The Future of Growth | The Radical Old Idea with Prof. Tim Jackson

Can our economies continue to grow? We tackled this question at our latest Radical Old Idea event on 14th July 2021. We were joined by Prof. Tim Jackson, Director of CUSP | Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity for a conversation with Kaisie Rayner FRSA, Climate Change Lead at Royal London.

A wide-ranging conversation between the pair was centred on Prof. Jackson’s latest book, Post Growth: Life After Capitalism (, as well as his earlier, more technical work, Prosperity Without Growth. The Radical Old Idea is a platform inspired by the Scottish Enlightenment, and the session started in an appropriate place: Adam Smith.

As Prof. Jackson – a leading expert on sustainable economics – explained, the legacy of Adam Smith has been “used and abused” by free-market capitalism. Smith did not believe in an unregulated lassez-faire model of the economy, but was responding to the conditions of his time, where governments heavily restricted imports and exports to advantage special interests.

The motivation for Post Growth was a move away from the ‘rational arguments’ present in Prosperity Without Growth towards embracing “the spirit of the human soul” and looking to inspire deeper conversations about how we want to love, what kind of society we want and how we get there.

Drawing on Buddhist philosophy, Prof. Jackson argued that the pandemic has taught us that we can live in a different way when we need to, that we can organise our societies differently and that often the joy in life comes from social interactions, from having time to ourselves and not simply from material consumption.

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