Easy introduction to Degrowth (Decroissance)

AN INTRODUCTION TO DEGROWTH/ DOWNSCALING IDEOLOGY AKA “DECROISSANCE”

To begin with I would like to confess that I feel proud and pleased to have the chance to introduce you briefly this uprising and hopeful tendency and philosophy of living. Although it is connected to other well-known ideologies from the past, it has a renewed conception surpassing and reconciling diverse existing dogmas. This movement which has a deliberate apolitical character comes originally from the French hexagone where it has its most passionate activists and ideologists. Consequently, this philosophy is known worldwide by its French term: “Decroissance”, which has been a hard term to translate in many languages.

And now let me attempt to enlight you on the implications of “downscaling”, mainly, the term is often confronted to the term “development” which is one of the fundamentals of neoliberal doctrine. Decroissance theories consider that the perpetual increase in economical growth is unsustainable by the ecosystem of our planet. Opposite to this unstoppable growth, “downscaling” advises for a deceleration of this “rat race”, in order to minimise and try to repair the devastating effect that neoliberal development is inflicting to our environment. In that sense growth objectors affirm that the current economic system trusts an unlimited progress even though this economy depends on limited resources like raw material and energy, which are naturally constrained by scientific principles.

Downscaling activists argue that this is the only means to prevent the acute worsening of our natural environment and to preserve it so as for future generations, if there happens to be anything left. In this respect, notwithstanding the typical accusations of ecologists being catastrophists, the majority of the scientific community agrees with this diagnosis of the Earth [you should only see a former vice-president (Al Gore) of the most developed country striving to warn us about the disturbing health of our planet.]. Indeed, it is sufficiently proved the link between economic growth and ecological impacts.

Another relevant feature of this movement deals with a change of individual’s mentality and global moral values, which would entail a different perception of “wealth”, consisting of quality of life, social relations, equality and justice at a world level, opposite  to nowadays reigning values of consumerism, competitiveness, classism and  justice limited to a few. Accordingly downscaling activists promote and try to lead the so-called “voluntary simplicity” which is a key starting point to defend the degrowth project. And that implies reduction on individuals’ consumption, “less is more”, reducing our material needs. That supposes spending less money and consequently working less for money-making, obtaining more time for spending with your family and friends or developing your personal interests.

Decroissance is also about natural living, better food, free of chemicals, contrary to uncontrolled genetic modifications, accompanied by a decrease on animal proteins intake; healthier living patterns like cycling or walking.

In the socio-political order, growth objectors call for an equal sharing of resources and advocates of a deep world democratization giving priority to local institutions.

At this point, regarding the extension that I reached, I have to conclude this plea in favour of Mother Earth’s hope. I can tell that I have failed to mention many essential points that define this thinking current, and I regret that. Anyhow I hope that I have even slightly got the general idea through to you. And by the way, I hope that the speech have helped to stir somewhat your consciences.

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