Version 3.2_September 2016
Individual Paper: More degrowth, less capitalism – What can critical geography tell us about their relationship?
In the degrowth literature, the question to what extent opposition to the growth paradigm may interfere with capitalism is often avoided, arguing that a potential degrowth society will eventually develop from practice and should not be pre-defined. Without contradicting this view, one has to recognise that alternatives to the status quo will unlikely emerge from out of nowhere, but will have to develop in an environment dominated by global capitalism. Consequently, more attention should be paid to the relations between degrowth and capitalism.
In this paper, fundamental principles and goals derived from the practices and reforms proposed in the degrowth literature are confronted with a neo-Marxist understanding of capitalism based on the works of David Harvey, focusing on the reciprocal conditionality of capital accumulation, circulation and economic growth. Degrowth principles and goals discussed include reforms of the monetary and financial system; de-commercialisation; sufficiency, subsistence and dematerialisation; deglobalisation; conservation of natural resources; restructuring of labour; and redistribution.
The paper shows that, while contradicting neoliberal capitalism, not all of these principles and goals pose serious threats to capital circulation. While many of them will at least cause disruptions, the reproduction of capital is not severely threatened unless they are combined in a concerted effort to avoid commodification. Arguing that degrowth, in consequence, appears to be post-capitalist if not anti-capitalist, the paper finally gives a view on common interests and potential areas of collaboration with other radical movements.
Start time: 14:30
Track: Exit from growth ≠ exit from capitalism?