One of the most frightening things we do as human beings is to hurt ourselves with fictional entities. One of these fictional entities is ‘the economy’.
We tell ourselves that we must not lose the economic race (although its not clear who we are racing against or why); we must make the economy grow (even if bigger doesn’t actually mean better); we must respond to the latest demands of the economy (even though there is no such thing). The economy demands – so we must respond.
But what is this entity, the economy?
We certainly each have needs and we have capabilities. And if the idea of an economy merely describes the interactions between these two human conditions then of course there are legitimate economic questions: What stops needs being met? What increases the chance of people’s capability being advanced?
But this isn’t what advocates of ‘the economy’ mean. They are not concerned with meeting human needs or supporting human beings to flourish – these things just get in the way. The economy has become a goal in itself, with its own strange needs, to which real human beings must be sacrificed. It is as if the economy is an instrument of war and we are all seeking the biggest weapon.