Version 3.2

Degrowth and the working class

Sufficiency palatable to Boggs and Huber

It is now almost unequivocal in the research community from natural science disciplines that the anthropogenic climate change, biodiversity collapse and trangression of various planetary boundaries invoke the necessity of a fundamental socio-metabolic and socio-cultural change. Invocations along the lines of degrowth proposals in material and energy flows are explicitly cited in aggregate assessments reports and strategy reviews such as those of the IPCC and IPBES, as well as global state assessments produced for international development organizations and UN agencies. Even fiction, such as Kim Stanley Robinson's latest novel can play with degrowth narratives in plots and situation setting. There is less agreement though about the socio-cultural root causes of the planetary existential crisis and the approaches to achieving the said transformation, though not for shortage of proposals: from a mechanistic Anthropocene to a power-grabbing Capitalocene. The roots specify the difference in historical power in bringing about the present state. Differences in the power to change the metabolic throughput and its ideological justification perceived to exist between core and periphery (Wallerstein) and capitalist and working classes (Marx and Weber) lead to a strong left-wing opposition to degrowth for fear of immiseration that is even more deeply unjust. If things have to change so that some things have to be reduced, what is to guarantee that for the already oppressed majority the reduction will not be a self-imposed push below what is bearable? Such fears, justified by framing and delivery of the degrowth narratives of transformation, lead to irrational questioning of justifiability of extent, timing and proposed instruments of that transformation by the representatives of the working class and peripheral majority. This papers sketches the bottom-up constructed visions of transformation aimed at addressing the outcomes of the said fears, rather than presenting a top-down holistic view of the scientifically and normatively mandated planetary transformation.


Day: 2023-08-31
Start time: 12:00
Duration: 00:15
Room: ZV-8-5
Type: Paper Presentation
Theme: Degrowth as a political project?


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