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Individual Paper: Narratives of Degrowth & ‘The New Right’: How different are they really?

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The recent right-wing populist upsurge on both sides of the Atlantic is no coincidence, neither can it be attributed to decades of neoliberal austerity politics alone. What can be witnessed today has been forerun by extensive efforts to renew the authoritarian Right both in Europe and in the United States. In terms of its ideology, the so-called ‘New Right’ sells old wine in new bottles but its strategies have much evolved from the violent Neo-Nazi skinheads of the 1980s. New Right proponents have become very aware of language as an instrument to enter and change public discourses, using the platforms that Social Media and lately democratic parliaments provide them with alarming success.

In contrast, degrowthers often seem rather unthinking of their use of language and its implications. Essentialist narratives of ‘overpopulation’, ‘naturally given scarcity’ and threats of an approaching ‘catastrophe’ are very much in line with a long tradition of far-right eco-conservationism, even if intended differently. Criticising growth-fuelled capitalism is nothing new to the New Right either, be it Germany’s right-wing populist Björn Höcke calling for a post-growth economy, France’s New Right pioneer Alain de Benoist stealing the title for his authoritarian growth critique from Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, or steady-state proponents endorsing Donald Trump’s anti-immigration agenda.

While warnings of a far-right capture of degrowth are not new, so far no attempt has been made to look at how and to what extent narratives of degrowth and the New Right are interlinked beyond ecology-based arguments. This dissertation project aims to fill this gap by means of a diachronic discourse analysis of two regional-specific corpora: (a) the debate on Postwachstum and the New Right in Germany, (b) the North American debate on Steady-State Economics and the US New Right. Drawing on early results from the yet unfinished analysis, the presentation will introduce the discourse strategies of the New Right along with selected examples of degrowth narratives that might play into their hands. How an emancipatory degrowth movement should deal with these transparently, is an important discussion to be had in the face of current social-political turbulences.


Day: 2018-08-22
Start time: 11:00
Duration: 00:15
Room: Nöjesteatern (Conference room)
Track: Critical Social Theories



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