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.
Since 2018, a coalition of grassroots environmental groups and progressive politicians in the United States have brought into the public debate the idea of a Green New Deal. The plan is inspired not only by Roosevelt’s New Deal, but also by the subsequent wartime mobilization in response to a large-scale threat. The difference is that this time around the threat is not represented by the Axis powers, but rather by runaway climate change.
A new star is born in the sky of the social movements: the degrowth-movement. The traditional left, however, observes this novelty somewhat critically – degrowth being a path that seems possible without the traditional left. Marxist, feminist and anti-racist analyses were largely missed at the latest Degrowth-Conference and where they were present, participants eyed them rather sceptically. On top of this and besides the insufficient action-orientation, also the social structure of the participants seemed a bit biased. It seems to have been mostly students and academics and as such parts of the (future) privileged groups. Lower classes or at least representatives of their interests – the targeted allies in most leftist strategies to capture the center – were missing. In addition, the critique of consumption and the focus on practical steps for “lifestyles of less” appear ambivalent at least, as they are suspected to legitimize redistribution from bottom to top. read more
By Frigga Haug
At the closing event of the attac-congress on capitalism in 2009, the German politician Heiner Geissler pleaded for an eco-dictatorship. After all, even as a prominent member of the Christian Democratic Party he had joined attac out of concern over problems of capitalist society, among them the ecological one – and was now calling on the 2000 or so participants to take action to this effect. In the outrageous uproar following his call, his words couldn’t be heard any more. It would have been good, however, to have let him finish his speech, read more