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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 secondsGovernment sits in a really difficult position in this debate for all sorts of reasons.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsIn a way, we've really hollowed out our idea of what government is. And I have this picture of governments as a conflicted state.

Skip to 0 minutes and 26 secondsBecause on the one hand, the left argues that governments are captured by corporate interests. And the right argues that governments are cumbersome, bureaucratic, centralist organisations that make a mess of markets. And so between left and right, there's not much left to hang onto in terms of a vision of governance. But actually, one of the things that's trapped governments into that sense of being so conflicted is, in fact, the growth imperative itself. One of the arguments for strong governance is for social stabilities, to keep society stable.

Skip to 1 minute and 15 secondsAnd if social stability depends on economic stability and economic stability, to go back to the dilemma of growth, depends on economic growth, then there's a really tricky role for government because they think they have to just chase economic growth the whole time because that's what gives them their mandate, that's what leads to social stability.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 secondsBut actually, once you free government of that role and allow it the role of being a facilitator of prosperity, of being a guardian for prosperity in a broader sense of the term, there's a very real chance that you can avoid this conflict, that you can free government, actually, to be an effective mechanism for social change in the world and an effective support for people to change society themselves. And that's a vision I think really worth holding on to, the idea of the progressive state as a guardian of prosperity. OK.

Guardians of prosperity

Government is in a difficult situation, as previously, social stability has depended on economic stability. This means that governments feel the need to pursue economic growth above all else.

However, Tim Jackson points out that this is quite a narrow way of understanding what government should do. He argues that we should change how we view governments, and make them guardians of prosperity in the broadest sense.

If governments stopped seeing economic growth as their main aim, and started seeing prosperity as their primary responsibility, what would this look like? What are some things that would be different to how they are today? Do you think any countries do this well already?

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This video is from the free online course:

Global Prosperity Beyond GDP

UCL (University College London)

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