Abstract: Critical perspectives on economic growth have laid bare the fragility of the assumed link between material growth and socio-ecological wellbeing. The appeal of economic growth, however, goes beyond the economic sphere. As a societal goal, growth is often mobilized to pre-empt and/or co-opt opposition around issues of social justice and redistribution. Not only does the constitution of growth as a collective goal serve to unite the internally fragmented sphere of the social and brush aside (class-based) distributional conflicts, but it also enables the distribution of material concessions to subordinate classes for eliciting their consent. The degrowth proposal should thus more broadly tackle the material and discoursive ways in which growth enables the reproduction of contemporary political-economic systems. This paper argues that the notion of growth functions as a powerful ideal that shapes state–society relationships and social-collective imaginations. It demonstrates this by discussing the making of state in Turkey through a Gramscian perspective, where the notion of economic growth is deeply imprinted in the broader practices of the state to legitimize its existence and dominates the social imaginary in a way that cannot be easily dismissed. Against this backdrop, the possibility of not only effectuating, but also imagining and desiring degrowth would call for a radical reconfiguration of state–society relationships. Within this context, the Kurdish Freedom Movement’s project of Democratic Economy emerges as an alternative, both to the nation-state paradigm and to the imperative of economic growth.
Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, August 2019