Detroit city, Greece or Spain as well are still enduring the ills of an enforced recession and the devastating consequences of austerity plan: the destruction of institutional solidarities, unemployment, evictions, and their devastating human consequences. However, we are witnessing a revival of post-industrialisation in Detroit and new civil society organisational forms are emerging in Greece and Spain at the local level. These are examples of models of convergence between citizens’ reactions confronted with an endured recession, on the one hand, and actions undertaken by collectives in companies in search of new ways of living together in the countries less affected by European austerity plans, on the other. The same resultis achieved sometimes even though they are reached through different pathways.
However, these experiments are laboratories for transition that should not let us fall into a blissful romanticism because they are also the result of what we do not want: an endured recession.
But they embody hopes, pathways to achieve transitions, not only for an energy transition, but also a democratic and economic transition to embark in the process of re-appropriating public life and the meaning of our lives. Already affecting our society, recession and its increase in inequalities is already amplifying misery, unhappiness, violence, isolation and loss of meaning and benchmarks of stress that corrode our lives.
Austerity, for its part, is presented to us as an unavoidable solution to get us out the debt crisis, to save a society that is neither sustainable nor desirable. Relaunching austerity through austerity is an unbelievable and absurd irrationality on par with believing that an infinite growth in a finite world is possible. It is even worse if it made sense. Austerity is the illusion to believe that we can re-launch a growth society, already plunged in an ecological, social and cultural impasse.
So, rather than plunging deeper into more austerity, reinforcing inequalities, defending an ever-stronger oligarchy’s interests and to sustain the myth of a pseudo-relance solving nothing, we propose an alternative path.
Exit from the religion of the economy
We must put the economy back where it belongs, at the service of society, politics and a democratic transition. We need to reject this technocratic, oligarchical and productivist impasse the European institutions are in and open up the debate to cancel public debts, the re-appropriation of monetary creation and the implementation of local complementary currencies.
The first of all degrowths, must be a degrowth in inequalities!
We support all the initiatives that facilitate more sharing leading us to re-appropriate hope and security and thus become actors of transformation. We support the progressive implementation of the Unconditional Autonomy Allowance coupled with a Maximum Acceptable Income: to start with, we propose to work less so that all of us can work.
For a serene and democratic transition towards new convivial, sustainable and desirable societies.
That is why we support an open re-localisation of our economic and productive activities and of our decisions, based upon a logic of ecological spaces by relying on a transition that is already underway through all its citizens initiatives popping up everywhere. Solidarity and cooperation between territories and cultural openness will nourish this re-localisation.
Against the austerity-induced depression, the hope of Degrowth
We have many reasons to be pessimistic when we look at the environmental, social, energy and also the political indicators with the rise of extreme-right wing movements. To fight this oligarchic austerity is to do away with renunciation, misery, the fear gripping us and to re-appropriate the opportunity to become actors in the transformations ahead of us. So, we say no to austerity, yes to the democratic re-appropriation of the economic tools to build, create and experiment new democratic, convivial and autonomous societies together. Against austerity, let’s decolonise our imaginaries and invent the wellbeing of frugal abundance, solidarity and sustainable societies.
Vincent Liegey, Stéphane Madelaine, Christophe Ondet Anne-Isabelle Veillot.
A Degrowth Project – Manifesto for an Unconditional Autonomy Allowance, Utopia.
“ […] the prerequisite for the transfromation of the economy is “ a strong adhesion from all and a participation to this desire for change”. That is the least … But we have to start somewhere and this stimulating book contributes to it undoubtedly”. Hervé Kempf in Le Monde.
“ And the success of the book may suggest that “transition is well underway”. Emmanuel Daniel in Slate.fr.