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Lie, cheat, cover up, bribes and corruption | Germany gets over-excited again by Mathew D. Rose

Tomorrow there is a state election in the German state of Hesse. The Greens are expected to do well, as was the case over two weeks ago in Bavaria. They are being hailed as Germany's leftist response to the ultra-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). Unfortunately it is not so. Progressive in enviromental and immigration policies, it is otherwise a neo-liberal party; A new hope to shatter the conservative, austerity driven, neo-liberal reign of Chancellor Merkel? Are we really seeing a leftist revival?

If there is one aspect that explains the Greens' current success, it is the fact that it has moved so far to the right that the party has become acceptable to rightist Christian Democratic Union (CDU) voters.

It was the Greens, together with the Social Democrats (SPD), who introduced brutal neo-liberalism (Hartz Concept, Agenda 2010) to Germany. Moreover, the Greens, the party of disarmament and peace, also voted for German military intervention in the ill-fated Afghan war. Since this right turn they have never looked back.

What about the others? Germany's crypto-fascists in Armani suits (FDP)? The centre-left party, Die Linke, are doing what Leftists do best, fighting among themselves. German media, which comes down hard on anything left, is lapping it up.

Now we shall have the German Greens. And even if the despised coalition of Christian Union and Social Democrats collapses, do not expect much change. Don't repeat the mistake of the Germans and get too excited. The EU is going nowhere – except maybe towards dissolution.

Read the full article @ braveneweurope.com


Meanwhile, Hartz IV has become a synonym for the class of non-working poor in Germany and is used as a prefix in multiple contexts (i.e. low-brow daytime television programmes are called "Hartz-4-TV" by critics). Some scientists see the wage depression in Germany fostered by the Agenda 2010 as one of the causes of the European debt crisis.




posted by I. Z. Nessuno-Raskolnikov


State of Hesse (Coat of arms)

Discussion 12 Comments

  • Irie Zen 27th Oct 2018

    Who votes for the "Greens" chooses the adaptation to the conservative establishment plus ecology. The broadcasting goal of the neo-liberal mainstream media: LEFT=EVIL

    • Bat Chainpuller 27th Oct 2018

      Neoliberal! They’re just assholes.


    • Bat Chainpuller 28th Oct 2018

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  • Bat Chainpuller 27th Oct 2018

    for Sufficiency
    This penultimate chapter provides an opportunity to step back and reorientate ourselves in relation to the global predicament that has both framed the analysis and shaped the alternative urban imaginary
    we are developing in response. Let us recall that we are living in the urban age, an epoch in which homo urbanis is being challenged to undertake a Great Resettlement
    on Earth, in this perilous Anthropocene
    . As noted in the introduction, if this ‘big picture’ is lost sight of then our recommended modes of response might seem too drastic or radical. However, if the overlapping crises are seen without rose-tinted glasses, it should be clear that the conservatives who defend or merely tinker with the status quo are, in fact, the radicals—and dangerous ones at that. Unfortunately, that category of conservative politics today would include many in the mainstream environmental movement, who seem content to strive in futility to give capitalism
    a ‘green face’. In the previous chapter we unpacked our view that ever-deepening crisis
    in the existing system
    of global capitalism is the most likely spark for a paradigm shift both in the political economy of growth and its reflection in urban praxis and planning. Indeed, the back-casting narrative we presented was designed to invite reflection on how such a crisis
    could be our best hope for providing the great disruption needed to shake homo urbanis awake. But we must not be seen to be romanticising or desiring crisis
    like some dreamy-eyed optimists. In fact, the theory of change that is underlying our urban imaginary
    is clearly based on a deep pessimism about the prospects of smoother and less disruptive modes of societal transformation. When the crisis
    of capitalism
    deepens—perhaps in the form of a new financial crisis
    or a Second Great Depression
    —the task will be to ensure that such destabilised conditions are used to advance progressive humanitarian and ecological ends rather than exploited to further entrench the austerity politics of neoliberalism. We recognise, of course, that the latter remains a real possibility, as did the arch-capitalist Milton Friedman (2002: xiv) who expressed the point in these terms: Only a crisis
    – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis
    occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.
    After restating the essential contours of the global predicament, this chapter charts bold directions for structural
    change that could facilitate the emergence of a new suburban economy of degrowth
    . These constitute a program of wholesale eco-socialist transition
    that is underpinned by the principles of justice, self-limitation, and ecological democracy. In short, the transition
    is to the convivial, low energy, low speed society advocated nearly half a century ago by Ivan Illich
    . The program measures range in scale from planetary to local, as radical change must come through reinforcing shifts at all levels. Although stated as general transformations, they will, in an urban age, be largely applied and realised in cities and closer human settlements. They provide the underlying structural
    supports for transition
    to the post-growth
    suburbia that our book has flagged for human aspiration. Our position is that these policies are unlikely to initiate the degrowth
    but instead will be the outcome of urban

    social movements
    —social forces that emerge out of crisis
    or a series of
    and which actively create the cultural consciousness that sees policies for degrowth
    as both necessary and desirable. It is through crisis
    that we see comfortable suburban middle classes becoming sufficiently perturbed such that the sedative and depoliticising effects of affluence might be overcome. In our view, it is better that citizens are not in fact protected from every disruptive situation, given that the encounter with crisis
    can play an essential consciousness raising role, if it triggers a desire for and motivation towards learning about the structural
    underpinnings of the situation itself. Social movements should be preparing themselves to play that educational role. Only through this dialectical interaction between crisis
    , culture, and political economy can there be any hope for a prosperous descent in the form of ‘degrowth
    in the suburbs’. Through this process can we imagine the emergence of new, post-carbon
    suburban forms, powered by limited but sufficient renewable
    energy; defined by relocalisation
    of economy and a collective re-inhabitation of the built environment; facilitated by redistribution of access to housing
    and land
    ; and grounded upon a new material ethics in which the provision of basic needs for all take privilege over superfluous affluence for a few.
    In the absence of such a response to crisis
    , we fear that suburbanites (and affluent society more generally) might well sleepwalk into an ever-deepening ecological and/or financial catastrophe, at which point it would be too late to avoid a brutal and unprosperous societal decay. At that stage we might have much to learn from picking up the books of urban catastrophists like James Kunstler
    (2005). Until then, of course, we should be focussing all our energies on ensuring that such urban futures are avoided.

