By Herman Daly
Attempts to integrate economics and ecology have been based on one of three strategies: (1) economic imperialism; (2) ecological reductionism; (3) steady-state subsystem. Each strategy begins with the picture of the economy as a subsystem of the finite ecosystem. Thus all three recognize limits to growth. The differences concern the way they each treat the boundary between the economy and the rest of the ecosystem, and that has large policy consequences for how we accommodate to limits. read more
I write this sitting in a service station on the M11 in the UK travelling back from Leipzig after what was an inspiring conference on degrowth. I’ve been hitching for only a couple of years now, but as soon as my talk on money and happiness was accepted for the conference in Leipzig, it was inevitable that I would hitchhike there – hitching seemed to me the only authentic way I could personally make a journey to a conference on degrowth. read more
An annual event, Free Money Day, was created in 2011 and is run by the Post Growth Institute. Each September 15th, people all over the world hand out their own money to complete strangers, two coins or notes at a time, asking the recipients to pass half on to someone else. The event seeks to inspire a more sharing world, and offer a liberating experience that encourages critical and creative thinking about our relationship with money and how we can have healthier types of economic activity. read more
By Jana Gebauer
Gabriel Trettel Silva as the first presenter rose the question of whether or not profit-making is compatible with the principles of a steady-state economy. His own conclusion was that it is possible but not desirable. He rather addressed the need for redefining the concept of (economic) efficiency in a way that it includes positive externalities on society and nature – a requirement he actually finds met by social entrepreneurship organisations which he therefore calls “positive-externalizing machines”.read more
How to sell degrowth
is one of the questions of our research and communication project Postwachstumspioniere at the Institute for Ecological Economy Research. In the paper “Successful non-growing companies”, Andrea Liesen, Christian Dietsche and myself are discussing motives and strategies that seem to apply to a variety of non-growing companies. We found that small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) very well distinguish between traditional growth in numbers and growth in qualities: not more but better appears to be a dominant management philosophy. read more
Without trying to give definitions of growth or degrowth everybody knows anyway, I would like to emphasize that these phenomena were always subject to discussions. Even a non-economist knows that it is impossible to talk about growth without mentioning ideas like increases in production factors, industrialization or economic development.
Any increase has to come to a limit which forces us to go back to realistic and sustainable foundations, whether we like it or not. This is the meaning of degrowth as we know it. The question now is how we would like to see the economy of Africa to develop, and how this could be compatible with the concept of degrowth for Northern countries, whose economic growth seems to have reached its limit. read more
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a comprehensive free trade and investment treaty currently being negotiated – in secret – between the European Union and the USA with massive implications for people and the environment on both sides of the Atlantic. The stakes couldn´t be higher but not only for European and Americans but also for the rest of the world that would be affected in many different ways by this agreement between the two super powers of trade. In a working paper that will be released shortly1 we explore why human rights, environmental, consumer advocate and all types of organizations all over the world that are working for a world different from the corporate-led neoliberal dogma, should pay special attention to the TTIP. Some of the main concerns include: read more
Europe is exhausted. It is exhausted after long years of what is labeled as the Eurozone crisis. It is exhausted after years of economic success and – now – prolonged years of political failure. Every single attempt of deepening the political union of Europe after the enactment of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 and the introduction of the common currency that followed in 1999, failed in consecutive referendums. Remember Ireland 2001 with the Nice Treaty, remember the Netherlands and France in 2005 with the European constitution. This elitist concept of Europe was too much rooted in an overtly rationalist model of economic necessities. But humans are more than economic machines doing what markets expect and require from them. read more
One might say that the term degrowth provides few new insights. At first sight the concept seems identical with the calls of the Radical Ecology Movement from the Seventies, supplanted by the Meadows report to the Club of Rome on ‘The limits to growth’. Yet, unlike terms such as “sustainable development” that got swollen over time after incorporating economic indicators in its body, degrowth took its own path of meanings and emergence. It resurged in the grass-root anti-car movement in France challenging not only the physical limits to growth but the very mechanisms that drive societal organization: the role of technical innovation and growth for growth’s sake. read more
The Transition Towns movement, and related initiatives such as Eco-village, Permaculture and Voluntary Simplicity movements, are taking the first steps that must be taken if we are to solve global sustainability and justice problems. But I want to argue that unless they (eventually) undertake significant change in their focus and goals they will fail to make a significant contribution. Transitioners seem to assume that if they continue to establish more community gardens etc. in time, this will fairly automatically result in the emergence of a satisfactory society, and so they need not concern themselves with the distasteful realm of radical politics, confronting capitalism, fundamental structural change and “revolution”. I think this is quite mistaken. read more
As a manager for "Bios funeral directors", Dr. phil. Haimo Schulz Meinen, ex-journalist, teacher and writer, talks about the steps that were necessary to relieve the planet from the human objective of growth. In fact, "Bios Funeral" appears to be a very profitable start up and worthy of investment. After a short moment of surprise we finally published the interview for the Stream towards Degrowth. read more
“Wrong life cannot be lived rightly”: This famous dictum by Theodor W. Adorno1 highlights the difficulty of finding a way to individually pursue a good life in a world that is characterised by inequality, exploitation and various forms of domination. However, this question has so far mainly been dealt with theoretically or as an ethical issue2. For our study, we chose a different approach: By applying Adorno’s assumption to the representatives of the current degrowth movement, we dealt with it empirically. More precisely, we sought to identify the possibilities and barriers for degrowth-oriented actors in a growth-dominated economy. read more
Australia’s two-speed economy, in which those engaged in mineral extraction flourish while the rest flounder, seems to have only one direction: up. Not that people really stop to think why. Most Australians, if you asked them, would stare blankly if you mentioned degrowth, or crack a joke about how it’s tantamount to devolution. It seems the citizens of this sunburnt country are, as of yet, unmoved by the degrowth movement.
But a peek beneath the surface of our consumer culture reveals a wealth of of academics, writers, activists and community leaders advocating degrowth, and whose offerings to the movement include progressive opinion leadership, think tanks, grassroots groups, a political party, and even an independent magazine. read more
As it becomes abundantly clear that humanity as a whole has crossed the ecological limits of the earth, and that countries like China and India are fast joining the already-industrialised nations in stressing the planet even more, the search for radical alternatives is humanity’s most urgent quest. There is no doubt that, as a species, we have to downsize if we are to respect the limits, not only for ourselves but equally important, for the millions of other species that co-inhabit the earth with us.
But is ‘degrowth’, or the reduction of material and energy uses for human use, a valid and viable strategy for the ‘global South’, i.e. countries and populations (including some in industrialized countries) that have not reached an excessive or even acceptable level of prosperity? I think an emerging framework of well-being from India could offer some perspectives on this. read more
This article is written by Claudia Gómez-Portugal in the scope of the Stream towards Degrowth. As a Mexican activist and promoter of social change she founded the organization SAKBE - Commons for Social Change and the Free Learning Communities for Life Initiative - and commits herself to developing communication strategies for social change, effective participation, learning networking and community revitalization. read more