miscellaneous

Some reasons for rebranding

In 2005 the Make Poverty History campaign mobilised people up and down the country to drop debt, deliver on aid promises and end unjust trade. I was educating myself about environmental issues around the same time, and I came to the realisation that the two were connected.

The prevailing wisdom was that poverty would end as poor countries eventually ‘developed’ and became advanced consumer societies. But it seemed pretty obvious to me that this is impossible. There isn’t enough oil, land, water, forests or atmosphere for 7 billion people to all consume like Europeans or Americans. That model of the good life cannot be universalised.

That leaves us with a conundrum. Either lower income countries need to stop developing so that the richest can carry on consuming, or richer countries need to consume less to create ecological space. There’s only one ethical option of course. To make poverty history, we have to make wealth history at the same time.

That’s why I called the blog Make Wealth History, and I’ve been exploring that general idea ever since. The book I co-authored, The Economics of Arrival, covers similar territory and most of my freelance work does too. It’s more or less become my life’s work, so I’ve not been in any great rush to change it.

However, with every passing year, the connection to Make Poverty History fades a little further. I now have readers who don’t remember it at all. It needs to change to stay relevant.

Secondly, Make Wealth History always did make some people prickle. It’s a total non-starter in business and political circles. People are fine once I’ve explained it, but how many people are put off before they ever get to an explanation? I didn’t mind that when the blog was a small and personal record of what I was learning, but it’s become more of a problem as the blog’s reach has grown.

In short, the name holds the blog back. Some of you know this already, because you’ve written to me about it in the past. So it’s changing. It’s not a full relaunch in that I’m not planning to change anything else, and I’ll tell you more about the name next time.

6 comments

  1. I might be a total “freak”, but to me, it was the name of the blog that hooked me. I love the concept, and I think is the keystone of the change of mindset we need, plain and simple: make wealth history. I think it will be hard to find a better name…

    1. Perhaps hard but not impossible. Original name was a very good riff on a theme of the time, but as he points out, the underlying reference doesn’t speak to people the same way now. Hopefully the creativity that devised the original name will stil be in play to devise a very good new one! We’ll await in eager expectation… 😉

  2. In the ’60’s it was Think Small and it worked for a while.
    Your instinct of a planetary limit and the framing of a forward looking value system makes sense still.
    Make Wealth History and there may be a more sane future.

  3. Yes, I like Make Wealth History too, which is why I have stuck with it. I still think it’s a pretty nifty name, but it’s also one that people either love or hate. I hope to be able to reach a wider and more varied audience with something less controversial!

  4. I’m rather in agreement with the other comments. Make wealth history was good, not just for the oldies (like me) who remember Make Poverty History but also, post 2008, Make Wealth History also references on issues of inequality. The Earthbound Report doesn’t really do it for me personally, though, although I hope to get used to it. At the risk of being a PIT proverbial, how about “Enough Growth”, “Grown up economy” viz a viz your book – (I guess you can’t use the book title as your blog title, can you)? Won’t stop me reading your blog, though, whatever it’s called!

    1. All fair points. Make Wealth History referenced inequality but not the environment in the title. Earthbound kind of has that the other way round, so neither of them are comprehensive. I did toy with some names around the title of the book too, but anything that sounds growth-sceptic will rule out the broader readership I’ve been trying to include.

      It would be impossible to find a name that resonates with everyone, so thanks for sticking with it even though it doesn’t work for you!

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