• Après la #croissance. Déclin urbain et #modèles_alternatifs

    Souvent dépeintes comme le terreau du populisme, les villes en déclin sont également des espaces d’#expérimentation d’alternatives au néolibéralisme. Dans ces villes, les politiques de développement renouvellent l’action publique en rompant avec le dogme de la croissance.


    https://laviedesidees.fr/Apres-la-croissance.html
    #décroissance #alternatives #villes #urban_matter #post-growth #Youngstown #agriculture_urbaine #Cleveland #USA #Etats-Unis #décroissance_territoriale


    • Pas de version française? A comparer avec ça:

      Petition for an increased #EU #Budget for #Research and Innovation
      https://seenthis.net/messages/722667

      We, the undersigned scientists, concerned citizens, innovators welcome the general structure and ambition of the proposal for an increased European Research and Innovation budget – a significant increase in a difficult situation. However, we believe that it falls short of the effort required of Europe to face the growing geopolitical challenges as well as the very high level of competition now set notably by Asian countries: gross domestic spending on R&D in the EU as percentage of GDP, which is below 2% and lags behind Korea (4.2%), Taiwan (3.3%), Japan (3.1%), USA (2.8%), China (2.1%, and constantly rising). There is a serious danger that the situation will force many promising young scientists to leave Europe, and that Europe will become less attractive for foreign scientists.

      As we are well aware, in the next decade Europe will have to rely more on its own forces to promote its values and its leadership. An cohesive Europe will need to invest in what counts for strengthening our societies, our economies, our security and our efforts in order to tackle the major global challenges of our planet. An ambitious research and innovation policy, engaging society as a whole, represents a large European added value, and will be decisive in increasing its cohesiveness.

      Chercheurs de gauche vs. chercheurs de droite?

      #Science #Université #Europe

    • ‘Secular stagnation’ meets the ‘GDP fetish’

      Tim Jackson introduces his new CUSP working paper ‘The Post-Growth Challenge’, in which he discusses the state of advanced economies ten years after the crisis. Our attempts to prop up an ailing capitalism have increased inequality, hindered ecological innovation and undermined stability, he argues.

      This week saw the launch of #System_Error a documentary #film from the prize-winning German Director #Florian_Opitz, who has made something of a reputation for himself critiquing the flaws in 21st century capitalism. The film explores our obsession with economic growth through the testimony of some of its most vociferous advocates. It’s a fascinating insight into the ‘GDP fetish’ that has dominated economic policy for over sixty years despite long-standing critiques to the contrary. Opitz’s film is a testament to the tenacity of the growth paradigm – even half a century later.

      If there’s one thing that might really throw a spanner in the works it’s that economic growth as we know it is slowly slipping away. Growth rates in advanced economies were declining already even before the crisis. The day after the film’s première in Berlin, former US treasury secretary, Larry Summers writing in the FT defended his contention (first advanced five years ago) that the growth rates expected by economists and yearned for by politicians may be a thing of the past. Sluggish growth, he has argued, is not simply the result of short-term debt overhang in the wake of the financial crisis but might just turn out to be the ‘new normal’. It’s an argument that has support, not only from other mainstream pundits, but also from national statistics: UK growth slumped to another five year low in the first quarter of 2018.

      Most reactions to the absence of growth consist in trying to get it back again as fast as possible – whatever the cost. Low interest rates, cheap money, inward investment, bank bailouts, government stimulus, land-grabs, tax havens, fiscal austerity, customs partnerships – you name it. Some of these things didn’t even make sense when put together. But at least they divert us from an inconvenient truth: that the future might look very different from the past. Were it not for a climate destabilised by carbon emissions, oceans which will soon contain more plastic than fish and a planet reeling from species loss a thousand times faster than any at time in the last 65 million years, it might not matter that they don’t add up. But is throwing good money after bad (so to speak) an effective strategy, even in its own right, when so much is still uncertain?

      How can we be sure that these increasingly desperate measures will work at all? We’ve been trying most of them for well over a decade, to very little avail. The best we’ve managed, claims Summers, is to stop things falling apart by throwing everything but the kitchen sink at monetary expansion and oscillating between stimulus and fiscal tightening (mostly the latter) as political preference dictates. The end result is a somewhat frightening sense, as the IPPR recently pointed out, that when the next crisis hits there will be neither fiscal nor monetary room for manoeuvre.

      In our latest CUSP working paper, I explore the dynamics of this emerging ‘post-growth challenge’. I believe it demands both a deeper understanding of how we got here and a wider palette of colours from which to paint the possibilities for our common future. The paper examines the underlying dynamics of secular stagnation, on both the demand and the supply side, and discusses its relationship to labour productivity growth, rising debt and resource bottlenecks.

