We live in an economic context in which material profit, productivity and the constant struggle to achieve more and more growth and development prevail.
But… what if instead of growing constantly, we stop growing? Degrowth is a movement for economic development of a social nature. We are facing an anti-crisis theory, whose objective is to decrease production in an optimal and responsible way, in order to achieve a balance between production/consumption and the use of natural resources needed for this.
Next we will explain the advantages and social benefits that Degrowth can bring , whose diffusion has not had all the support expected until today, where the future challenges will be those of supplying resources to an overpopulated world.
What is Degrowth?
This current emerged at the end of the 20th century from the hand of the American mathematician and economist Georgescu-Roegen. His successful studies on sustainable economics and development earned him recognition as the founder and father of decadence.
The pillars of Degrowth are based on abandoning the absurd idea of annual economic growth that we hear so much about in the news, and which our governments advocate so much about. Therefore, an effort is being made to talk more about voluntary degrowth. That is, working fewer hours and enjoying more free time .
Several economists have aligned themselves with this thought, but the most influential one in making this theory known in modern society has been the Frenchman Serge Latouche.
For this author, degrowth in itself does not imply any scientific thesis or significant revolution. In his own words, it is a simple and forceful concept to attract the attention of the world’s public. We are currently facing a serious problem of scarcity of primary resources; scientists and naturalist experts warn of the long-term risk if urgent measures are not taken regarding domestic consumption.
For a social growth
Latouche denounces the high commitment to the market economy to the detriment of quality in society . Today, growth is only considered profitable if its effects have a positive influence on natural resources, future generations, and the working conditions of workers.
For Serge Latouche, the cultural revolution is the only alternative. As he explains in his book “The Bet on Decrease”, he proposes a whole series of solutions under the prefix “re-“, which denote repetition or regression, which he has called the model of the “8 Rs”:
Need to redefine current values, which are globalist, consumerist and extremely consumerist by more local, economic cooperation and humanist values.
Adapt the means of production and social relations to the new scale of redefined values, such as the combination of eco-efficiency and voluntary values.
This concept has two purposes. On the one hand, it aims to directly reduce the power and means of the world consumer class and, in particular, of the oligarchy of large predators. On the other hand, it aims to re-educate the population by reducing the invitation to unnecessary and ostentatious consumption.
Degrowth aims to produce locally, through local businesses and with essential goods to meet the needs of the population. Without trying to establish a system of borders, we must limit ourselves to producing what is indispensable for society, recovering the territorial anchorage.
Today’s development sacrifices society and its welfare in favour of “development entrepreneurs”. In other words: the multinationals. It is a question of making a change in values that leads to a different view of the current reality, an artificial reality of consumption. In this way, wealth must be reconceptualized in relation to poverty or scarcity over abundance.
Extend the life of each and every product we use and avoid irresponsible consumption and waste.
Make long-lasting use of the material products we buy such as clothing, appliances or cars.
The first and last essence of Degrowth. To drastically reduce the impact on the biosphere of our way of producing and consuming. Not only must our consumption of tangible products be reduced, but also that of intangible products, such as working hours and health consumption, by reducing the purchase of medicines and the abuse of medical treatments.
Another indispensable element to be reduced is mass tourism and the exaggeration of constant leisure . The human spirit is adventurous, but modern industry has exaggerated this need by commodifying our travelling impulses as much as possible.
Degrowth as the only solution
Degrowth defends an economic model for improving the quality of life of the majority. Among some ideas, the most important ones that govern our lives and sense of happiness are work and free time.
A reduction in the working day will lead to an increase in leisure time and this we have to employ in social life and creative leisure versus consumerist leisure.