Both stupid and authoritarian in fact. His and his Pop\’s new book is all about how we should be such acquisitive little bastards and should just settle down with \”enough\”.
In our new book, How Much is Enough?, my father Robert and I try to rescue the idea of the good life from the snobbery that has so often disfigured it. We identify a set of \”basic goods\” integral to human happiness: health, leisure, respect, friendship and others. To enjoy these goods is to have \”enough\”; to lack them is to be poor indeed. The book is first and foremost a call to individuals to remember what matters in life. But it is also a call to governments to create conditions favourable to simpler, less acquisitive modes of living. The state has a role to play in making it easier for us to live well rather than badly, though how we respond to its prompting is of course up to us.
This is akin to the Swedish idea of \”lagom\” although here he wants the government to impose it on us rather than it to be a societal nudging. So that\’s the authoritarian bit. And of course he and Pops can fuck right off here.
Then there\’s the stupid bit:
The state, then, should drop the mask of neutrality and come out in favour of the good life. What, after all, do human beings need? The answer is not hard to seek. Human beings need healthy bodies and unfettered minds. They need love, security to plan and innovate, private spaces to \”be themselves\”, and time to do as they please, not as they must. They do not need sushi boxes and pre-washed salad leaves. An economic system geared to the production of baubles and gadgets leads us away from the good life, not towards it.
There will be all sorts of lefties who just love this. See! Consumerism! Abolish It!
And Skidelsky Pere et Fils have entirely missed, along with their audience, that this completely destroys the concept of relative poverty and along with that any justification for income redistribution. Worries about ginis simply fade away. For you\’re not poor if you\’re healthy, sane and have time. Time being something the unemployed and the poor most certainly have, health and sanity well provided by the NHS (It\’s The Envy Of The World You Know!) and, well, what else do you need? The Skidelsky\’s tell us that we don\’t need anything else in order not to be poor. So all the whining about \”but he\’s got a bigger car/cock/income\” is an irrelevance.
As long as people are not absolutely poor then they are not poor at all. Thus we can dismantle most of the welfare state.
This isn\’t what they mean of course: but it is what they\’re saying, it\’s just they\’re too stupid to realise it. Alomng with their audience who will lap it all up and never realise that they\’re agreeing to the demolition of all that they hold dear.