Coherence and radicalism to re-appropriate politics
Since the emergence of the Degrowth movement in the early 2000s, a strong consensus has been building around the underlying ideas of the project despite the diverse viewpoints in the movement. In fact, there are very few dissonances when it comes to the critique of the growth society and its ravages, the analysis of its pervert but efficacious modus operandi, and our desire to build a society around a different paradigm.
But we are experiencing great difficulties to spread and to build Degrowth together as an umbrella organization of growth objectors in accord with the project.
In fact, imagining this common ground today, means to start imagining and experimenting what could be tomorrow Degrowth societies. We must build new forms of interactions at the personal, political, democratic, and power levels.
It is impossible to adopt traditional forms of political organisations or their strategies designed to exercise power. They are intrinsically incompatible with our thinking.
Furthermore, Degrowth cannot be limited to a technical electoralistic exercise and its relevant number-crashing policies and agenda. This is what happens when some classical political movements take our ideas onboard: a techno-scientific approach to society where happiness and wellbeing are calculated in money terms. This approach is meaningless and it destroys the logic of our project. The coherence of our logic is anchored in the anthropological dimension of our thinking and in its radicalness.
For Degrowth to avoid being swallowed by the productivist capitalist system, it must be articulated coherently around its core ideas. “Degrowth is not only a goal but also its trajectory and method”. We base our project on building a critical mass, or how to change society without seizing power, as from here and now, and by fighting all powers.
The strategy’s equilibrium is achieved through our initiatives, based on the 4 levels of the politics of Degrowth”
the Project level: for a transition and a reflection on the nature and shape of societies of Degrowth
the Collective level: setting up alternative actions in situation
The Exposure level: organise debates-forums, demonstrations, media appearances and participate in elections without pursuing a purely electoralistic agenda.
The Individual level: adopting benevolent simplicity and the decolonisation of the imaginaries.
Our non-electoralistic approach is inscribed within an approach to politics freed from the illusion,
that exercising power is a must for any society change. Our freedom of speech, our tone, and above all our disinterested character give us great freedom to act as an ideological irritant, a force to push new ideas and to instigate dialogues.
In fact, this approach is complementary to the traditional parties’ approaches, for which being in power is a prerequisite. Therefore, we need both Growth Objectors; GO (Objecteurs de Croissance – OB) in these parties to radicalise the debates and reflections from within, and GO from outside to articulate and express matters that cannot be mentioned in public since the first imperative is to get electoral results, which stems from the electoralistic trap (how campaigns are financed, the need for a return on investments). Finally, this complementarity manifests itself by having think-alike elected representatives, who are able to defend our local initiatives via the legal or public financing pathways.
Also, this cohesion must be reflected in the life of our movement, which is organised around local collectives, thematic collectives who meet during our common endeavours such as: seminars, books, elections, forums, conferences, demonstrations….
All our projects and actions must follow this logic of “ one step aside”, always questioning the coherence between the thinking, the trajectory, and the method. Each shared experience, successful or not, contributes to the building of our movement, without ever forgetting that diversity is what makes it rich and cohesive, at once.
The greatest difficulty of our approach lays in the fact that building a transition towards new societal projects since we are immersed in this society of speed, competitiveness, power, and domination. We must therefore be prudent. This leads us to engage in trials and errors, to be on a constant search for equilibriums in order to maintain our coherence. Because of this sincerity and coherence of our lifestyle allow us to build together Degrowth, in the respect of diversity, the logic of the collective networks, Degrowth remains elusive and beyond reach from the growth society, which, through sustainable development, has successfully prevented our citizens to grasp the environmental crisis.
Today, we must cultivate this diversity whilst creating more networks, links, and bridges between the diverse political levels of Degrowth in order to gain exposure, readability, and coherence. All four levels are interactive. They feed on each other without any desire for domination. There are as many pathways to Degrowth as there are GOs.
“Degrowth or barbarism”: Campaign Proposal: A Snail for President in 2012!
Changing society might well result from the imperious reasoning, which would impose on us a nature which has become less generous and more violent. The degrowthists who do endorse the “need” for change of course, above all subscribe tits desirability. Degrowth is not the resigned acceptance of ecological constraints but the formulation of a societal ideal. In contrast, we are witnessing today a deep ecological distress from both the Left and the Right. Oil production reaching its end soon and the increase in inequalities can lead us to foresee the possible collapse of our civilisation. At this point, the risk that fascist or eco-fascist politics be implemented is great,
and an enforced recession would take over instead of a voluntary Degrowth. Degrowth proposes to anticipate these changes in order to initiate a transition towards sustainable and desirable societies. This transition can only result from a democratic choice with a strong endorsement of and participation to our ideas.
The French elections; a very important event in French politics, are the most mediatised and followed. They identify politics with a person and are imbued with the defects and the limits of the system we are living in. They also serve as a tool to depoliticise society by giving the illusion that electing the right person is only what is required to improve thing. Nevertheless, they remain an important citizen get-together and an auspicious moment for a debate in which Degrowth must be part of.
This participation can be conceived in a non-electoralistic, decentralised, festive, and convivial manner, by rejecting the cult of personality specific to our “ republican monarchy” and by relying on a collective of diverse spokespersons. It is a matter of leading a campaign based on “the side step” to remain coherent with our ideas. The main objective would be to re-politicise and re-socialise politics.
Presidential elections constitute only a stage to trigger the change of paradigm, which entails spreading the concept of Degrowth and facilitate the gathering of Growth Objectors locally or around projects. It is about getting involve in politics but in a different manner; not to cease power but to promote our ideas, so that our reflections and the re-appropriation of our life choices can replace consumerism and the resigned acceptance of a morbid social reality.
Vincent Liegey with the precious help of Anne-Isabelle Veillot, Christophe Ondet, François Mavré, Noémie Candiago et Stéphane Madelaine.