Socialist Project Toronto, Developing Economics Blog, UK, New School for Social Research, New York,
June 7, 2019
Excerpts from a longer read by Güney Işıkara and Ying Chen
To Grow or Degrow? Or Is There a Third Way?
The way Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and many others phrase the problem in the broader context of social, economic, and environmental grievances caused by capitalism is crucial for setting the terms of debate and struggle. This opens up space the left can use to address such issues in a systematic way rather than being content with symptomal healing. In fact, countless contributions have already been made on theoretical and tactical grounds.1
In this piece, we build on those contributions, and unpack the dynamics inherent to the capitalist system that would need to be addressed in the ongoing discussions. We also shed light on the limitations of a market-based and growth-centered approach to tackling climate destabilization, while offering other domains of political intervention such as property relations and demarketization of subsistence….
The problem asserts itself as a political question insofar as both growth and degrowth are necessary for different domains, industries, social classes, and countries in a differentiated and selective way….
Today, the U.S. holds sufficient economic surplus to support a GND. The real problem lies in that the surplus-owning class refusing to invest into the crucial domain that helps sustain the very ecosystem we currently inhabit, which is as essential as food, clothing, shelter and transportation, if not more so….
One example would be Cuba, which ranks among the top countries according to the human development index as calculated by the UN, mostly contributed by high life expectancy and literacy rate rather than GDP per capita, and still has one of the lowest per-capita ecological footprints globally….
The fact that the living standard of wage labourers has been delinked from GDP growth has an important implication: their well-being can be substantially increased under circumstances of a constant, or even shrinking GDP….
Now we get down to the nitty-gritty. What is to be done? Interrupting the Logic of Capitalism…