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Abstract: The way our society sees and relates itself to technology is crucial for the debate on economic degrowth. Latouche and others have recognized this and propose, a highly critical if not pessimist attitude. A position which goes back to Georgescu-Roegen but more importantly to Ivan Illich and those authors which describe technological systems as autonomous social systems; most prominently Jaques Ellul. This is a radical and indeed welcome deviation from the dominant paradigm of unquestioned technological optimism, which has traditionally been propagated by the economics discipline from early classical writers until today’s neoclassical orthodoxy. The radical call for a selective moratoria on new technologies at the 2010 Barcelona degrowth conference, illustrates well this deviation in the general degrowth community. However, in this paper we argue that in the absence of critical self-reflection, the community may easily find itself having replaced the dominant “techno-optimist” – dogma, with a “techno-pessimist dogma”. To paraphrase Latouche, what is needed, for a sustainable future without economic growth, is a decolonization of our imaginaries about technology.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session “Technology and degrowth part 1: Theoretical perspectives” at the 4th International Degrowth Conference in Leipzig in 2014.