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Scientific paper


Engaging with the Plutocene: moving toward degrowth and post-capitalist futures

Kristoffer Wilén, Marko Ulvila

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Scientific paper

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Degrowth Conference Budapest 2016


In our study, we take a closer look at the ‘Anthropos’ (i.e. the humans) who have caused the processes and changes in the environments, which then have led to the “Anthropocene”. The “Anthropocene” narrative is predominantly presented as something that the entire humankind, the human species, is responsible for. But what happens when you apply a class perspective to the analysis? Hence, we will refer to it as the Plutocene, as the ecological destabilisation is in fact plutogenic (plutocracy). Our purpose here is to imagine degrowth and post-capitalist futures. We are arguing that discussions on the Plutocene/Capitalocene/Technocene/Anthropocene and our approach for engaging with it, namely degrowth, need to be placed in a context of socio-economic classes for degrowth to gain wider appeal and to become a transformative force, for positive change. In our paper four global classes are identified with separate future scenarios. For the wealthiest over-consuming class of one billion humans, a set of powerful degrowth interventions are urgently needed. This would include advances in taxation and prohibition of excesses. Similar, but more gentle degrowth interventions is needed for the second billion belonging to the consuming class. The members of the sustainable class of three billion have the basic needs met in a way that fits within the carrying capacity of the earth. For this class the principles of steady-state should be applied. The struggling class includes the two billion poorest in the world with empowerment as the transition path. These are some of our starting points for imagining degrowth and post-capitalist futures.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Engaging with the Plutocene: moving toward degrowth and post-capitalist futures“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

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