Matthew Hilton


On his book Prosperity for All: Consumer Activism in an Era of Globalization

Cover Interview of October 18, 2009


I hope that the book will inspire a broader debate about the meaning of consumer society.  Since the credit crunch, the liberal guilt complex has become more prominent.  Affluent commentators, concerned about their own luxurious lifestyles, have seemed to welcome the contractions in the economy as some sort of cure for western affluenza.  This is such a shame, especially since many of those who are concerned with western over-consumption are also worried about global poverty.  But the approaches to poverty are now dominated by philanthropy rather than politics.

I hope Prosperity for All will help reintegrate debates about poverty with debates about under-consumption.  That is, we recognise the poor around the world have legitimate desires to share in a life of plenty and that there is much to recommend the world of goods.  Yet we must see consumer society as a political subject that affects us all; not simply a moral dilemma facing those who pretend they’d like to downsize.

We need to consider how wealth might be better distributed around the world so that we can all be consumers – perhaps not consumers who all drive Hummers, but consumer who all have access to a decent standard of living.

© 2009 Matthew Hilton