After the first political campaign Europe-Decroissance (Europe Degrowth) which advocated Degrowth (1), do we have the audacity to extend this adventure and to create a political movement, the objectives of which are individual and collective emancipation, well-being and fulfillment achieved through voluntary simplicity?
We consequently do not hesitate to present the outlines of our approach in this endeavor. We invite all like-minded people to join us in developing it collaboratively in order to create a society which is ecologically and socially responsible, humanistic, and democratic.
The ‘Growth society’ (i.e. business-as-usual paradigm) dramatically creates a combined crisis: an energy crisis, an environmental crisis, a social crisis, an economic crisis, a cultural crisis and a political crisis. Fundamentally, it is the expression of one and the same madness: a world that has become inhuman, as if the belief in « always more » was enough to give it meaning.
In view of the monumentality of these crises, we offer a new paradigm: an immediate exit from capitalism and productivism through all the practical alternative ways of living life which either exist or are still to be created. These two imperatives constitute our radical approach. We do not want any other form of development, any other type of growth, any other way of consuming or any more productivism. We want to leave behind the religion of Growth which has increased inequality, exhausted resources, wiped out biodiversity and denied human dignity.
Even if infinite growth in a finite world were possible, consumption and productivism would still be absurd.
So how can we create new pathways into different worlds?
In contrast with the classical strategy of taking power as a prerequisite to any change, we propose a radical and coherent idea: The Strategy of the Snail.
Degrowth is not only the aim of such a project, it is also the path and the method.
The political strategy of Degrowth is a strategy of breaking off, in opposition to the strategies of accompaniment.
Firstly, the Strategy of the Snail implies that the illusion of acceding to power – whether in a reformative or revolutionary manner – is a pre-requisite for changing the world. We do not want to “seize power”, but to act against the dominant structures and ideas by weakening their various powers and to create, without delay, conditions which will enable us to give full meaning to our lives.
Nevertheless, our rejection of the absurd paths of consumerist globalization must not lead us to the dead ends of individualism and isolationism. The Objectors to Growth (2) intend to be present at all levels of the political spectrum by being active in all the fields/spheres of individual and social emancipation. These include:
- An electoral presence within the traditional political field, avoiding electioneering for it’s own sake, but inclusive of demonstrations, petitions, critiques and occasional support for political majorities in order to gain a platform for our ideas and to conduct some social, ecological and political field trials.
- An immediate exit from capitalism effected through experimenting with practical alternatives and alternative counter ideas.
- The project itself, by harmonizing utopias into a cohesive whole.
With a view to strengthening our capacity to resist attack, let us re-politicize society and socialize politics.
But since resisting is not enough and something new must be proposed in a Platform, in this platform (which launches our project from its local dimensions into the global) we argue for serene and convivial Degrowth. How?
- Relocalisation constitutes the core of our project; this encompasses housing, travel, production, distribution, exchange and decision-making.
- For the Objectors to Growth, relocalisation is the only sensible pathway for regaining control over our activities, to take care of the land and share common goods.
- The promotion and legalization of local currencies and other non-speculative exchange systems.
- UAA: An Unconditional Autonomy Allowance (DIA in French: Dotation Inconditionnelle d’Autonomie), to put an end to compulsory work and allow for choice of human activity.
- A Maximum Acceptable Income: MAI (RMA in French: Revenu Maximum Authorisé), the threshold of which is democratically decided.
- Free public services and usage of socially and ecologically responsible services.
- Free access to responsible use of water, land and every « essential » resource on the one hand and higher pricing or prohibition of their misuses on the other hand.
- Leaving behind the centrally-driven society of over-consumption and energetic waste; from the nuclear to the car industry.
- The rejection of the cult of technology which imposes a society of screens and goods instead of a society of personal and direct social ties: those of solidarity, through cooperation and sharing.
- Emancipation of education and cultural models of competition.
- The establishment of democracy by putting an end to media and advertising propaganda, facilitating collective decision-making about economic matters, re-localising the centres of democratic control, setting up protective measures to avoid abuses of power. (i.e.: short, revocable and non-cumulative electoral mandates, legislative powers given to the elected representatives, voting rights of a truly universal nature).
To keep on developing this platform…
This Platform for Convergence was proposed by the attendants of the Constitutional Convention of the Association of Objector to Growth in Beaugency (France) on Saturday, September 19th, 2009.
(1) Degrowth is either:
- A provocative slogan reminding us that an infinite economic growth in a finite world is not possible.
- A complex set of theories about a new paradigm and thinking about how to make a democratic and peaceful transition to sustainable and desirable societies.
- The name of a new social and political movement (grassroots and also academic and intellectual).
(2) An objector to Growth is a Degrowth proponent.