Commons against and beyond capitalism

Abstract: This essay contrasts the logic underlining the production of ‘commons’ with the logic of capitalist relations, and describes the conditions under which ‘commons’ become the seeds of a society beyond state and market. It also warns against the danger that ‘commons’ may be coopted to provide low-cost forms of reproduction, and discusses how this outcome can be prevented.

Community Development Journal, Vol 49, No S1, January 2014, pp. i92– i105

Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Agrowth, Degrowth, Postwachstum…Was!? Eine Einführung


In diesem Einführungsworkshop machen wir uns mit den Steigerungszwängen der kapitalistischen Gesellschaftsordnung und dem Denken von wachstumskritischen Ansätzen vertraut. Was sind die Ursprünge, Eigenheiten und Ziele der verschiedenen Strömungen? Dabei schauen wir auf Gefahren und Potentiale der verschiedenen Perspektiven für einen emanzipatorischen Wandel zum Guten Leben für Alle! Letztlich stellt sich uns dann die Frage: Lässt sich mit diesen Debatten was bewegen? Und wenn ja, was?

Presenters: Maria Paulitsch (Radix Kollektiv für transformative Bildung), Sven-David Pfau (Radix Kollektiv für transformative Bildung)

Language: German

Technical details: WS A15_Agrowth, Degrowth, Postwachstum_trimmed 3.mkv, Matroska video, 63.3MB

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First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Como el capitalismo afirma su hegemonía; el modo de vida imperial como promesa de riqueza imposible

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Jueves por Ulrich Brand: “Cómo el capitalismo afirma su hegemonía: El modo de vida imperial como promesa de riqueza imposible”

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Crítica de la riqueza capitalista

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Jueves por Henry Mora: “Crítica de la riqueza capitalista”

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Undoing neoliberalism: degrowth as a radical alternative to the global crisis

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Jueves por Bárbara Muraca: “Deshaciendo el neoliberalismo: el decrecimiento como una alternativa radical a la crisis global”

Anwar Shaikh: “The Fundamental Questions About Capitalism Seem to be Coming Back”

Anwar Shaikh is one of the world’s leading radical economists, whose work has challenged the way we think about capitalism. In an interview with Jacobin, Shaikh gives a concise overview of the ideas set out in his landmark book Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crises.

Will COVID-19 Remake the World?

No one should expect the pandemic to alter – much less reverse – tendencies that were evident before the crisis. Neoliberalism will continue its slow death, populist autocrats will become even more authoritarian, and the left will continue to struggle to devise a program that appeals to a majority of voters.

Matter and regulation: socio-metabolic and accumulation regimes of French capitalism since 1948

This paper aims at integrating macroeconomic and institutional analyses of long run dynamics of capitalism with material flow analysis. We investigate the links between accumulation and socio-metabolic regimes by studying French capitalism from a material perspective since 1948. We characterize its social metabolism both in production- and consumption-based approaches. We show that the periodization of accumulation regimes in terms of Fordism and Neoliberalism translates into material terms. The offshore materiality of Neoliberalism partly substitutes for and partly complements the more domestic materiality inherited from Fordism. The transition phase between the two socio-metabolic regimes clearly corresponds to the emergence of the offshoring-financialization nexus of French capitalism indicating the shift from the fordist accumulation regime to the neoliberal accumulation regime. Acknowledging that socio-metabolic regimes have their own logic, we highlight strong inter-linkages between accumulation and material dynamics and discuss how materials may be instrumental in shaping accumulation regimes. This work therefore illustrates the relevance of combining institutional macroeconomics with methods and approaches derived from Ecological Economics.

Debt, plunder and degrowth

“Debt is essential to the development of capitalism, it forces to produce more and more for foreign markets. Debt is an accelerator of extractivism at the base of capitalist accumulation and a means to appropriate the economic growth of other countries: those in the periphery.”


Constructing an Environmental State: Eco-governmentality and other Transnational Practices of a ‘Green’ World Bank

Abstract: This article contends that the debates on the effects of “globalization” on states and state power could be enhanced by focusing on new global regulatory regimes for the environment, especially those that have recently been designed and operationalized by the World Bank in its borrowing countries. The article concentrates on both the changing structural relations within and among states, which has led to the construction of transnationalized environmental states, and the changing nature of the ‘art of government,’ in the Foucauldian sense. I utilize the example of World Bank interventions in the Mekong region to demonstrate how these two new dimensions of power operate. Based on ethnographic research, I argue that the World Bank’s latest actions effectively target resource-based populations, account for them and the qualities of their environments through new discourses of ecological improvement, and compel them to participate in the new neoliberal process of eco-government. The science of judging these populations’ needs and deficiencies becomes critical to the World Bank’s interventions and investments, and gets refracted through new environmental state institutions and foreign investments designed for borrowing countries. In this way, the art of eco-government circulates and expands through multiple sites of encounter (e.g., beyond and below the nation-state) and leads to new forms of capitalist expansion and new modalities of power/knowledge.

