‘Moving out of limbo - and into degrowth?’
The pandemic has us thinking about and reacting to the state of limbo we have been living. For many of us there is now a feeling of decompression – we can start going back to ‘normal’! Or can we? And what is normal? What lessons have we learned? Might there be a more sustainable/ balanced path?
Some seem to think we can/will return to ‘growthism’, but a series of local, regional and national petitions back in 2019-20 said – NO, lets reduce consumption, curtail flying (see the KISS article in this edition) and focus more on things like care, local markets and sustainable processes. Yet aspects of the national and international data on trade, travel and consumption (eg. the property market) bely this. While many informal and particular sectors have suffered a lot, others are booming. It is not a balanced conjuncture!
It is thus very apt that ISS hosted the recent 8th International Degrowth Conference. This is the focus of this DevISSues. Attended by over 900 activists/academics and covering a broad range of subthemes such as Feminist Political Ecology/ Decoloniality (Harcourt et al, this edition), Green New Deals (Garcia et al, this edition) and Cultural Politics, it asked questions about the elements we should include (and exclude) within a limit-full, inclusive future. It left lots of fundamental questions, to attendees and to all of us, concerning the world we are making and how we live it.
The conference also asked, what is degrowth – a slogan, an amalgam of groups/ ideas or what? Certainly, a suggested paradox of the conference underlined a key feature of a degrowth view – go slow. But how do we do this when there is such an urgent feeling for the need for change?
For me these questions are best answered by the article by the EmboDegrowth Lab. They argue that we should use our embodied knowledge to heal and address our fundamental alienation within capitalism. In practice this means scaling down, slowing down and focusing on decentralized, care-based and democratic processes. As (my old favourite) J. Krishnamurti noted, it is the often silent, personal revolution in our habits, ideology and daily practices.
Dr Lee Pegler, Chair DevISSues editorial board