    New Economics for a Full Planet
    If once our species
    lived on a planet relatively empty of human beings, today we live on a planet that is evidently full to overflowing. The human population
    has grown exponentially to reach seven-and-a-half billion people, increasing by more than 200,000 people every day, and trending to exceed eleven billion by the end of the century. As this expanding population
    continues to urbanise and seek ever-rising material living standards by way of sustained economic growth
    , the global economy is being driven into gross ecological overshoot
    , dangerously crossing or threatening to cross a range of planetary boundaries with dire consequences that are already unfolding. Indeed, the metaphor of ‘Earth as a Petri dish’ has become worryingly apt, given that the dominant colony seems to be consuming all the available resources and is at risk of poisoning itself from its own wastes, raising questions about whether homo urbanis can muster the intelligence to avoid the fate of common bacteria. Techno-optimists
    and free marketeers promise ecological salvation via continuous ‘green growth

    ’, all the while capitalism
    expands ravenously to every corner of the globe, leaving an increasingly brutalised planet in capital’s wake. Lifting the poorest billions out of destitution is likely to place further burdens on global and local ecosystems. This confluence of ecological and social justice
    imperatives further delegitimises ongoing economic expansion in the already high-impact, consumerist
    societies of the world, and the prospect of an energy descent
    future makes such ongoing growth increasingly non-viable as well as unjust. What is most troubling of all, perhaps, is that even those sectors of society that have achieved the so-called consumerist ideal—the house in the right suburb, the nice car, the latest gadgets, the stylish clothes, the exotic travel, etc.—all too often find themselves discontented, overworked, and alienated despite their unprecedented material abundance. In recent decades this cultural malaise has been established consistently and independently by a litany of sociological and psychological studies (see Lane 2000; Kasser 2002; Hamilton and Denniss 2005), indicating that growth capitalism
    ’s defining goal is deeply misconceived. This is arguably the strongest case for degrowth
    : that present structural
    arrangements fail on their own terms. There seems to be an emptiness to consumer affluence that is never acknowledged in slick advertisements, let alone discussed in schools or around the dinner table. It is perhaps the dominant culture’s final, unspeakable taboo. For whom, then, do we destroy the planet? Or for what? Unthinkable in mainstream economic and political discourse, the only coherent response to this context of ecological overshoot
    , inequality, and cultural malaise is planned economic contraction of the energy and resource demands of the most ‘developed’ regions of the world, as well as a reconceptualisation of sustainable development
    in the Global South
    , beyond the conventional path of growth-dependent industrialisation
    . This ‘limits to growth
    ’ position signifies an extremely complex, challenging, but ultimately necessary paradigm shift in the dominant conception of human progress
    , one that we have been developing in this book in the context of suburban theory and praxis. Although the degrowth
    movement is diverse and defies singular definition, we have argued that it will involve initiating a transition
    beyond the existing order of globalised growth capitalism
    and in its place building a constellation of highly localised economies of sufficiency

    , based on (limited) renewable
    energy supply, convivial technology
    , participatory democracy
    , increased social control of the economy, and non-affluent but sufficient material cultures of voluntary simplicity
    . Once more, we contend that this new suburban degrowth
    economy will need to be driven into existence from the grassroots
    up, with top down
    change being more of an outcome than a driving force of this transformation. Counter-intuitively, perhaps, we also contend that a degrowth
    can maintain or even increase quality of life, by reshaping cultures and societal structures
    to promote non-materialistic forms of meaning and wellbeing beyond consumerist
    conceptions of ‘the good life’. We do not argue that degrowth
    is likely, only that it is the most coherent response to the global predicament, and thus deserves critical attention. And even if, as is likely, the degrowth
    movement fails to create the just and sustainable society which is its goal, we argue that the attempt to prefigure a new self-limiting economy within the decaying shell of capitalism
    remains the most promising strategy for preparing individuals, households and communities for increased energy and resource scarcity, thus increasing societal resilience
    in the face of destabilised climatic conditions and forthcoming economic, financial, and/or environmental crises.

