May 30th, 2013
Two weeks ago the degrowth research group Collectif de recherche interuniversitaire et transdisciplinaire sur les impasses de la croissance (CRITIC) held its first colloquium, entitled “How much should we keep on digging? The limits to growth”, at HEC Montréal. The degrowth movement voiced very relevant critiques concerning the economics of accumulation, always in search of unlimited profits even though the planet’s environmental and social limits are brought ever more sharply into focus.
Fittingly, the French periodical Alternatives économiques published this month a feature entitled “A better life without growth” which brought to the fore 10 proposals towards improving our lives now that the end of growth is either desirable, either inevitable. These suggestions are very interesting, easy to implement, and more people should hear about them really. They are meant to decrease individuals’ expenses in order to lessen the urge to accumulate money. We will go over each one and adapt it to the situation in Québec.
A word of warning before we look into these different avenues. The term degrowth is sometimes understood as ‘gross domestic product (GDP) reduction’. We prefer a different understanding, one rather like agnosticism in the face of the ‘growth at all costs’ economic dogma. The point is not to harbour hatred towards an indicator that others celebrate. On the contrary, we suggest rethinking economics beyond the GDP growth imperative. Some of the public policies presented below could very well increase the GDP whilst others could have either a negative or a neutral impact upon it. However, we are not concerned with such calculations here. We wish instead to understand how to lead better lives in a world with finite resources without further destroying it.