Presidential elections: Degrowth answers Attac questions about the crisis.

Presidential elections: Degrowth answers Attac questions.


As growth objectors we can but bring into question the legitimacy of institutions such as G20: why only 20 countries, and furthermore why should these most economically powerful nations dictate the ways of the world? Similarly with the European Union and its economic treaties: such as Lisbon Treaty, imposed without any democratic debate (as per the referendum on the European  constitution).

We do agree that European and global institutions are desirable but they must be built through a participative and transparent process to serve the people rather than the oligarchy.
Therefore, we argue for the re-shaping of these global institutions around a reformed United Nations (no more permanent members, no more veto). The same goes for the European Union, it is necessary to review the Lisbon Treaty and to set up a constitutive assembly able to propose truly democratic institutions at the European scale, by taking over the European Central Bank; therefore the monetary creation, which is an essential tool to draw policies of transition towards sustainable and desirable societies.

1-Financial regulation

We do not need to regulate the financial sector alone, but we simply need to get out of finances all together to return to the real economy.
Over the last few years, we have witnessed the financiarisation of the economy, which has been instrumental in inflating the economic growth by allowing ever-growing, vertiginous private and public indebtedness. Today’s economic system relies on more and more growth and capital to survive. The absence of growth leads to the impossibility of repaying debts/default on: private debts (such as in 2008 with the Subprimes crisis), or public debts (such as now in Greece, Spain, Italy, the United States…), the implosion of the speculative bubbles which affects people in the most precarious situation first, a rise in unemployment, a reduction of public aid and services.
Our economic system, based on growth, must keep on growing forever or it collapses. Unfortunately an infinite growth in a finite world is an absurdity. We are about to reach the limits of growth, i.e. Peak Oil. Peak oil is a forerunner to the GDP Peak, which we will have to endure regardless. Therefore it is important to grasp the GDP Peak in a democratic perspective, rather than losing our democracy by trying to save an impossible growth.

2- Financing of the social and ecological emergencies

The social and ecological crises; to which we must add the energy, cultural, political, and democratic crises, cannot be solved by marginal reforms. It amounts to an anthropological crisis, a crisis of the end of a civilisation. We must think: not to reform a system, which leads us to a dead end, but to find how to get out of our toxic addiction to growth and consumption, at the economic and cultural levels.
In order to initiate a transition towards new models of sustainable societies (at the ecological, energy, and economic levels as well) and most importantly of desirable societies (based on participative democracy, re-appropriation of the meaning of our existence, greater social justice….), we propose to set up a Unconditional Autonomy Allowance (UAA) together with a Maximum Income Allowed (MIA). This allowance aims at re-localising the economy whilst preserving national and international solidarities, at the emancipation from the core values of work and capitalism, to aim for self-management, food and energy self-sufficiencies by exiting from our reliance on non renewable resources (mainly oil), and to take an active part into re-appropriating politics. This Allowance would be an unconditional, life-long entitlement; in the form of usage rights (energy, water, food), of access rights (housing, education, health, transport), in local currencies and eventually, in part, in national currency.
For more information:

3 – The banks

It is important to reposition the economy and its most important tool; the currency creation to its right place. Banks must be tools at the service of ambitious politics of transition oriented towards new models of sustainable societies  (from the ecological, energy, and economic perspectives), and most importantly, models of desirable societies. This is why we argue for the public and political re-appropriation of private and central banks in order to control the monetary creation.
Today we must abandon the religion of the econmism (religion of economy) and productivism: What do we produce? How do we produce it? To what purpose?
Similarly, monetary creation, debts, and borrowings must be brought into question. We must ponder in a collective and democratic way, the question of meaning and reorient our policies, by engaging the banks to initiate this transition.
In particular, we would privilege the creation of local banks and currencies, used for participative projects of relocalisation, where human dimension is core; a repolitisation of society and a re-socialisation of politics, a reflexion on conviviality, taking into consideration the questions pertaining to meaning and sustainability.

4 – Debt

Attempting to repay the debts, notably the public debts, with ad-hoc austerity plans hoping for a return of the sacrosanct growth is meaningless. Firstly, we have reached the limits of growth, mainly oil production, but also of other primary resources (ores, metals, energy, etc.). This triggers a drastic price increase at the first hint of recovery. These stimulus plans can be nothing but sterile.
Secondly, even if it were possible, these austerity plans are unfair and condemn the future by destroying budgets such as education, culture and ecology. By creating such injustices, these plans are the best tools to exclude an ever-greater part of the population, to create a climate favourable to social unrest and the rise nationalism and extreme-right wing movements.

Insisting on repaying these debts, amounts to trying to save the financial oligarchy and its worldwide hegemony. But it also amounts to endangering democracy itself.
On the contrary, we must reappropriate the monetary creation, cancel out part or the entirety of public debts and some private debts, and try to build new desirable and sustainable economic models together.

For more info:

The real debt is the one we are going to leave for our children and many more generations: the ecological debt, created by the waste of energy and non-renewable resources, the collapse of biodiversity, chemical pollution, but also soil depletion, together with a social and cultural debt, and a society unable to define its limits, a society of rampant consumerism, where meaning is lost, a society able to accept unbearable inequalities.

Hoping we have answered your questions,

Collectif Décroissance 2012

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