    , Austerity Urbanism
    , and the Politics of Culture
    We acknowledge that most people do not recognise the need for a degrowth
    economy and therefore would reject the following policy
    proposals as unacceptable or unnecessary. But as the limits to growth
    tighten their grip on economies in coming years and decades, we believe the debate will inevitably evolve, and the question will not be whether a degrowth
    economy is required, but rather how to create one—by design rather than disaster. Indeed, already we sense an emerging deep-seated, gut-level recognition that humanity needs to develop something other than the economy we have today, one that nurtures and feeds the human thirsts for meaning; for awe and ecstasy; for belonging and contributing; for connection and creativity. In fact, it could be that the social conditions are ripe for something like the radical position we are developing in this book. Research by interdisciplinary scholars Richard Eckersley (2018a) and Melanie Randle and Eckersley (2015) show that only a small majority in the developed world think quality of life is improving (in Australia
    in 2015, 16% said it was getting better and 49% said it was getting worse). Furthermore, a majority of people in the West (based on a 2013 survey of the US, UK, Australia
    and Canada) believe that there is a high probability (greater than 50%) of our way of life collapsing in the next 100 years. A larger majority still (78% in the survey) believed we need a new worldview and way of life if we are to create a better future for the world. Eckersley (2018b) reflects: These perceptions find no expression in politics, which is tightly bound by social inertia and vested interests, and functions in an out-dated paradigm of progress
    . Our political leaders (even the ‘good ones’) do not yet believe we face problems that conventional policy
    responses can’t solve. Maybe they can’t believe it, so they continue to be preoccupied with lower-order issues and causes.
    In Europe, cultures seem more receptive to post-growth
    futures and even mainstream political institutions are being challenged to consider alternative economic paradigms. One reason for this greater openness to post-growth
    futures could arise from the fact that many parts of Europe (e.g. Greece, Spain, and Italy), are still enmeshed in economic crises that germinated in the Global Financial Crisis
    . In such contexts where the conventional growth trajectory is looking unlikely to recover, the search for alternative models is greatly incentivised, far more so than in places like Australia
    where the global financial crisis
    (2007–2008), by and large, was evaded—or perhaps merely deferred (Keen 2017). We must also acknowledge that many economies today are having to deal with an ‘austerity’ politics which is far cry from the notion of planned and equitable contraction envisioned by degrowth
    scholars and activists. Such austerity politics inevitably manifests in urban and suburban contexts, as disenfranchised city-dwellers suffer the brunt of economic hardship through things like mortgage foreclosures, low or no employment prospects, and deteriorating urban infrastructure and services. Unplanned recession
    in a growth-dependent economy is not degrowth
    , even though degrowth
    may need to involve planning for recession
    . Even within economies that seem to fare better—like the United States—the benefits of GDP
    growth remain grossly unequal in their distribution
    , with many American cities mouldering in austerity urbanism
    despite national GDP
    appearing relatively healthy (Peck 2012). Detroit
    is the oft-cited example of urban decay, the economy of which collapsed with the car manufacturing industry, leading to an exodus of over half its population
    in recent decades and the swift deterioration of much of its built environment (Galster 2012).
    Nevertheless, Detroit
    also offers some examples of how creative and proactive communities can turn even the hardships of austerity urbanism
    into opportunities for urban renewal. Recession
    tends to deflate house and land
    prices, and lead to capital
    and population
    flight. In Detroit
    all of those things have happened, and certainly there has been and remains significant hardship and economic insecurity. But access to cheap housing
    and land
    has opened up new, albeit precarious, opportunities. For instance, there is a promising urban
    movement laying down roots and rising out of the ashes of industrial
    capitalism. Self-organised by communities and with enterprises often structured as worker cooperatives, this new economic movement is emerging from the grassroots
    up and moving towards increased collective sufficiency
    that reflects an ethos of degrowth
    (if not the vocabulary). Here we see positive fragments of a degrowth
    urbanism emerging ‘from below
    ’ in response to urban recession
    . In spite of this, of course, the city continues to live with the terrible and wasteful legacy of failed industrialism
    (Galster 2012). Despite still being marginalised, the cultural reception of post-growth
    futures more broadly does seem to be warming. A survey in Spain, for example, indicates that one third of people think that growth should either be ignored as a policy
    goal or should be actively resisted (Drews and van den Bergh 2016). The UK government commissioned a report from Tim Jackson
    (author of Prosperity without Growth) and Robin Webster (2016) which updated the ‘Limits to Growth
    ’ report, with similar approaches being taken in France (Stiglitz et al. 2010) and Germany. Pope Francis (2015, para.: 193) called for degrowth
    in the rich world, even if he didn’t use that word. ‘[T]ime has come’, he declared, ‘to accept decreased growth in some parts of the world, in order to provide resources for other places to experience healthy growth’. More directly, degrowth
    has been explicitly debated in the Parliament of Catalonia in Spain and by members of the European Union (Demaria 2017). The Australian Greens political Party has begun to recognise the need for a post-growth
    economy, even though it treads very carefully knowing that it must not alienate a voting constituency that is still developing a post-growth
    consciousness. But again, given the contradictions inherent in pursuing limitless growth on a finite planet, we are confident that the consciousness needed for a post-growth
    or degrowth
    economy is destined to increase in coming years and decades as the ecocidal engine of growth collides ever-more violently with fundamental ecological realities. When deeper crisis
    in the existing system
    makes the case for degrowth
    undeniable, progressive movements must be prepared with a policy
    platform to present (Cosme et al. 2017). Policies for a New Economy
    The following proposals are not intended to be comprehensive, and they are not presented as a blueprint that could be applied independent of context. Instead, the review outlines a range of key issues that would need to be addressed in any ‘top down
    ’ restructuring for degrowth
    (see also, Frankel 2018). This is self-consciously a work of political imagination
    , not of politics, as such. It responds to the evident need for radical narratives, signifiers, and ‘stories’ that can reanimate discussion of human social futures. The contribution is to what political theorist John Barry (2012: 274) calls ‘dissident thinking in turbulent times’.
    While we keep an eye on the suburban context, most of the policies are macroeconomic and therefore apply across the urban landscape and indeed across society more broadly. Nevertheless, these proposals are intended to dissolve some of the obstacles that lie in the way of urban grassroots
    movements scaling up. We see here, once more, the dialectical relationship between culture and political economy: culture must radicalise in order to create the social conditions for political and macroeconomic change beyond growth; and when (or if) that policy
    change arrives or begins, it can open further space for grassroots
    movements to regovern the city for justice, sustainability, and resilience
    ; which can lead to further and more progressive policy
    ; and so forth. All this implies a broader political shift in which urban grassroots
    movement work to restore democratic control to cities and even urban and suburban councils, winding back the neoliberal
    legacy and extinguishing the corporate shadow state which functions to legislate and shape urban policy
    in the service of capital
    , not the common good. As argued in Chapter 4, our position is that democracy
    must be accomplished again, for the conditions of today, and this means the emergence of a social renewal movement in which people take power back from the corporate elite, and through participatory practices of self-governance
    democratically steer the nature of their urban and suburban localities, including what infrastructure projects are undertaken and how urban services are provided. This is not (just) the old top down
    state model. Some centralised action will be required, including some of the ideas discussed below, however our vision of the ‘good city’ or the ‘good suburb’ is ultimately one governed by a highly decentralised politics, in which democratic planning and the use and deployment of key urban resources, including land
    and the built environment, are explicitly organised by the people and for the people.

