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Is the Steady State Progressive?

By Brian Snyder

Karl Marx thought of history as progressive, moving from aristocracy to bourgeois capitalism to socialist revolution to communist utopia. While neoclassical economists such as Alan Greenspan and Paul Romer might not agree with Marx on much, they do agree that history tends toward progress. Today, nearly everyone on the political left and much of the political right is “historically progressive,” even if politically conservative. They all seem to believe that our children will inherit a more prosperous,


A Journey of No Return, Not a Circular Economy

By Herman Daly

The economic process is not a mechanical analog that can be run forward and backward, nor a circular process that can return to any previous state. Rather it is an irreversible and irrevocable process moving in the direction of time’s arrow of increasing entropy [1]. Finitude and entropy guarantee that the economic life of our species will be a journey of no return. Therefore even a stationary economy, in the classical sense of constant population and constant capital stock, is ultimately a journey of no return, because the metabolic throughput of matter and energy required to maintain constant stocks of people and physical capital, in the face of depreciation and death, is an entropic flow from ever less concentrated sources to ever filling sinks – and both sources and sinks are finite.