If the high priests of economics want the credit for Australia’s economic growth over the last three decades, they must also wear the blame for the social destruction that has accompanied it – the devastation of once prosperous industrial centres and the suburbs they sustained, as factories closed and workers were forced to abandon their trades. The social costs of this ‘economic modernisation’ have been immense, but today are virtually ignored. The fracturing of communities continues apace.
An Economy Is Not a Society is a passionate and personal J’accuse against the people whose abandonment of moral policy making has ripped the guts out of Australia’s old industrial communities, robbed the country of manufacturing knowhow, reversed our national ethos of egalitarianism and broken the sense of common purpose that once existed between rulers and ruled.
Those in power, Dennis Glover argues, must abandon the idea that a better society is purely about offering individuals more dollars in their pockets. What we desperately need is a conversation about the lives, working conditions, jobs and communities we want for ourselves and our families – and we need to choose a future that is designed to benefit all the Australian people, not just some.
Dennis Glover is the son and brother of Dandenong factory workers. He grew up in Doveton before studying at Monash University and King’s College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a PhD in history. He has worked for two decades as an academic, newspaper columnist, political adviser and speechwriter to Labor leaders and senior ministers.