    Explicit Adoption of Post-growth
    Measures of Progress In order to transcend the paradigm of growth economics
    as well as the modes of urban development
    that the growth paradigm engenders, the first thing needed is to adopt better and more nuanced measures of progress
    than GDP
    . What we measure, and how we measure it, matters. It is now widely recognised that GDP
    is a deeply flawed measure of societal progress
    (Stiglitz et al. 2010; Ward et al. 2016), yet it remains the dominant way to assess politico-economic success. GDP
    is an aggregate of market transactions—useful so far as it goes—but it makes no distinction between economic activities that contribute positively to sustainable wellbeing and those that diminish it.
    For example, GDP
    can be growing while at the same time our environment is being degraded, inequality is worsening, and social wellbeing is stagnant. Accordingly, an urban politics and economics
    ‘beyond growth’ must begin by explicitly adopting some post-growth
    measure of progress
    , such as the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)
    , the Index for Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW), or in Australia
    , the Australian National Development
    Index (ANDI). These alternative metrics take into account a wide range of social, economic, and environmental factors that GDP
    ignores, thus representing a far more comprehensive picture than GDP
    alone (Lawn 2005). If we do not measure progress
    accurately, we cannot expect to progress
    (Diener and Seligman 2004). Public understanding of and support for such post-growth
    accounting systems
    would open up political space for political parties and council representatives to defend policy
    and institutional changes—such as those outlined below—which would genuinely improve social wellbeing and enhance ecological conditions, even if these would not maximise growth in GDP
    . In particular, it would allow for a new era of urban and suburban planning, designed to advance the interests of people and planet, not the narrow interests of capital
    . In particular, a post-growth
    orientation could facilitate the rolling back of neoliberal
    privatisation and corporatisation of urban infrastructure, services, and planning. We envisage a re-democratisation of the entire urban process, including a commitment to democratic metropolitan governance that ensures solidarity between richer and poorer and which engages rather than ‘manages’ urban
    social movements
    seeking suburban renewal.

    Reduce Impacts via Diminishing ‘Resource Caps
    ’ One of the defining problems with the growth paradigm is that the wealthiest nations now have resource and energy demands that could not possibly be universalised to all nations. The quantitative ‘scale’ of our economies is overblown in ways that neoliberal
    capitalism is proving wholly unable to resolve. It follows that any transition
    to a just and sustainable world requires the wealthiest nations to stop overconsuming the world’s scarce resources and reduce resource and energy demands significantly. This contraction is necessary if there is to be any ‘ecological room’ for the Global South
    to meet basic needs, to say nothing of the ecological room required to maintain or regenerate a flourishing biodiversity. The need for degrowth
    in the Global North
    is especially clear when it is recognised that the realisation of new urban or suburban models in the Global South
    —which are required to lift great multitudes out of existing horrid slums (both sprawling
    and high rise forms)—would almost certainly involve an increase in material and energy demands. Clearly the ‘limits to growth
    ’ predicament is as much a distributive justice
    issue as an ecological one (Lawn and Clarke 2010). Although in theory efficiency
    gains in production provide one pathway to reduced demand, the reality is that within a growth economy, efficiency
    gains tend to be reinvested in more growth and consumption
    , rather than reducing impact. After all, efficiency
    gains can reduce the costs of production, making a commodity cheaper, thus incentivising increased consumption of the commodity. In order to contain this well documented phenomenon, a degrowth
    economy would need to introduce diminishing resource caps
    —that is, enforce well defined limits to resource use—to ensure that efficiency
    gains are directed into reducing overall resource consumption
    , not directed into more growth. In fact, diminishing resource caps
    would actually incentivise efficiency
    improvements, because producers would know that there would be increasing
    competition over key resources and so would be driven to eliminate waste and create a ‘circular economy’ where products at the end of their life are reused, as far as possible, in the next phase of production. In an age of ecological overshoot
    , the overconsuming rich nations need to achieve significant absolute reductions in resource demand (absolute decoupling
    ) not just productivity or efficiency gains (relative decoupling
    ). Determining where to set the resource caps
    , how quickly they should be reduced (e.g. 3% per year to allow markets
    to adjust), and where they should be aiming to stabilise, are open questions that can be debated. Such voluntary limits are necessary to achieve sustainability
    , and as Illich (1974: 47) advised: ‘The magnitude of voluntary limits is a matter of politics’. Formulating a workable policy
    in this domain would require, amongst other things, a highly sophisticated and detailed scientific accounting of resource stocks and flows of the economy, and some rationing of key resources may be required to ensure distributive equity. David Fleming
    and Shaun Chamberlin (2011) argue cogently that a policy
    based on ‘Tradable Energy Quotas
    ’ is the best way forward, the aim of which is to achieve steep, but managed reduction in the use of fossil fuels
    while forestalling fuel poverty
    by guaranteeing fair entitlements to the energy that is available. We see promise in this general approach, and it deserves wider attention and debate. But the first step is simply to recognise that, in the overdeveloped nations, policies that cap and reduce emissions and overall resource consumption
    are a necessary part of achieving the contraction in resource use that is required for justice and sustainability. Suburban affluence, as we have known it, is not a viable conception of good living. We need social, economic and political structures
    that support alternative forms of flourishing, and that means moving towards increased social control of the economy, in ways that could be defined as ‘market (eco)socialism’.

