Book: Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide

Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide, Pluto Press (London), August 2020 (Pre-order the book here).

Written by French degrowth spokesperson Vincent Liegey and Australian degrowth activist-scholar Anitra Nelson

Degrowth is a philosophy and movement aimed at reducing economic activity to avert climate catastrophe, while simultaneously improving well-being. While we work and consume less, we can still increase our happiness though devoting more time to culture, community and non-monetary pursuits.

This introduction to degrowth—in concept, practice, vision and strategies—draws on select works and the views of key advocates. It focuses on how to practice degrowth and reveals its organisational strengths and challenges which are inspired by diverse geographic and cultural contexts. It explains why the possibility of eternal economic growth under capitalism is erroneous and dangerous, whilst also challenging the left’s emphasis on reforms such as environmental regulation and redistributive social justice delivered by a state supporting economic growth.

Covering themes including the Green New Deal, horizontal democracy, local economies, the reduction of work and post-capitalism, this book shows why degrowth is a compelling and realistic project which should be taken seriously by all people looking to prevent climate catastrophe.

In the Foreword Jason Hickel, economic anthropologist (Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK), writes:

The key thing is to recognize that we already live in an abundant economy. The problem isn’t that there’s not enough for everyone to flourish, the problem is that it’s all captured at the top. We can improve people’s lives right now, without any growth at all, simply by sharing what we already have more fairly and investing in public goods. Equity is the antidote to the growth imperative.

Of course, all of this leaves us with a million questions. What does a such an economy look like? How does it work? How do we get there? The book you hold in your hands traces a path through this thicket, and paints a picture of the new economy that lies ahead – an economy that enables human flourishing for all within planetary boundaries.

About the authors:

Associate Professor Anitra Nelson is Honorary Principal Fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She is the author of Marx’s Concept of Money: The God of Commodities (Routledge, 1999), and she co-edited Life Without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Economies (Pluto, 2011), Housing for Degrowth (Routledge, 2018) and is the author of Small is Necessary (Pluto, 2018).

Vincent Liegey is an engineer; interdisciplinary researcher, spokesperson for the French degrowth movement and co-author of Degrowth Project: Manifesto for an Unconditional Autonomy Allowance (Editions Utopia, 2013). He is also the coordinator of Cargonomia — a centre for research and experimentation on degrowth, social cooperative for sustainable logistical solutions and local food distribution using cargo-bikes in Budapest.