Now we are de-growing, next winter will be tough


In a recent piece, I wrote about ‘Global Transition: From growth to de-growth and top-down to bottom-up‘ I explained the process in which top-down organisations are shrinking and will eventually disappear as a result of de-layering. At the same time, individual and co-operative activities are emerging from the grassroots.

In a recent post in ‘The consciousness of sheep’, Tim Watkins points out that:

In the absence of an alternative, cheap, high-density energy replacement for finite fossil fuels, there is no financial means of preventing a permanent depression – quarter after quarter, year after year of negative growth until the economy comes back into balance with the energy and resources available to us. And while a process of managed de-growth might have been possible had we acted sooner, the reality is that we have been so conditioned to the myth of infinite growth on a finite planet that only a small minority would have ever voted for a politician who advocated de-growth.

Tim Watkins is referring here to de-growth as an energy-related process. Also, he says that:

“We are not simply going through a rebalancing of the economy in which slightly more is spent on essentials and slightly less on discretionary items. By the beginning of 2022, we were already in a process of economic shrinkage and simplification in which only the wealthiest 20 percent or so will be able to engage in widespread discretionary spending. Certainly, the bottom 50 percent – whose incomes have fallen since 2008 – will see an ever-greater part of their income devoted to essentials like food, light and heat. And it goes without saying that those at the very bottom are going to go cold and hungry next winter.”

It is “the bottom 50 per cent” who are having to look for new ways to earn a livelihood – the opportunity to participate in the ideological kind of de-growth.

De-growth, no matter how you see it, is a process.  It can be seen as a process of declining economic growth (GDP) and emerging growth of a society based on sustainability, well-being, concern for the environment and co-operation. The process is ongoing now.  

It should be seen as defining the “pathways toward a life-affirming future” which Jeremy Lent sees as the way forward.

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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