    Working Hour Reductions One obvious implication of diminishing resource caps
    is that a lot less resource-intensive producing and consuming will take place in a degrowth
    economy. That will almost certainly mean reduced GDP
    , although there is still great scope for qualitative growth (including technological innovation and efficiency
    improvements). But what implications will a contracting (suburban) economy have for employment? Growth in GDP
    is often defended on the grounds that it is required to keep unemployment at manageable levels. If a nation gives up the pursuit of GDP
    , therefore, it must maintain employment via some other means. Restructuring the labour market is essential for the stability of any post-growth
    economy (Victor 2008). Today, Australians work some of the longest hours in the OECD, but, as the evidence clearly shows, such long hours do not improve our health
    and wellbeing (Hamilton and Denniss 2005). Could we work less but live more? By reducing the average working week to, say, 28 hours, a degrowth
    economy would share the available work amongst the working population
    , thereby minimising or eliminating unemployment even in a non-growing or contracting economy, while at the same time increasing social wellbeing by reducing overwork (Coote and Franklin 2013). The aim would be to systematically exchange superfluous consumption
    for increased free time (from commitment to the formal economy), which could also bring environmental benefits. While some of the increased free time could be spent enjoying local, low-impact leisure activities, some of it would also be spent engaging in the informal economy
    , such as activities of self-sufficiency

    (e.g. various forms of household
    production, growing food
    , house maintenance, sharing, volunteering, etc.) and local barter. This increased self-sufficiency

    and community
    engagement would also mitigate the impacts of reduced income in a degrowth
    economy by easing household
    expenditure on basic needs. In this way a degrowth
    economy would not induce spiralling unemployment or hardship as is often feared. Once more, a deliberately created degrowth
    economy is very different to unplanned recession
    . Indeed, planned contraction of the formal economy has the potential to liberate people from the work-to-spend cycle and provide people with more autonomy, meaning, and variety in their working lives. Such policies could stimulate thriving local economies and create eco-cities that resemble networks of collective suburban sufficiency. Rethink Budget Spending for a Degrowth Transition Governments are the most significant entity in any economy and have the most spending power. Accordingly, if governments decide to take the limits to growth
    seriously this will require a fundamental rethink of how public funds are procured, invested, and spent. Public spending in the transition
    we envisage would not aim to facilitate sustained GDP
    growth but instead support the projects and infrastructure needed to support a swift transition
    to a degrowth
    economy, including degrowth
    in the suburbs. As far a possible this would be decentralised via participatory budgeting at the local, suburban level, where ordinary citizens demand a more active role in the allocation and distribution
    of public funds. Initial moves in any rethink of public spending might include huge divestment from the fossil fuel economy and a co-relative reinvestment in renewable
    energy systems
    (see next section). But it would also require huge investment in other forms of ‘green’ infrastructure and social safety nets. Due to higher taxes, there would be less income for private consumption
    but more social wealth spent on public goods including key urban services. The importance of creating new infrastructure highlights the fact that consumption practices in a society do not take place in a vacuum. Instead, consumption
    takes place within structures
    of constraint, and those structures make some lifestyle options easy or necessary, and other lifestyle options difficult or impossible. Currently, many people find themselves ‘locked in to’ or ‘lock out of’ high-impact lifestyles due to the structures
    within which they live their lives. A new suburbia requires new structures of support. To provide one example: it is very difficult to stop driving a private motor vehicle if there is poor public transport

    , insufficient bike lanes, or a lack of understanding about how to safely navigate road networks dominated by cars. Change the infrastructure, however, and new, low-impact lifestyles implied by a degrowth
    economy would be more easily embraced. Greening infrastructure will therefore require a significant revision of government expenditure, both local and national. Recognising climate change
    as a national ‘security threat’, for example, and on that basis redirecting a significant portion of military spending towards renewable
    energy and efficient systems
    of public transport

    , is one path to funding the infrastructure (and other post-growth
    policies) needed for a stable and flourishing degrowth
    economy. Government spending on healthcare (especially prevention and promotion) is particularly important. People need a social safety net otherwise there will be an incentive to earn as much as possible just in case future health
    bills are large. However, if health
    care is deemed a basic right in a society, provided for by a public health
    care system
    , then this provides more security to embrace a modest income without fear and anxiety. As with some of our prescriptions, this imperative is already well tried and tested in countries, such as the UK and Australia
    , that have constructed national health
    , and which enjoy superior population
    and equity conditions to those that have not, such as the USA. There is also room to spend limited public funds more effectively. For example, Cubans enjoy better health than citizens of the USA, despite spending ten times less on healthcare. Strong publicly maintained health
    and human service frameworks generally reduce economic waste, social inequity, and human anxiety, and must be integral to a post-growth

