The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
In a little-known 1930 essay, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that by the present time we would be working just 15 hours a week because technological progress would make an increase in output possible.
That is as distant a dream today as it was 80 years ago and the authors of this book, a father-and-son team, explain that what Keynes failed to understand was that capitalism "has no spontaneous tendency to evolve into something nobler."
Keynes, they argue, also mistakenly assumed material wants to be naturally finite when in fact humans are predisposed to material insatiability.
This destructive predilection is in turn inflamed by capitalism, "which has made it the psychological basis of an entire civilisation."
Broad-ranging and well-written, How Much is Enough? is an argument against this insatiability with the authors hoping their book will contribute to "rethinking what we want out of life: what money is for and what is meant by the good life."
At the book's end they have a decent stab at defining this, setting out seven pillars of their good life - health, security, respect, personality, harmony with nature, friendship and leisure.
Before this they provide a meandering philosophical history of the good life, taking in Faust, Marx, Hegel and Marcuse, and tender an interesting critique of the relatively new "happiness economics."
But the discussion of the politics of climate change is unconvincing. Bizarrely, the authors claim that politicians have latched onto the most extreme interpretations of climate science in an attempt to bolster their green credentials yet the public statements and actions of the mainstream political parties suggests the exact opposite is true
There is great hope for technological solutions which will likely enable future generations to cope with four degrees or more of warming. Those generations presumably don't include the 300,000 people - overwhelmingly in the Global South - who die every year because of global warming.
Western-centric ignorance continues with the assertion that "our Edwardian ancestors could not have foreseen the genetic technologies that enable us to feed 7 billion people today."
This ignores World Food Programme estimates that over a billion people go hungry every day.
Many of the ideas in this lively book will be familiar to those who follow the work of people such as Richard Laynard, George Monbiot and the New Economics Foundation.
That someone like Robert Skidelsky - a Conservative peer between 1992 and 2001 - now takes them seriously is important. His suggested social policies to ring in the good life - a basic citizen's income and a reduction in advertising - are of interest.
Yet he believes that such attempts to move to a more European style of capitalism will necessarily require an increase in taxation and therefore trigger strong political resistance from the forces of the status quo.
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