ours and unless we start we cant ask them to.

  7. January 14, 2011 10:36 am

    Thank you Les for the link.

    agree with George Monbiot that the rich, including ourselves, are damaging the environment much more than the poor. I agree, too, that lowering consumption in the West is important and should be tackled. But I don’t agree that we should concentrate on that before doing anything about overpopulation or trying to get the poor to stop breeding so much.

    Overpopulation is contributing to the destruction of the environment and endangering many species. If the growth in human numbers could be contained there would less pressure on the environment for living space and for land for food, leading to the destruction of the wilderness.

    If the living standards of the poor could be raised, then the example of the West indicates that population growth is slowed or even reversed.

    The question then becomes, how is that to be done? Every improvement in living standards depends upon more growth, and that growth (unless it is green) destroys the environment and speeds climate change.

    What a dilemma.

    • Bill Gage permalink
      July 10, 2012 1:53 pm

      I will have to disagree; I do not believe that overpopulation is the root cause of the problem at all. I would have to point first to some of the advances made in the “growth economies,” being able to produce more with less (and therefore having less impact overall.) It is true that many methods are not sustainable and some are even toxic, but this would simply mean that those particular methods should not be used, and dropped until something acceptable is developed. Carefully making useful products that last a lifetime and are then used as “nutrients” for making new products will go a long ways toward this. Carefully being satisfied with items that we already have, repairing them when necessary, and doing without them when we no longer really need them, will go even further.

      Also, rather than make the common assumption that overpopulation is what is driving the unsustainable methods of production, I will point out two dis-correlations.
      First, the toxic methods of high-production originated primarily in the “first-world” countries where population pressure is less of a factor than elsewhere and was only exported to “third-world” countries later, when the demand for something closer to slave labor began to be seen as the only way to continue (toxic) profit growth.
      Second, the population growth *is* ending in a number of societies or sub-cultures. So far the best-written sources on the subject that I have read all have indicated that the reasons are not really understood at this point. I suspect, though, that the permanent-growth mentality is actually a strong contributor to slowing the population growth. (Something along the lines of: “More for *me*, and my children are not *me*.)
      Continuing the dis-correlation a little further: It also is logical that when children are an economic burden rather than an economic resource, people- in general – would be less desirous to have children. Children no longer being an economic resource, however, does not correlate directly to “raising the standard of living.” The standard of living can be interpreted in many ways, but “raising the standard of living” (for the local group) is precisely what drives population growth for those cultures/economies where children are among the primary economic resources for a family/clan/tribe. The meaning of children being an economic resource goes far beyond simple child labor, though this is a very immediate and primary issue in many areas where population pressure is reported to be a problem.

      My last argument against pointing to “overpopulation” as the problem is that “convincing people to stop breeding” is a short step away from horrible human-rights violations. The world already has many, many examples of mass murder carried out in the name of ideologies that view humans as ‘things.’
      By the number of examples in history, it would seem that it is a quick and slippery slope down the path of such large-scale violence, and I plead with everyone in the world to carefully watch for such ideologies and arguments, and to carefully, and completely, avoid such disastrous paths of thought before they lead to any action.

  8. January 14, 2011 11:27 am

    Hi Jeremy,

    You are right.

    “…serious, sober, studious, self-improving and circumscribed” are not necessary for a steadystate. Such personal virtues are to be recommended but a steadystate depends upon widespread community action.

    What is holding that back is the mind-set of the majority who have accepted the mantra that the amelioration of their economic problems depends upon ever more growth and more consumption.

    What we have to prove is that, while that may have been true up till now, we are living in a time in which we must change our ways or suffer the consequences. The problem, then, is how to persuade the majority

    Beyond Growth is a step in the right direction.

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