Friday, June 24, 2011

What is wrong with growth?

"All these problems seem to be getting bigger rather than smaller every year and for every single one of them there are hosts of organisations clamouring for attention and offering solutions to the problem. But the more I read and think about the problems as a whole, the more I become convinced that they were all in fact symptoms and not causes in themselves. Trying to remedy a symptom is almost always useless if the root cause is ignored. Obiously all the problems have to do with human activities, and these activities have to do with the context they are taking place in, the economic context to be precise. This economic context is determined by the dominant economic concept, and in our case I think it is safe to say that for many decades now the neoclassical economic concept of infinite growth has been shaping the economies of developed nations."

- Neven, Infinite Growth and the Crisis Cocktail.

What is wrong with growth?

Nothing, until it doesn't stop. Then it is cancer.

On Michael Tobis' blog, Neven has written a thought-provoking guest post summarising many of the ecological and resource crises I've been talking about and drawing the links to distorted ideologies of (endless economic) growth.

The (quite long) discussion in the comments is also valuable.

At greater length and from a Christian point of view on the same topic, Andrew Cameron has written an excellent piece called Is Growth Good? which I recommend even more highly. Don't believe the bankers, CEOs, politicians and pundits: there are things better than growth and it is possible to discover more by joyfully embracing less.


Katy said...

Hi, just found your blog, and will be adding it to my site so I remember to check it once in a while. Great stuff!
Hope your thesis (as I gather) is going well, and that you're enjoying all it affords... If you have written any conference papers or indeed finished the thesis meanwhile is it possible I have a look at some of your writings?
I am an anthropologist interested in the Transition movement as an activist and researcher, I teach some and learn more, I hope, on permaculture and environmental education, and so forth ;-).
Thank you so much in any case for your weblog-thoughts.

Katy said...

I also have a question:
what is, according to you, the best (short) account explaining the rapprochements in various countries, in various discourses between fascist ideology and environmentalism?
thanks for any hints.

byron smith said...

Hi Katy, good to meet you and welcome! I'll also be sure to check out your site (once I finish writing this comment).

In response to your second question (fascism and environmentalism), I have no idea, but I'd be interested myself in anything good you come across on the topic! One of the concerns motivating my own work is a hunch that eco-fascism may well become more and more popular if and when times get bleaker and increasingly desperate. I am hoping to articulate some reasons for resisting this lure.

I'm "enjoying" my thesis (if a topic that focusses on the effects of doom and gloom can ever be enjoyable). I have a couple of published pieces of scholarly writing: one on climate change and fear and one on the theology of creatureliness in Rowan Williams. Another, a dictionary entry on climate change for an ethics dictionary, is currently with the publishers. (Send me an email (see my profile) if you'd like to see any of these).

At a more popular level, I have various publications in less scholarly websites/magazines/journals on a variety of topics (more of a recent focus on climate change and Christian ecological ethics in recent ones, as you might guess). Some of these are reposted on my blog (since such publications are generally a little more relaxed about sharing material), such as Why be green? and Why I'm not going to heaven. Other posts of greater than average significance or quality are grouped together (somewhat randomly at the moment) under "key posts" in the sidebar. Or you can search for particular tags, of course.

Are there particular topics you're interested in? I have written one or two very brief posts that mention Transition (and have started to get somewhat involved in a local group), though am still very much a newcomer to that scene. My sister has taken a number of permaculture courses and is very keen. I love the idea but have not done any further reading or practice.

Katy said...

ok, will have a look at intersections between and discourses on environmentalism and fascism.
i downloaded your 2011 paper doom gloom etc and will have a look once i get around to it...
and i suppose i will also have a closer look at the rest of your blog.
i am trying to set up a transition initiative in luxembourg, which is not the easiest thing on earth and will probably keep my busy for a decade or so... ;)
can i sign up for reading your thesis when it's done.
blessings to you and your family.