Against “excess”: the New Puritanism

In: Uncategorized

7 Apr 2009

I do not normally comment on ideas floated by Britain’s Conservative Partly despite it being likely they will be the country’s next governing party. Tory leaders rarely say anything interesting or original.

But the Conservative attack on state “excess”, as reported in today’s Financial Times, is worth noting. It seems that the economic crisis is increasingly being understood as one of excess: excessive greed by bankers, excess demands by consumers and the excessive appetites of workers. Indeed it seems the attack on state excess is mainly targeted at public sector pay.

In a way such puritanism can be seen as an attempt to return to a Protestant ethic. But traditionally the point of frugality was to provide funds for investment in the future. The New Puritanism seems to see austerity as an end in itself.

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