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Is It Time for a Post-Growth Economy?


Is It Time for a Post-Growth Economy?

Jason Hickel

The crowds of protesters that confronted US President Donald Trump during his visit to London last week have channelled the world's outrage at all that he represents. But despite this opposition, Trump's base is expanding. Even those who baulk at his regressive positions - his racism, misogyny, divisiveness - are willing to hold their noses and line up behind him. Why? Because of his promises to deliver growth.


The only opportunity for a steady-state economy or zero-growth is ending the exchange profits system.

Capitalism is an ever-expanding economy of capital accumulation. In other words, most of the profits are capitalised, i.e. reinvested in production, so that production, the stock of means of production, and the amount of capital, all tend to increase over time in fits and starts. The economic circuit is thus money - commodities - more money - more commodities, even more money. This is not the conscious choice of the owners of the means of production. It is something that is imposed on them as a condition for not losing their original investment. Competition with other capitalists forces them to re-invest as much of their profits as they can afford to in keeping their means and methods of production up to date Under capitalism this whole process of capital accumulation and technical innovation is a disorganised, impersonal process which causes all sorts of problems—particularly on a worldscale where it is leading to the destruction of the environment.

Socialists are seeking ultimately to establish a “steady-state economy” or “zero-growth” society which corresponds to what Marx called “simple reproduction” – a situation where human needs were in balance with the resources needed to satisfy them. Such a society would already have decided, according to its own criteria and through its own decision-making processes, on the most appropriate way to allocate resources to meet the needs of its members. This having been done, it would only need to go on repeating this continuously from production period to production period. Production would not be ever-increasing but would be stabilized at the level required to satisfy needs. All that would be produced would be products for consumption and the products needed to replace and repair the raw materials and instruments of production used up in producing these consumer goods. The point about such a situation is that there will no longer be any imperative need to develop productivity, i.e. to cut costs in the sense of using less resources; nor will there be the blind pressure to do so that is exerted under capitalism through the market.

It will also create a ecologically benign relationship with nature. In socialism we would not be bound to use the most labour efficient methods of production. We would be free to select our methods in accordance with a wide range of socially desirable criteria, in particular the vital need to protect the environment.


“And of course, we can choose to get rid of GDP as our primary indicator of economic success and embrace saner, more holistic measures, like the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), which accounts for the negative ecological and social impacts of economic activity.”

Yes, a good primer on this concept is Mis-Measuring Our Lives: Why GDP Doesn’t Add Up (2010) by Stiglitz, Sen, and Fitoussi. It is a short, easy read.


“We can end poverty much more quickly, without any growth at all, simply by distributing existing income more fairly.”

I guess the top 40% could reduce their standard of living by 45%, bring the rest 60% to the same level, make everyone equally miserable.


Not sure if you are aware but we tried that that in the 20th century. Most of us were around to know about it, i was actually there to see it. It wasn’t a happy time for people who lived there, it was even worse for the environment, to say the least.


It is already developing out of the junk yard of 20th century economics and the last of the planet’s cheap and easy to get at, life killing, fossil fuel.


Perhaps it is a misunderstanding. When i refer to us and our society i am not referring to the decision-making of CEOs of Big Business applying their own criteria.

Perhaps you are referring to the command economy of the state-capitalist USSR. If you are, i agree it failed to accomplish its grand aspirations in the same way that the so-called “free enterprise” or “welfare state” variants of capitalism have fallen short.

Socialism despite its re-definitions means the end of the exchange-economy, the end of wage-labor in the words of Eugene Debs.

There has never been a free people, a civilized nation, a real republic on this earth. Human society has always consisted of masters and slaves, and the slaves have always been and are today, the foundation stones of the social fabric. Wage-labor is but a name; wage-slavery is the fact.

  1. Take care of everyone, money, shelter, meds, safety.
  2. Plan to make transportation only minimally necessary.
  3. Reduce cancer-causing agents everywhere.
  4. Make the primary education for all people that of non-violence. Add refresher courses.
  5. Transfer military to cleanup the environment.
  6. **Stop advertising and glorifying every Tommi, Dickie, and Harri who gets pregnant. Babies are darling but no more than anyone else.


