Note — Mar 29, 2020

Ecological Crises and Equitable Futures

Excellent piece offering “a diagnosis of dominant narratives of possible ecological futures and what they mean for us.” Namely; extinction (as in XR), ecological apocalypse (Malthus), technological solutionism (Musk), and degrowth (Raworth). The author is definitely on the degrowth side and some points can be made against a few of his criticisms of the other futures but overall a great overview and valid critique of some, and strong case for the other. Also of interest because it’s from a “sectoral left think tank in Aotearoa New Zealand” so, although it’s valid for everyone, it’s written from and for Kiwis, which is a less common angle.
TL;DR: the degrowth vision is the only truly wholistic vision aiming for the wellbeing of people around the globe, not one subset or the other.

This approach, which envisages ecological crises as a business opportunity rather than as a fundamental crisis of capitalist socio-economic organisation is largely wishful thinking. Even when technological solutionism is posited on the anti-capitalist left, it tends towards utopian thinking which fails to meaningfully engage with the material reality of ecological crises. […]

If the discourse of the Anthropocene problematically homogenises humans in order to distribute blame equally for ecological crises which are overwhelmingly the result of activities by certain groups of economically privileged humans, discourses surrounding overpopulation predominantly criticise those who contribute the least to these crises. […]

[T]he ideology of technological solutionism remains a prominent fantasy that purportedly fixes Anthropocenic ecological crises. Such claims rely upon the aberrant associations that digital technologies are green, smart or immaterial. […]

While capitalism has historically relied upon the enclosure of commons and the artificial production of scarcity, the degrowth model seeks to promote commons and public ownership in order to manage resources in an ecologically responsible manner whilst also promoting more equal societies. […]

Degrowth, however, should not be understood as a contraction of the existing economic system, but as a transition to an altogether different, post-capitalist economy where ‘wealth’ is understood differently to current measures of GDP or GDP per capita.

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