The airwaves and internet are filled with “solutions” each day to the myriad interlocking environmental and resource limits humanity faces. A very tiny number call for extraordinary reductions in consumption. The rest aren’t solutions at all.
Only by defying the persistently narrow choice between ‘growth’ or ‘degrowth’ in forms that are categorically given, can the twin faces of colonial modernity in technocratic consumerism and environmental authoritarianism finally be confronted and transformed.
Gorz’s reflections on everyday, autonomous ways of meeting our needs encourages us to redefine what it means to live well – which certainly isn’t the abundance erroneously promised by capitalism: what do we want today for happy, collective frugality?
The path to a good life is not what we own, or the places we travel, or what we individually achieve. It is living in harmony with ourselves, with the planet and all of its inhabitants, in finding joy in nature’s wonders and in our connection to ourselves and others.
No search results give any indication that de-growth is not already underway. No evidence anywhere supports the idea that we can do all these things that we haven’t yet done.
Most importantly, we need to shift our personal and societal imaginaries of ‘the good life’ from that of ever-increasing consumption and material wealth to cherishing sufficiency, fulfilling basic needs, and respecting a vivid and vibrant web of life.
Degrowth is about redefining how things work in the current unsustainable system, focusing on the values of cooperation and sharing, as well as social and environmental justice.
This week’s Frankly adds a third perspective to the ‘growth critical’ conversation – that modern society has a metabolism and momentum and will grow – in non-green ways – until we can’t.
Even after two days of binge reading, I still have trouble believing that the last IPCC report “Mitigation of climate change” is real. The document is packed with powerful statements with radical implications and might represent nothing short of a watershed in the history of climate politics.
Returning to the Great Resignation mentioned at the opening of this piece, it is clear that deep discontent with work, production and our relationship to our own finite time have never been more relevant.
Lebanon’s recession shows outlines that could heal the metabolic rift between economy and ecology. It calls for new ways of living, manufacturing, growing food, transportation, and every other aspect of our existence. This is the prosperous way forward.
All paths forward come back to the fact that democracy is not a spectator sport. The worst – but unfortunately not all – of the climate crisis is avoidable, but doing so will require system change with urgency.