[Marxism] Degrowth in Greece

ehrbar at marx.economics.utah.edu ehrbar at marx.economics.utah.edu
Fri Jul 17 10:08:25 MDT 2015



I think the present debate is trying to achieve the wrong goals.
Everyone is trying to re-start growth in the Greek economy.  This is an
outdated 20th-century paradigm.  Growth is not sustainable
environmentally, and a radical switch to a new paradigm is necessary
right now.  There is a very short window of opportunity, perhaps the
next 5 years, to make radical step changes in the world economy and
culture, towards the affluent 2 billion people living with a much lower
environmental footprint.  If we do not make these changes now, then so
much CO2 will be in the atmoshere that in the rest of this century
climate change will spin out of control and the planet will become
hostile or uninhabitable for humans.  Climate scientists know this and
warn us, but the politicians still ignore it.  Marxmail for the most
part ignores it too.  Read this to get the perspective of the climate
scientists:

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a36228/ballad-of-the-sad-climatologists-0815/

In order to achieve the necessary radical changes, many things must happen.
One of these changes is that the affluent people in the world, roughly
everyone with a annual per capita income of $40,000 or more, must switch
to a much more modest lifestyle: Much less travel, much less meat, no
more flying, no more cheap throw-away toys but the part of our
consumption which requires industrial production and globe-spanning
supply chains must be cut at least in half.  Not everyone agrees with
this (Jeffrey Sachs thinks technology will make this unnecessary), but
many others agree (Schellnhuber in Germany, Kevin Anderson in England,
Naomi Klein and the Pope's Encyclical also go in this direction).

One proposal how to do this (the degrowth movement, Niko Paech) is to
cut labor time in half and use the other time for home production
(gardening, bicycle repair, repair and sharing of industrial products in
order to minimize the need to produce more of them).  This parallel
solidarity economy would be run by barter or local currencies, while the
industrial economy depends on currencies tied into the world wide
computerized clearing system.

This is why I think Greece should aim for the following: stay in the
Eurozone but they should use the Euro only for the industrial sector and
international trade, and they should organize as much as possible of
their economy through local sharing so that they don't need the Euro
as much.

Eric Toussaint's article shows how much can be done in this direction,
it is at

 http://cadtm.org/Greece-Alternatives-to-the

Toussaint writes:

> It would have been possible to stay in the Euro if a series of sovereign
> measures of self-defense and economic recovery such as a strict control
> on banks, currency, and taxation (see below) had been implemented.

Please read Toussaint's article.  Toussaint does not mention the world's
resource constraints, but all the says can also be used for an economy
that has a smaller environmental footprint.  If the Greek government,
backed by the Greek masses, would say: we don't need much growth which
is environmentally unsustainable, but we want high quality of life for
everyone while at the same time consuming less stuff --- this would be a
huge struggle with the Eurocrats, but it would be a struggle which the
masses in the other developed countries must fight as well.  Here Greece
would truly play a vanguard role pushing the world wide class struggle
forward, instead of becoming dependent on humanitarian assistance.

BTW, there was a degrowth conference in Athens just in February

http://www.degrowth.org/athens-degrowth-forum-feb-20th-22nd

Here are other articles about degrowth in Greece and the
other mediterranean countries:

http://www.degrowth.org/degrowth-from-catalonia-to-greece

http://www.andrereichel.de/2015/02/02/groundhog-day-in-greece/

http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-limits-to-growth-and-greece.html

Hans G Ehrbar




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