The Economics of Hope

Warfare is good for the economy … Human lives will be worth less in the future … To recover from the financial crash we need more of the private debt that caused it. Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of neoliberal economics.

If campaigners for justice, peace and the environment are to offer more than sticking-plaster solutions, we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves and rebuild the economic system. The bottom line of any viable economy is that there is only one planet earth – not the three which would be required to give everyone the lifestyle typical of the average British person today.

But what would such an economy look like? Answers are closer to hand than you might think. From the writings of ‘new economists’ to the pioneering work of those who are getting on with the job, it is taking shape already.

And it is taking the shape of the gospel. The new economy will evangelise us: it invites us to follow Christ who, unlike us, was humble enough to take on the limits and opportunities of creation, and who rose from the Earth to reconcile us to it. This is no ‘dismal science’ as economics is known, but joyful art and sacred enterprise.

The Joy in Enough campaign is inviting Christians and all people of good will to join in building a new economy within the ecological limits of the Earth – and in doing so to recover our own true humanity.

We do not claim to have all the answers, but we have urgent and pointed questions. We challenge, among other things, the unacknowledged addiction to growth, the freedom of banks to create debt, the legal framework for rights to ‘commons’ like oceans and forests, the blinkered curricula of university economics departments, and the freedom of advertisers to colonise childhood and public space.

It’s a journey that turns fellow-travellers into friends across the movements for justice, environment, faith and business ethics. Let’s make it together!

Paul Bodenham is Chair of Green Christian. A second Joy in Enough conference takes place on 7 November 2015 in Bristol. It will feature green economist and MEP Molly Scott-Cato, and Jonathan Rowson, director of the Social Brain Centre at the Royal Society of Arts and author of the ground-breaking report Spiritualise: revitalising spirituality to address 21st century challenges. For more details visit

Paul will also be speaking at our Open Networking Day in Coventry on 19 September, on ‘Francisconomics: ‘The Saint, The Pope and the Economy of Enough’, which will look at these ideas in the context of the forthcoming encyclical on the environment and the spirituality of St Francis.