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In search of radical alternatives

Summary:
From Crelis Rammelt and current issue of RWER Our presumed dominion over nature is an illusion. No matter how clever technological innovations may seem, they remain subject to the laws of thermodynamics. Consequently, a growth-centered capitalist economy finds itself trapped in futile attempts to completely decouple itself from nature – aiming for a 100% circular, service-oriented and zero-waste existence. This obsession stems from an incapacity to imagine an economy that does not grow, where both the quantity and quality of its metabolism remain within secure ecological and planetary boundaries. Hence, we must seek radically different pathways (the Latin radix means root). One such alternative is degrowth. In the broadest sense, degrowth represents a socio-economic transformation

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from Crelis Rammelt and current issue of RWER

Our presumed dominion over nature is an illusion. No matter how clever technological innovations may seem, they remain subject to the laws of thermodynamics. Consequently, a growth-centered capitalist economy finds itself trapped in futile attempts to completely decouple itself from nature – aiming for a 100% circular, service-oriented and zero-waste existence. This obsession stems from an incapacity to imagine an economy that does not grow, where both the quantity and quality of its metabolism remain within secure ecological and planetary boundaries.

Hence, we must seek radically different pathways (the Latin radix means root). One such alternative is degrowth. In the broadest sense, degrowth represents a socio-economic transformation aimed at reducing and redistributing material and energy flows, with the goal of respecting planetary boundaries and promoting social justice.

The growing metabolism of the voracious beast with which I began this article has unevenly distributed burdens and benefits. World trade has resulted in a net outflow of low-entropy resources from the poorer areas of the world[1] and an inflow of high-entropy waste back into those same areas.[2] This has the consequence of depriving the poor of vital resources and damaging their local ecosystems, while wealth continues to accumulate for a small minority.

The argument for degrowth extends beyond a response to the ecological crisis and includes the pursuit of a more just system. The voracious beast must yield to the turtle. As a child, my parents gave me a small turtle. Over time, I noticed that it stopped growing before it became too large for the aquarium. Nevertheless, we bought a larger aquarium, and the turtle resumed its growth. But once more, it stopped before becoming too big. Although the turtle no longer grew in size and weight, it continued to change in its proportions, colors and behaviors. Thus, the end of growth does not mean the end of development but rather the opportunity to free ourselves from the compulsive and ruinous capitalist system. This will enable us to lead a healthier, more social, sustainable, and just life.  read more

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