John McDonnell does really have to say this, doesn't he?

We're reminded of a bit of ancient history concerning scientific socialism here:

Britain is too obsessed with economic “growth for the sake of growth”, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has claimed.

High taxes and spending are part of the solution, he said, but cannot solve what he calls “fundamental” problems in the economy.

Redistribution only “made sense when the economy was growing and creating relatively secure, relatively well-paid work”, the shadow chancellor said.

He said the Government is “fixated” on economic growth and should instead shift its focus onto “decent, secure work... and combatting climate change”.

The old argument about the science of socialism was that it would be more efficient than capitalism and markets. Eliminate all that waste of competition and plan what is to be produced, by whom, where, and we'll all have more stuff. We'll be richer in short.

Then we went and tested the contention to destruction and 1989 showed that it was incorrect.

Oh well, not the first nor the last scientific or political proposition shown to be wrong. What's much more interesting is that the justification for the same policies has changed in this modern age. For all too many people still insist we should be doing those same things, they just trot out different reasons as to why we should. Some that it would be fairer that way, others even going so far as to insist that we shouldn't have economic growth therefore planning and socialism.

Which brings us to John McDonnell. He rather does have to say what he has, doesn't he? Objective reality shows that is proffered plans won't produce economic growth. Therefore he must insist that economic growth isn't what we're aiming for in the first place if he is to convince us of the righteousness of the plans.

We ourselves know what GDP, economic growth, really is. It's a rise in the value added in an economy. That, in turn, simply increases the potential for doing whatever it is that we wish to do. Whether you want more redistribution, more spending upon less pollution, less animal cruelty, better housing, schools capable of teaching pupils, really, whatever your list of what the good life is a larger economy increases the ability to produce or provide those very things. Thus switching the goal in favour of other targets doesn't work - we're still made better off by higher GDP even if we might argue about how that extra value should be deployed.

What we do when we're richer is arguable, but being richer isn't some thing to abjure in favour of what we might want to argue about.