Social Problems, Volume 48, Issue 4, 1 November 2001, Pages 499–523

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – Alternatives to Enculturation of Children into Consumers

Presentation by Madalina Balau

In Romania all parents want to offer their children a better life and a better future, sometimes with their own sacrifice, yet the years following communist regime have brought unsustainable development, present in environmental degradation and social insecurity. After living in communism and knowing how bad it was, people have been accustoming for the last 26 years, to accept the lesser evil, and all critics to current capitalism and democracy are seen as communist nostalgia. I believe Degrowth can open the debate and stop seeing reality in dual terms – evil and good, or evil and less evil – and I try to explore this possibility here. The purpose of this paper is to understand, from parents perspective, the way consumer culture has impacted childhood and produced changes in their children’s lives. This will enable identifying lessons for a good life, from both communist regime and consumer culture childhoods. The study is based on interviews conducted with adults born in Romania during the communist regime, that lived at least some part of their childhood then, and who are now parents. The present findings suggest that parents see their children offered more opportunities of buying products and services, more activities to attend and more wishes to fulfill. This comes at the expense of less time for family and lost connections with the extended family, less freedom to play and less freedom to refuse consuming certain products due to peer pressure. These are identified mainly as a paradox, since in appearance we have more freedom, but time pressure and the lack of financial means to attend certain activities makes this freedom impossible to obtain in individual lives.

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – Between revolution and reform. A critical reflection of the degrowth discourse

Presentation by Jan C. Zoellick

Degrowth is a conglomerate of several streams of thought offering a variety of sometimes conflicting positions (Demaria et al., 2013). Some of these tensions smoulder inexplicitly below the surface of celebrated diversity. This proposal explicates the tension between conservative and reformist approaches on the one hand and revolutionary approaches driving for fundamental change on the other hand. The author hopes to start a critical reflection within the degrowth movement and strengthen its position within and towards outsiders.

Conservative and reformist thinkers like Miegel (2010), Jackson (2009), and Seidl and Zahrnt (2010) see degrowth as an inevitability resulting from ecological limits and all-encompassing resource scarcity (Heinberg, 2007). Institutions of the status quo, e.g. the welfare state, taxes, and capitalist work and ownership relations, remain unchanged. Instead, downsizing economic activity combined with reformistic fixes in welfare institutions is envisioned.

Revolutionary degrowthers like Trainer (2012), Deriu (2012), or van Griethuysen (2012) question the status quo more fundamentally. According to them degrowth poses a critique of the capitalist order and the “property-based rationale” (van Griethuysen, 2012) as well as re-think democratic representation and decision-making (Deriu, 2012).

In this article the conflicting positions will be confronted and contrasted with one another to explicate tensions and overlaps. The goal is a systematic comparison of demands, visions, and levels of change for a transition towards a degrowth society.

Capitalism and Climate Breakdown with Gareth Dale

A new podcast by “Political Economy for the End Times”, interviewing Gareth Dale. The topics discussed are capitalist time vs. ecological time, catastrophism and civilisation collapse, ideologies of economic growth, green growth, socialist techno-utopianism, degrowth, and the Green New Deal.

Towards a Political Economy of Degrowth

Since the 1970s, the degrowth idea has been proposed by scholars, public intellectuals and activists as a powerful call to reject the obsession of neoliberal capitalism with economic growth, an obsession which continues apace despite the global ecological crisis and rising inequalities. In the past decade, degrowth has gained momentum and become an umbrella term for various social movements which strive for ecologically sustainable and socially just alternatives that would transform the world we live in.

How to move forward in an informed way, without reproducing the existing hierarchies and injustices? How not to end up in a situation when ecological sustainability is the prerogative of the privileged, direct democracy is ignorant of environmental issues, and localisation of production is xenophobic? These are some of the questions that have inspired this edited collection.

Bringing degrowth into dialogue with critical social theories, covering previously unexplored geographical contexts and discussing some of the most contested concepts in degrowth, the book hints at informed paths towards socio-ecological transformation.

Tourism and degrowth: an emerging agenda for research and praxis

Abstract: This article outlines a conceptual framework and research agenda for exploring the relationship between tourism and degrowth. Rapid and uneven expansion of tourism as a response to the 2008 economic crisis has proceeded in parallel with the rise of social discontent concerning so-called “overtourism.” Despite decades of concerted global effort to achieve sustainable development, meanwhile, socioecological conflicts and inequality have rarely reversed, but in fact increased in many places. Degrowth, understood as both social theory and social movement, has emerged within the context of this global crisis. Yet thus far the vibrant degrowth discussion has yet to engage systematically with the tourism industry in particular, while by the same token tourism research has largely neglected explicit discussion of degrowth. We bring the two discussions together here to interrogate their complementarity. Identifying a growth imperative in the basic structure of the capitalist economy, we contend that mounting critique of overtourism can be understood as a structural response to the ravages of capitalist development more broadly. Debate concerning overtourism thus offers a valuable opportunity to re-politicize discussion of tourism development generally. We contribute to this discussion by exploring of the potential for degrowth to facilitate a truly sustainable tourism.

Journal of Sustainable Tourism, October 2019