The assimilation of progress with the growth of the production of wealth as measured by GDP prevailed with some success during the last century, but it can no longer function. This now leads to a multidimensional crisis (economic, social, environmental, cultural, and even civilizational) that threatens the deep balances of our societies and requires rethinking their goals differently.
The progress achieved so far has focused primarily on the production of goods and services, with very little attention paid to resource savings and even less so to consumption and its links with satisfaction and well-being. Quite the contrary, the needs of growth in production have led to unrestrained consumerism, resulting in a rise in the number of aberrant and unsustainable situations.
The idea according which growth in production of goods and services equals progress shares one presupposed central idea -which is implied and unproven-, namely that the well-being of human beings is limited to the satisfaction of material needs (food, health, housing, clothing, income, etc.). Yet, while this appears to be a priority in situations of underdevelopment, it quickly becomes clear that it is essential to satisfy other dimensions of the well-being which are all too often overlooked if not belittled such as: the need for recognition, human dignity, relationships, the opportunity to express one’s view and take an active part in society, the environment, etc.
Rethinking progress in the context of the 21st century therefore presupposes no longer viewing growth in terms of wealth production but in terms of a better use of existing resources and wealth so as to ensure that everyone can have access to a dignified life and well-being, without compromising the well-being of future generations.
This is why the objective of progress enhanced by SPIRAL is the conquest of these three “untapped deposits” of societal progress: 1. fostering a more effective use of resources; 2. ensuring a better match between our consumption models and our well-being; 3. paying greater attention to the immaterial dimensions of well-being which are so often ignored or even undermined.
Building a society that is able to make way on the path to achieving these goals is the real challenge that humanity faces today!