Is Degrowth The Solution For The Modern World?

Degrowth proposes to reduce the frenetic pace of modern capitalism and change the production system so that it is more respectful of the environment and collective happiness.
Is degrowth the solution for the modern world?

The degrowth movement is based on the ecological economic theory developed by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, a brilliant Romanian mathematician and economist.

The basic idea is to gradually reduce production in order to restore the balance between man and the natural world. This would lead to a more sustainable social dynamic.

Growth is arguably the most important goal of all economies in the modern world. It’s a mantra of capitalism. The idea is to increase production and consumption. However, rampant growth has undesirable consequences:

  • The first is a systematic attack on nature and natural processes.
  • The second is a remarkable decrease in the quality of life of humans and other living beings.

According to the degrowth movement, people should work less and have more free time. That should form the basis of a new model in which production is regulated in a way that meets our needs without destroying the environment or turning people into robots.

Degrowth of consumption

Today, most of us spend most of our time working. In the past, people worked to meet their basic needs. That no longer matters. Over time, people have developed new needs that are all related to consumption.

For many people, a “good” job is one that allows them to increase their purchasing power. We want to have more so we can buy more. It doesn’t matter if what we buy is relevant or useful or not.

A few decades ago, people only needed one type of soap to clean themselves. Now we need five or more! There is hand soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and much more.

Purchasing power has also increased sharply in many societies. However, that does not mean that people are happier or more satisfied.

In a study conducted in Canada, researchers asked a group of volunteers whether they thought they were happier than their parents. Only 44% of the group answered yes, despite the fact that purchasing power had increased by 60%.

Woman working in a cafe

The basics of degrowth

The world has reached a point where the imbalance between production and nature has become dangerous. We have doubts about the availability of certain resources for future generations.

Looks like we’re doing something wrong. Degrowth believes the problem is rampant production. The degrowth movement therefore proposes eight solutions for the modern world:

Solutions for uncontrolled growth

  • reconsideration. People who believe in degrowth think we need to change our values. We must stop valuing individualism and consumerism above all else. Instead, we should focus on cooperation and the humanistic meaning of life.
  • Reconceptualization.  This has to do with redefining ideas like poverty, wealth, necessity and consumption. As a society we need to have a new view on scarcity and abundance.
  • restructuring.  We need to focus production on different goals, such as environmental protection and human happiness. We must opt ​​for eco-efficiency and simplicity. As a society, we need to let go of the idea that more is better.
  • To move house.  Degrowth believes in the importance of a regional economy. Multinational production is harmful. Instead, the focus should be on finding a way for each region to produce enough to meet its needs.
  • Redistribution. This means a greater sense of community and ensuring that everyone has enough to meet their basic needs. That would require a reduction in the purchasing power of large, global consumers and the avoidance of ostentatious consumption.
  • Reduce. Here, degrowth is applied to production and consumption, including working hours. It means reducing the consumption of medicines and predatory tourism.
  • reuse.  This has to do with extending the life of various products. We need to change the culture of disposables.
  • To recycle.  This means that we must manage waste properly, avoid products that cannot be recycled and take responsibility for the waste we produce.

New thinking patterns for a new era

A happy man at work

Finally, it is clear that our current economic system does not make us happy. On the contrary, it causes neurosis, alienation and inequality. New ways of thinking, such as degrowth, are gaining traction in the world and suggesting a kinder and more humane direction.

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