Societies in the industrialised nations are currently fighting the effects of economic recession. Politicians accuse others, usually banks and other politicians of causing this mess.
It is yet a different topic, but the tendency of politicians to oversimplify things and only think as sustainable as a legislature period, surely is part of the problem.
The source of the problems may however be found in history, in the way our modern societies have defined how the economy should ideally be, believes the German philosopher Richard D. Precht. The two main opposing ideas are:
- have strong state control over economy to make sure people have good lives and the economy will be good (John Maynard Keynes)
- no state intervention in economy and everyone will be happy by wealth; economy regulates itself (Friedrich Hayek)
Currently it seems we are experiencing the latter. And one must really wonder if this is the right approach. Isn’t profit hunting actually exploiting social values?
More and more people believe that making profits is the one thing that our society needs, to ensure prosperity/happiness for everyone.
To raise profits, the industry has positioned itself in making people buy things they actually don’t need. This is accomplished by appealing to status thinking, a feeling that is deeply engrained in human nature, the desire to always have something newer and better than the neighbours. People buy new things and throw away old things which are still perfectly usable. Not only is there always new stuff, but the stuff I already have gets cheaper; it loses it’s worth. Things lose their worth.
It is disturbing enough that we can be manipulated so easily to accumulate stuff which has no real worth to us. If it had real worth to us, we would probably not throw it away.
It becomes even more disturbing, if this attitude of simply buying and throwing away things becomes normal behaviour in the interaction with people.
And it seems to me that it is already happening. People separate or divorce quickly rather than making every effort to make their relationship work.
If your bicycle has a puncture, by all means, fix it! You do not need to buy a new one.
If relationships with people we “care” about are so easily exchangeable as the stuff thrown at us by the industry, I seriously wonder where humanity is going.
Can making a profit really be the ultimate goal in life, no matter where this mind set takes our society? Shouldn’t we rather ensure that society is going into a good direction? Must prosperity and happiness of a society really be linked with profits? Does economy regulate itself?
The world wide economic cool down may inspire some doubts about Hayek’s views.
 Richard D. Precht – Wer bin ich? Und wenn ja, wieviele?, 2007
 Richard D. Precht – Die Kunst, kein Egoist zu sein, 2010
 wikipedia.org: John Maynard Keynes
 wikipedia.org: Friedrich Hayek