I’ve written a couple of long critiques of Hamilton’s books (here and here). Essentially what Hamilton has been doing over a series of books and papers is to try to give his mystical worldview (he wrote a book in 1994 called The Mystical Economist), which rejects the materialism of the modern world, a respectable basis in both natural and social science. The natural science aspect argues that the environment cannot sustain this way of life, while the social science aspect argues that it is not good for our emotional or spiritual well-being.
While in my two articles on his social science I argued that he was unsuccessful, I do have a kind of admiration for the intellectual ambition behind it. Very few intellectuals try to cover so many fields in advocacy of their one core idea.
What I don’t admire is Hamilton’s politics. Though mostly he has been fairly vague on the specifics of what he thinks should be done, I think there is at least an authoritarian sub-text to his work. This is not only because he wants to ban lots of things, but because it is not at all clear how his goals would be achieved within normal liberal democratic politics, especially in the timeframe he thinks climate change imposes on us.
In the absence of a Labor candidate, Hamilton may well get a high vote in Higgins. But how many Higgins voters would really sign up to this policy agenda (from my review of Hamilton’s book Growth Fetish):
… a more progressive income tax, plus luxury taxes, speculative taxes and inheritance taxes (p.222). Limitation on working hours would be imposed (p.218), reducing what people could earn. Most advertising would be banned, reducing our demand for goods we don’t need (pp.91, 219). ..a reduction in TV broadcast hours (p.220). The supply of goods would also be restricted. The use of fossil fuels would be reduced ‘until fossil fuels are largely phased out’ (p.181). Ecological taxes would be imposed, and ‘ecodesign’ principles would aim to eliminate pollution (p.222).
A vote for Hamilton would be ‘aspirational’ voting of the most hypocritical kind.
(Disclosure: I have known the Liberal candidate Kelly O’Dwyer for many years – though I would recommend a vote for almost anyone over Hamilton.)