nothing new under the sun

The other day I was rooting through an old copy of the Idler in search of a Tom Hodgkinson quote I was after, which I didn’t find. I did find this though, in the editorial to Idler 36, written in 2005:

“The injection of money and capital into societies inevitably causes more problems than it solves. Which is why today’s money-worshippers such as Geldof, Curtis and Bono are barking up the wrong tree when they say they want to make poverty history. It is not poverty that is the problem; peasant cultures have lower levels of stress and higher levels of freedomand fun than hard-work, rich cultures. No, wealth is is the problem and the only effective campaign would be Make Wealth History.”

So there you go. We kind of knew we weren’t the only ones to think of it, and that’s now at least four people who got their first.

How to Free Yourself from Anxiety, Fear, Mortgages, Money, Guilt, Debt, Government, Boredom, Supermarkets, Bills, MelaTom Hodgkinson, by the way, though prone to slightly rose-tinted views of peasant culture, has two fine books out that are actually far more important than their ‘humour section’ classification might suggest – How to be Idle and How to be Free.

American readers should also note that How to be Free has just been launched in a US edition called The Freedom Manifesto.


  1. I think one of the most serious aspects of the money economy globally is the way that we in the West have precipitated certain other cultures into it over such a short period of time. In our own society we have had centuries to move slowly from a barter and ‘gift’ economy into a consumer model, but we expect others to accommodate themselves to us and our monetary habits in a matter of a few years, or decades at the most. The disruption this causes, in psychological as well as social and economic terms, is catastrophic. I witnessed it myself in some of the small country towns along the east coast of Madagascar. Has anyone researched and written about this? If so I would be interested in reading about it.

  2. Yes, someone has researched this. I have a book called, very simply ‘How rich countries got rich and why poor countries stay poor’ by an economist called Erik Reinert. His basic theory is that it is all down to our institutions – that we have developed banks and regulatory bodies over decades of wrangling, while African countries have just been handed a model and told to implement it. Oliver James, a psychologist, has also written extensively about the social effects of consumerism, although he focuses on the English speaking world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: