September 13, 2018

The case for economic degrowth

Inequality -In an interview with The Washington Post, David Pilling, the journalist and author of The Growth Delusion: Wealth, Poverty, and the Well-Being of Nations, says GDP measures economic “quantity not quality” and should not be conflated with well-being, especially in richer countries. In some instances, GDP growth could even mean the opposite.

GDP has long been widely criticized for counting defense spending, financial speculation, and even theft as positive contributions to growth, while excluding non-monetized trade and ignoring environmental and social costs. “If I steal your car and sell it, that counts toward growth,” Pilling explains, “but if I look after an aged relative or bring up three well-adjusted children, that does not.”

Pilling recommends complementing GDP with more inclusive data and measurements. But the leaders of the degrowth movement don’t just challenge growth indicators. They’re taking on the dogma of economic growth.

Degrowth “does not call for doing less of the same,” as the editors of the first comprehensive book on the movement make clear. “The objective is not to make an elephant leaner, but to turn an elephant into a snail.” They call for a radically different political-economic system needed to preserve the environment and improve well-being.

The term d̩croissance РFrench for degrowth Рwas first used decades ago by European intellectuals. But the term became the umbrella slogan for a movement in 2008, when an academic collective organized the first international degrowth conference in Paris.

Conference-goers made the term concrete, defining degrowth as a “voluntary transition towards a just, participatory, and ecologically sustainable society,” making clear that a downsizing process was necessary for wealthy countries. They envisioned a society organized around sharing, simplicity, and solidarity, rather than the profit, efficiency, and competition inherent to capitalism.


Greg Gerritt said...

One of the ways this weorks is that spending less on the military means the economy is smaller, without losing anything useful.

MAMADOC said...

I wonder how many of those who support "degrowth" have ever heard of Silvio Gesell's The Natural Economic Order... Degrowth has no chances of being implemented as state policy until the monetary system shifts to a non-usurious system in which money that is stored as value "occidyzes", i.e., loses value while not being used... Methinks!!