Presentation and transcription of an oral Session by Ernest Garcia at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona on the topic “Beyond Sustainable Development: Sustainable Degrowth towards a Steady-State”.
Abstract: In the last few 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. Four different approaches are discussed in this context: governance of complexity, post‐development and alternative local development, utopian sceneries of a prosperous way‐down, visions of collapse and the die‐off. As a conclusion, the paper accepts that an evolutionary perspective supports that there are some potentials for conscious social change, 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.