Who does actually drive growth? Two central forces behind destructive growth today are a new type of capital oligarchies, and a new form of financialisation. More than ever, these are blocking social and ecological alternatives. Any socialist critique of growth must therefore begin here.
There are three consensual positions in the left-wing debate on degrowth in Germany. First, the current societal structures including those of production and consumption mean than growth in GDP is leading to increasing social, ecological and global problems. Second, a sustainable and just solution to these problems, built on the principles of solidarity and democracy, requires a profound socio-ecological transformation. Third, in order to begin and implement such a transformation, the socio-political relations of power in society must be changed. This creates a specific incentive to learn from the international debate how to deal with this kind of academic, social and political controversies, also in cases, when at first sight they are not being held under the banner of degrowth. In particular, such debates need to focus on questions such as theoretical and practical critiques of modes of production and ways of living, of relations of power and domination and of corporate pro-growth policies (which would need to be discussed together with the role of the corporations as such). Doing so would provide the opportunity for an exchange with authors such as Ulrich Brand, who recently has called for a discussion of degrowth in the context of the relations of societal domination. This text specifically presents a critique of oligarchies and financialisation, and aims to support the on-going collective process of searching for opportunities that could further the needed socio-ecological transformation.
Dr. Judith Dellheim works at the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung’s Institut für Gesellschaftsanalyse.