When conservative governments start talking about inclusive growth, it is nothing but good old market economy dressed in green, it seems.
For some years now, inclusive growth has been an issue of vital importance in the international debate on economic sustainability and global justice. Coming forth from the decades of criticism of a one-sided growth perspective on economy, which have led to nothing but an ever stronger insistence, by leading economists and politicians, that growth is the only option for modern society, inclusive growth represents what is perhaps the final attempt to offer an alternative that might save our planet. Rather than being anti-growth, the philosophy of inclusive growth tries to stress possibilities of a different quality for growth. Its ideal is to include possibly all members of society into its benefits. It attempts to attach momentum to the effort by pointing out that, unless this aim is achieved, growth may well prove to be the undertaker of modern society.
These thoughts and insights notwithstanding, the present German government sticks to its staunch adherence to the golden calf of market economy. It is the heritage handed down to Christian Democats by their first post-1945 hero of Wirtschaftswunder lore, Ludwig Erhard. And that heritage does not taste better by virtue of its neoliberal additive provided by their partner in the coalition, “2 percent” FDP. In a reply to a query submitted by Green Member of Parliament Ute Koczy, the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development states that
“Inclusive economic growth means to imbed social and ecological aspects into a market economy framework, thus creating an approach to development and reduction of poverty generating positive effects for broad layers of population.”
The Ministry goes on to demand that any transition to a “green economy” must unfold within the framework of approaches conforming to market economy. Strictly and only on this basis, it should then be shaped in a way “to lead to positive contributions to socio-economic development, to decent jobs, and to an improved access to basic services such as water, sanitation and energy”.
Now the champions of market economy have been promising this for decades if not centuries, witness Adam Smith. All it has so far led to is a never-ending story of devastating financial crises, destructive political conflicts and global wars, a totally unequal and unjust distribution of resources, goods and wealth, and poverty and starvation for millions and millions of people worldwide.
In her comment, Ute Koczy points out that the Federal Government’s stance is at least tantamount to whitewashing the notorious failures of market economy in (never) delivering the goods it keeps promising. The Ministry’s approach ignores antagonistic interests whose aim is not “to imbed” social and ecological aspects but to contain and neutralise them, she argues – for the benefit of profit, it is fair to add. Using the term “green economy” but not really basing its policies on truly green principles implies the Government is misleading the public on the real aims it pursues in the Rio process. To the detriment of nature and people alike.