Home > Uncategorized > “Social Innovations for Economic Degrowth” – a new paper on the socio-economic preconditions for resilience

“Social Innovations for Economic Degrowth” – a new paper on the socio-economic preconditions for resilience

In a new paper “Social Innovations for Economic Degrowth” for the renowned US journal “The Solutions”, Andreas Exner and Christian Lauk explain why money and markets necessarily lead to economic growth. They show which social innovations already are in place to overcome the growth impasse.

Peak oil will make degrowth highly desirable, and a shrinkage of economic output very probable.

This is recognized by many, but seldomly, the question is answered, how degrowth is possible.

A mode of production able to degrow and to enter a steady-state afterwards, Exner and Lauk argue, is characterized by

  • self-management instead of top-down management
  • solidarity instead of markets
  • autonomy from the state instead of state industry

This reorientation is practised in solidarity economies and the commons. It allows workers to orient themselves toward concrete needs, which can be satisfied, unlike profit production, and to reshape production, sorting out what is not needed or even harmful.

Such an economy without money would not be compelled to grow but could do what an economy in the Greek sense of oikonomia was originally meant to do: efficiently satisfy human needs for food, shelter, and cultural development.

they say, and conclude:

An economy that is able to degrow can also enter a steady state of constant production and consumption with low-level, highly efficient resource use. This could fulfill the very goal that the capitalist economy increasingly fails to serve: a good life for all.

A degrowth economy thus conceived would be highly resilient, firstly, because it would minimize vulnerability toward peak oil, secondly, because it would be based on reciprocity, trust and cohesion, making it flexible, innovative and adaptive.

Andreas Exner is engaged in the project this weblog presents,  Christian Lauk works at the Institute for Social Ecology (IFF) at the University of Klagenfurt (Austria). In february 2013, their new book “Land and Resource Scarcities. Capitalism, Struggle, and Well-Being in a World without Fossil Fuels” will appear at Routledge.

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