Yet when you gather together the tribes of wellbeing, you hardly discover a lack of enterprise or innovation. The question is the nature of the \”new\” that\’s being sought. The other spectre that haunts liberal economics – other than the lingering unhappiness that its happy-clappy consumerism generates – is the broaching of planetary boundaries for survival. This was forcibly restated in last week\’s report from the International Energy Agency, which referred to the extreme climatic urgency of decarbonising our industries and economies.
Yes, let\’s fund primary science to keep open the possibility of radical innovation around energy and efficiency. Let\’s retain a Victorian-style ambition about constructing grand new infrastructures to answer our needs for mobility, housing, communication.
But what also needs to happen is precisely the kind of innovation around lifestyles, cultures and values pursued by those at the eco-minded end of the wellbeing agenda – seeing a low-carbon society as an opportunity for social excitement and behavioural novelty. For who else will build the mindsets, and communally forge the habits, that prepare us to cope with radical change – both the changes we invite, and the changes we\’ll have to endure?
It is precisely liberal economics, liberal politics, liberal society, that allows the experimentation with other methods and modes of living.
You see, that\’s what liberal means. You do your thing, I\’ll do mine, and as long as we\’re all adults and don\’t frighten the horses then we can get on and do our own things.
\”Liberal economics\” isn\’t opposed to \”innovation around lifestyles\”. Liberal economics is innovation around lifestyles.
Get on with it, do your thing, and if it looks more fun that what we\’ve got then we\’ll all follow.
Jesus, it\’s as if everyone thinks that markets are only about goods: failing to see that there are markets in everything, methods of organisation, markets in lifestyles, markets in ideas, morals, just markets in every damn thing.