I recently had an article on post-growth economics, development and global justice published in a wonderful independent magazine called STIR.
The article addressed the post-growth concept from the perspective of global justice and the needs of the global poor. My aim was to argue against the assumption that we need global economic growth to lift the poor from the crushing poverty that is all too prevalent in our world. Contrary to popular belief, I suggest that the trickle-down effect that currently distributes wealth from growth is wholly incapable of meeting the needs of the global poor within the limits of our bountiful yet decidedly finite planet. Following on from this analysis, I introduce the post-growth concept and the work of the Post Growth Institute, and suggest that a post-growth economy based on the principle of ”enough” and the ethic of sharing, is a direct and effective way to sustainably meet the needs of humanity.
Here is a short extract:
This post-growth movement is characterised by an ethic of sharing. Economic growth lends an excuse to inequality, because of the promise that people will be better off in absolute terms, even if they are poorer relative to the rich. Wealth ‘creation’ is basically an excuse for avoiding wealth distribution. In a world of environmental limits, where we know we cannot continue to grow the scale of the human economy, that mirage dissipates and we are left with the age-old demand for equitable distribution of wealth. The post-growth concept is all about meeting human needs sustainably and justly. This means that a post-growth solution to meeting the needs of the global poor would be far more effective: instead of waiting centuries to see if the trickle-down effect can solve poverty before it destroys the habitability of the Earth, we directly share the immense wealth that has already been accumulated. Globally, we have an impressive store of financial, physical, natural, technical and cultural wealth: despite the finite nature of our planet, poverty is today caused by inequality and injustice rather than raw scarcity. A post-growth economy would encourage sharing at all levels: from debt jubilees, technology transfers and an end to neoliberal ‘structural adjustments’ internationally, to tool libraries, solar co-ops and skill swaps for neighbourhoods. The focus on access over ownership in the sharing economy means more wellbeing and need-fulfilment can be obtained from the same stock of natural resources, improving resource-efficiency while also building community resilience and social relationships.
The full article can be read by purchasing the Autumn issue of STIR.
STIR is an independent quarterly print magazine covering alternative ways of organising our economy and culture, with a particular focus on co-operatives, commons and community initiatives. It also includes beautiful artwork by many freelance illustrators. The Autumn 2015 issue, where my article appears, also includes articles on film-making for social change, a sustainable farming and shipping co-operative in the US and an educational start-up program for young adults in the UK. Even better, the magazine only allows one ethical advert in each issue, so you get a content-packed publication. If these topics interest you and you want to support independent alternative media, you can subscribe to get four issues per year.
1) Meme made by the author, the background image is author unknown, with Creative Commons licensing.
2) Front cover of STIR Autumn 2015 issue.