What is degrowth?
A definition or what does “degrowth” mean to us?
By “degrowth“, we understand a form of society and economy which aims at the well-being of all and sustains the natural basis of life. To achieve degrowth, we need a fundamental transformation of our lives and an extensive cultural change.
The current economic and social paradigm is “faster, higher, further“. It is built on and stimulates competition between all humans. This causes acceleration, stress and exclusion. Our economy destroys the natural basis of life. We are convinced that the common values of a degrowth society should be care, solidarity and cooperation. Humanity has to understand itself as part of the planetary ecological system. Only this way, a self-determined life in dignity for all can be made possible.
Essential for degrowth is:
> Striving for the good life for all. This includes deceleration, time welfare and conviviality.
> A reduction of production and consumption in the global North and liberation from the one-sided Western paradigm of development. This could allow for a self-determined path of social organization in the global South.
> An extension of democratic decision-making to allow for real political participation.
> Social changes and an orientation towards sufficiency instead of purely technological changes and improvements in efficiency in order to solve ecological problems. We believe that is has historically been proven that decoupling economic growth from resource use is not possible.
> The creation of open, connected and localized economies.
This definition of degrowth is based on the definition of Research and Degrowth, which the organizational team of the degrowth conference in Leipzig adapted and which was further edited by the editorial team of the web portal.
We distance ourselves from forms of growth critique which do not aim for the good life for all. We object to all right-wing, racist and sexist forms of growth critique.
Why the word “degrowth”?
English speakers sometimes find the word ‘degrowth’ problematic and it can lead to misunderstandings. Reading just the word, it has a negative, and for some, a non-ecological connotation. But the origin of the term is anything but that. It is to be found in Latin languages, where “la décroissance” in French or “la decrescita” in Italian refer to a river going back to its normal flow after a disastrous flood. The English word “degrowth” became prominent after the first international degrowth conference in Paris in 2008. It has since than been established in academic writing as well as in the media and is used by social movements and practitioners. An advantage of using a term which does not roll off the tongue easily in English is that it creates disruption. Disruption in a world where the critique of economic growth is a radical position.
The editorial team of the degrowth web portal decided to use the English term “degrowth” to name the page. As a German translation we use “Postwachstum” in texts. The words “Wachstumsrücknahme” and “Entwachstum” we use synonymously.