The “degrowth” movement could help fight climate change, government surveillance, and other 21st-century ills.
By Evgeny Morozov, Slate Magazine, 22 January 2014
The author of this article argues that Edward Snowden’s revelations of the NSA’s insatiable desire for data exposes an emerging and mostly unaddressed threat to democracy from the premise that there’s no limit to how much data can be produced, collected, traded, and shared. More is always better – and we’d better get it fast.
We need new models to think our way out of the democratic deficit that Snowden revealed.
“For a very long time, the assumption of infinite growth – with GDP as the sole benchmark for assessing government policy – has ruled supreme [beyond the information economy] as well.
“Today, this critical agenda is being pursued by the adherents of the “degrowth” movement—popular in Europe but enjoying very little traction in the United States. The goal of this movement is not just to scrutinize the ecological wisdom of continuing in the current pro-growth mode but also to question the wisdom of using indicators like the GDP to assess and formulate public policy. As Yves-Marie Abraham, a Canadian sociologist and one of the proponents of the degrowth agenda, puts it, “[T]his is not [about] the decline of GDP, but the end of GDP and all other quantitative measures used as indicators of well being.”
“This is not the time or place to assess the merits of the degrowth agenda with regard to the economy. But it’s hard to deny that it has presented many interesting intellectual challenges to mainstream economics.”