-Economic growth can raise the poor's living standards without the contentious zero-sum game of class warfare.
-As wealth is power, choosing to stagnate in a world where everyone else is growing means a steady decrease in relative geopolitical strength, with potentially catastrophic results to national sovereignty in the long run. See China, which sat at a comfortable position at the time it began to stagnate but paid dearly for it after Europeans caught up and surpassed it centuries later.
-On undeveloped countries, economic growth can genuinely improve people's lives. Of course, this has diminishing returns, and thus Icelanders or Swiss stand little to gain from further growth.
Rich First World countries can seriously toy with the idea of giving up on the paradigm of economic growth at all costs and enjoy potential benefits in ecological conservation and societal & financial stability that may come from such a shift. The key problem, however, is point #2.
For Third World cases like mine, I still believe in the need for further growth and wealth, as speaking of "degrowth" and the like is absurd at our level of poverty.>So why I am asking is that I believe the job of economy is to produce and deliver the goods necessary for the functions of human life and the production of said goods. So basically a tool that serves human beans. But now it really does seem to me that economy became l'art pour l'art and people are there to serve it, to ensure it's growth.
One Third World variant of this is developmentalism (or "National Developmentalism" as it's locally known), which doesn't even care about GDP but has a fixation on industries. What it advocates is heavy protectionism and state-controlled import substitution industrialization to achieve an autarchic industrial economy, which would theoretically secure a developed country status. This was attempted during Vargas' reign, the following republic, and, in a different but related model, under military dictatorship, covering half a century. What did they achieve? Brazil became South America's powerhouse, but goods at consumers' disposal were more expensive and
shoddier than foreign ones (blocked due to protectionism). But according to developmentalists, this is fine: all that matters is having industries because industries magically make your country developed.
All those industries were in fact a sham, as key factors making them uncompetitive -poor infrastructure and an unqualified workforce- were adresssed partially or not at all, and by empowering labor legislation and, as a byproduct of their actions, cementing red tape, developmentalist elites actually lowered competitiveness. Once neoliberals dismantled trade barriers, many of these industries collapsed, and yet consumers can now access a much wider, cheaper and better range of goods than they could prior to the end of protectionism.
Nonetheless, we're still South America's largest industrial base. But it's hard to know how much of this is owed to developmentalism and how much of industrial growth would have "naturally" happened with another system. Developmentalists only came to power because they were backed by an urban, industrialized minority, and said minority only existed because industrialization was already taking place within the previous agrarian laissez-faire system (through using surplus capital from commodity exports to fund industries). It's sort of like the Bolsheviks, who are said to have industrialized an agrarian society but in fact only came to power because their society was already partially industrialized and would have continued to industrialize with or without Bolsheviks.
On the other hand, developmentalists are correct in asserting that being able to produce certain goods, regardless of their profitability, has geopolitical advantages, and this becomes most clear in times of sanctions or war.
So beyond asking what do policies achieve, it is also necessary to know what achievements one wants from economic policy. Is it access to consumer goods? Power?