Our thought processes are, amongst other things, antithetical to parochialism and pedestrianism. Pompous patronizing derived from extreme shallowness turns us off, whether displayed by the rich or poor, powerful or powerless. We get our buzz by entertaining ideas that are ‘outliers’, to use a coinage by Nassim Talab of ‘Black Swan’ fame. In short, and in general, we are not into the suffocating drudgery of mainstream thinking and doing! We try to anticipate unfolding scenarios/phenomenon by studying the past as well as the present. We try to deepen our knowledge by dissecting received wisdom/dogmas. Today we are at it again entertaining the avant garde concept of ‘Degrowth,’ to the dismay of the reigning establishment (global) and its high priests.
Naturally collective humanity cannot control situations or outcomes that are way beyond its capacity. The formation/explosion of another super nova out there somewhere in our known universe is one such phenomenon. Making and directing a hurricane that sweeps across the Atlantic is another minor event we have no jurisdiction over. At the same time and at the human scale (collective or otherwise) there are a whole lot of things we can actually control, particularly in the world of the ‘man-made.’ We can for example declare the next five days to be global holidays and stop all kinds of activities that are considered ‘work’, to the elation of millions of suffering students (from indoctrination) and workers. Such initiatives are within our jurisdiction and we can, to a large extent, determine the overall impacts of such moves as they affect us and our natural surroundings (for example saving fossil fuel, etc.). It is because of these types of innate capacities collective human existence has been assured on planet earth, at least so far. But we have gone too far!
An individual member of the beast (the Homo sapiens mass) cannot grow ten arms, legs & heads and still retain membership in the genus homo, let alone within the communities of sapiens. By the same token, man concocted systems usually associated with some kind of indexing to gauge activities of the systems, such as an economy and its GDP, have also got their limits, beyond which they threaten to destroy the whole man-made edifice. Growth for growth sake has another name in the world of medicine, it is called cancer! Here is a formal definition of de-growth.
Sustainable degrowth is a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open, localized economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions. Such societies will no longer have to “grow or die.” Material accumulation will no longer hold a prime position in the population’s cultural imaginary. The primacy of efficiency will be substituted by a focus on sufficiency, and innovation will no longer focus on technology for technology’s sake but will concentrate on new social and technical arrangements that will enable us to live convivially and frugally. Degrowth does not only challenge the centrality of GDP as an overarching policy objective but proposes a framework for transformation to a lower and sustainable level of production and consumption, a shrinking of the economic system to leave more space for human cooperation and ecosystems. Go to page 50 for the continuation.
As we said earlier, human beings have the potential to temper or even reverse some of the conditions they themselves created. But this has to be done before the situation reaches the point of no-return. See the press release by ‘The Bulletin of Atomic Scientist’ next column. When an individual attempts suicide, people generally consider it an abomination, but when collective humanity embarks on the path of self destruction the collective resigns and becomes complicit. For us, this is daft through and through. Those who have a selfish stake in the current unsustainable system cannot be expected to articulate or even accept alternative scenarios for collective existence. Naturally the task is left to those brave souls who can go beyond the prevailing pedestrian thinking. If the global grassroots resistance of 2011 is anything to go by, the beast (mass) will not continue to bow down to the patronizing pomposity of establishment institutions and their clowns.
Peripheral countries that are not yet completely incorporated/integrated in the whole global mess must start articulating their sustainable future outside of the prevailing unsustainable system. Don’t expect the globally entrenched interests that are up to their neck with the cumulative consequences of their selfish overreach to be of any guide here. That is why we have a warning sign posted and pasted all over. “Monkey see monkey do will make all monkeys disappear.” Good Day!