Abstract: In the last years, different sources point to a same message: industrial civilization has entered an overshoot mode, the natural limits to growth have been already surpassed. This frontier does not wait for us in the future; it already belongs to our past. If population and the economy are truly beyond the limits, then current visions and theories of social change would be deeply perturbed. If the development era is approaching its end, then many sociological theories on current societies will share the same destiny, sustainable development doctrines between them. It is worth to examine theories that explicitly look at the social world this way or that – at least – are not incompatible with it. Differences between these theories depend on sociological, psychological and anthropological questions; or, in other words, they depend on the human nature. Exploring the relationship between degrowth and the human nature gives rise to debates about selective pressures under conditions of scarcity (human evolution), historical and anthropological evidence, philosophy, and sociology (institutional resilience, utopies as whole society experiments…). As its conclusion, the argument accepts that an evolutionary perspective supports that there are some potentials for conscious social change even in a way-down era, but it does not justify the belief in a particular only line of history. This conclusion does not satisfy the desire of knowing the future; nevertheless it may be the only one possible. The future is not written. Neither in history nor in evolution; not even in the mixture of history and evolution that conforms us as inhabitants of the Earth.
Futures, Volume 44, Issue 6, August 2012, Pages 546–552, Special Issue: Politics, Democracy and Degrowth