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Beyond information: A statement on the evolution of degrowth.info

By: The degrowth.info international editorial team

08.12.2022

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Some members of degrowth.info at the Hague 2021 degrowth conference

It has been over four years since the international editorial team of this website was formed at the first Degrowth Movement Assembly, ahead of the 6th International Degrowth Conference in Malmö, Sweden, in 2018.

 

At that time, none of us could have envisaged quite the intensity of social and ecological unravelling that would occur throughout the early years of our collective. Four long years defined by widespread descent into ever more fascistic politics, a global pandemic, racial violence, wars, and escalating ecological catastrophe.

 

Our collective has evolved alongside and in relation to these events. A handful of members from 2018 remain, while others have made valuable contributions and departed, and new members have joined.

 

We have done so much work that we are proud of, we have overseen an entire overhaul of the web platform itself, we have nurtured a community and organizing structures built on degrowth values, but we have also had many periods of struggle to maintain stability whilst working as a predominantly voluntary collective within the wider capitalist system.

 

As global circumstances have undergone change, alongside the composition of our collective, and our members as individuals, so too have our ambitions and sense of purpose. We have been holding long running conversations as a collective about the future of the website and our group.

 

A significant moment in these discussions occurred during our annual in-person retreat in November 2021, which itself took place under the context of – and was partially derailed by – the covid-19 pandemic.

‘Becoming’ a political collective

At the retreat, an emerging consensus became increasingly visible in our collective discussions. After four years of work we no longer felt that our primary identity, as a node for information sharing and coordination within the international degrowth networks, constituted the most appropriate formation to respond to ongoing social and ecological upheaval, or to reflect our own changing ambitions and convictions as a collective of friends and colleagues.

 

Across a longer timeline, the long and complex process of overhauling our web platform in its entirety had induced a period of reflection on what exactly we wanted to do as a collective, how we wanted to do it, and with whom.

 

It became increasingly clear that our own sense of identity – and that which we want to nurture – aligns more with one of a political collective.

 

Importantly, we believe that the global situation of socio-ecological crisis demands that we take further steps towards a more deliberate political voice and posture. On top of this, we realized that the parts of our work which felt the most meaningful, were those which not only broadened awareness and understandings of degrowth, or provided an informative service to the degrowth movement, but those which played an active role in shaping degrowth debates and networks.

 

This includes our central facilitative and editorial role in the degrowth community’s collective mini ‘manifesto’ in response to the covid-19 pandemic, which was signed by over 1000 academics and activists, and 70 organisations.

 

Since 2019, we have also cultivated an editorial focus on the topic of strategy, which we identified as a neglected debate within degrowth, that was narrowing the movement’s prospects for affecting material societal change. Our 10-part blog series on strategy foreshadowed the Vienna Degrowth Association’s conference and edited book on the topic, which our members were instrumental in.

 

We also took the decision within this period that we wanted to engage in more collective thinking and writing processes as a group. This led to a further editorial piece on degrowth movement strategy, a contribution on alternatives to mainstream publishing in ephemera journal, and a chapter in the book Degrowth & Strategy which analysed the history of strategy in the degrowth community and set out a proposal for a Degrowth International as a new structure for organising and deliberating strategy.

 

For us, then, becoming a political collective does not constitute an abrupt change to our purpose and activities that begins with this post, but a gradual evolution that we have been undergoing across several years of working together. Now seemed like an apt time to reflect on that process, and share these reflections with the wider degrowth community.

Next steps

The truth is that becoming a political collective probably entails a range of more subtle alterations of framings, shifts of emphasis and priorities, as well as more explicit and bold changes to our long-term orientations and ambitions.

 

In the short- to medium-term, here is an idea of some of the changes we envisage: (i) we will more proactively elevate the voices we believe need to be heard within the degrowth community, and resist only reproducing those voices that are already heard the loudest; (ii) we will build on our existing engagement with the organization of degrowth networks at the international level, and importantly (iii) we will use our blog and newsletter to not only summarize the latest happenings in the degrowth community, but also to carve out our own distinct editorial stance on these developments.

 

It also cannot be ignored that our visual identity – most notably the name degrowth.info – reflects our more simplistic founding purpose as a hub for sharing information on degrowth. While that task is still key to our work, we have begun the unavoidable discussions about the importance of this visual identity changing alongside our wider evolution as a collective, to reflect our movement towards becoming an autonomous political voice and actor. There is nothing planned immediately in this domain, however, as we believe it is the more substantive underlying shift of purpose which must lead any more superficial changes.

Renewing our vision and mission

The discussions described above at our 2021 retreat emerged as part of a process of developing a renewed vision and mission as a collective. The result of this process was a resolution to build on our existing strengths, while pursuing some bold new priorities.

 

We will continue to play our key role as a node for sharing knowledge about degrowth and related struggles for radical transformation. Yet, we want to more directly shape this knowledge, through processes of collective learning, thinking and writing, as well as more actively curating the constellation of voices that we platform on our blog. This includes perspectives from ‘within’ the degrowth community, as well as from wider social movements which we think are crucial for degrowth to connect to.

 

We will also continue to strive to put degrowth into practice through our own modes of internal organising, but we want to play an even more active role in shaping the structures and organising of the wider degrowth networks.

 

In sum, we want to develop a distinct collective political voice which nurtures the conditions for a just social-ecological transformation, whilst driving forward the degrowth networks’ own organising for this transformation.

 

In the immediate term, we would love to hear your thoughts and reactions upon reading this statement, and would encourage you to share these by responding to this post via our various social media channels.

 

Further, if you are able to, we are now asking those who use our site regularly as a source of information and writing on everything degrowth to consider joining our Patreon, to make a monthly contribution which helps pay for the coordinating work that keeps this website going.

 

Thank you for your support. We hope you will remain with us as a fellow traveller in this journey.

 

 

About the author

The degrowth.info international editorial team

The degrowth.info editoiral team is an international collective of young scholar-activists who run degrowth.info in a non-hierarchical and intentional way. The group aims to foster its own voice and perspective on key issues within degrowth while simultanesouly supporting the development of the emerging degrowth movement. We sometimes write pieces together to find a common understanding on an issue or to simply communicate a burning issue to the degrowth community that we feel is overlooked.  You can see who is currently on the editorial team here.

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