Pondering the Not So Big Society – A Reading List

As I mentioned on Friday, I’ve been musing the snarky title I gave this blog, and trying to flesh it out into an actual idea.

Something that I suspect will be of key relevance is the idea of the ‘Triple Crunch’ – the suggestion that industrial civilisation will face a threefold challenge of financial chaos, peak oil and climate change in the coming years and decades. I’m trying to avoid some of the usual cliches when talking about this subject matter, so I’ll merely state that “Perfect Storm” is a rather good movie starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.

The question is how to look after each other – and particularly the most vulnerable people in society – during the ongoing chaos. At present the Not So Big Society is a snappy title in search of a theory, but then the same is equally true of Cameron’s Big Society and Miliband’s Good Society.

If the theory is to be fleshed out, I think it’s time to do some reading (and in some cases viewing and listening). Here’s my reading list for what I hope will turn into an ongoing series of posts.

Freshly ordered from Amazon – and plopped through my letterbox yesterday – is a copy of Tim Jackson’s Prosperity Without Growth. The idea that people could prosper without economic growth has traditionally been seen as a concept only believed by the crackpot wings of the environmentalist movement and the far left. For the time being, it looks like we don’t have much of a choice but to do without growth, particular if the suggestions of Britain entering into a lost decade are to be believed.

Also on my list, there’s James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency as well as a blog and weekly podcast. Previously his concept of the Long Emergency referred to a period of industrial decline prompted by peak oil and climate change. However, from reading his blog and listening to his podcasts, he seems to have increasingly revised that to something more closely resembling the Triple Crunch.

Kunstler’s blog isn’t the only one I’m reading. There’s also The Archdruid Report, an ongoing series of blog essays about the Triple Crunch from an American Druid, of all people. The essays are a lot more insightful and informed than one might think from that description of him.

As well as books and blogs, there’s Robert Peston’s TV series The Party’s Over: How the West Went Bust, which started on BBC2 last night.

What seems to unite all these people is that we’re all going to have to make to with less stuff – smartphones, iPads, people carriers, second homes in Cornwall and Tuscany, holidays in Thailand and Florida. The spending spree is over, and we’ve woken up with a hangover and a massive credit card invoice.

It also goes without saying that the impact on our public services – schools, hospitals, social services – is going to be immense.

Let’s finish off our reading, viewing and listening list with a little bit of macroeconomics in song form.

4 Responses to “Pondering the Not So Big Society – A Reading List”

  1. thank you for this reading list

  2. Reading the list, you might also enjoy:

    Grip of Death: Michael Rowbotham; Sacred Economics: Charles Eisenstein; Life Inc, Doug Rushkoff… Their focus tends to be on culture and the significance of money, debt & corporatism etc – all thought provoking…

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