Red Rag To A Bull

March 23, 2012 8:37pm CST
This is going to drive pro-capitalists to drink lol. I have been reading up on alternative economics, looking at Herman Daly (whose work on Steady-state economics made more than a cameo appearance in both my Honours and PhD theses) who led me to a couple of seemingly outrageous theories, one of which is the concept of uneconomic growth, and the other a putative alternative solution to Steady-State, Degrowth, a mainly European project. Wiki defines this as: Uneconomic growth, in human development theory, welfare economics (the economics of social welfare), and some forms of ecological economics, is economic growth that reflects or creates a decline in the quality of life. The concept is attributed to the economist Herman Daly, though other theorists can also be credited for the incipient idea. The cost, or decline in well-being, associated with extended economic growth is argued to arise as a result of "the social and environmental sacrifices made necessary by that growing encroachment on the eco-system." In other words, "[u]neconomic growth occurs when increases in production come at an expense in resources and well-being that is worth more than the items made". e.g. If fossil fuel as used in motor vehicles is a major cause of environmental degradation and global warming, then the huge increase in car ownership in Chins, India, and Brazil means a further increase in environmental damage to the point that the short-term gain in economic progress will bring about a larger medium to long-term cost in damage to the enviornment which outweighs the economic gain by far. This, I am happy to say (not having seen it before I wrote the discussion post Limits To Growth) exactly reflects my own thoughts. I summed it up as the difference between Growth, an ideological construct, and growth, a natural and positive process. Degrowth is a much more drastic view of the same thing. It suggests we should actively work toward the destruction of wealth. Wiki: Degrowth is a political, economic, and social movement based on environmentalist, anti-consumerist and anti-capitalist ideas. Degrowth thinkers and activists advocate for the downscaling of production and consumption — the contraction of economies — as overconsumption lies at the root of long term environmental issues and social inequalities. Key to the concept of degrowth is that reducing consumption does not require individual martyring and a decrease in well-being. Rather, 'degrowthists' aim to maximize happiness and well-being through non-consumptive means—sharing work, consuming less, while devoting more time to art, music, family, culture and community. This one has a lot of critics, and they have identified a few obvious problems, but degrowthists concede these problems and suggest there are simple solutions involving variable imposition of the process. Suzuki once suggested that growth should be limited to a maximum 3%, which he thought would be environmentally sustainable, especially in the face of possible technological advancements. This latter, in the example I gave above, might allow the rapid increae in car ownership through technological advances in sustainable energy sources. This "interest" is Changing the World, and I respectively suggest that here indeed is food for thought in that aim. Lash
1 person likes this
1 response
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
31 Mar 12
Great discussion Lash! I have to say that the sad thing is that most of the super elite are just interested in momentary growth and, of course, keeping people in their places. The fact is that as resources deplete, the cost is actually to the people that care about the welfare of the earth and the ones that will not be able to afford such luxuries as warmth or transportation in the future. Now...having said that it does bring to mind the interesting thought that people will turn to more internal forms of happiness like the "art, music, family, culture, and community" I have always heard that you can base the future on what has happened in the past and I think that this discussion really kind of hits that nail on the head. Definitely food for thought.
• Australia
31 Mar 12
The odd thing is that those in favour of the Growth Myth would decry what I've said here as left-wing, but in fact the left-wing in most Western countries is now a poart of the problem. The ideas are radical, yes, but they transcend the out-dated Left/Right dichotomy and take us into wholly new areas. Their point is based on the concept that if we don't do it now willingly and minimise the consequences, those consequences will arrive unannounced and be far far worse than anything these new solutions propose. Lash
@mythociate (15387)
• Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
4 Jul 12
The solution is (this is gonna sound bad) to move the system toward Socialism. The problem with that (one among many, I know) is that the human mind is still Capitalist ... as the Christian God 'needs' "all the glory," so His children (be they Christian or prodigal) want "all the treasure." i.e. They are less-anxious to see that any extra treasure goes 'where it is most needed,' more-anxious to put it 'where it serves them-and-only-them better (not even caring whether it serves anybody else!)' In my case, I know no greater need than 'to get better stuff for myself'---at least, no greater need that can be served by the few extra dollars I save-up from my 'food-and-fun'-income (the few extra dollars I have after I pay rent, cable etc). That's why churches beg for small-change from each of their congregants: because--with a lot of small-change donations put together--you have a tool you can do something useful with. And, without the tools ... would a man know how to attach the 2-by-4 to the wall if he could not imagine getting a hammer and nails? How would he then imagine NEEDING to hammer the 2-by-4 in?
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
8 Jul 12
Thanks for the best response Lash! You always keep me on my toes with your discussions!