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Participatory Session: Degrowth, decrescita and Postwachstum: Commonalities and differences between the Italian and German traditions

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In this special session we want to talk about similarities and differences between the growth-critical movements in Italy and Germany, and what the transnational Degrowth community might learn from them.
While most of the intellectual roots of today‘s Degrowth thinking lie in France, both Italy and Germany have their own, relatively autonomous traditions of a critique of growth, and both have seen the formation of a relatively broad and diverse landscape of debates and movements in this field over the last decade. In Italy, this has taken place around the notion of decrescita – the literal translation of French décroissance – while in Germany, Postwachstum („post-growth“) has become the overarching slogan of a broader discourse, of which those actively referring to the Degrowth tradition form only a small subset. In both countries, these debates have been to some degree inspired by the French and, meanwhile, transnational strand of Degrowth thinking, while also retaining ties to specific Italian and German intellectual and movement traditions. At the same time, it seems likely that the differences between debates and activism in both countries will also in some way reflect the different ways in which Italy and Germany, despite both being ‚growth societies‘ of the global North, are integrated into the European and world economy, and the different trajectories they have followed since the onset of the financial crisis ten years ago. It is these differences in tradition and recent experience, but also the possible commonalities (and potential avenues for a deepened cooperation) between decrescita and Postwachstum that we wish to enquire into in the session. Topics to be debated with respect to both countries include:
- The origins and conceptual traditions of decrescita and Postwachstum, their similarities and differences, and the relation of both to Degrowth ‘proper’
- The status of the concepts: Are decrescita, Postwachstum and Degrowth primarily analytical concepts, or are they meant to refer to utopian or normative ideals? How is this debated in the respective traditions?
- What are the differences between the Italian decrescita and the German Postwachstum traditions, both in terms of their intellectual points of reference, the different discursive strands, and the forms of activism and organisation found in both countries?
- How do both debates and movements relate to society-nature relations, caring relationships, the usage of low-tech and convivial tools and forms of more democratic decision-making? What agreements and what differences exist?
- Seen from the point of view of both traditions: Is Degrowth an end in itself, or is there anything beyond it? Can Degrowth retain its thought-provoking function as a ‘missile word’ in the longer run?
There will be one presentation from Italy and one from Germany on the specific history of the respective debates and movements, both jointly prepared by several researchers. After this, we will enter into an open debate, in which we hope many Degrowth researchers and activists from Italy, Germany and beyond will actively participate. To kick off the discussion, two comments from researchers from or based in other countries will draw out some implications for the transnational degrowth community.
Marco Deriu/Emanuele Leonardi

The presentation will provide an overview on the political debates within the decrescita movement in Italy. The perspective is twofold: the insider one will draw attention on the ways in which collective discussion has dealt with alternative practices (e.g. solidarity economy) and the left/right divide (towards its overcoming, as proposed by Maurizio Pallante, or its reformulation in terms of a critical left, as argued by Paolo Cacciari). The outsider perspective will focus on how decrescita/degrowth related with radical movements both within the no global cycle (1999-2003) and the more recent anti-austerity cycle begun in 2011. In particular the presentation will critically reflect on what seems to be a new interest in the history of the labor movement's revolutionary traditions (most notably Anarchism and Marxism).

Dennis Eversberg/X/Y
Postwachstum and Degrowth in Germany: Broad debates and a diverse movement
The presentation will provide an overview of the broader debates on Postwachstum in Germany, highlighting the fact that these extend across most of the political spectrum, from the left to the conservative and nationalist right. Degrowth,it will be argued, is but a small segment of these debates, clearly located at the left end of the spectrum. However, one of the problems faced by the Degrowth movement in Germany is that the different strands are frequently conflated in public perception, leading to frequently recurring misunderstandings. In a second step, the presentation will focus more closely on the (narrower) Degrowth spectrum with its different strands of activism and its close links with a multiplicity of other movements. In conclusion, the core questions listed in the session proposal will be addressed with respect to the findings on the German situation.

Ekaterina Chertkovskaya, Stefania Barca
Short comments on both presentations


Day: 2018-08-22
Start time: 14:00
Duration: 01:30
Room: Nöjesteatern (Piano bar)
Track: Politics of Degrowth




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