The reality of runaway climate change is inextricably linked with the mass consumerist, capitalist society in which we live. And the cult of endless growth, and endless consumption of cheap disposable commodities, isn’t only destroying the world, it is damaging us and our way of being. How do we stop the impending catastrophe, and how can we create a movement capable of confronting it head-on?
In Alternative Prosperity, philosopher Kate Soper offers an urgent plea for a new vision of the good life, one that is capable of delinking prosperity from endless growth. Instead, Soper calls for renewed emphasis on the joys of being that are currently being denied, and shows the way to creating a future that allows not only for more free time, and less conventional and more creative ways of using it, but also for fairer and more fulfilling ways of working and existing. This is an urgent and necessary intervention into debates on climate change.
“There’s a piece of the ecological crisis that most consider too hot to handle: consumption. With her signature rigour, Kate Soper picks it up and inspects it and finds that we can do without much of it – indeed, less of it would make us richer human beings. Calmly dismantling the illusion that consumption is pleasure, she shows how drives and needs will be set free when we throw away the commodity form. Some on left bow to the cult of technology and dream of accelerating out into sci-fi space. Others attend to the limits and joys of life and read Kate Soper.”
“No task could be more urgent than the one that this book accomplishes so brilliantly. For life on Earth to survive, we have to change not just what we consume, but how we feel about consuming. Guilt and deprivation won’t save us. A different kind of hedonism, an aesthetic and sensibility not enslaved by addictive consumerism, are indispensable components of any culture that hopes to survive this century. Alternative Prosperity offers a lucid, profound and pragmatic exploration of these issues, elaborating both on what such a radical recalibration of our sensibilities might entail, and what concrete political measures might achieve it.”
“A provocative and necessary book that provides us with the means to rethink consumption, work and sustainable prosperity without losing sight of what makes us feel good.”
“Kate Soper’s vision is necessary and beautiful.”
“In an overheating world, Soper switches the focus to the philosophy of happiness: the relationships, the time to ‘stand and stare’ and the reflective autonomy that make life worthwhile. Her Post-Growth Living is a manual for rebuilding the economy with humans in mind.”
“I am confident that this singular plea is both fecund and needed, even if, after reading, I am still not sure exactly what ‘alternative hedonism’ actually is.”
“It is a great testament to Soper that this patient and provocative work will no doubt continue, in the crucial decades ahead, to remind us of the urgent need to move daily life firmly beyond growth.”