      The toughest element in this challenge, not yet fully addressed on either the political left or the right, is the relationship between declining growth and social equity. The coordinates of inequality are now plain to see in the stagnant wage rate and declining living conditions of ordinary people. ‘Thousands upon thousands’ of people flocked to this year’s TUC march in London, making it abundantly clear that persistent inequality is threatening political stability. According to TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady ‘there is a new mood in the country; people have been very patient, but now they are demanding a new deal.’

      We have addressed the mathematics of this relationship in depth elsewhere. What we found was unexpected. The rising inequality that has haunted advanced economies in recent years wasn’t inevitable at all. Nor is it inevitable in the future. The problem lies, as I argue more specifically in this paper, not in secular stagnation itself but in our responses to it. Specifically, I suggest that rising inequality is the result of our persistent attempts to breathe new life into capitalism, in the face of underlying fundamentals that point in the opposite direction. Our growth fetish has hindered ecological innovation, reinforced inequality and exacerbated financial instability. Prosperity itself is being undone by this allegiance to growth at all costs.

      What’s clear now is that it’s time for policy-makers to take the ‘post-growth challenge’ seriously. Judging by the enthusiastic reception from the 900 or so people who attended the première of System Error in Berlin, such a strategy might have a surprising popular support.


      https://www.cusp.ac.uk/themes/s2/tj-blog_post-growth-challenge

    • #SYSTEM_ERROR

      Why are we so obsessed with economic growth, despite knowing that perpetual growth will kill us in the end? SYSTEM ERROR looks for answers to this principal contradiction of our time and considers global capitalism from the perspective of those who run it. In this manner, the film not only makes the absurdity of our growth-centered system uncomfortably perceptible, but also strikingly questions the seemingly irrefutable rules of the game within a bigger context.


      https://german-documentaries.de/en_EN/films/system-error.10103
      #film #documentaire

    • Europe, It’s Time to End the Growth Dependency

      Petition text

      The pursuit of economic growth is not environmentally sustainable, and it is failing to reduce inequalities, foster democracy and ensure well-being of citizens. We call on the European Union, its institutions, and member states to:
      1. Constitute a special commission on Post-Growth Futures in the EU Parliament. This commission should actively debate the future of growth, devise policy alternatives for post-growth futures, and reconsider the pursuit of growth as an overarching policy goal.
      2. Prioritise social and environmental indicators. Economic policies should be evaluated in terms of their impact on human wellbeing, resource use, inequality, and the provision of decent work. These indicators should be given higher priority than GDP in decision-making.
      3. Turn the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) into a Stability and Wellbeing Pact. The SGP is a set of rules aimed at limiting government deficits and national debt. It should be revised to ensure member states meet the basic needs of their citizens, while reducing resource use and waste emissions to a sustainable level.
      4. Establish a Ministry for Economic Transition in each member state. A new economy that focuses directly on human and ecological wellbeing could offer a much better future than one that is structurally dependent on economic growth.


      https://you.wemove.eu/campaigns/europe-it-s-time-to-end-the-growth-dependency
      #pétition

    • Degrowth: A Call for Radical Abundance

      When orthodox economists first encounter the idea of degrowth, they often jump to the conclusion that the objective is to reduce GDP. And because they see GDP as equivalent to social wealth, this makes them very upset.

      Nothing could be further from the truth.

      I reject the fetishization of GDP as an objective in the existing economy, so it would make little sense for me to focus on GDP as the objective of a degrowth economy. Wanting to cut GDP is as senseless as wanting to grow it.

      The objective, rather, is to scale down the material throughput of the economy. From an ecological standpoint, that’s what matters. And indeed some orthodox economists might even agree. Where we differ is that while they persist in believing (against the evidence) that this can be done while continuing to grow GDP, I acknowledge that it is likely to result in a reduction of GDP, at least as we presently measure it. In other words, if we were to keep measuring the economy by GDP, that’s what we would see in a degrowth scenario.

      And that’s okay.

      It’s okay, because we know that human beings can thrive without extremely high levels of GDP.

      There are many pieces to this argument, but I want to focus on one here in particular. One of the core claims of degrowth economics is that by restoring public services and expanding the commons, people will be able to access the goods that they need to live well without needing high levels of income.

      Take London, for instance. Housing prices in London are astronomically high, to the point where a normal one-bedroom flat can cost upwards of $1 million. These prices are fictional; they are largely a consequence of financial speculation and quantitative easing. Now imagine if the government were to cap the price of housing at half its present level. Prices would still be outrageously high, but Londoners would suddenly be able to work and earn significantly less than they presently do without suffering any loss to their quality of life. Indeed, they would gain in terms of time they could spend with their friends and family, doing things they love, improvements to their health and mental well-being, etc.

      The fictionally high prices of housing in London require that people work unnecessarily long hours to earn unnecessary money simply in order to access decent shelter – which they were previously able to access with a fraction of the income. The consequence of this imperative is that everyone is forced to contribute unnecessarily to expanding the juggernaut of production, the output of which must in turn find an outlet in the form of ever-increasing consumption.

