Everyone agrees that we are in the midst of a massive financial and economic crisis. We have suffered the biggest ‘crash’ since the 30s, and it may get far bigger yet. How ought this ongoing crisis to be understood, and resolved?
On the mainstream view: We have vast government deficits, and stagnant economies. We have a dire need for economic growth – and a deep-set need for austerity, bringing with it massive cuts in public services.
But what if that diagnosis, which reflects mainstream wisdom, is all wrong? What if the crisis that we are currently experiencing is one which casts into doubt the entire edifice of capitalist economics, which sets growth as the primary objective of all policy? What if the fight between those who say that without austerity first there can be no growth and those who say that we must invest and borrow more now in order to resume growth is a false dichotomy - because both sides are assuming ‘growthism’ as an unquestioned dogma?
The aim of the Green House Post-Growth project is to challenge the common-sense that assumes that it is ‘bad news’ when the economy doesn’t grow and to anatomise what it is about the structure of our economic system that means growth must always be prioritised. We need to set out an attractive, attainable vision of what one country would look like, once we deliberately gave up growth-mania – and of how to get there. And we need to find ways of communicating this to people that make sense, and that motivate change.
In December 2012 we formally launched the Project with a Panel debate with the Green European Foundation called Beyond Growth and De-growth. The Panel included Tim Jackson of the Green House Advisory Group, Molly Scott Cato from Green House, Aurelie Marechal advisor to the Green MEP Philippe Lamberts, and Dr Hermann Ott, a Green member of the German Parliament. You can find a fuller account of the meeting on the Green European Foundation website here. A video of the event is available here while the launch of Green House's latest paper, Joined up Economics, which also took place at the event, is here.
A short report introducing the project can be found at Green House Post-Growth Project (pdf, 661 K)
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We are forging international links: for example, with the new Post Growth Alliance (more details to follow), and with the new French think tank Institut Momentum. Here is their stirring 'mission statement', as translated by Green House:
"Our starting point is the realization that we are living at the end of the period of greatest material abundance ever known in human history. This abundance rests on temporary sources of concentrated, cheap energy. Today, accumulated energy and ecological debts are catching up with us - bombs ready to explode. This century's generations must prepare for this backlash by becoming less dependent on non-renewable resources, and by strengthening networks of solidarity in human communities. The wind of change is here. The fire of consumerism is down to its last embers. The historical moment in which we are living requires a different way of thinking. Quietly, an informal movement comprising committed citizens, communities, businesses and elected officials has begun the transition to a post-carbon world. These early actors are working to reduce their consumption, to produce food and energy locally, to invest in the local economy, to rehabilitate knowledge and preserve local ecosystems. Their motivations are varied: mitigating climate change, preserving the environment, food security, local economic development. The essence of these efforts, however, is the same: all recognize that the world is changing, business-as-usual based on the idea that the growth of production and consumption can and should continue indefinitely, no longer works. The global crisis of natural, energy and economic systems forms the fabric of our unique epoch. As a response, we are convinced of the need to develop transitions towards post-oil societies, societies of restraint and moderation.
The Institut Momentum serves as a laboratory of ideas on the issues of hyperindustrial society and the transitions needed to cushion the social impact of the end of oil."
Have a look too at articles by Green House Authors in the Green European Journal, for example Anne Chapman on Science here or Tom Lines on Food here. You can access the Green European Journal as a whole here.