Environmental Values, Human Nature, and Economic Democracy, by Gregory M. Mikkelson

Gregory M. Mikkelson <gregory.mikkelson>
Department of Philosophy and School of Environment, McGill University

19 December 2016

Abstract: Recent social science indicates that the public at large behave more ethically, and favor environmental protection more strongly, than do the wealthiest minority. Yet the latter group exerts predominant control over the economy. This suggests that shifting power away from this minority and onto the majority would yield a better ecology. In this paper I spell out the implications of these considerations for “economic democracy” (ED), a well-developed alternative to capitalism that shifts power from wealthy shareholders onto ordinary citizens and workers. I contrast this rationale for ED with some thinkers’ defense of “sustainable capitalism”, and with others’ ecological arguments for ED based on economic stability and self-interest, rather than ethical behavior per se.


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The degrowth of insects – an apocalypse Is here – Other News

Not your “classic” degrowth article, but something to think about resulting from growth.

Because insects are legion, inconspicuous and hard to meaningfully track, the fear that there might be far fewer than before was more felt than documented. People noticed it by canals or in backyards or under streetlights at night — familiar places that had become unfamiliarly empty. The feeling was so common that entomologists developed a shorthand for it, named for the way many people first began to notice that they weren’t seeing as many bugs. They called it the windshield phenomenon.


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Degrowth and the city

The degrowth hypothesis posits that a radical, multiscalar reorganization of society is needed in order to achieve a drastic reduction in resource and energy consumption and therefore remain within the planetary boundaries. Degrowth now operates as starting point for envisaging new worlds that can provide better lives with less, in which sustainability goes hand in hand with equity and a pluriverse of alternatives substitutes the growth “machine” that characterizes contemporary society. Against this background, a series of innovative research agendas have been developed to support this hypothesis. However, in a world that has been and is still being increasingly urbanized, degrowth has largely neglected the topic of urbanization. Against this background the following questions are crucial:

How can urbanization be compatible with degrowth?

How can cities become places of experimentation that challenge and transcend the growth imperative? What is the role of architecture and urban planning in this process?

How can urban dwellers contribute?


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Michel Bauwens: Introduction to commons-based peer production | P2P Foundation

This video from IASC COMMONS covers the evolution of the commons through history, and the role of the commons in the current shift from labor-based capitalism to contribution-based capitalism and the potential for post-capitalist developments in this particular context


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Degrowth: A Call for Radical Abundance

When orthodox economists first encounter the idea of degrowth, they often jump to the conclusion that the objective is to reduce GDP. And because they see GDP as equivalent to social wealth, this makes them very upset.

Nothing could be further from the truth.


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Open and Collaborative Developments

Open and Collaborative Developments by Patrick Van Zwanenberg, Mariano Fressoli, Valeria Arza, Adrian Smith and Anabel Marin.

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Experimentation with radically open and collaborative ways of producing knowledge and material artefacts can be found everywhere – from the free/libre and open-source software movement to citizen science initiatives, and from community-based fabrication labs and makerspaces to the production of open-source scientific hardware. Spurred on by the widespread availability of networked digital infrastructure, what such initiatives share in common is the (re)creation of knowledge commons, and an attempt to redistribute innovative agency across a much broader array of actors.

In this working paper we reflect on what these emerging practices might mean for helping to cultivate more equitable and sustainable patterns of global development. For many commentators and activists such initiatives promise to radically alter the ways in which we produce knowledge and material artefacts – in ways that are far more efficient, creative, distributed, decentralized, and democratic. Such possibilities are intriguing, but not without critical challenges too.

We argue that key to appreciating if and how collaborative, commons-based production can fulfil such promises, and contribute to more equitable and sustainable patterns of development, are a series of challenges concerning the knowledge politics and political economy of the new practices. We ask: what depths and forms of participation are being enabled through the new practices? In what senses does openness translate to the ability to use knowledge? Who is able to allocate resources to, and to capture benefits from, the new initiatives? And will open and collaborative forms of production create new relations with, or even transform, markets, states, and civil society or will they be captured by sectional interests?

Reposted from the Steps Centre by the P2P Foundation



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How Peer-to-Peer Can Change the World – DIF 2018

In this podcast, Michel Bauwens joins some dots together and explains why the open source movement, the growing prevalence of peer-to-peer sharing economy platforms and new technologies like blockchain create the potential to create a fundamentally different economic model that circulates value between businesses, people and the environment, rather than extracts it. Bauwens believes that we should move to an economy that is built on infinite resources like knowledge, rather than finite materials, and we have the structure and technologies to achieve it.


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