The Post-Growth 2018 conference at the European Parliament marked a milestone in the history of the post-growth debate, which has predominately been contained within academic circles. In the first part of a two-part interview, Riccardo Mastini discusses the possibilities and challenges for imagining a world beyond growth with two key post-growth thinkers at the conference.
Riccardo Mastini: We are here in the European Parliament talking about post-growth with academics such as yourselves, but more surprisingly with officials from the European Commission and MEPs. As longstanding thinkers of a world beyond growth where does the battle to imagine a world without growth stand today?
Tim Jackson: It’s still a difficult debate, but not as difficult as it has been. It’s interesting to think of it in historical terms, kicking off with Robert Kennedy’s speech at the University of Kansas in 1968. In that speech, Robert Kennedy wasn’t just questioning GDP as an indicator, he also talked about what makes life worthwhile and what we mean by social progress. That speech is significant in its philosophical and social content and its vision of a different kind of society. In the 50 years between that speech and today much has changed, including in the measurements sphere. The Stiglitz Commission published its report on measurement of social progress in 2009, coinciding almost exactly with the financial crisis. Around the same time, the degrowth movement was beginning to emerge. Over the last 10 years, the conversation has been richer, deeper, and has increasingly involved civil society and resonated with the public.
Yet the debate still doesn’t quite reach political ears in a comfortable way and that’s what is slowly beginning to change. When I wrote Prosperity Without Growth 10 years ago, I was reporting to the British Prime Minister. But as a whole the government wanted it to go away.
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