Academic journal article World Review of Political Economy

Growth, Development, and Social Justice: A Statement of the Ninth Forum of the World Association for Political Economy

Academic journal article World Review of Political Economy

Growth, Development, and Social Justice: A Statement of the Ninth Forum of the World Association for Political Economy

Article excerpt

May 25, 2014

Economic growth is generally measured by the rate of increase in gross domestic product (GDP) at the national or global level. Increases in GDP are still important for developing countries. In striving for expanded GDP since the 20th century, however, most countries have ignored the associated ecological and environmental damage. As a consequence, many natural resources have been quickly exhausted or wasted, creating not only an extensive pattern of economic growth but also more fierce competition and environmental conflict among nations. In addition, to some extent, these growth patterns have fueled territorial conflict.

The growth paradox may be represented in different ways. Briefly speaking, economic growth is not equal to economic development. The traditional outlook on development is based on expanding physical production, which takes for granted that all economic growth is a good thing and ignores social development. It argues that GDP is the sole benchmark for evaluating different countries' economic performance. Based on a theory of value and a theory of fairness, producing more material objects is neither the goal of human society nor the ultimate value in human development.

The shortcomings of traditional outlooks on development are as follows: issues concerning proper objectives, value, and justice, such as "why development" and "how to evaluate development" are ignored, while issues such as "how to push development" are widely discussed. Such an outlook reflects an overemphasis on instrumental rationality and the neglect of human values. On the contrary, a scientific outlook on development, based on Marxist economics, could be taken as a positive response to the shortcomings of the traditional outlook. Its core goal is people-oriented, coordinated, and sustainable development, thereby promoting comprehensive economic, social, and human development. It argues that scientific economic development should serve the people, and as a consequence, economic development should enhance comprehensive human development and elevate the well-being of the people, eventually improving the livelihoods of people worldwide and the fairness of economic development and income distribution. …

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