Welcome to our blog. Here, you can find a variety of articles, from the relevance of degrowth in/for current affairs and contemporary political and social movements, until the impressions and news from events such as the international degrowth conference in Malmö in 2018. If you would like to comment on or contribute to the blog, please contact us at email@example.com.
Technological pipe dreams and the fixation on perpetual growth have prevented effective climate policies for decades
“Happiness does not pay pensions”, said the Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos. The statement aimed to criticize the idea of a “post-growth” or “degrowth” society, which has received increasing attention in light of the climate crisis. The key to protecting the climate would be innovation, claimed the chancellor, while an end to economic growth would mean an end to the welfare state.
In the early 17th century, the bubonic plague is said to have played a crucial role in popping the tulip bubble in the Netherlands. Today, the coronavirus (COVID-19) is leading not only to a health crisis, but also an economic one. The outbreak is sparking realistic fears of a deep global downturn. Our globalised, just-in-time, cost-cutting, risk-taking and profit-maximising economy has shown a rather limited ability to absorb shocks. In a time of crisis, the instability and fragility, but also the inequality of the economic system becomes painfully obvious.read more
Recently, an article on degrowth appeared in Harvard Business Review (hereafter HBR). Rather than offering a critique of capitalism, the article proposes that degrowth may not be a threat to business after all, and in fact, there are burgeoning degrowth markets waiting to be tapped into by the risk averse. Although we applaud the authors in getting the word “degrowth” into the illustrious pages of HBR, we take serious issue with the all too familiar ways in which this word and its radical connotations have been stretched.
While the limits and failures of our current economic and political system are known and repetitively pointed out by degrowth research, we have a deficit in the area of strategic planning for transformative politics. What is missing are entry points for politicizing and changing social values, norms and institutions. To do this successfully, it is useful to detect how hegemonic values are embedded, not only in political and economic policies, but also in everyday life.
Degrowth imagines a radically different future, which is why so many have connected to its message. But it is a future which seems very distant from today’s political, economic and social system. So what does it mean, in practical terms, to organize towards a degrowth future in a highly commodified and competitive present?
According to degrowth.info, degrowth aims to achieve “the well-being of all” and sustain “the natural basis of life”. A prioritisation of well-being considerations has always been central to degrowth, and the call for “a good life for all” has become one of the movement’s popular rallying slogans. What is less clear, however, is who and what is included in this “all” that degrowthers refer to.
There’s lots of talk recently about the wealth of Jeff Bezos. There are maps comparing his wealth to entire countries, a “You are Jeff Bezos” game where you can spend his money on different things – like paying their fair-share of taxes, and a graphic that puts his wealth in perspective.read more
The annual World Economic Forum in Davos brought together representatives from government and business to deliberate how to solve the worsening climate and ecological crisis. The meeting came just as devastating bush fires were abating in Australia. These fires are thought to have killed up to one billion animals and generated a new wave of climate refugees. Yet, as with the COP25 climate talks in Madrid, a sense of urgency, ambition and consensus on what to do next were largely absent in Davos.
Last summer, Matthias Schmelzer and Andrea Vetter, both from the Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie in Leipzig, published the book ‘Degrowth/Postwachstum’. With this book, they provide the first introduction to degrowth in German. For lack of a good German translation of ‘degrowth’ they use ‘Postwachstum’ more or less as a synonym. First they describe how our societies came to depend on growth, and they present various strands of criticism on growth. After that, they discuss definitions of degrowth, goals of the movement, they present concrete proposals, and discuss the strategy.
Degrowth addresses the negative consequences of consumerism (psychological stress, long working hours and positional competition) and discusses the benefits of frugal lifestyles. Henri Lefebvre, a French philosopher from the 20th century, argues that if ideas or values are not physically implemented in space, they become mere fantasies. As such, if degrowth wishes to prevail, it has to leave its mark on space, just as consumerism has successfully done. This article considers ideas of creating space and human-nature connectedness, which in combination, seem to be a perfect match in forming a strategy for degrowth.
In the 1980s, cities were defined as the ‘growth machines’ of the economy (Molotch, 1976). Today, urban economists epitomize them as economic ‘triumphs’ (Glaeser, 2011). Cities, intended as dense and mixed forms of urban living organized in agglomerations of economic activities, are presented as the solution to many of contemporary socio-ecological problems. They are viewed as the location of the so called ‘energy transition’, ‘social innovation’ or the ‘clean economy of knowledge’.read more
We are starting 2020 full of enthusiasm for all that is to come! If you want to be involved in the degrowth movement you just need to roll up your sleeves because in this new year, there will be plenty to do.
Here is a list of the activities that planned for 2020 so you can already mark them in your calendar.
The holidays are special; a chance to stop working, slow down and spend time with family and friends. The numerous family gatherings will likely involve discussions about the state of the world, politics, climate change, and maybe even degrowth. In case you find yourself in this scenario, we have put together this list of tips and suggestions for how to discuss degrowth with family and friends during the holidays: