What does degrowth mean in the Latin American context? In 2020, a series of six self-organized encounters attempted to dive into this question. Each meeting reflected the metaphor of the agricultural process: from sowing to harvesting. Among the conclusions was a unanimous desire to put into practice ‘other ways of inhabiting the world’, valuing the knowledge of the original peoples and inhabitants of the continent.
Degrowth is a movement that explores another direction for society, one where ecological and social justice become possible, along with more meaningful lives. While there is no single definition for degrowth, this entry attempts to offer some guidance for understanding degrowth in all its diversity.
October 1st marked the 10th anniversary since squatting was criminalized in the Netherlands. This infamous decision by the Dutch state led to an immense increase of speculation in the housing market, doubling the average cost of housing in just 10 years. ‘Coincidentally’, over the same period homelessness has also doubled, and social inequalities have skyrocketed. All of this before the effects of a global pandemic have even started to set-in. To commemorate the anniversary the Dutch squatting movement organized a nation-wide protest action, emphasizing squatting as a form of resistance against the multidimensional crisis we are currently facing.read more
A degrowth strategy for societal transformation needs to combine several approaches, reflecting the plurality of degrowth as a movement. To support the myriad of bottom-up alternatives that are already out there, degrowth should put a special emphasis on strategies which build power outside of the capitalist system, be very cautious of those which merely seek to tame capitalism, but also integrate the strategic logic of overthrowing capitalism altogether.
I feel personally guilty for the pandemic. At the beginning of March, I published my PhD dissertation “The Political Economy of Degrowth”, whose introduction ended with the following words: “Let me invite you into a wild thought experiment. Imagine that in one year, it will all stop. In precisely 365 days, the economy will come to a halt. Imagine the economy gone and all of us frozen in social time, suspended between the past and the future. A societal time is up.”read more
Democratic confederalism, the ideological framework organizing society in Rojava, outlines the features of a post-revolutionary justice system.read more
In the face of unfettered globalization, the rise of right-wing movements around the globe and the dangers of climate catastrophe, it seems easier to imagine the end of the world than an end to capitalism, growth and domination. However, in recent years something new has emerged to counter what Mark Fisher has called “capitalist realism:” after decades on the defensive against neoliberalism, the left has once again started to embrace positive visions of the future.
In a recent article for Forbes, Corbin K Barthold makes several allegations against the idea of degrowth without having a clear understanding of the concept.
Thirty four years ago I published Abandon Affluence and Growth, with negligible effect, so it has been hugely satisfying to see the recent emergence of a degrowth movement. However, I believe some aspects of the movement need greater attention. Degrowth transition strategies especially should deal more effectively with the sheer magnitude of the problem we are facing.read more
Recently, an article on degrowth appeared in Harvard Business Review (hereafter HBR). Rather than offering a critique of capitalism, the article proposes that degrowth may not be a threat to business after all, and in fact, there are burgeoning degrowth markets waiting to be tapped into by the risk averse. Although we applaud the authors in getting the word “degrowth” into the illustrious pages of HBR, we take serious issue with the all too familiar ways in which this word and its radical connotations have been stretched.
In Rojava (Northern Syria), in the midst of a raging war, a society based on the values of women’s liberation, radical democracy, and ecology is being built. In early 2018, we, people from across the world, launched the campaign ‘Make Rojava Green Again’ in co-operation with the newly-established local autonomies to help find solutions to the vast destruction of nature that has resulted from decades of colonialism, capitalism, and war.
When the BBC asked me if I would participate in a debate panel on climate change, capitalism and democracy, I first panicked and then said yes. All I really wanted to do this week was finish up and (re)submit some research I started a long time ago. This research shows that, despite their massive growth, energy and carbon emissions cannot (statistically) explain improvements in international life expectancy. I call it the “carbon-development paradox.” But the 1.5degree IPCC report dropped, and life, research and plans all had to make way for a new, more urgent reality.