The question of degrowth is no doubt tricky but the hatchet job here is puzzling. The essay requires additional study but the fist impression is one of theoretical incoherence. The association of growth, progress, and freedom is interesting but doesn’t make much sense.
The idea that growth and freedom are correlated just doesn’t seem right, although the essay may need another checkout. The idea is the old cliche about capitalism versus feudalism and slavery. Quite apart from the fact that capitalists quite liked slavery.
I lived through decades of American capitalist growth and don’t find the idea that its growth produced freedom to make any sense. If you make fifty thousand a year in current money then freedom of a sort emerges as consumerist euphoria. But the whole game is mesmerizing idiocy.
Perhaps the point made is that capitalism produced a kind of liberation via economic categories compared to feudalism. But that is mostly illusion. As an unemployed student of greek who spent forty years looking for a serious job, the whole game is a nightmare, if not a joke. Capitalism sucks. I could teach five branches of math, four languages, English, history, at five minutes’ notice, but was unemployable in the growth economy. I spent my relatives money learning C programming and was good at it. No jobs available. C was already out of date.
At one point you could make money driving a cab, but that got wrecked in transit. All the claptrap about freedom and growth is nuts.
These theory types can only deal with working-class types. Anyone out of the system, i.e. almost everyone, is lumpernprole, human trash by Marxist caste law. One could have joined the system that produced all that freedom, but those people all induce shudders. Free as Frankenstein.
The main option was to live in the streets. I keep thinking of the Buddhist sangha: a gang of mendicant beggars produced a far saner version of freedom. It is possible for societies to be at the level of beggars and thrive. I don’t recommend any of that, it is all in the past tense. But the outcome of capitalist commodity fetishism is not freedom. Idiots. Here the influence of Marx, as this essay shows is confusing. In the end, he is a capitalist at heart and the mode of production reigns, he seems to see that he is part of the capitalist regime. Fuck the means of production. The fetish of Marxist theory backfired. Historical materialism is a grotesque fiction worse than capitalist domination. Society has the means to support everyone, at a decent level, without growth, or capitalist regimentation.
But don’t let the Marxist Stalinists get wind of the idea. They will regiment everyone in bureaucratic state capitalism.
But I may have misunderstood this essay, which isn’t Marxist. I don’t think anyone knows whether degrowth can work. It is hard to see how growth can continue. But then economic categories are in burn out. The problem is that socialism has been delayed too long, or else turned into the grotesque by the Marx group.
Freedom comes from rights, not growth. A sane society in degrowth could be democratic, satisfy economic rights and fundamentals, etc…It is hard to see how growth can continue. Growth may cease to be an option.
People could meditate. Mass produce begging bowls. It takes a good thirty years for meditation to mature, so plenty of time is needed, for that.
People could renounce the world and live in the streets. Or they can invent a form of socialism that solves such simple problems, given goodwill. At least in capitalism you could ride freight trains. With Marxists, it would be shoot on sight. I think this essay is cuckoo.
To abandon growth is to declare an end to progress. Socialists must reject the politics of eco-Thatcherism.