chapter  8
20 Pages

Community, Sustainability and the B u it Environment

Mill wrote these words more than 100 years ago; the notion that human happiness is not to be found in individual gratification is not new. The recent growth of support for communitarianism (Etzioni, 1993), a concern for duties and responsibilities as much as individual rights and for greater social cohesion, represent a revival of Mill’s philosophy. They are a reaction to the social breakdown, rising crime and increasing social pathologies of the 1980s and 1990s, consequences of a society in which the emphasis is heavily on ‘me’ and not fiwe5. While many in the developed world - indeed the majority - became materially better off in the Thatcher-Reagan years, it is arguable whether they also became happier. The power of self-interest to motivate human activity and to stimulate economic growth has been proved beyond doubt, but the accumulating physical wealth and accelerating consumption were accompanied by social exclusion, alienation, insecurity and environmental damage.