A new movement called degrowth is being mentioned more and more often in the media around the world. The aim of this movement is to address current environmental challenges by abandoning the ‘economic growth paradigm.’
However, life and humanity as we know it today exist only because of economic growth. We would not be dealing with the environment today without years, decades, and centuries of economic growth. This is not because it is necessarily in such a good state, but because we would be plagued by other problems such as hunger, cold, disease, infant mortality, and so on.
In our latest publication, “Degrowth: The Wrong Answer to an Important Question,” we explain that economic growth is not just about being able to buy newer phones and go on holiday more times a year. Economic growth is also about being able to afford to educate our children until the age of 25 before they start working.
It is about being able to pay for expensive healthcare, to take care of the elderly and the needy. Or that we go to work not just for the paycheck but because it fulfills us.
Historical experience shows that the richer a society becomes, the more social, moral, and environmental it can afford to be. Conversely, a society where people do not have their needs met and live with a sense of scarcity is also a society where there is no room for caring for others or for the environment.
If degrowth to you means frugality, unpretentiousness, a rich intellectual life, that is a commendable personal moral stance that has a firm place on Earth. But if degrowth is to mean a political and economic conception of man’s future on Earth, it will be very difficult to enforce. It would mean the overturning of the foundations of civilization, a violent redistribution of global proportions, the perpetuation of poverty, and very likely a deterioration of the quality of the environment.
Translated by Sofia Tokošová