The case for abandoning GDP – An intersectional perspective Pt. 2 GDP is a flawed guide to prosperity. What else should we measure if we want to do better?
“The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income”. Those were the words of Simon Kuznets, who developed the first national income accounts in the United States. And yet, we look back on decades of appropriating GDP as a measure of social welfare and progress.
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.
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.
Hickel succeeds once more in making a clear yet robust case for degrowth, providing an accessible introductory text that the movement has long required.
COVID-19 has had many effects. Among others, it created a pause, putting non-essential economic activity on halt. A pause that has exposed the numerous weaknesses of growth-centred, globalised economies.
COVID-19 is both one and the same as any other ecological crisis (such as climate change) because its emergence is rooted in the same mode of production that has generated all other ecological crises and social inequalities of our times.
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
New Roots for the Economy: academics, experts, artists, activists and organizations from around the world demand a farewell to our economy’s growth dependency to avoid further crises.read more
The crises provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic have revealed for all what many have long known: the foundations of the wealth and well-being of the world rest upon the sphere of social reproduction and the labor of care. This work is performed primarily by women and, more generally, by people whose work and lives are under-valued and marginalized by sexist, racist, classist, homophobic and ableist ideas and institutions.
While the limits and failures of our current economic and political system are known and repetitively pointed out by degrowth research, we have a deficit in the area of strategic planning for transformative politics. What is missing are entry points for politicizing and changing social values, norms and institutions. To do this successfully, it is useful to detect how hegemonic values are embedded, not only in political and economic policies, but also in everyday life.
Before an individual chooses to act, he or she requires a story or mindset to make sense of what the situation is about. Acting rationally in this sense means to act with reason, in congruence with one’s worldview and the individual interpretation of the “rules of the game.” Individual mindsets, however, are not fixed when we are born, but the result of learning and socialization processes in which the collective imaginary and narratives about life, society and desirable futures provide the reference framework.
So what happens if this reference framework becomes unconvincing or even unbelievable - as it seems to be the case with the narrative of continuous economic growth? It causes a lot of confusion, mistrust, politicization, fear and – opportunity for change. read more