First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Culturas, entre Norte y Sur Global: reflexiones sistémicas hacia una transición socio-económica

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Miércoles por Silvio Cristiano: “Culturas, entre Norte y Sur Global. Reflexiones sistémicas hacia una transición socio-económica”

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Regeneración de culturas, ecologías y territorios: economías desde abajo

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Miércoles por Dianne Rochelau: “Regeneración de culturas, ecologías y Territorios: Economías desde abajo”

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Five principles for a human rights based approach to degrowth

Focusing on human rights, we are led to rethink the relationship between wealth and wellbeing and the role of cultural freedom in this process.

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – Mapping sustainable wellbeing viewpoints on two dimensions: technical and socio-cultural decoupling

Presentation by Timo Järvensivu

It seems that discussions between camps such as ”green growth” and ”degrowth” often end up being debates, even if the aim would be a dialogue. The purpose of this paper and presentation is to draw a map of the main arguments of some of the camps, with the hope of improving the dialogue.

Discussion on sustainable wellbeing is often carried along two main dimensions. The first dimension concerns the technical decoupling question: Can economic growth can be decoupled from its environmental ills effectively and rapidly enough? Second, there is the socio-cultural decoupling question: Can the humanity deal with the environmental crisis through a moderate or radical reform of the economic system – by creating a better economy – or do we need a more in-depth revolution in the relationship between the economy and the non-economy, i.e. everything else that is not mere economy, such humanity as a socio-cultural system and the Nature.

In this paper and presentation I will draw a map using these two dimensions. On the map I will identify six perspectives, or camps, of sustainable wellbeing: economic growth, green growth, green economy, economic degrowth, green society detached from economic growth, and deep green society detached from economic valuation. In addition to these six perspectives, I will identify a blind spot – the dominant taken-for-granted relationship with the socio-cultural decoupling question. Finally, I will offer illustrations of how each of the viewpoints and the blind spot. I will argue that this map and the illustrations offer a collective reference point for discussants to better understand each other’s arguments.

De-growth: Some suggestions from the Simpler Way perspective

It is argued that there are some important issues which the current de growth literature neglects. The first is the sheer magnitude of the global predicament, which determines not just the insufficiently recognized difficulty of the transition task but also that the goals and means must take particular and largely unrecognized forms. The goal cannot be reform of the existing society; it must be transition to a radically different kind of society, one labeled here as a radically Simpler Way. Current discussion indicates little recognition of this point. Similarly there are coercive logical implications for transition strategy, and these indicate that currently dominant transition assumptions are mistaken. The key element is not economic or political change, it is cultural change. These claims are shown to be logically implied by basic limits to growth considerations.

Ecological Economics, Vol. 167, January 2020

movum – Heft 15: Kultur

Heft 15 des Magazins movum zum Thema Kultur.

Kurzbeschreibung: Unsere Kultur kann nicht von der Natur, sondern nur mit der Natur leben. Für die nötige Transformation brauchen wir einen neuen Gesellschaftsvertrag.

Das Heft als PDF
Das Plakat als JPG

Art Against Empire: Toward an Aesthetics of Degrowth

Abstract: What role might art need to play in the transition beyond consumer capitalism? Can ‘culture jamming’ contribute to the necessary revolution in consciousness? And might art be able to provoke social change in ways that rational argument and scientific evidence cannot?

In this new book I explore these questions, both in theory and practice. I begin with a theoretical defence of art and aesthetic interventions as activity that is necessary to effective social and political activism, and conclude by presenting a constellation of ‘culture jamming’ artworks from a range of contributors that challenge the status quo and expand the horizons of what alternatives are possible.

ISBN-13: 978-0994160690

After the Anthropocene: A Degrowth Perspective on the Shortest Geological Period of all Times

Abstract: The narrative of the »anthropocene« is gaining traction. On the bandwaggon we find classical environmentalists who are using the term as the starkest form of warning against human self-destruction, as well as technological optimists of a Kurzweilian kind eager to accelerate the path of human technological domination of nature. Regardless if there truly »is« something like the anthropocene unfolding, if it is perceived to be real from a growing number of followers, it is real in its consequences. Such a reality of the anthropocene leads to different kinds of proposals how to deal with it. In this talk we will take a degrowth-oriented perspective (French: Décroissance; German: Postwachstumsökonomie) on the anthropocene and deconstruct it together with the economic growth paradigm. If at all, the anthropocene can at best be connected to the availability of high energy sources in combination with the expansionist economic regime of late capitalism. As growth slows and turns this regime into some form of postgrowth development, the human footprint will decelerate and the anthropocene will pass as a short-lived episode of human history. In the end it will be argued that Boulding’s notion of »spaceship earth« does not equate with the coming of the anthropocene but with its hopefully civilized undoing.

In Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the ISSS-2015 Berlin, Germany (Vol. 1, No. 1).

Water, Traditional Cultures and a Degrowth Future

Water, Traditional Cultures and a Degrowth Future: the quest for a steady-state economy
By Rajni Bakshi

Degrowth as a concept does not sit well in most societies today. But water is a key to fostering new imaginaries and new visions that will be not merely acceptable but inviting. By 2040 an estimated 33 countries, including USA, China and India, will face severe water scarcity.

India has a rich heritage of elaborate traditional technologies and modes of social organization that ensured adequate and reliable supply of water even in arid regions. Many of these old community-based systems of watershed management and storage, withered away as water was transformed from a sacred gift to just a ‘resource’ that could be privatized.

Today while local water-shed management is supported by government policy this tends to be overwhelmed by large projects that add directly to GDP growth.

Nevertheless, over the last quarter century, a wide variety of activist and academic interventions in India have attempted to revive, or at least document, the multi-dimensional wisdom on which pre-modern societies based their relationship to water.
This paper will explore what promise this work holds in:
• Building upon surviving community-based water traditions to show a steady-state economy in action;
• Critically examining if these grassroots practises can indeed form the basis of a transition to a degrowth political economy in India and other countries;
• Inspiring people who rejected the steady-state approach and made reckless use of water resources to re-think and change course;
• Exploring entirely new forms of water commons that could be the basis of a re-growth future.

Additional links:

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Water, Traditional Cultures and a Degrowth Future“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

The fanciful capacity of capitalist culture to buffer our existential fears : a review and a plea to release

Despite the repeated questionings of economic growth and the development of alternative economic theories, the growth imperative seems to remain unaltered. How can we understand this situation ? Would there be, beyond the institutional explanations, anything inside us that unconsciously agrees to preserve this dynamic ?
An increasing body of studies in existential psychology explore experimentally the influence of existential fears on our behavior. This influence is reported to act by two possible ways :
One is « defensive », and used when the idea of one’s death is abstract. In this case, individuals deal unconsciously with their fears by defending their own culture, and their self-esteem – that results from their adherence to the norms of this culture. Thus, some of these studies have shown that fear of death tends to reinforce materialistic values, greedy attitudes, or less pro-environmental concern, all behaviors that seem in line with the economic growth dynamic.
Unlike, the second way is used to deal with more concrete thoughts of one’s death, and goes through a conscious reflexion process. Studies that revealed this process support the idea that confronting with one’s death, rather than denying it, could lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. Especially, they have shown that this kind of confrontation could change individuals systems of values.
Based on that existential framework, I shall firstly present concisely the existing literature focusing on the existential roots of our dependence on capitalist culture, and secondly explore the existential conditions that seem required for the economic alternatives to emerge and spread out.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „The fanciful capacity of capitalist culture to buffer our existential fears : a review and a plea to release“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

Education for socio-ecological transformations

Up to now, the discourse on Degrowth doesn’t adequately address the relevance of culture for economic growth. Yet, analyzing how cultural patterns shape our lifestyles, habits and thinking is crucial for socio-ecological transformations. In this context, education plays a preeminent role: How does the content of education, its organization and structure prepare individuals for a growth society in terms of knowledge, skills and values? What kind of education do we need for transformations? Which promising alternatives already exist and do they match with existing visions? These questions were already raised during the former Degrowth Conferences. Yet, their answering is an ongoing process of research, practical experiences and deliberation.

On the basis of existing results, we divide the field of “Education for socio-ecological transformations” into four subfields to be tackled by the contributions of this session.

1 The nexus between economic growth, the modern culture and education
2 Content and didactics in the current standard education systems and teaching requirements for socio-ecological transformations
3 Existing alternatives in the light of visions for education in a Degrowth society
4 Strategical and power related questions of how to provide appropriate education opportunities

The session includes a variety of research – especially cultural studies, positive psychology, educational theory and heterodox economics. Scientific insight will be connected to the practical experiences of organizations teaching political economy in the context of socio-ecological transformations.

