09.10.2019 Growth, Degrowth and alternatives to Growth

The sessions of today were all about economy. The external expert Lukas, who is working for Aktionsbündnis Wachstumswende Bremen, gave us an overview about what economy is, how growth affects our lifestyle and how it is connected with the good life for everyone.

Summarizing what we‘ ve learned today is impossible for me, but I will try to give you some impressions.

Today‘ s program was about this questions:
Why do we live in a growth oriented economy? Since when? What are the problems with that? How could a new economy look like? How can we bring together different traditions? And many more…

At the beginning we have learned that economics once was the art of providing for the needs of a household and society. That used to be the goal. But then it was declared as „free of values“ which changed a lot: Growth became the dominant paradigm and it‘s still. So what happened is that our reality was changed to a growth-oriented economy.

This growth economy is focused on (guess what) GROWTH and only on growth. All that matters is a high GDP, which measures the economic activity of a country without showing unpayed activities or cultural wealth, without seeing that the GDP is hardly comparable across countries and time and without doubting that growth is limitless (imagine a cute little kitten, which starts growing and wont stop. One day cute kitty will be bigger than your house. There is nothing in nature which is growing unlimited).

But everything by it‘s time. Let me start with the critique of growth-oriented economy, I‘ll try to keep it short:

– The more growth, the more climate change. A country which has a huge growth will surely do it for example with industries, polluting the environment.

– growth economy doesn‘t care about voluntary work or care work like cleaning the house, doing the washing, raising the children or looking after grandparents. All that matters are the products which are produced in a certain time at a certain place. But isn‘t a country so much more than that?

– Those who profit most from growth oriented economy are promising that growth will help everyone. In reality economic growth benefits the company‘s owner, not it‘s workers. This is also why we are living in a world with growing inequality. The 62 richest people in the world own the same wealth as the 3,6 billion poorest people. The is the half of the world population!

– Furthermore our growth is a growth at the cost of other countries. Mostly it is the imperial lifestyle in the global North which exploits countries from the global South. Countries of the global North are taking resources from counties of the global South, using them for producing luxury items and with that they are creating the value. So their GDP grows, while the global South is the looser in this procedure.

– A growth oriented economy doesn‘t value fair and save working conditions. It doesn‘t ask for the production conditions, it only asks for the best price to sell it. Thereby it‘s blind for the outcome of eco-unfriendly technologies. The only thing that matters is growth.

– Advertisement was developed through growth economy, for making people wanting and buying things they actually don‘t really need. It created a culture of consumption, alienation and competition. I don‘t have enough space to explain that in detail…

– And last but not least: Growth economy can be criticized as a symptom of misanthropic capitalism.

We were all agreeing that we don‘t want to live in a system like that. Instead we want to have a good live for each and everyone- globally! Our ideas of how this could work out are so diversified that I won‘t get into detail.

I rather continue with our session about Post-Development, which criticizes the usual development and growth. It rejects Eurocentric universalism and imposition of Western concepts of development, growth and progress (is easy words: Hey Europe! You aren‘t all knowing and not everything that works out for you will work out or different countries! Get over it!) Post Development explicit doesn‘t want alternative development. It want‘s alternatives to development. Valuing local cultures and knowledge should be basic.

Our speaker Lukas shortly talked about three projects which can be counted to Post-Development: Buen Vivir, Eco Swaraj and Ubuntu. Google it. All this projects are from countries and regions of the global south.

After that he introduced a international movement to us, called degrowth, which is a form of society and economy which aims at the well-being of all and sustains the natural basis of life. Their goals are global justice, which can be accomplished by producing and consuming less in the global North, a good life for everyone through social justice, democracy and autonomy in independence, plus independence from growth.

For achieving this goals are some strategies and demands necessary. Degrowth demands a phase-out of fossil and other harmful industries, convivial technology and democratic technology development, re-valuation and re-distribution of (paid and care) work as well as social security, redistribution and maximum income.

In general it was impressive how similar their claims are to the claims we collected before. Maybe we were using an easier language…

Closing we agreed that change firstly starts with me, myself and I. Secondly with educating people, family, friends and thirdly with social movement for putting pressure in government.

At the very end we did some nice mind mapping about how we can transform our housing, consuming, moving and farming, which brought up many great ideas.

Discontent with this article I have to come to and end. It‘s very difficult to write about a specific topic with so many technical terms in a foreign language. But I‘m telling you: It was a great, inspiring day!

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