In the contemporary world, economic development has become a goal in its own right divorced from the intricate web of relationships in which any economic system national or global is inevitably situated. This orientation had led us by the nose to the grave crises that confront us at almost every turn: the widening gulf between the super-rich and the everyone else; climate disruption; and politics dominated by giant corporations and wealthy individuals.
Today's images of what is meaningful in life tend to be confined to better goods and services. Not only do systems of livelihood focus initiative on the basis of profit, but the whole of everyday experience is towards action incited by superficial symbols.
Economism is a philosophical doctrine which claims (implicitly or explicitly) that the economics of the accounting bottom line determines the structure and ethos of society and should therefore be unconditionally obeyed. As such consumerism and advertising are merely tools of economism. This perspective impoverishes individuals as existential beings and cheapens them with regard to what they can become, robbing them of their spiritual heritage. From an ecological perspective, economism is based on false accounting, since the profit it shows is often illusory because some parameters and costs are hidden and omitted. Economism is based on the ethics of selfishness, of competition, of ruthless disregard for all beings, in the pursuit of immediate material profit. It is further limited because of its myopic concept of reality as reduced to an economic substratum. As such economism is an extreme form of reductionism, reducing the world and human beings to economic categories and commodities. This is a vulgarization of the world on the ontological level.
An economic or philosophical system that is so careless about the quality of life, and one which sanctifies ecological devastation, must in some sense be fraudulent. Economism claims to be the best economic system for humanity, but its ecological consequences indicate quite the contrary. The ethics of unbridled selfishness as promoted by economism is an aberration that is an insult to the noble ethical heritage of humanity.