Two of the UK's leading economists call for an end to extreme individualism as the engine of prosperity
Throughout history, successful societies have created institutions which channel both competition and co-operation to achieve complex goals of general benefit. These institutions make the difference between societies that thrive and those paralyzed by discord, the difference between prosperous and poor economies. Such societies are pluralist but their pluralism is disciplined.
Successful societies are also rare and fragile. We could not have built modernity without the exceptional competitive and co-operative instincts of humans, but in recent decades the balance between these instincts has become dangerously skewed: mutuality has been undermined by an extreme individualism which has weakened co-operation and polarized our politics.
Collier and Kay show how a reaffirmation of the values of mutuality could refresh and restore politics, business and the environments in which people live. Politics could reverse the moves to extremism and tribalism; businesses could replace the greed that has degraded corporate culture; the communities and decaying places that are home to many could overcome despondency and again be prosperous and purposeful. As the world emerges from an unprecedented crisis we have the chance to examine society afresh and build a politics beyond individualism.
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