In the News (from The Financial Times): “Now is the time for a less selfish capitalism” What is progress? The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has been asking this question for some time and the current crisis makes it imperative to find an answer. According to the Anglo-Saxon Enlightenment, progress means the reduction of misery and the increase of happiness. It does not mean wealth creation or innovation, which are sometimes useful instruments but never the final goal.
So we should stop the worship of money and create a more humane society where the quality of human experience is the criterion. Provided we pay ourselves in line with our productivity, we can choose whatever lifestyle is best for our quality of life. And what would that involve?
The starting point is that, despite massive wealth creation, happiness has not risen since the 1950s in the US or Britain or (over a shorter period) in western Germany. No researcher questions these facts. So accelerated economic growth is not a goal for which we should make large sacrifices. In particular, we should not sacrifice the most important source of happiness, which is the quality of human relationships – at home, at work and in the community. We have sacrificed too many of these in the name of efficiency and productivity growth.