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This is the first mainstream article I've seen on the degrowth movement!!
Easier said than done, anyone who has experienced an imposed downgrade in their living standards will tell you how difficult the transition is, it's like going on a strict diet, but for all aspects of your life. Add social pressure to this, and you have a powerful barrier to transition. Living away from family and my original professional peer group, makes all life choices easier for me, this is great for me for now, however I'm pretty sure that my life choices would be heavily influenced by family /friends if I lived closer to them. The structural changes will be easier to implement than the behaviour they are looking to drive.
I also don’t think degrowth necessitates a total absence of things to spend money on, it’s just making sure that’s not the sole barometer for which the health of an economy/society is measured There’s nothing wrong iPhones or other luxury goods, but right now these items are built to be obsolete within a few years so you can extract as much money as possible from your customers An apartment I rented had a washing machine from the 70s that broke a while after I moved in. This machine was in use for nearly 40 years. It was replaced with a fancy new ‘energy efficient’ model with led displays and a bunch of other crap a washing machine doesn’t need. It burned out in two years and had to be replaced with a new, even more ‘energy efficient’ model that was even more sleek/modern looking (since the parts to repair the first replacement cost almost as much as a new unit). I guess it’s efficient to work for two years and then sit in a landfill for god knows how long. I think this illustrates the issue - it’s not an imposed drop in living standards but rather an alternative to this idea that progress and growth is always good. We’ve now progressed so far that we can’t build a reliable washing machine (we could but it would cost GE money because then they wouldn’t be able to sell us the same thing a few years later). There’s no need for most of the shit we create, and if instead of 30 options that all suck you had 4 or 5 that were of good quality it would be better for everyone (and also we could conceivably work less since production levels could decline)
Thanks for posting this. The questions of “When is enough, enough?” and “How long can humans and society continue accelerating?” have been in the forefront of my consciousness for a while. This is the piece that feels like the most significant barrier to degrowth taking root - “...there should also be a redistribution of existing wealth, and a transition from a materialistic society to one in which the values are based on simpler lifestyles and unpaid work and activities.”
"degrowth offers a world in which the noise of commoditization quiets down, where self-worth isn't rooted in monetary value, and where you don't have to work to utter exhaustion to access basic necessities."