Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Via radical social reforms towards a counter-hegemony?

Special session

How could counter-hegemony become realistic, which is necessary for a democratic transition? Our thesis: We need a bundle of “non-reformist reforms” (Gorz) which tie on everyday social needs and problems (time pressure, fears of future or descent, deficient recognition etc.) and propose alternative ways of their satisfaction or solution. The chances and barriers of this strategy will be discussed and specified with regard to basic income, working time reduction and redistribution of wealth.

Presenters: Dr. Ulrich Schachtschneider (Basic Income Europe), Dr. Barbara Sennholz-Weinhard (Oxfam), Dr. Frank Adler (Sociologist), Jana Flemming (University of Jena), Dr. Ellen Ehmke (Oxfam)

Language: English with translation to German

Technical details: SP A3_Via radical social reforms towards a counter-hegemony_trimmed.mkv, Matroska video, 380.0MB

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Is this the moment for a global ‘degrowth’ movement?

An archaeologist’s perspective on degrowth.

Post-Growth Conference, Brussels 2018 – Workshop Basic Income

Chair : Guillaume Balas, MEP (S&D)
Panellists: Dr Cemal Karakas (Policy Analyst, European Parliamentary Research Services, European Parliament), Stanislas Jourdan (Head of Positive Money Europe, Former Coordinator of the European Citizens’ Initiative for Basic Income and co-Founder of the French Movement for Basic Income), Sophie Swaton (University of Lausanne, Faculty of Geosciences and Environment, Author of “Pour un revenu de transition écologique” (2018)), Jeroen Van Ranst (CSC, Youth Officer for the Flemish part of Belgium), Ludovic Voet (CSC, Youth Officer for the French-speaking part of Belgium)

Basic Income as All-inclusive Democratic Subsidy

Translation of a keynote-speech by Katja Kipping held at the 16th BIEN Congress in Seoul 2016.

Video of the original speech (german language)

Grundeinkommen als Demokratiepauschale

Vortrag von Katja Kipping beim 16. BIEN-Kongress in Seoul 2016.

An Equilibrium Framework for the Analysis of a Degrowth Society With Asymmetric Agents, Sharing and Basic Income

Abstract: This paper presents a novel equilibrium framework, allowing for asymmetries in the initial wealth allocations, labour supplies as well as in the preferences of optimizing agents. The framework is applied to study a degrowth society where a subset of agents voluntarily limit their material consumption, thereby complying with voluntary simplicity (VS). At micro-level, the utility-maximization problems of asymmetric agents are formulated and solved for optimal labour supplies. New macro-level equilibrium solutions, accounting for wealth inequality, are presented based on different labour supply models. The equilibrium welfare is measured using a Bernoully-Nash aggregate. An increase in the share of the VS-type agents implies a degrowth transition to a lower level of average consumption. Analysis of the equilibrium framework shows that degrowth, whereby average market-based consumption falls, improves the equilibrium welfare, assuming the VS-type agents have sufficient resources, enabling a reduction in labour supplies. Sharing, collaborative consumption and basic income support welfare-increasing degrowth. Any growing economy can eventually reach the size at which degrowth would improve the welfare. Simulations suggest that degrowth can also yield a Pareto-improvement in welfare.

UBI could increase human well-being and help save the planet

Introduction: Anthropologist Jason Hickel believes basic income could be part of the solution to this problem of the pervasiveness of the growth mentality. He presents UBI as forming part of a strategy of “planned de-growth,” which he believes will “increase human well-being and happiness while reducing our economic footprint.”

Prospects of an unconditional basic income in a degrowth economy

It is already evident that current present-day industrial nations can offer a basic income without risking the collapse of the economy. Even the supply with an unconditional basic income (UBI) is imaginable. However, it is not obvious whether an UBI sufficing for more than the subsistence consumption can be realized in a degrowth economy. A simple mathematical model is applied to estimate the feasibility of an UBI. It maximizes the household’s utility which depends upon supplied labor and the level on consumption. In this model a certain amount of labor (voluntary labor) has by itself some utility since it is believed that the monotony of complete unemployment lessens the utility. It is found that an UBI can be realized if the level of technology has a certain degree and the additional consumption (consumption minus guaranteed consumption) lies above a certain minimum level. This level decreases with the propensity to work voluntary. The UBI causes a decrease of total consumption and, therefore, fosters degrowth. However, a degrowth strategy including the implementation of an UBI has its limitation since a severe restriction of additional consumption could possibly make an UBI inaccessible, especially in countries having a low level of technology. Alternatives to the UBI could be a means-tested basic income or the combination of basic income with basic labor devoted exclusively to the production of subsistence goods. Altogether it can be concluded that the more radical degrowth should be, the more consequent must be the shift from the free market economy towards a socialist economy if the basic needs of all members of society have to be guaranteed.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Prospects of an unconditional basic income in a degrowth economy“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

Learning from degrowth ideas of work and income

Work sharing, work time reduction, basic income and job guarantee are often referred ideas in degrowth-literature as alternatives to present models of work and income. Also various grassroots innovations, such as local organic food networks or community currencies are examples in which people are already developing production and consumption structures based on community empowerment and wellbeing rather than full-time employment. So far these alternatives have remained distant from the research fields of social policy and social work in European welfare states. Instead of learning from the alternatives, high levels of unemployment caused by economic decline are tried to be tackled with economic growth and activation policies that are hardly in line with basic rights and personal freedoms. These measures are also ecologically unsustainable since they are relying on increases in production and consumption.

