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Scientific paper


Coping with the Horizontal Hitch: The 'Con-Formism' of the Degrowth Alternative

Onofrio Romano

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Scientific paper

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Environmental Values


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Keywords: Degrowth; Mediterranean area; horizontalism; values vs. form; verticalism

Abstract: Normally, during modernity, critical thinking and anti-systemic movements have countered the ruling institutions by envisaging not only new values and ideals, but mainly new 'forms' of social regulation. The current crisis reveals that, contrary to this tradition, the institutions in office and the antagonistic way of thinking now share the same basic 'horizontal' form. The degrowth project represents a paradigmatic example of this structural homology. The ecological and social crises, standing at the origins of the political engagement for degrowth, are not the outcome of execrable 'values' but mainly of the 'horizontal' form adopted by current institutions. In fact, the horizontal regime is uninterested in the promotion of specific values or ideas of justice. It only ensures that each singularity (the citizen and their networks) can freely play their game on the basis of their own values. This indifference is the basic reason for ecological, social and economic deregulation. The paradox of degrowth is that, on the one hand, it evokes the necessity of a return to 'vertical' regulation (i.e. collective sovereignty), while on the other, it is deeply subaltern to the paradigm of horizontalism (the same that frames the growth regime).

Environmental Values, Volume 25, Number 5, October 2016, pp. 573-591(19)

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