By: Jonathan Haidt
In: Centers for Humans and Nature
Date: 28 September 2015
- Our world is changing fast.
- Ecologically, economically, demographically, etc.
- Most of us are disoriented by these changes.
- Rapid changes change our ethics.
- “Most important graph in the world.”
The “hockey stick” of rapid recent prosperity. Source: Derek Thompson (2012), based on Angus Maddison data.
- GDP per capita from the year 1 to the year 2001.
- Shows how capitalism changed the West and Japan in the blink of an eye.
- Foretells a similar transformation in the rest of the world.
- How does this transformation make you “feel”.
- Asia: people respond positive love to it (prospect of future progress).
- West: ambivalent, hostile to capitalism (worries about environment, etc.).
- Rising prosperity changes people – Inglehart-Welzel culture map.
- Traditional, survival: life is tough and uncertain, religion helps (pre-industrial).
- Secular, survival: still hard, but materialism increases (exploitative phase).
- Secular, self-expression: rising security, rights, freedom (expressive phase).
- Developed world moves towards progressive, left.
- Consensus on social and environmental issues shifts leftward.
- Capitalism and the wealth it creates changes nature and humanity simultaneously.
- Capitalism got us into this ecological mess, back when most people had materialist values and cared little for the environment.[
- But as values and cultures shift toward post materialism all over the world, capitalism might just get us out.
- The march from religious survival to secular self-expression perhaps applies to a simple, mechanical world.
- The world has gotten more connected and complex.
- Capitalism doesn’t only reduce uncertainty.
- It can also dramatically increase it for large groups of people.
- Societies may become more adaptive over time, people may not.
- Especially under conditions of higher uncertainty.
- People may become more focused on survival (focus on keeping what I have).
- Harder to interpret or control impact of capitalism.
- What are good and what are bad outcomes?
- Which externalities matter and how much and for whom?
- Scale and time frame of its impact becomes more extreme over time.