Transcription of an oral session by Frederik Blauwhof at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity on in Barcelona the topic “Degrowth, Capitalist Institutions and Democracy”.
Abstract: Infinite economic growth on a finite planet is not possible. But economic history shows that capitalist economies periodically lapse into crisis and recessions. This paper argues that social sustainability and environmental sustainability are necessarily incompatible under and because of the foundational social relations of capitalism. Without growth, the profit rate will tend to zero, which necessitates cuts in social provision to keep companies profitable and governments’ budgets balanced. Ecological sustainability and social provision will therefore require addressing and resolving the class antagonism in companies between shareholders and managers on the one hand, and workers on the other. From a political perspective this paper proposes an alliance between labour unions, socialists, anarchists and environmentalists to fight for democratically organized green industry. This can be an important step towards building the kinds of movements that can, in practice, fight for and achieve a ‘steady state’ economy that is democratically owned and managed.