Beyond growth / degrowth
The growth/degrowth debate should be put in perspective as the latest version of older cleavages between the Greens, like the eco-centric/anthropocentric dilemma. Mapping the differences between environmental discourses helps us to better organise the contemporary discussion on the respective importance of technology, eco-efficiency, and management of the human needs in reaching sustainability.
The ecologist Reinhard Loske wants to get away from the dogma of growth. Ralf Fücks, CEO of the Heinrich-Böll Foundation, favours green growth and a bio-economy. A debate.
The economic crisis that most of the western economies are facing is digging a breach in our consumer’s narratives. Signs of transition to a new kind of society are numerous in the USA as in Europe and Japan. Despite the claims of prominent development economists, a high mass-consumption society is not the endpoint of history. Could it be that a postconsumerist era is already creeping on us?
In Finland, Sairanen & Stenhäll’s book has been presented as an important stand to the discussion on how the economic sphere should be developed. It takes the position that no new green economic system is needed, rather we need to make hard decisions based on the current market economy.
Humanity is facing an undeniable challenge. Economic growth is necessary to sustain the welfare state, but this growth is more unsustainable than ever before. It’s not at all clear how this paradox – the need for economic growth that is unsustainable – can be resolved.
How can a Green political party influence a long term discussion on the topic of post-growth politics? How can it centre this discussion on short term political action? Is it possible to develop the Green New Deal in order to obtain a short term exit from the crisis and an economy without growth in the long term? All of these questions were debated at the Green Summer Academy, organised by the Grüne Bildungswerkgstatt (Austrian Green Foundation).
Austerity or growth, austerity for growth, and maybe for a different kind of growth? In 2012, this debate is on the top of the European agenda. But what should we do if growth is no longer possible? As growth and degrowth are both equally unsustainable what we need is “something else”. For this “something else” to be truly sustainable, it will have to be serious about both the recognition of the physical limits of our planet and the need for a more egalitarian society.
What does the growth/degrowth debate mean for a country like Croatia? Two decades after gaining independence following the collapse of the Yugoslav Republic, Croatia remains a country with economic and political problems. Is it possible for it to transition to a degrowth economy, and how would such a transition take place?
The green political movement and the transition movement could be said to share broadly the same objectives, but could the transition movement stand a better chance of changing people’s mindsets? Two transition activists from North London discuss their work.
The ad-hoc solutions put forward by European leaders have failed to pull the continent from its economic crisis. As uncertainty continues, it is clear that only a decisive shift to a strong, democratic EU can save the Euro and guarantee the Union’s future. However this process must take place in a way that is open and transparent if it is to succeed.
This brave critique of the ‘new German nationalism’ is welcome. But there are two mains weaknesses in the position of Habermas and his colleagues: the crisis does not allow us to re-start from the beginnings of the European Union. What the European democracy needs is a real tax revolution, a kind of New Deal or a Marshall Plan, something like a social movement and maybe a step aside from the structures that were designed to exclude it.
The financial crisis has lasted for five years and there is no end in sight. The excessive public and private debt and the overleveraged banks are a heavy burden on the real economy. They also worsen the unemployment problem by preventing stimulus and fuelling deflation. The debt problem must therefore be treated as a priority. Without debt relief, there will be no economic upturn to speak of in Europe. Yet, the crisis is also a symptom of a more fundamental crisis in which the transformation of western capitalism and the obsolescence of the European integration model merge.
The re-emergence of the debate on growth must not push the Greens towards fundamentalism. The idea is not to jump into a ‘back to the roots’ movement but rather to review a series of questions that have been left unanswered, without falling into the trap of false dilemmas. In this prospect, is the question of how to reduce inequality in Europe; with or without economic growth, maybe one of the most important?