    Energy In anticipation of the foreseeable stagnation and eventual decline of fossil fuel supplies, and recognising the grave dangers presented by climate change
    , a degrowth
    economy would need to transition
    swiftly to renewable
    energy and more efficient energy systems
    and practices. This provides a hugely promising space to meaningfully employ large segments of the population
    as the fossil fuel economy enters terminal decline. But just as important as ‘greening’ the supply of energy is the challenge (too often neglected) of reducing energy demand, which has been a key theme in this book. It will be much easier to transition
    to 100% renewable
    energy if energy use is significantly reduced through behavioural changes, reduced production and consumption
    , and more efficient appliances. Indeed, the extremely tight and fast diminishing carbon
    for a safe climate now makes this ‘demand-side’ response a necessity, yet the significantly reduced energy demand required for a safe climate is incompatible with the growth model, because energy is a fundamental driver of economic growth
    . Accordingly, a degrowth
    politics would initiate a transition
    to 100% renewable
    energy financed in part by accurately pricing carbon
    , and undertake a public education campaign to facilitate reduced energy demand. Given how hard it will be to fully replace the fossil fuel economy with renewable
    energy (especially the 96 million barrels of oil
    currently consumed everyday), it is also worth reemphasising that post-carbon
    economies will have to adapt to an energy descent
    context and are likely to be a far more localised economies than the globalised, fossil fuel-dependent economy we know today. While there would still be some greatly reduced role for global trade in a degrowth
    economy, most production would seek, by default, to use local resources from the bioregion to meet mostly local needs, thereby shortening the links between production and consumption
    . As well as running the economy primarily on renewables, a degrowth
    strategy could also involve planting up huge tracts of land
    with trees to sequester carbon
    and placing a moratorium on the cutting down of old growth forests. Any coherent climate strategy must also address the huge carbon
    footprint of meat
    (especially red meat
    ) and accordingly promote significantly reduced meat
    consumption (Poore and Nemecek 2018) and regenerative

    forms of agriculture
    (Massy 2017). New regulations and subsidies would fast track the uptake of appropriate technologies, like biogas
    in the suburbs, solar
    PV, and heat-hump hot water
    . Governments could provide households with interest-free loans for such things, as a means of deconstructing financial barriers to the renewable
    energy transition
    . Transformation in Banking and Finance Systems

    Currently, Western-style systems
    of banking and finance essentially have a ‘growth imperative’ built into their structures
    . Money is loaned into existence by private banks as interest-bearing debt
    , and in order to pay back that debt
    plus the interest, this requires an expansion of the money supply. Banks are incentivised to offer credit to people or institutions that are most likely to generate stronger financial returns from their investments. Furthermore, there is so much public and private debt
    today that the only way it could be paid back is via decades of continued GDP
    growth. This type of banking system
    requires growth for stability and yet limitless economic growth
    , as we have argued, is the driving force behind the environmental crisis
    . In order to move towards a stable, degrowth
    economy, part of the institutional restructuring required involves deep reform of banking, monetary, and finance systems
    . This is a complex transition
    that could take various forms, but at base it would require the state taking responsibility for creating banking, finance, and monetary systems
    that do not require growth for stability, and strictly regulating these systems to ensure equity. Policies that allowed for the creation of local currencies would help too, since local currency design is potentially a powerful tool in the restructuring of local and communitarian economic relations. A post-growth
    might also require ‘debt
    jubilees’ in some circumstances, especially in developing nations that are unjustly being suffocated by interest payments to rich world lenders. Developing nations, for example, receive about $136 billion in aid from donor countries but pay about $600 billion servicing debt
    (Hickel 2017a). No fancy theorising or political sophistry can plausibly defend such a situation. A New Paradigm for Housing and Land Most of the policies being discussed in this chapter will be controversial, but perhaps none will be as controversial as the claim that any transition
    to just and sustainable degrowth
    economy will require a new paradigm for housing
    and land
    , especially in cities. The controversy arises primarily over the fact that deep reform of housing
    and land
    governance requires fundamental revision of property rights, and property sits at the conceptual core of capitalism
    . Accordingly, a degrowth
    economy would need to be post-capitalist
    in the further sense that access to housing
    and land
    would not simply be allocated according to market forces alone. While it could be argued that ultimately a degrowth
    economy should aim to socialise land
    and housing
    , leaving constrained markets
    to allocate other commodities, at this early stage we wish to highlight various transitional strategies that, while not socialising property as such, do involve significantly increased social control of housing
    and land
    . The aim would be to ensure a ‘basic needs’ guarantee for decent, affordable, and secure accommodation as well as a broader distribution
    of this important social resource. This could involve a general requirement for housing
    to be used for the primary purpose of providing homes, shelter, and security, rather than as investment vehicles. This broader distribution
    of property rights could involve an expanding ownership class, but it could also involve new policies to ensure that people renting are able to acquire secure, long-term leases. In terms of security of tenure for renters, some European nations are far ahead in this regard than nations like Australia
    , New Zealand, and the US. One of the greatest scandals that shape urban development
    under contemporary capitalism
    is the fact that many people face housing
    insecurity or are homeless at a time when literally thousands upon thousands of investment properties and apartments lie empty. This makes a mockery of capitalism’s claim to achieve allocative efficiency
    . Efficient for whom? Efficient in what sense? Various policy
    interventions could help broaden access to land
    and housing
    infrastructure, including the abolishment of negative gearing and various progressive property taxes that would curtail the socially pernicious accumulation of properties amongst a minority of the population
    . Why should some people own ten or twenty or fifty properties while a great proportion of the population
    owns none? It is a simple but revolutionary question about what it means to live in a decent society; what it means to live in a ‘good city’. In a section below we note various wealth and estate taxes that could serve to distribute society’s wealth more broadly, and the proceeds of such taxes could be used to fund a guaranteed right to decent shelter through public housing
    . A reconceived banking system
    could also make governments or community
    -owned banks, not private banks, the issuer of most mortgages, which could provide a means of reinvesting the profits from interest payments into more public housing
    . Within ecological bounds, a society is limited only by its imagination
    . The past does not exhaust the range of property systems
    available to humanity, and it is flawed thinking to believe that one must choose between capitalism
    as we know it and Soviet-style state communism. Ours is a post-capitalist
    vision of decentralised eco-socialism
    , which recognises a role for markets
    , but markets
    that are always constrained by baseline regulations that operate to protect and advance the common good. And let us not for a moment forget that we currently live in an age of highly regulated markets
    —only it is regulation informed by a neoliberal
    political ideology that functions to concentrate wealth and serve corporate interests. What the neoliberal
    laissez-faire theory fails to appreciate is that governments do not interfere in markets
    but constitute markets
    . ‘Hands off’ is not an option. As legal theorist Karl Klare (1991: 81) points out: ‘The state can withdraw from central planning but it cannot withdraw from its role in defining market structures
    and property entitlements’. Thus citizens have a democratic right to constitute or reconstitute markets
    and property entitlements as they see fit, in ways that serve the many rather than the few. Without trying to provide a comprehensive statement, we would also emphasise the role progressive new policies and regulations could play supporting ecological resettlement
    beyond the urban boundary. A particularly promising innovation is the ‘Low-Impact Development
    ’ policy
    in Wales, which explicitly seeks to support ecovillage living in rural or semi-rural areas
    (see Nelson 2018: 133–38). Not only does this open up access to land
    for people unable to afford property in urban centres, by encouraging people to leave the densest urban centres, it also reduces pressure on real estate markets
    in those urban centres. Further policies could be developed which could support new economic enterprises in dying towns, where there is cheap and under-utilised housing
    infrastructure but insufficient employment opportunities to attract households. With the right incentives and support, we can see those dying towns becoming vibrant hubs of collective sufficiency

