Degrowth is Not a Choice Available to Those Impoverished by Capital

Excerpts from an interview with Firoze Manji. An important contribution to the degrowth “discourse”.

Read the full interview at

In Africa we need growth: not the mythical one measured by GDP growth that reflects the enrichment of the few and the pauperization of the many. We’ve had enough of degrowth.

The choice of ‘degrowth’ may be an option for those, including our elites and middle classes in Africa, who have been brought up with the over-indulgences of advanced capitalism. It is not a choice available to those impoverished by the same system.

The overproduction of commodities, destructive extraction of natural resources, and fierce accumulation by dispossession are symptoms of a system that is desperate to stave off the declining rate of profit. It doesn’t make sense then to treat only the symptoms (degrowth) without addressing the underlying causes (capital accumulation).

The growth of capital has always required enforced degrowth, and resultant impoverishment, of the vast majority of the peoples and economies of the Third World. Many people are finally becoming aware of the cumulative effect of this destructive mode of production on the ability of the ecosystem to renew itself in a sustainable manner, and of the impending threat to the viability of the planet as a living system.

Perhaps the first step requires public discussion about how do we democratize the economy and the ways decisions are made. Who decides what is produced? Who decides why it is produced, how much is produced, and for whom it is produced? Who benefits from the production that takes place? And what is done with the value so created? Currently a minority makes these decisions without any accountability or even reference to citizens.

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