M. de Geus : The end of overconsumption
Towards a lifestyle of moderation and self-restraint
This provocative and readable study examines the norms, values and beliefs that contribute to modern environmental problems. Criticizing the environmental abuses inherent in the acquisitive values of consumer society, the argument presented contends that individuals must simplify their lifestyles and exhibit moderation and self-restraint to avoid waste and maintain the earth's resources. In this vision, governments must translate moderation and limitation into effective policy measures and adapt economic, social, and political institutions accordingly.
More about The End of Over-consumption
How can we get a better understanding of contemporary consumerism in the western world? What are the basic elements of a lifestyle of moderation and self-restraint? How can we explain the failure of the debate on frugality and sufficiency in modern western society?
In this provocative and readable study, Marius de Geus examines the norms, values, beliefs and aspirations which are at the very basis of today's environmental problems. He argues that nature degradation and environmental pollution are inherent to our materialist culture and are related to the acquisitive values of modern mass consumer society.
The basic thesis of this book is that individuals will inevitably have to simplify their lifestyles so that in the future our environment can be protected effectively. Moderation and self-restraint are necessary conditions for the conservation of nature, to avoid waste, and to maintain the earth's carrying capacity. Yet an ecologically sound society does not by definition imply a minimal standard of living or extremely sober and ascetic lifestyles. It is argued it may be more wise to search critically for a 'golden mean' between excess consumerism and complete austerity.
Putting the idea of moderation and self-restraint on the political agenda of the western world will be one of the greatest challenges for the next decades. Subsequently, governments will have to fulfil the difficult task of translating moderation and self-limitation into effective policy measures and adapt our economic, social and political institutions accordingly. We really need to initiate policies that create room for consuming less, and we need to recognise the value of imaginative initiatives in the field of sufficiency and responsible consumption.
Marius de Geus' tour de force is an indispensable oeuvre of wisdom and hope. Harvesting from the intellectual bounty of philosophy, he wrestles with the most relevant and difficult question of our time: how can we all live well, within the limited means of this wonderful planet? Read this book, pass it on, and join the team of practical philosophers who build the wordl they want to live in. - Dr. Mathis Wackernagel
This book by Marius de Geus is a classic in the best sense: an elegantly and powerfully argued analyses of modern consumerism, coupled with a plea for self-restraint and for an almost Aristotelian 'golden mean' between luxury and austerity. This is a study - of sustainability and sufficiency, utopian thought, education and more - inspired by ecological concerns but rising far above the routine level of debate in the field. It will become required reading for political philosophers of our time. - professor Grahame Lock
Marius de Geus teaches Political Theory at the University of Leiden. He has published books in Dutch on organization theory and political philosophy, and on politics, environment and liberty. Together with Brian Doherty, he is editor of Democracy and Green Political Thought, Routledge, 1996.