    and economic security.

    Population Policies While policies for property reform would be controversial, there is also the population
    challenge, often referred to as the ‘elephant in the room’ that few are talking about. As the (ever urbanising) population
    grows, more resources are required to provide for the basic material needs of humanity (food
    , clothing, shelter, etc.), increasing our demands on an already overburdened planet. It is absolutely imperative that nations around the world unite to confront the population
    challenge directly (Alcott 2012), rather than just assuming that the problem will be solved when the developing world gets rich.
    policies will inevitably be controversial but the world needs bold and equitable leadership on this issue. As we’ve noted, research suggests that the world is facing a population
    of around 9.8 billion by mid-century and 11 billion by the end of this century, which would be utterly catastrophic from both a social and environmental perspective. To re-quote Paul Ehrlich
    : ‘whatever problem you’re interested in, you’re not going to solve it unless you also solve the population
    problem’. The first thing needed is a global fund that focuses on providing the education, empowerment, and contraception required to minimise the millions of unintended pregnancies that occur every year. If these unplanned pregnancies were avoided, this would be a great step in the right direction. Furthermore, all financial incentives that encourage population
    growth should be abolished and the benefits of small families should be highlighted. Importantly, national population
    policies should not be shaped with the goal of maximising economic growth
    , which could well imply significantly reducing immigration flows. But given that wealthy nations have been most responsible for climate change
    and other ecological harm, immigration policies should also recognise the moral imperative to accommodate increasing numbers of climate refugees in coming years and decades.

