Creating global prosperity without economic growth


12 Steps To Treat Our Growth Addiction

by Joshua Nelson on 16th April 2010

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Can the economy continue to grow on a finite planet? Some have already realized the answer to this question is an unequivocal “no” and moved onto the question of “what next?” Perhaps we should not necessarily ask ourselves “what’s next?” but how do we get to “next” in the first place? (you can read why economic growth cannot continue hereherehere and here)

How do we get out of this system that supports, feeds and requires growth? Without growth our modern economies fail, people lose employment, prices fluctuate – society begins to fall apart. Our system is designed to not only foster growth, but is structurally dependent upon it. It’s like a drug we physically cannot live without. Meanwhile our next growth fix might very well send us over the edge, into a “growth overdose” – destabilization of the climate, famine, resource scarcity and economic collapse.

How do we break the cycle? Why not treat it like an addiction and use the tools of recovery?

Addiction Treatment – 12 Steps to a Post Growth Society

Taken from your basic 12 step addiction treatment, I purpose we apply these to our society. Note, we can’t rely on divine intervention, so these have been changed a bit: I’ve replaced “God” with “people and planet”. We created this mess, we can get out of it. The specifics of how we accomplish each step I leave up to question. It will be our generations greatest question: for  you, me, and the rest of humanity to figure out.

In order to break the cycle of growth addiction we, the developed nations, must take the following steps:

  1. Admit we were powerless over growth – that our lives have become unmanageable.
  2. Come to the belief that a we hold the power within ourselves to restore our sanity.
  3. Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of our planet and our people.
  4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admit to ourselves the nature of our wrongs.
  6. Realize we’re entirely ready and able to remove these defects of character.
  7. Make a concerned, specific effort to fix our shortcomings.
  8. Make a list of all ways we have inflicted harm and become willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admit it and strive to fix it.
  11. Through collaboration and cooperation seek to improve our conscious contact with planet and people, pursuing the knowledge of how to improve the relationship of the human economy with the supporting biosphere.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we shall try to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

How should we break the cycle to growth? Do we find our strength in cooperation with people and planet? Then we can ask, What’s next?

This post was written by

avatar Joshua's life goal is leave this world better than when he came in – similar to the campsite rule. He started writing about sustainable economics with his blog Steady State Revolution, acted as Washington Chapter Director for the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE) for a few years and is a co-founder of the Post Growth Institute. An avid reader, cyclist and hobbyist mead maker, Joshua lives Seattle, WA USA with his wife and son.

Joshua has written 22 posts on Post Growth Institute. Contact Joshua

{ 1 comment }

avatar Scott May 27, 2010 at 08:12

Nice. Wouldn’t it be great if humanity had a therapist we could consult every other week? You know: Sit in the little waiting room, read the magazines, sit on the couch, and talk this whole thing over.

To take your premise one step further, what do you think it would take to get us into the therapist’s office in the first place? Something like the oil spill in the Gulf? Some climate-related event? Or does it have to be a crisis at all? What makes addicts eventually go in for treatment?

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