“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
Even the mainstream media no longer expect anything from this kind of summit as we can see from the press headlines and particularly those in Le Monde, dated 20 June 2012. The derailment of the green economy at Rio + 20, the article begins with: “Will the United Nations conference on sustainable development, to be held from Wednesday 20 June to Friday 22 in Rio de Janeiro, be over before it starts?”
And it goes on: “The crisis (economic and financial) weighs heavily on the negociations”.
“The round of negotiations, started in January, has suffered from the financial crisis and the inability of the industrialised countries to commit to clear financial goals as requested by the South.”
It concludes: “Compared with the sense of urgency spread by many experts attending the conference, who, almost unanimously, are worried about the threats to humanity if it fails to adapt its production and consumption modes to the resources scarcity, combined with population growth; the concrete decisions might appear quite subdued”.
40 years after the Stockholm Summit, and also 40 years after the publication of the Meadows report, the work of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, 25 years after the release of the Bruntland Report, which led to the creation of this oxymoron: “sustainable development”, 20 years after Rio, “We use the same parameters and we start again”!
“If you have a hammer in your brain, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
Albert Einstein, cited by Serge Latouche.
In fact, in the title, introduction and the conclusion of this Le Monde‘s article, we see the contradictions the Growth Objectors have been denouncing for quite a while already. What are: green growth, sustainable development and green economy? How can we reconcile decreasing our consumptions and saving our economic system? We mix it all and fail to make the connection between all the parameters and we use expressions devoid of meaning.
This type of meeting is doomed to fail, as is our growth society, because they are trying to find compromises between the actors and inherently contradictory visions. Further more, most organisers, actors and observers, blinded by religion of the economy, are not conscious of it. Impostures such as sustainable development, green growth and more generally green-washing, not to mention the faith in technological and scientific progress contribute to stop us from identifying and analysing in depth, our civilisation model which is in an impasse! We are exhibiting a form of obscurantism of the modern times, when growth is the religion; deemed to be the sole solution to all our problems (economic crisis, unemployment, technical progress, development) but also to bring about an illusionary happiness (indulge in Western over-consumption).
20% of the world population consume 87% of the planetary resources.
We live in a society, which is institutionally, economically, financially but also culturally, socially and politically hooked on Growth!
However, as we know, infinite growth in a finite world is neither impossible nor desirable. We must recognise that this awareness is growing, but this is not enough. What is at stake is to exit this growth society and to conceive a model or a few alternative models and a pathway to get there.
It starts at home, the better offs, where our consumption modes are no longer sustainable and force us to exploit the rest of the world. We must also exit these destructive policies we impose on the planet and we name, hypocritically, development, when it is not a matter of a humanitarian war.
Fewer goods, more connections.
It is only possible outside our economic system, thus we must defy the oligarchy which is taking advantage of it!
Plan B does exist; it is not about austerity, nor Growth, but Degrowth; that is through a decolonisation of our imagination and a serene transition towards sustainable and desirable societies. Therefore for Europe, where the impetus must star from, we propose:
- Defaulting on public debts, a democratic take over of the central bank and more generally of the system of money creation.
- With a democratic reappropriation of the economic tool, we can safeguard European populations so that they can enjoy serenity and hope, thus reclaiming their life choices. Thus, we propose the instauration of a basic income guarantee in the form of an Unconditional Autonomy Allowance.
- The implementation of a maximum income threshold.
- The implementation of an energy and agriculture transition based upon an open relocalisation within these parameters: what do we produce? How? For what purpose?
- The payment of the only true debt we have: the debt to the South, which we have been colonising and pillaging for decades. Without them, their labour force we exploit and their resources we appropriate, our consumption modes would not be possible. It is up to us to give back what we have stolen, and, above all, their self-determination!
Thus, at a snail pace, we keep on initiating, here and there,without waiting, the virtuous circles of a serene, sustainable, and convivial Degrowth!