Vincent Liegey: To Reshape Well, Let's Degrowth
"Degrowth" has emerged over the last 15 years. This "bomb-word" has been used to open in-depth debates about whether infinite growth in a finite world is desirable or even possible. Degrowth first deconstructs the myth that growth is the central solution for the impasse our that capitalist, productivist and consumerist societies have led us to. The movement tries to understand the convergence of the crises we are experiencing and argues that energetic and various environmental, political and existential, economic and social crises are interconnected. Our society's "more and more" attitude and the push towards increased production and consumption is not sustainable as we are now facing global warming, biodiversity loss, and the end of the cheap and easy extraction and production of raw materials such as fossil fuels and metals – in particular the ones used in "renewable" energies. Our model of development has not been able to respond to rising inequalities and unemployment. GDP growth or just a quantitative reading is far from implementing a meaningful and emancipating life for all.
Degrowth and other related movements propose democratic transition pathways towards new socially just and ecologically sustainable models. They ask which social, economic, institutional and cultural tools would help such a serene transformation. They are experimenting with new local, sustainable, and fair economic and production systems like community gardens, do-it-yourself epair cafés (e.g. for bikes and the repair of household items), community supportive agricultural initiatives and alternative local currency and exchange systems, which promote sustainable local production practices.
So degrowth warns about a potential crisis in civilization and answers this by exploring alternative and coherent solutions on different levels. With a multidimensional understanding of the interconnected challenges we face, degrowth questions how could we implement democratic and serene transitions toward new relocalised but connected models of society based on social and environmental justice.
Vincent Liegey is a co-author of “A Degrowth Project”, Éditions Utopia, 2013, spokesperson of the French Degrowth movement, an engineer and interdisciplinary researcher and coordinator of the Degrowth inspired Cargonomia social cooperative, centre for sustainable logistical solutions and local food distribution by cargobikes in Budapest. He is also one of the coordinators of the support group for the international Degrowth conference.