Logo degrowth

Blog

Before strategy, who is strategising?

By: Jocelyne Sze, Omar Saif

30.01.2019

Flickr carlos zgz idea

This article is part of a series on degrowth.info discussing strategy in the degrowth movement. The introduction to the series and an ongoing list of contributions can be found here. In the article “Beyond visions and projects…”, by Herbert, Barlow, Frey, Ambach, and Cigna, the authors persuasively set out the case for a more explicit debate on strategy in the degrowth movement. Highlighting the umbrella nature of degrowth, its plurality and openness as positive (and we would add distinguishing) aspects of the movement, they problematise its resultant ‘strategic indeterminism’ as a possible barrier to moving towards a degrowth society. However, in response to their call for strategy, we question who gets to decide how we might transform to a degrowth society. The concept of a strategy necessitates the existence of a strategist(s) and perhaps institutional support to put theoretical strategy into praxis. Yet at present, the degrowth community -though growing - still seems loosely defined. Does it include only the academic-activists at Research & Degrowth, and those who attend the degrowth conferences? Surely it would be against degrowth’s nature to be this exclusive. Does it include those who have attended the degrowth summer schools, as we and the authors of the original article did? Or does it simply include anyone whose normative positions resonate with some aspect of the degrowth literature? There has been an organic sprouting of national degrowth organisations, in India, Germany, the USA and the UK. However, these are arguably information dissemination channels rather than developed platforms for organising degrowth initiatives in their respective countries. We argue that developing a coherent strategy from this amorphous community would be a challenge. Instead, we turn to the question of what the future of the degrowth community will be. This consideration is imperative, if we wish to effectively strategise and provide feasible alternatives to a status quo that cannot go on. That said, it is perhaps beyond our ambit to imply that the degrowth community must be formalised into an organisation with a structure. That is something that would need to be democratically decided by everyone who associates themselves with the movement, on a consensus basis. Furthermore, it may still be premature to consolidate the plurality of views that exist under the degrowth banner. For example, if this is to be an international movement, we would still need more representation from the Global South. In the original article, the authors acknowledge the need for context-sensitive, co-produced strategies, and we reflect that this would likely necessitate local articulations of the desired transformations. The formulation of a multi-chapter organisation, at the international, national, regional and local levels (operating with a horizontal rather than hierarchical structure) could provide the means to deliver context-specific, co-produced strategies for achieving a degrowth society. Each chapter would be able to operate independently, yet with a shared mission, vision and principles, as well as an uncompromisable ethical code. Lessons may be taken for example from E. F. Schumacher's principles of organisation and re-interpreted to suit each context. This would likely begin from a parent ‘international’ chapter, with a fixed term and inclusive participatory leadership in line with degrowth principles, and horizontal non-hierarchical participatory decision making across all members. As the ideas of degrowth spread, various other chapters would hopefully begin to emerge and produce strategies of their own, tailored to their contexts. To summarise, we argue that without coherent organisation and leadership, a more explicit pursuit of strategy is unlikely to materialise.

About the authors

Jocelyne Sze

More from this author

Omar Saif

More from this author

Share on the corporate technosphere

Blog

Bewegungen diskutieren Degrowth

Welche Auswirkungen hat die Beschäftigung mit Degrowth für verschiedene Bewegungen, die beim Projekt "Degrowth in Bewegungen" dabei waren? Darüber sprechen Olaf Bernau (afrique europe interact), Friederike Habermann (Ecommony, MOVE Utopia), Theresa Klostermeyer (Deutscher Naturschutzring) und Werner Rätz (Attac), moderiert von Nina Treu (Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie)  bei einer Podiumsdiskussion i...

Blog

Der zerstörerische Traum vom Fortschritt

By: Niko Paech

Der Wohlstand Mitteleuropas, unser hohes Mobilitäts- und Konsumniveau, gründet auf drei industriellen Revolutionen, deren technischer Fortschritt die Arbeitsproduktivität ständig erhöht hat. Die Folgen sind paradox: Einerseits können mit dem gleichen Arbeitsaufwand immer mehr Güter produziert werden, und die breite Masse der Bürger kann sich dank Lohnerhöhungen immer mehr leisten. Andererseits ...

Blog

Growth and Destruction

By: Nnimmo Bassey

By Nnimmo Bassey The industrial mode of food production is known to greatly contribute to global warming through such means as the large-scale land use changes, deforestation and the use of chemical fertilisers. Industrial agriculture promotes monoculture, erodes biodiversity and treats agricultural produce as mere commodities and for speculation. it continues to be single-mindedly supported b...