Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pro-growth left

The debate over the economic direction of troubled countries like Ireland has developed into an interesting narrative now, with many critics of the tax-increasing, budget-cutting austerity budgets calling instead for economic stimulus. Left-wing members of the opposition have adopted simple slogans calling for growth, not austerity

These repeated demands for economic growth seem strange to me because, I think, a few years ago it was the right who were advocating economic growth while the left were demanding redistribution. There were also post-materialists on the left with environmentalist leanings, interested in moving past economic growth to some kind of eco-friendly sustainability. Britain's Equality Trust writes:
But we have now come to the end of what economic growth can do for developed countries. Measures of well-being or of happiness no longer rise with economic growth.... The evidence suggests that we need to shift our attention away from increasing material wealth, to the social environment and the quality of social relations in our societies.
I mentioned this shift in tone on the left, from social and environmental sustainability to sheer economic growth, to a colleague. He suggested it might indicate a real shift from the post-materialist green left to an older, labour-focused left. I wondered, though, if all of this was just a fairly straight-forward attempt by left-wing groups in opposition to win political support by rallying against the unpopular budget cuts. Rather than indicating any real ideological shift, I would guess that they sensed the changing mood, saw that the major parties were determined to take the unpopular austerity path, and took the populist alternative. Any thoughts? Feel free to comment below.

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