In our presentation we discuss the degrowth alternatives of work and income in the context of European welfare states. We see them as empowering alternatives compared to present activation measures especially for young unemployed people living in the margins of traditional labour market. Based on the research on sustainability transition and degrowth, we ask what kind of alternatives of work and income are in line with the transition and what needs to be reformed in the social security systems in order to strengthen the transition. The paper is based on a 4-year (2015–2019) research project in which the overall research task is to deepen the knowledge on the contribution of social work and systems of income security to transitions towards sustainability.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Learning from degrowth ideas of work and income“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

How to turn an ocean liner: a proposal for voluntary degrowth by redesigning money for sustainability, justice, and resilience

Abstract: This article argues that many destructive aspects of the contemporary global economy are consequences of the use of general-purpose money to organize social and human-environmental relations, and that the political ideals of sustainability, justice, and resilience will only be feasible if money itself is redesigned. The argument is based on the conviction that human artifacts such as money play a crucial role in organizing society, and that closer attention should be paid to the design and logic of key artifacts, rather than devoting disproportionate intellectual energy to theorizing their complex systemic repercussions. What is generally referred to as “capitalism” is the aggregate logic of human decisions about the management of money. Visions of a post-capitalist society using money the way it is used now is thus a contradiction in terms. The article sketches a possible redesign of money based on the idea that each country establishes a complementary currency for local use only, which is distributed to all its residents as a basic income. The distinction between two separate spheres of exchange would insulate local sustainability and resilience from the deleterious effects of globalization and financial speculation. To indicate that the suggestion is not as unrealistic as it may seem at first sight, the article briefly and provisionally responds to some of the many questions raised by the proposal.

This is the twelth article in Lisa L. Gezon and Susan Paulson (eds.) 2017. “Degrowth, culture and power”, Special Section of the Journal of Political Ecology, 24: 425-666.

> Introduction and overview over other articles of the Special Section

To save humanity and the planet, we must redesign money

From the text: The solution requires us to recognise that the operation of markets and money is socially constructed. The rules of the game can be rewritten. To acknowledge the extent to which the destiny of human society and the biosphere has been delegated to the mindless logic of objects like money and technology is like snapping out of a delusion. To fathom the implications of this delusion would make us more receptive to the idea of a fundamentally reorganised economy.

Podiumsdiskussion zu Bedingungslosem Grundeinkommen und Degrowth

Teil 1

Teil 2

Diskussion nach der Einführung von Dagmar Paternoga und den Vorträgen von Edward Skidelsky und Ulrich Brand bei der Auftaktveranstaltung der Konferenz “Bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen und Degrowth” am 19. Mai 2016 in der Katholischen Akademie Hamburg.

Ulrich Schachtschneider: Grünes Grundeinkommen – Zeitsouveränität für Lifestyles of Degrowth

Beitrag zur Diskussion um Zeitsouveränität bei der Konferenz “Bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen und Degrowth” am 20. Mai 2016 in der Katholischen Akademie Hamburg.

Ronald Blaschke: Bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen auf einen Blick für Degrowth-Aktive und -Forschende

Einführung in die Idee des Bedingungslosen Grundeinkommens bei der Konferenz “Bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen und Degrowth” am 20. Mai 2016 in der Katholischen Akademie Hamburg.


Dies ist ein Beitrag zum Projekt Degrowth in Bewegung(en), in dem es um die Grundeinkommensbewegung geht.

Info zum Projekt Degrowth in Bewegung(en):
Degrowth ist nicht nur ein neues Label für eine Diskussion über Alternativen oder eine akademische Debatte, sondern auch eine im Entstehen begriffene soziale Bewegung. Trotz vieler Überschneidungen mit anderen sozialen Bewegungen gibt es sowohl bei diesen als auch in Degrowth-Kreisen noch viel Unkenntnis über die jeweils anderen. Hier bietet sich viel Raum für gegenseitiges Lernen.

Wie steht Degrowth im Verhältnis zu anderen sozialen Bewegungen? Was kann die Degrowth-Bewegung von diesen lernen? Und was können andere soziale Bewegungen wiederum voneinander sowie von Degrowth-Ideen und -Praktiken lernen? Welche gegenseitigen Anregungen aber auch welche Spannungen gibt es? Und wo könnten Bündnisse möglich sein?

Diesen Fragen gehen Vertreter_innen aus 32 sozialen Bewegungen, alternativökonomischen Strömungen und Initiativen in Essays nach. Die Texte sind zusammen mit Bildern sowie Audio- und Videobeiträgen auf dem Degrowth-Webportal veröffentlicht.

> Link zum Projekt mit allen Texten
> Link zum Artikel mit Bildern
> English version of the text “Sustainable Ecological Transition is Impossible Without Unconditional Social Security for All People”