Questioning Growth Can Make You Feel Like Captain Beefheart
When Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band flew to Heathrow in 1968, they apparently told passport control that they were "pilgrims from the 25th Century", and had a hard time grasping the basic function of passport control. According to Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Movement, he felt much like this when asked to address a local planning meeting about one UK town's economic growth strategy. Despite tantalizing signs of a new economic paradigm emerging, and serious consideration being finally given to no growth or steady-state economics, it seems that many in power are not yet willing to give up on the notion of never-ending economic growth:
Yet, when the reaction of the town's Economic Development Officer to the idea that growth and cheap energy can no longer be relied on is ""Well I don't know about you, but after those last two speakers I thought I wanted to kill myself!", clear thinking about the future becomes that much harder. Economic growth is a glittering prize that it takes a big step to stand apart from. To be the first person in any given situation to question it as an assumption is to risk being seen in the same way the Magic Band were at Heathrow Airport in 1968. While the reflections and discussion in the limited question time at the end of the evening showed that many people in the audience shared these concerns, sat on the panel I felt increasingly like Beefheart's "pilgrim from the 25th century".