Published on October 15, 2014
1. Degrowth, equality and democracy Giorgos Kallis, ICREA Professor ESEE 2011, Pre-conference workshop, Istanbul, 14 June 2011
2. Degrowth premises 1. Growth does not resolve inequalities. 2. Sustainable degrowth should be a redistributive and equalizing process. 3. Growth above a certain level erodes democracy. 4. Sustainable degrowth should come through a directly democratic process. The end state should be a deepened, inclusive democracy.
3. This presentation Intellectual background Ivan Illich Cornelius Castoriadis Fred Hirsch Problematizing degrowth, equality and democracy.
4. Ivan Illich 1926-2002 Anarchist catholic priest Work on the school, health, energy and transportation systems. Austrian globetrotter, lived and worked most of his life in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
5. Key ideas “Socialism can only arrive in a bicycle”. Above a certain scale (of energy use) distribution of control intensifies and social relations degrade. “Technocracy” of experts erodes democracy. Participatory democracy requires low energy technologies. Industrial vs. convivial tools. The need for collective limitations.
6. Cornelius Castoriadis 1922 – 1966 Philosopher, economist, psychoanalyst. Greek partisan, migrated to France. Economist at OECD, revolutionary writing with a pseudonym. Post-Marxist French left. Developed the ideas of autonomy and the social imaginary.
7. Key ideas Auto-nomy as a process of self-institution of society. Direct democracy as a revolutionary project of self-institution. Economic growth (development) is the modern secular religion: growth for growth’s sake. We are living an era of depolitization and the rule of experts. (Decolonizing) the social imaginary.
8. Fred Hirsch 1931 – 1978 Austrian economist, worked at the Economist, the IMF and U. of Warwick. “Material growth cannot make everyone middle class”
9. Key ideas Positional goods are socially limited (scarce). Once material needs are satisfied, relative price of positional goods increases and do does political demand for generalised access. Economic growth renders positional goods mass, but does not reduce inequalities, while it wastes public resources. Time scarcity leads to less time for public affairs. Commodification erodes social ties and institutions.
10. Problematizing degrowth and democracy If degrowth is framed in limit terms, there is a possible techocratic drift. The scale problem: local vs. national vs. international levels of democracy. The strategy question: vote or exit?
11. Problematizing degrowth and equality Equality and redistribution in what? Equality and positional goods. Effects of degrowth on positional goods – “getting down all together”. Redistribution without growth.
12. Thank you firstname.lastname@example.org
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