    Distributive Justice

    Last but not least, environmental concerns cannot be isolated from social justice
    concerns. The conventional path to poverty
    alleviation is via the strategy of GDP
    growth, on the assumption that ‘a rising tide will lift all boats’. Given that a degrowth
    economy deliberately seeks a non-growing economy—on the assumption that a rising tide will sink all boats—poverty
    alleviation must be achieved more directly, via redistribution, both nationally and internationally. In other words (and to change the metaphor), a degrowth
    economy would eliminate poverty
    and achieve distributive equity not by baking an ever-larger economic pie but by slicing it differently. Government support for the sharing economy
    would also mean that more value can be acquired from the same ‘slice’ of economy. Any attempt to systemically redistribute wealth via taxation or property reform will be highly controversial, especially in our neoliberal
    age, but present concentrations of wealth demand a political response. Capitalism
    is failing most of humanity. Research from Oxfam published in 2018 shows that the richest 6 people on the planet now own more than the poorest half of humanity. Dwell on that for a moment. This highlights the point that growth itself will not resolve poverty
    . Policies are needed that directly redistribute wealth; that ensure a dignified material baseline for all people; and that structure
    the economy in ways that ensure corrosive and undemocratic inequalities of wealth do not arise in the first place. There is no single best policy
    for eliminating poverty
    or achieving a just distribution
    of wealth. Bold, creative, and considered experimentation is required. Key policy
    options include: (i) a basic income for all, which guarantees every permanent resident with a minimal, living wage; (ii) a ‘negative income tax’, which guarantees a minimum income for those who earn below a certain threshold, or a ‘job guarantee’, where the state is the employer of last resort; (iii) progressive income or consumption
    tax policies (i.e. the more you earn or consume, the higher the tax rate) which could culminate in a top tax rate of 90% or more; (iv) wealth taxes, that systematically transfer 3% of private wealth from the richest to the poorest recognising the large social component in wealth production; and (v) estate taxes of 90% or more to ensure the laws of inheritance and bequest do not create a class system
    of entrenched wealth and entrenched poverty
    . These and other tax-and-transfer policies should be explored to eliminate poverty
    and ensure distributive equity. Obviously, arguments that such policies would inhibit growth do not hold water
    within a degrowth
    framework. From a global perspective, it must be acknowledged that the market forces of capitalism
    too often results in rich nations of the Global North
    siphoning away resources from poorer nations in the South, leaving only environmental destruction in its wake (Hickel 2017b). Australia
    and other rich nations must renew their depleted aid programs, which can and should take various forms, including increasing financial support; abolishing the suffocating debts that keep the poorest nations down; freely transferring technological and medical knowledge and equipment; and ensuring that corporate and institutional power does not unduly influence economic development
    in the Global South
    . These should be considered first steps in a transformation in global relations towards increased solidarity, whereby degrowth
    amongst the rich nations provides some ecological room for the poorest nations to improve their economic capacities according to a new vision of global ‘post-development
    ’. These are obviously bold and ambitious ideas, but anything less will be insufficient. It is no good being what critics might call ‘realistic’ if being realistic only leads to ecological and/or humanitarian catastrophe. Other Policies? Beyond these policy
    proposals, it should go without saying that any degrowth
    would require an array of other revolutionary reforms, including policies to create (or recreate) a ‘free press’; policies to ensure that campaign financing rules do not permit undue economic influence on the democratic process; and policies to promote alternative corporate forms, such as worker cooperatives. Furthermore, governments must not unduely interfere with or inhibit the emergence and development
    of informal and non-monetary
    economies. We do not pretend to have provided a complete political agenda for a degrowth
    economy. The proposals above are merely key aspects of such a transition
    and a good place to begin thinking about how to structure
    a just, sustainable, and flourishing economy (see also, Frankel 2018). Regoverning the City: Suburban Implications
    We contend that these policy
    proposals—all in need of detailed elaboration and discussion—should be the opening moves in a ‘top down
    ’ transition
    to a new economic dispensation. To be employed in concert, they clearly challenge the dominant macroeconomics of growth and would require far more social control over the economy than neoliberal
    permits today. Markets
    work well in some circumstances, no doubt, but leaving everything to the market and thinking this will magically advance the common good has been proven dangerously false. It follows that a degrowth
    economy must be a post-capitalist
    or eco-socialist economy, with vastly increased democratic planning and perhaps even some rationing of key resources to ensure distributive equity. The policies above also depend upon a society that sees the necessity and desirability of a degrowth
    economy, hence the special importance of grassroots
    education campaigns and story tellers who are able to weave new narratives that show in emotionally convincing ways that the emergence of new, post-consumerist
    cultures of consumption are not just necessary but desirable.
    Although the policies outlined are macroeconomic and would thus impact on all sectors of society and all manifestations of the built environment, this book has been focussing on the suburban landscape. In Chapters 5 and 6 we reviewed a range of practices of material sufficiency, energy descent
    , sharing, and home-based production that we argued will need to shape the suburban economy if a degrowth
    is to lay down roots and scale up. But we also emphasised that many suburbanites were either ‘locked in’ to high-impact lifestyles or ‘locked out’ of household
    sufficiency due to the societal structures
    that produced distributive inequity, including unaffordable and grossly unequal access to housing
    and land
    , as well as other forms of economic insecurity. The politics of degrowth
    reviewed above sought to outline a new structural
    context that would support rather than inhibit the practices of sufficiency in the suburbs. As stated earlier, our prescription for suburbia includes commitment to metropolitan governance, which remains weak in many contemporary new world cities. We acknowledge that more needs to be said about the design of metropolitan governance that would ensure solidarity and service provision at the regional scale, without extinguishing the local self-determination that must be pivotal to the Great Resettlement of suburbia.
    One must never forget that there is no such thing as a neutral politics or economics
    . All political and economic structures
    —including so-called free markets
    —function to make some ways of life easy or necessary and other ways of life difficult or impossible. Shaping structures
    therefore is inevitably a value-laden exercise demanding an answer to the questions: what sort of society do we want to create? What do we want our cities to look like? Currently, the out-dated politics of growth are designed to require and encourage lifestyles of ever-increasing consumption
    , and this has produced a particular suburban mode of existence, one that is disastrous from an environmental perspective and often socially corrosive, both in terms of wellbeing and justice.
    A new suburban form will require the emergence of an alternative political economy, and we have put forward degrowth
    as the most coherent alternative. The new structures
    proposed would make it difficult to consume and produce unsustainably at the expense of people and planet, and instead support and encourage lifestyles of sufficiency, moderation, sharing, and frugality

    . This is a very different conception of prosperity to what we hear about from most economists and even most environmentalists, who still seem convinced that technology
    and markets
    are going to ‘green’ the capitalist
    of growth in some magical way. The alternative goal of a politics of degrowth
    is to create an economy that provides enough, for everyone, forever. The good news is that we can create this new economy with today’s technology
    —if only we show the wisdom and courage to live, think, and act beyond the economics of growth. This book has not sought to end the conversation on this incredibly complex new direction. Our goal has been to draw more people into the discussion, so that together we can navigate our way towards a form of life that is ecologically viable, socially just, and yet consistent with a diversity of pursuits of human happiness. Our argument has been that a new paradigm of degrowth
    should inform a new urban imaginary
    if we are to achieve these bold but necessary goals. We believe that this is possible, but we also see that the window of opportunity is closing. We are at the crossroads and are in the process of choosing our fate.

    • Bat Chainpuller 27th Oct 2018

      Degrowth in the Suburbs.

    • Irie Zen 27th Oct 2018

    • Irie Zen 27th Oct 2018

      Insufficient structure Bats. Put dem flores in a weighse. Arrage dem nisely.

    • Bat Chainpuller 27th Oct 2018

      Fuck that. I’m a free improviser.

      If you read the bloody thing from start to finish it works.

      Get over the need for neatness and well mannered presentation. It’s the same number of words. Just read it. One word after the other. Check for full stops that may be dislodged, and capitals, or seeming sub headings. Makes it interesting.

      No one’s reading it anyway. If they are, how would I know, no one’s posting thoughts. I bought that book for $65. An ebook, so it’s kinda not even mine really. In the fucking cloud somewhere. Samuel went with an academic publisher...you know...gain some cred. At that price, who’s buying the book?

      I’ll tell ya...no one.

      Looks better unneat.

      Makes people work a little.

    • Bat Chainpuller 27th Oct 2018

  • Irie Zen 27th Oct 2018


  • Irie Zen 27th Oct 2018

    No need for neat. SPAM, SPAM, SPAM and SPAM.. and now: SPAM!

  • Irie Zen 27th Oct 2018