Good Reading : August 2008
18 good reading ı AUGUST 200 8 author profile beyond the Clive Hamilton doesn’t look like an economist.With his Akubra hat, peaceful smile and soft voice, he seems a cross between a mystic and an environmentalist. But then the 55- year-old public intellectual, whom some consider to be Australia’s most influential eft-wing economist, doesn’t want to discuss economics. ‘I find economics boring,’ he says. What interests Hamilton now are the issues of morality and meaning explored in his new work, The Freedom Paradox: Towards a post-secular ethics. The book argues that the economic growth and social freedoms of the past few decades have not made us happier, and that a new type of coercion has emerged, in the form of our drive to conform to the impossible ideals of consumer society. The emphasis on individual choice that followed the liberation movements of the sixties and seventies left us morally confused, Hamilton argues, causing many people to experience a loss of self. The working title of the book was The Moral Self. Hamilton tries to construct a new basis for moral judgement, suggesting that our capacity for acting morally derives from our ‘universal essence’. ‘We tend to be captivated by our superficial selves,’ Hamilton tells me in superficial CLIVE HAMILTON has long challenged us to think more deeply about how we live our lives. In his latest book, he argues that we cannot be truly free unless we commit ourselves to a moral life. He spoke to BEN NAPARSTEK.