The growth paradigm, as I understand the term, refers to the idea that ‘the economy’ exists as an identifiable sphere of society, that it possesses an inherent tendency to grow, that its growth is imperative, continuous (even, essentially, limitless), and that growth is an acknowledged social goal and a fundamental social good – even indeed the principal remedy for a catalogue of social ills. 1 One may question one or the other element of this formulation but there is little doubt that a set of ideas of this type has been profoundly influential, across the world and for a long time. This invites the question: how long? When did the growth paradigm come into being? Out of what materials was it fashioned and by whom?