22 Jan 2008

DEREK WALL SPEAKS IN LEEDS

Green Party Principal Speaker Dr. Derek Wall has praised the work of psychologist Oliver James, and will be discussing similar themes in his speech in Leeds at 4-5pm on Thursday 24th January at the Roger Stevens Lecture Theatre 1, Leeds University, LS1, hosted by the University Green Society


Outlining his lecture, Dr Wall said: "Green politics is the politics of survival dealing with the threats of climate change and environmental degradation. Green politics is politics for life, it covers all policy areas stressing ecology, social justice, grassroots democracy and peace"

Commenting on James' explosive new book, Dr. Wall commented: "I have just finished reading Oliver James's book 'The Selfish Capitalist'. It is a devastatingly clear account of why our obsession with economic growth is leading to a huge increase in human misery.

"Capitalism is based on increased consumption, increased work and increased inequality. James argues that the work of Mrs Thatcher, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, in removing barriers to capitalism, have created an epidemic of mental illness. They have privatised and deregulated, all three celebrating billionaires and worshipping corporations.

"Although this is supposed to raise standard of living it has made almost all of us poor when it comes to quality of life. In a dog eat dog society people, insecurity and unhappiness have risen to extraordinary degrees.

"As Greens we know ever increasing economic growth is ecologically impossible, and James reminds us that it is no guarantee of a better life either.

"James draws on a powerful understanding of psychology to outline research that indicates that a society's increased Gross National Product (GDP) can actually lead to greater dissatisfaction. His powerful interpretation of 'To Have or to Be' by Erich Fromm, psychologist and grandfather of green politics, is inspiring.

"If you read one book this year, read 'The Selfish Capitalist – it provides powerful food for thought and will be a vital campaigning tool for those who want to move to a new greener, gentler, people orientated economy."


As a flavour of the persuasiveness of James's critique, Dr Wall highlighted this passage:

"We desperately need - and before long, I predict we will get – a passionate, charismatic, probably female leader who advocates the Unselfish Capitalism of our [Western European] neighbours. The pitch is simple. Not only would reduced consumerism and greater equality make us more ecologically sustainable, it would halve the prevalence of mental illness within a generation.'

"With overstimulated aspirations and expectations, the entrepreneurial fantasy society fosters the delusion that anyone can be Alan Sugar or Bill Gates, never mind that the actual likelihood of this occurring has diminished since the 1970s. A Briton turning 20 in 1978 was more likely than one doing so in 1990 to achieve upward mobility through education.

"Nonetheless, in the Big Brother It Could Be You society, great swaths of the population believe they can become rich and famous, and that it is highly desirable. This is most damaging of all - the ideology that material affluence is the key to fulfilment and open to anyone willing to work hard enough.

"Selfish Capitalism stokes up relative materialism: unrealistic aspirations and the expectation that they can be fulfilled. It does so to stimulate consumerism in order to increase profits and promote short-term economic growth. Indeed, I maintain that high levels of mental illness are essential to Selfish Capitalism, because needy, miserable people make greedy consumers and can be more easily suckered into perfectionist, competitive workaholism."

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