This passage about a “transformation of values on which a different kind of economy might be built” is the core of Tim Jackson’s argument in Post Growth: Life After Capitalism, as I read it.
Developing the foundations for a postgrowth economy demands more of us than bemoaning the massive damage inflicted on society and the planet through the power of accumulation. Just as we need to unravel the dynamic through which human work is degraded and distorted under capitalism’s yoke, so we need to delve more deeply into the machinery of capital itself before we can arrive at the transformation of values on which a different kind of economy might be built. (p. 131)
A longer discussion might pick up each of the threads here and trace them through Jackson’s book: the critique of GDP as the measure of prosperity (or wealth as accumulation); the discussion of Arendt on meaningful human work and the building of a durable world; and prescriptions to correct human craving and consumption, or to transform values, from Aristotle to Thich Nhat Hanh.
Focusing just for the moment on the last of these, on the transformation of values, four scenarios present themselves.
A “transformation of values”:
- may go as Jackson would like it to go (Green Prosperity);
- may not ever happen, even as we make the transition to renewables (Green Profligacy);
- may not happen in a timely way, impeding the transition (Green Delay);
- may come about, but not in the direction Jackson imagines (Green Austerity).
Of these four futures, I suspect the second, third, and fourth are more likely than the first.