Re-imagining economy: DEGROWTH

by Marusa Godina on 26th February, 2014 at 1:18 PM CEST

As you all know, Europe is facing a deep economic crisis. Politicians have tackled the problem by imposing austerity measures, deteriorating standards of living and justifying that these measures are necessary to improve the economic situation. More and more people live in poverty. While it is clear who is responsible for the global financial meltdown, neoliberal politicians emphasize the concept of individual responsibility for financial and social status.

At this time I think it is very important to raise awareness among young people that the current economic model is not the only possible model, to encourage them to think out of the box and stop feeling powerless. The word ‘economy’ originally comes from Greek words oikos (‘house, home, family’) and nomos (‘managing’). In its original sense it meant ‘management of home environment for the common good of all family members’. Very different from today’s meaning, isn’t it?

Every day we are surrounded by debates about economic growth and how to achieve it. But do you ever ask yourself where economic growth will come from and if we really need it? There is a common belief that economic growth will start by reducing labor and social costs and shrinking the public sector. For now it doesn’t seem to work. For last few decades we haven’t been producing goods and services due to lack of them, but in order to create new jobs; the objective was not to increase the supply of goods, but to increase demand for them. We produce more in order to divide produced goods easily and to reduce the effects of technological progress which replaces workers in production processes and increases unemployment. What will humanity do with greater efficiency if the only economic problem now is to sell things we produce? If we only increase competitiveness, more property will remain unsold and more people will be unemployed. It is evident that on a limited planet long term growth of material production is impossible. The human population is growing. At the same time, we believe that economic growth is a fundamental prerequisite for successful development. Natural limits of growth exist, imposed by limited space, limited quantities of natural resources and limited self-cleaning capacity of the Earth.

That’s where the concept of Degrowth comes in. The idea focuses on two basic issues: 1) Criticism of current capitalist system based on uncontrolled rates of consumption, which creates excessive profits and 2) Search and creation of alternative approaches. It stimulates reflection on questions, such as how it is possible to imagine a world which is not based on endless economic growth. How the Global South understands the concept of a growth crisis? In the context of traditional economics such questions might be considered as a provocation. Does growth equal progress? The myth that the increase of material production will increase the quality of life and happiness of people is only valid up to a point, a point which our society has already reached. Currently, the world produces enough to insure a decent life, yet it is not properly distributed.

But can sustainable development and solidarity economy even be implemented within the capitalist mode of production? The very nature of capitalism is unjust and knows no restriction. On the other hand, ‘real’ socialism also wasted its opportunity due to human rights violations and environmental destructiveness. The time has come for us to impose new paradigms! How do you, young change-makers, imagine the future of economics? Will it be based on fairness, creativity and cooperation?

Alternate economic models focusing on the application of permaculture, localization and alternative currencies already exist and are slowly gaining interest around the world; for example ‘transition town’ of Totnes in England focusing on the ideals of community empowerment and building resilience in the local economy -. Interesting and inspiring is also Japanese practice of ‘Fureai kippu’ which is a Japanese sectoral currency. The basic unit of account is an hour of service to an elderly person upon accomplishing which, users collect credits. They may transfer the credits to someone else (for example old relatives) or save them so they can use them themselves when they become helpless.

What alternative economic models do you envision?

I feel that the society, as it is at the moment, does not allow for an unconventionality or authenticity and instead imposes it's conventions on how to live and what to wish in life, on us. Only when we dare to dream out loud, we will know, what we really want to do and what exactly is in our way of getting there. I’d like to encourage youth to think about provocative and problematic questions and not to take the existing economic system for granted.

... Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.... (Steve Jobs)

Further reads:
http://www.theeconomicsofhappi ness.org

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v =8wuanRlfiB8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v =VkdnFYDbiBE

Article by: MARUSA GODINA, Action Team #12 Wilde Dreams Chronicles 

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Muhammad Ali Ali

Muhammad Ali Ali

Dear Marusa Godina. i really appreciate your research work regrading such a crucial issue, like economic growth....
I think, there so many draw backs in all the current economic models like capitalism, cuminsm etc . The need of the hour i that, we should survive our economic system from Mark-up and interest based models which is the basic root of instability of current mechanism . Further, control system of currencies from Big Powers is also demolishing the fabric of economies of the countries especial in under developing and developing countries. Finally the concept of Degrowth elongating byurself is inspiring.

Good Luck
and very well Done AT # 12

26th February, 2014 @ 5:13 PM CEST

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