The well-being of Europe’s citizens depends less on individual consumption and more on their social consumption of essential goods and services – from water and retail banking to schools and care homes – in what we call the foundational economy. Individual consumption depends on market income, while foundational consumption depends on social infrastructure and delivery systems of networks and branches, which are neither created nor renewed automatically, even as incomes increase. This historically created foundational economy has been wrecked in the last generation by privatisation, outsourcing, franchising and the widespread penetration of opportunistic and predatory business models. The distinctive, primary role of public policy should therefore be to secure the supply of basic services for all citizens (not a quantum of economic growth and jobs). Reconstructing the foundational has to start with a vision of citizenship that identifies foundational entitlements as the conditions for dignified human development, and likewise has to depend on treating the business enterprises central to the foundational economy as juridical persons with claims to entitlements but also with responsibilities and duties. If the aim is citizen well-being and flourishing for the many not the few, then European politics at regional, national and EU level needs to be refocused on foundational consumption and securing universal minimum access and quality. If/when government is unresponsive, the impetus for change has to come from engaging citizens locally and regionally in actions which break with the top down politics of ‘vote for us and we will do this for you’.
reform of economic or political systems. In such discourses the central
A brief history of thrift
motif of reconciling the tensions between technology and ecology, economic
growth and ecology, and competitive market and ecology becomes one of the
correct employment of smart technology and ‘win-win strategies’ (Milne et al.,
2006). Such suggestions however, have come with severe criticisms, particularly
from those who argue it is precisely economic growth that needs to be called
into question (see Trainer, 2000; Carruthers, 2001; de Geus, 2003; Milne et
Simplicity, sensuality and politics in Henry Thoreau
” and “nature”, but over time he came to see the natural and
social worlds as integrated and inseparable’ (2004:105–106). It is important to
recognise that this was within the context of the times, in which the existing
idealist notion of creation was competing against the emergent materialist theory
of evolution. Thoreau had been moving towards Darwin’s argument throughout
the 1850s, with the publication of his writing on scientific ecology such as ‘The
Dispersion of Seeds’ and ‘The Succession of Forest Trees’ (now published as part
of Wild Fruits). In 1859, he
Marquand, D (1988), The Unprincipled Society, London, Fontana.
Marx, K. (1975), Early Writings (Harmondsworth: Penguin).
Misztal, B. A. (1996), Trust in Modern Societies, Cambridge, Polity.
Offe, C. and Heinz, R. G. (1992), Beyond Employment, trans. A. Braley, Cambridge,
O’Neill, J. (1994), Ecology, Policy and Politics, London, Routledge.
Polanyi, K. (1944), The Great Transformation, New York, Beacon Press.
Rothstein, B. (no date), ‘Trust, social dilemmas and collective memories’, mimeo.
Sanghera, B. S. (1998), ‘The social embeddedness of markets: the
But there is the need to be unsentimental about the scope for
these alternatives when the foundational economy is also
characterised by an ecology of private enterprise, and is likely
to remain so given the expense of extending public ownership
with compensation and the difficulty of creating capable, large
co-operatives. Equally, the issue is not ownership per se but,
firstly, the interaction of ownership and business model in
specific activities and, secondly, whether that contributes to
Renewing the foundational
the only end that matters
-are-blind-to-the-limitsof-growth (accessed 24 April 2016).
42 Herman E. Daly, Ecological Economics and the Ecology of Economics:
Essays in Criticism, Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 1999.
43 The Equality Trust, ‘How has inequality changed?’, 2016. Available at:
24 April 2016).
44 John Gapper, ‘Capitalism: in search of balance – FT.Com’, Financial
Times, 23 December 2013. Available at: http://www.ft.com/cms/
(accessed 24 April 2016).
45 Amartya Sen and James E. Foster, On
advances a region’s unique technological capabilities. The regional
process of technology capability advance will likely involve a succession of
firms, with new firms building on advances made by previous innovators.
A region’s technological capabilities are like a seabed, or an industrial
ecology, in which entrepreneurial firms are spawned, grow, flourish and die.
At the same time, however, entrepreneurial firms, driven by a technology
capability and market opportunity dynamic, are forever advancing their own
capabilities. In the process, the region’s technological
stresses of the people and the ecology, making
it an [un]inhabitable place . 56
This case of the coal mines
in Talabira depicts the difference of values between the villagers
and the mine operators. For the villagers, the forest is more than
an economic means; it is a part of their culture and heritage (as