      This is a problem that’s as old as capitalism itself. And it has a name: enclosure.

      Ellen Wood argues that the origins of capitalism lay in the enclosure movement in England, during which wealthy elites walled off the commons and systematically forced peasants off the land in a violent, centuries-long campaign of dispossession. This period saw the abolition of the ancient “right to habitation”, once enshrined in the Charter of the Forest, which guaranteed that ordinary people should have access to the resources necessary for survival.

      Suddenly, England’s peasants found themselves subject to a new regime: in order to survive they had to compete with each other for leases on the newly privatized land. And the leases were allocated on the basis of productivity. So in order to retain their access to leases, farmers had to find ways to extract more and more from the earth, and from labor, even if it was vastly in surplus to need. If they didn’t, and if they lost their leases, they could face starvation. And of course this same force, the imperative of ever-increasing productivity, was also at work in the industrial sector.

      In other words, the birth of capitalism required the creation of scarcity. The constant creation of scarcity is the engine of the juggernaut.

      The same process unfolded around the world during European colonization. In South Africa, colonizers faced what they called “The Labour Question”: How do we get Africans to work in our mines and on our plantations for paltry wages? At the time, Africans were quite content with their subsistence lifestyles, where they had all the land and the water and the livestock they needed to thrive, and showed no inclination to do back-breaking work in European mines. The solution? Force them off their land, or make them pay taxes in European currency, which can only be acquired in exchange for labor. And if they don’t pay, punish them.

      Scarcity is the engine of capitalist expansion.

      And, crucially, the scarcity was artificially created. Created by elite accumulation, backed up by state violence. In both England and South Africa, there was no actual scarcity. The same land and forests and resources remained, just as they had always been. But they were locked up. Enclosed. In order to regain access to the means of survival, people had no choice but to participate in the juggernaut.

      Today, we feel the force of scarcity in the constant threat of unemployment. We must be ever-more productive at work or else lose our jobs to someone who will be more productive than we are. But there is a paradox: as productivity rises, less labor is needed. So workers get laid off and find themselves with no means of survival. Victims of artificial scarcity. And the state, desperate to reduce unemployment, must then find ways to grow the economy in order to create new jobs, just so that people can survive.

      And all of us workers join in the choir: Give us growth! We need jobs!

      Scarcity creates recruits to the ideology of growth.

      Even people who are concerned about ecological breakdown, which is most of us, are forced to submit to this logic: if you care about human lives, then you must call for growth. We can deal with the environment later.

      But there will be no later, because the problem of scarcity is never solved. Whenever scarcity is about to be solved, it is always quickly produced anew. Think about it: for 150 years, economists have predicted that “In the very near future our economy will be so productive and replete that we will all have to work no more than a few hours a day.” But the prediction never comes true. Because capitalism transforms even the most spectacular productivity gains not into abundance and human freedom, but into scarcity.

      It’s strange, isn’t it? The ideology of capitalism is that it is a system that generates immense abundance (so much stuff!) But in reality it is a system that relies on the constant production of scarcity.

      This conundrum was first noticed back in 1804, and became known as the Lauderdale Paradox. Lauderdale pointed out that the only way to increase “private riches” (basically, GDP) was to reduce what he called “public wealth”, or the commons. To enclose things that were once free so that people have to pay in order to access them. To illustrate, he noted that colonialists would often even burn down trees that produced nuts and fruits so that local inhabitants wouldn’t be able to live off of the natural abundance of the earth, but would be forced to work for wages in order to feed themselves.

      We see this happening today in the endless waves of privatization that have been unleashed all over the world. Education? Healthcare? Parks? Swimming pools? Social Security? Water? All social goods must be privatized – they must be made scarce. People must be made to pay in order to access them. And in order to pay, they will of course have to work, competing with each other in the labor market to be ever-more productive.

      This logic reaches its apogee in the contemporary vision of austerity. What is austerity, really? It is a desperate attempt to re-start the engines of growth by slashing public investment in social goods and social protections, chopping away at what remains of the commons so that people are cast once again at the mercy of starvation, forced to increase their productivity if they want to survive. The point of austerity is to create scarcity. Suffering – indeed, poverty – must be induced for the sake of more growth.

      It doesn’t have to be this way. We can call a halt to the madness – throw a wrench in the juggernaut. By de-enclosing social goods and restoring the commons, we can ensure that people are able to access the things that they need to live a good life without having to generate piles of income in order to do so, and without feeding the never-ending growth machine. “Private riches” may shrink, as Lauderdale pointed out, but public wealth will increase.

      In this sense, degrowth is the very opposite of austerity. While austerity calls for scarcity in order to generate growth, degrowth calls for abundance in order to render growth unnecessary.

      Degrowth, at its core, is a demand for radical abundance.

      https://www.localfutures.org/degrowth-a-call-for-radical-abundance