Similarly, the backlash against Marxism treats it as though it is an invasive species of economic system when it is virtually the opposite and simply one of the most objective critiques of capitalism. This is also a good indicator and forewarning of the scale of misrepresentation that needs to be addressed, which is maintained to produce ‘grey areas’ to leverage manipulative advantage.


Fabulous to see an article by Jason who wrote The Divide… Loved the book and am interested in how this man thinks. I appreciate what he is saying about growth. It is interesting that Japan has had 20 years of non-growth as well as South and Central America… I think we have entered the non-growth era here in the US, but nobody in Wall Street/Mainstream Media is willing to admit it because their next raise is dependent on sustaining the myth… Obama lost his opportunity to earn a place in history by NOT endorsing the Public Option… His fear was an increase in unemployment in Bull Shit insurance jobs which was a false flag because in any sane country, these unemployed would have been retrained for health care provision…Imagine a developed country where 50% of the people do NOT go to the doctor for fear of BILLS… same thing with medications…


So in other words, the 100 million or so people murdered in the attempt to inculcate Marxist consciousness into the people was the fault of Capitalism.
Wow, I didn’t realize Capitalism was so bad.

I guess it’s time for progressives to crank up the death, er that is, re-education camps in the U.S. and fix the horrible blight of individualism.

Comrades, to the streets immediately!!!


If the New Deal regulations (that kept capitalism under control) had not been dismantled during the past four decades, we would not be entertaining a movement to socialism.

Recall that FDR and Congress approved the New Deal ONLY because 10% of US voters were voting for socialist and communist candidates. The New Deal was viewed as a way to keep commies at bay. During the 50s Joseph McCarthy was the point man charged with brainwashing voters to avoid left leaning candidates. It worked.

With fewer than 5% of voters voting for ANY third party candidates in recent elections, politicians are under no pressure to give the 99% anything, and we have witnessed Democrat Obama being to the right of Republican Nixon. The US has moved so far to the right that the only way to reverse that trajectory (that continues to move rightward at an ever faster pace) is to demand socialism. To gain a yard you need to demand a mile. Demanding a yard gains you nothing.

I have voted for and will continue to vote for socialist candidates, not because I want to live in a socialist nation.
I have voted that way in an attempt to reverse the rightward trajectory of the political agenda. Unfortunately, most voters continue to vote for corporate candidates who are committed to moving the agenda rightward.


The headline should be rewritten thus:

“Do We Have Time to Transition to a Post-Growth Economy Before the Earth Shakes Us Off Like a Bad Case of Fleas?”

(with thanks to St. George Carlin)


Authoritarian regimes are ‘individualist’ rather than ‘collectivist’ in that the least number of individuals have power over the larger population. Capitalism also distributes its benefits and dividends to the least number of people. It’s more apparent today that conservative republican authoritarian leaders always blame the leftwing for any and all ills or shortcomings. To equate progressives with Stalinists is the fruit of rightwing propaganda.


good job, alan! way back when the terms “ecology” and “economy” derived from the same root word eco- meaning environment. in that original context “to economize” meant we should use our natural resources frugally. today when americans speak about the economy they mean one thing----m o n e y !


Here is a way.

A manifesto to save Planet Earth (and ourselves):


Mother nature will ram a post-growth economic model down our throats.

She always has the last laugh.

Did you like the Mad Max movies? Turns out they were documentaries.


Seriously Alan, you really wanna try the Socialist experiment again? It has failed every time it was tried. That kind of arrangement goes against human nature, humans want to compete and want to win. Winners don’t want to be “equal” to the other guy that didn’t do anything. It;'s just how we are.

You can, using the proper amount of violence and punishment, override human nature but the end result will be just as catastrophic. First you’d have to remove any “reactionary elements” from society. Then keep the screw tight on everyone else and crack skulls each time someone raised their head. When you’re ready for that, that’s when you’re ready for the Revolution.