The Approaching Great Transformation is about the coming shift in how we act and think in the world economically as the era of cheap oil comes to an end. The purpose of this book is to provide inspiration for those seeking the ongoing global effort to move away from our dependency on fossil fuels and ceaseless growth, and towards a more sustainable, stable, and just system.
With vision and deliberate action communities around the world can break out of habitual ways of producing and consuming things and move optimistically toward something better. The Approaching Great Transformation provides a philosophical basis and guidelines for citizens who are working to develop new and very different economic institutions that are centered on self-reliance, ecological permanence, stability, and a celebration of human creativity. In time, these institutional developments will lead to the positive evolution of economic systems and human culture. This book documents examples and stories of this work that is already being done.
Soon, fossil fuels will run out—or become ridiculously complicated and expensive to extract—and the global economy will be in a real pickle, says Magnuson, an economist “specializing in non-orthodox approaches to political economy.” These days, no one is safe from rhetoric about “going green”; Magnuson argues that this is mostly a “marketing ploy,” a way for huge corporations to have and eat their cakes—labeling their products “green” while relentlessly pursuing “endless growth” and ignoring the reality of a finite planet with limited resources. While “green” and “sustainable” have become catchwords, material consumption in the last 25 years has increased. A “deeper transformation of our core economic institutions” is necessary, he argues; i.e. capitalism must go. While eloquently argued, the book’s central message will be difficult to hear for many, though he effectively skewers the mantras of those who hope to ignore the problem: “at least it won’t happen in our life time” and “technology will come through.” This is a brave book by a smart person with a masterful command of economic theory; unfortunately, for these reasons its reach is probably limited: most people will balk at its central message: that we will “have to get by with much, much less production and consumption.” (Mar)