José Manuel Fernandes

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José Manuel Fernandes

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António Rebelo de Sousa

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Concerning «Incrementalism»

António Rebelo de Sousa


António Rebelo de Sousa
For many, the solution to economic and social problems is achieved exclusively through economic growth and, therefore, investment, technological progress, artificial intelligence and the discovery of new sources of raw materials. And it is true that growth is a necessary condition for development and entirely true for obtaining new levels of well-being. But growth for growth’s sake will not solve all of humanity’s problems, nor will limitless consumerism solve the long-term problems of our planet.
In 2050, the world population could reach between 9.2 and 9.5 billion inhabitants and, with the evolution that has been seen in countries such as China and India, 75 to 80% of that population will belong to what are usually called differentiated segments of the middle class.
Consumption will therefore increase exponentially, and it is not clear that existing resources will evolve at the same rate, which could cause a structural imbalance between supply and demand, with the potential intensification of inflationary pressures at a world level.
In the end, we could be faced with a new Malthusian Law. This means that a solely «incrementalist» approach will not solve all socio-economic problems. Some frugality in consumption will be necessary, as well as a commitment to sensible redistribution policies of income and property, inclusive policies and a sustainable demographic evolution, without which it will be utopian to think about fighting climate change or models that contribute to reducing regional development asymmetries, but rather a widening of the gap between the developed centre and the underdeveloped periphery.
The idea that only the expansion of production and technological progress matter, without more, presupposes that the sky is the limit and that market mechanisms, by themselves, transform today’s societies into a New World made up only of the privileged. Or else that we are condemned forever to live in communities where great injustices and situations of extreme exclusion can be observed.
In other words, either we let ourselves be tempted along the paths of utopia or we opt for miserly fatalism.
Nothing more, nothing less...
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