Eckhart Tolle and the Obsession with Economic Growth
These days the subject of mass-immigration and the Islamification of the West never seems to be absent from our news coverage. While Christians are being murdered and ethnically cleansed from the Middle East and other parts of Asia, our political and middle-class elite want us to accept more and more Muslim ‘refugees’ into our already overpopulated countries even though they know that it puts increasing pressure on housing and social services as well as depressing wages and pushing up rents for the less well-off, causing division within our societies…not to mention creating crime and other associated problems which mainly affect the working-classes.
Recently in the UK, for example, The Daily Mirror newspaper termed as ‘purely racist’ the decision of the BBC to broadcast a documentary called, ‘The Last Whites of the East End’. It’s as if not wanting to destroy one’s own country is ‘racist’ as is implicit in some statements by German, Swedish and other European politicians.
Some politicians say that immigration is “good for the economy”, as if that is all that mattered, and I myself find it difficult to make sense of the decision of Merkel and other leaders to open the flood-gates, for want of a better expression. So, it may be wise to consider what Eckhart Tolle, a now well-known spiritual teacher, has to say.
In his book ‘A New Earth’ [p.26] Eckhart Tolle says, “But we cannot really honor things if we use them as a means to self-enhancement, that is to say, if we try to find ourselves through them. This is exactly what the ego does. Ego-identification with things creates attachment to things, obsession with things, which in turn creates our consumer society and economic structures where the only measure of progress is always more. The unchecked striving for more, for endless growth, is a dysfunction and a disease. It is the same dysfunction the cancerous cell manifests, whose only goal is to multiply itself, unaware that it is bringing about its own destruction by destroying the organism of which it is a part. Some economists are so attached to the notion of growth that they can’t let go of that word, so they refer to recession as a time of “negative growth.””
In a different context, Tolle went on to say: “Every country in the world wants growth every year. That is like saying what goes up must never come down. Every politician and statesman is looking for ways to boost GDP to higher and higher levels. But what would happen if we had economic equanimity? What if President Obama as the head of the world’s strongest economy began to talk about inner peace instead of economic growth at any cost? Did making more money ever bring anyone you know permanent happiness?
We’re not talking about accepting less. We’re talking about accepting. Part of living in harmony with the Universe is accepting its physical laws which include the economic cycles of nations. Regardless of the recklessness of banks and stock traders, the universe cannot sustain continuous expansion. Even the Big Bang, which states that the universe is constantly expanding, also says that in that expansion the Universe will cool down until all the stars burn out. The universe will continue to get larger, but it will be a cold, lifeless, and dark universe bereft of planets and suns.
This too is what could happen to countries obsessed with positive economic growth. The hapless search for profit at any cost bankrupts our values and quality of life.”
Total population (UN estimates)
1950: 37,547,000 2011: 173,593,000 2018: 200,813,818
Total population (UN estimates)
1951: 41,932,000 2001: 124,355,000 2015: 160, 996,000
It would seem that since 1950 both the above Muslim countries have quadrupled their populations. Should we in the West continue to allow them to continue coming over here? What would the result be?
Why are we obsessed by growth?
By Anthony Reuben, Business reporter, BBC News, 25 July 2012
The latest figures have shown that the UK economy contracted more than expected between April and June.
The output of the economy as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) figures fell by 0.7%, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
It follows a period of small rises and small falls in growth showing the economy has basically been stagnant.
Why is that lack of growth a problem?
“In the long term, we grow because technology gets better and we get better at producing things,” says Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
“In the short term, growth is an indication that the economy is producing as much as it could be and resources are not being needlessly wasted.
“At the moment we are producing considerably less than we could be because the economy is being mismanaged.”
One of the resources not being used as much as it could be is labour.
“If the economy is growing at less than about 2% a year then unemployment rises because output is just not rising fast enough,” says Prof John Van Reenen from the London School of Economics.
“With a growing population and rising wages, the economy has to grow to create jobs.”
Having more people out of work increases the amount that the government has to pay in benefits and also reduces the amount it receives in taxes.
That is a particular problem at the moment, given the debt problems currently facing the government.
“Debt matters because it has to be paid,” Jonathan Portes says.
“Growth would make it significantly easier to deal with. If we are growing slowly it gets worse and worse.”
A classic example of what happens when there is no growth is Japan, which has had almost no real growth for the past 20 years.
“Japan has stagnated, although it is not a broken society,” says Jonathan Portes.
“But low growth has been bad for young people who cannot find decent jobs.”
Low growth has also meant that its government debt as a proportion of GDP, which is a key measure, has spiralled.
It currently has a debt-to-GDP ratio of over 200%, which is the highest in the developed world.
‘More and more junk’
But some people think that a zero growth economy could be a good thing.
Brian Czech, president of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (Casse) says that the UK economy has already grown beyond its optimum size.
“There are too many problems caused by increasing production and consumption of goods and services,” he says.
Casse argues that growing the economy further creates social and environmental problems that outweigh its benefits.
“Lots of sacrifices come with growing GDP, such as working too long hours, the depersonalising of workplaces and spending on advertising to persuade people to buy more and more junk they don’t need,” Mr Czech says.
Casse’s position is certainly not a mainstream economic view, although there are strong arguments that GDP by itself is not enough to measure the state of a country or an economy.
On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics released its latest findings in its measurements of national wellbeing.
Also, inequality in the UK economy means that growth would not necessarily benefit everyone.
But for the moment, GDP growth will remain the focus for analysts and news organisations alike every three months.
“GDP is not perfect and it ignores intangibles such as happiness and the environment, but it is still the best measure of all we produce,” says Jonathan Portes.
John Van Reenen adds: “When GDP grows, the size of the economic pie grows.”
“That allows you to slice the pie to get what you want, be it higher wages, more leisure time or increased government spending.”