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Abstract: Degrowth is identified as a prospective turning point in human development as significant as the domestication of fire or the process of agrarianisation. The Transition movement is identified as the most important attempt to develop a prefigurative, local politics of degrowth. Explicating the links between capitalist modernisation, metabolic throughput and psychological individuation, Transition embraces ‘limits’ but downplays the implications of scarcity for open, liberal societies, and for inter-personal and inter-group violence. William Ophuls’ trilogy on the politics of scarcity confronts precisely these issues, but it depends on an unconvincing sociology of individuation as a central process in modernity. A framework is advanced through which to explore the tensions, trade-offs and possibilities for a socially liberal, culturally cosmopolitan and science-based civilisation under conditions of degrowth and metabolic contraction.

Environmental Values 22 (2013): 261-285.