In Plenitude, economist and best-selling author Juliet B. Schor offers a groundbreaking intellectual statement about the economics and sociology of ecological decline, suggesting a radical change in how we think about consumer goods, value, and ways to live. Humans are degrading the planet far faster than they are regenerating it. As we travel along this shutdown path, food, energy, transport, and consumer goods are becoming increasingly expensive. The economic downturn that has accompanied the ecological crisis has led to another type of scarcity: incomes, jobs, and credit are also in short supply. Our usual way back to growth - a debt-financed consumer boom - is no longer an option our households, or planet, can afford.
Responding to our current moment, Plenitude puts sustainability at its core, but it is not a paradigm of sacrifice. Instead, it's an argument that through a major shift to new sources of wealth, green technologies, and different ways of living, individuals and the country as a whole can actually be better off and more economically secure. And, as Schor observes, Plenitude is already emerging. In pockets around the country and the world, people are busy creating lifestyles that offer a way out of the work-and-spend cycle. These pioneers' lives are scarce in conventional consumer goods and rich in the newly abundant resources of time, information, creativity, and community. Urban farmers, do-it-yourself renovators, Craigslist users - all are spreading their risk and establishing novel sources of income and outlets for procuring consumer goods. Taken together, these trends represent a movement away from the conventional market and offer a way toward an efficient, rewarding life in an era of high prices and traditional resource scarcity. Based on recent developments in economic theory, social analysis, and ecological design, as well as evidence from the cutting-edge people and places putting these ideas into practice, Plenitude is a road map for the future.
©2010 Juliet B. Schor (P)2010 Tantor
"It might be utopian, but it's also fresh, persuasive, and passionately argued, speaking to the individual and the collective." (Publishers Weekly)
An extremely heartfelt attempt to re-brand the abandonment of wealth and hope for a materially better future as 'really for our own good'. Professor Schor's deep paternalism combined with a fundamental refusal to acknowledge the importance of underlying material dimension of human motivation do not make for compelling argument.
That our lives would be better if we had more time to spend not making money stands to reason. However the author refuses to confront or meaningfully address the entire trajectory of human history up to today in which people have chosen to do the inverse. History is the chronicling of the moment away from agricultural self support and towards urbanization, specialization and economic interdependence. Every people who have ever meaningfully had the chance to not live as this author insists we should, have done so. This book, and its ideas represent a attack on (dare I say the p word?) the idea and practices of human progress. But the casualness with which she dismisses the benefits of material wealth which enable her to write and distribute this book to a literate audience who can afford to buy it, is astonishing.
This book is an example of what I think of as the idealization of poverty buy someone who has never known it as anything other than a choice.
The reading was fine though.
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