Degrowth Enthusiasm and the Eastern Blues IV
Reflections on the integration of post-socialist transformation experiences into the transformational degrowth discourse
Our paper traces the links between post-socialist transformations and the degrowth movement. We note that the degrowth debate in general and Western degrowth research and activism in particular rarely refer to experiences from socialist societies and post-socialist transformations. Our experiences in the diverse degrowth circles in the "West" have shown that lessons from post-socialist Europe tend to be overlooked, even though degrowth promotes and calls for large-scale social-ecological transformations. We consider the special systemic and transformation expertise of post-socialist Europe and the task of building bridges between the two areas of experience and knowledge as indispensable for the degrowth movement and its systemic transformation efforts, but also for re-evaluating and better handling Eastern European developments and prospects. Therefore, we organised a workshop series on "Degrowth Enthusiasm and the Eastern Blues" at the 2018/2019 "Degrowth" and "Great Transformations" conferences in Malmö and Jena, followed by a salon discussion with former central planners and general directors of the GDR's state-owned combines in Berlin 2020. We mapped open questions and discussed perceptions and narratives on experiences and practices before and after 1989. The aim is not only to valorise the expertise of the people in the "East", but also to overcome their often-attributed transformation fatigue and to unleash their potential for a social-ecological transformation alliance. We present central results of our workshops, which we combined with empirical evidence of our own from Estonia and a theoretical examination of (post-)socialist economics to form six theses that we consider essential for a decolonial degrowth debate.