While not offering a critique of the degrowth discourse, I throw some light on the debate by offering a deeper and more useful conceptualization that avoids the negative connotations of, and resistance to, “degrowth”4. Conceptually, rather than simply describing the degrowth discourse by the descriptor “degrowth”, I recommend a more nuanced approach that gets rid of the jargon and negative aspects of the evolving concept of degrowth and makes a distinction between growth in production and growth in private-sector profit. My proposed formulation, De-[Constructing] Growth, achieves this by decoupling profit from unsustainable consumption and production.
Meanings and implications of growth
According to this formulation, growth widely understood has different meanings and implications:
- Aggregate growth in products and services that consume energy and materials;
- Growth in profits (tied to subsidies, tax treatment of investment, profit, and the provision of producer and consumer credit, all of which encourage consumption);
- Growth in trade (avoiding internalizing the externalities by globalizing commerce);
- Growth in disparity in consumption, wealth, and income; and
- Growth in under- and un-employment.
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