Degrowth: a theory of radical abundance – Jason Hickel

Monthly Review Online Posted Aug 30, 2019 by Jason Hickel

Ecology , Imperialism , Marxism , Political Economy Global Commentary Featured
Originally published: Real-World Economics Review (March 19, Issue no. 87)

As the climate crisis worsens and the carbon budgets set out by the Paris Agreement shrink, climate scientists and ecologists have increasingly come to highlight economic growth as a matter of concern. Growth drives energy demand up and makes it significantly more difficult –and likely infeasible–for nations to transition to clean energy quickly enough to prevent potentially catastrophic levels of global warming. In recent years, IPCC scientists have argued that the only feasible way to meet the Paris Agreement targets is to actively scale down the material throughput of the global economy. Reducing material throughput reduces energy demand, which makes it easier to accomplish the transition to clean energy.

Ecological economists acknowledge that this approach, known as degrowth, is likely to entail reducing aggregate economic activity as presently measured by GDP. While such a turn might seem inimical to human development, and indeed threaten to trigger a range of negative social consequences, proponents of degrowth argue that a planned reduction of throughput can be accomplished in high-income nations while at the same time maintaining and even improving people’s standards of living. Policy proposals focus on redistributing existing income, shortening the working week, and introducing a job guarantee and a living wage, while expanding access to public goods.

Monthly Review Online Posted Aug 30, 2019 by Jason Hickel

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1 Response to Degrowth: a theory of radical abundance – Jason Hickel

  1. Michael Lewis says:

    Thanks for posting this. Hickel is always incisive, integrating diverse flows of thinking into a seedbed for synthesizing present predicaments and articulating possible ways forward. From a systems change perspective, the question quickly becomes what are the pathways to building the politics necessary to concretely advance needed solutions. Hickel summarizes the components that need to be woven together, helping us frame the architecture of the changes needed. Less obvious, I think he has embedded a basis upon which it may be possible to build some bridges between the many divides that exist in the political landscape of resistance to the ongoing enclosure dynamic of capitalism and economic growth and the many efforts going on to scale-out alternatives on the ground. The story is there to be teased out into a popular format useful to organizers, activists and popular educators in different sectors and political constituencies.
    Michael Lewis, Synergia Institute, Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady Economy by Michael Lewis and Pat Conaty.

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