After three inputs, the contributors will participate in a moderated discussion.

Additional links:

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Education for socio-ecological transformations“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

Another Economy is Possible: Culture and Economy in a Time of Crisis

Description on Throughout the Western world, governments and financial elites responded to the financial crisis of 2008 by trying to restore the conditions of business as usual, but the economic, social and human damage inflicted by the crisis has given rise to a reconsideration of the inevitability of unfettered capitalism as a fact of life. A number of economic practices and organizations emerged in Europe and the United States that embodied alternative values: the value of life over the value of money; the effectiveness of cooperation over cut-throat competition; the social responsibility of corporations and responsible regulation by governments over the short-term speculative strategies that brought the economy to the brink of catastrophe.

This book examines the blossoming of innovative new experiments in organizing work and life that emerged in the wake of the financial crisis: cooperatives, barter networks, ethical banking, community currencies, shared time banks, solidarity networks, sharing of goods, non-monetary transactions, etc., experiments that paved the way for the emergence of a sharing economy in all domains of activity oriented toward the satisfaction of human needs. Other innovations included the creation of cryptographic virtual currencies, epitomized by bitcoin, which blended a libertarian, entrepreneurial spirit with information technology to provide an alternative to standard forms of currency. On the basis of a cross-cultural analysis of alternative economic practices, this book develops an important theoretical argument: that the economy, as a human practice, is shaped by culture, and that the diversity of cultures, as revealed in a time of crisis, implies the possibility of different economies depending on the values and power relations that define economic institutions.

This book will be of great interest to students and scholars in sociology, economics and the social sciences generally, and to anyone who wishes to understand how our societies and economies are changing today.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Economy Is Culture, Sarah Banet-Weiser and Manuel Castells
Chapter 2: Economics Without Growth, Giorgos Kallis
Chapter 3: Analysis of Worldwide Community Economies for Sustainable Local Development, Sviatlana Hlebik
Chapter 4: Blockchain Dreams: Imagining Techno-economic Alternatives After Bitcoin, Lana Swartz
Chapter 5: Consumer Financial Services in the US: Why Banks May Not Be the Answer, Lisa Servon
Chapter 6: Commoning Against the Crisis, Angelos Varvarousis and Giorgos Kallis
Chapter 7: Alternative Economic Practices in Barcelona: Surviving the Crisis, Reinventing Life, Manuel Castells and Sviatlana Hlebik
Chapter 8: Imagining and Making Alternative Futures: Slow Cities as Sites for Anticipation and Trust, Sarah Pink and Kirsten Seale
Conclusion, Manuel Castells

ISBN: 978-1-5095-1721-3

At Museums, Maybe It’s Time for ‘De-growth’

From the article: The last quarter of a century has been a period of pronounced growth in the cultural sector, with the rumble of jackhammers creating the soundtrack to 21st-century museum life. New buildings, multimillion-dollar expansions, new wings and collection growth have all helped drive visitor numbers to unprecedented heights.
So it seemed a little counterintuitive when Beatrix Ruf, the director of the Stedelijk Museum of contemporary and modern art and design in Amsterdam, called for a forum on the possible value of “de-growth” of the 21st-century museum. [ . . . ] “De-growth” is a concept borrowed from economics. It is associated with an anticonsumerist and anticapitalist approach to sustainable development — the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “decrease in mass of an organism especially at the end of a prolonged period of growth.” . . .

Buen Vivir and Beyond: Searching for a New Paradigm of Action

From the text: A Language of opposition, once turned into a principle of governance changes its appearance. On the one hand, the social activist necessarily bases her intervention on the vision of a better state of affairs. Hence, her intellectual work is grounded in counter-narratives of what a different, alternative world should look like with the ultimate aim of transforming reality towards this alternative. However, by engaging into the actual game of power politics, the counter-language of critique runs the risk of getting contaminated and corrupted. Acting in the “falsches Leben” (Adorno 2003, engl.: false life) – in this case a globalised capitalism, an environment abused by resource exploitation and deep-reaching power gaps between nations states – there exists a dialectic between counter-narratives, such as those of post-development theories, and their operationalization. This happens in many Latin American countries, even those led by so-called progressive regimes.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.