Friends ask me to comment on @BrankoMilan 's barrage of posts against degrowth. I think the best responses are to be found below Milanovic's own posts and they come from his own audience. I consider myself actually part of his audience /THREAD
I have a lot of respect for @BrankoMilan 's work on income inequality. I like also his dry and cynical Balkan humor (I am a Greek you see). And I learned a lot from 'Capitalism Alone', especially the chapter on China, where he provides a sober picture dismissing Western myths /2
I am not waiting however to learn something of substance from @BrankoMilan about climate change or mitigation. 'Capitalism Alone' is dealing with the future of the global economy and does does refer once to climate change. Not once! /3
So I am not taking what @BrankoMilan says about degrowth at face value. I don't think he has given serious thought to these issues. This is evident by the fact that he tries to squeeze and reduce degrowth to what he knows how to handle best: global income distribution. /4
Degrowth instead starts from two other premises. 1. Compound growth is impossible in the long run (turns to infinity) and catastrophic for the planet. 2. This catastrophe will hit poorer countries worse => global justice requires that we in high-income countries slow down. /5
Those of us who write about degrowth understand well the enormity of the task. How difficult it is to reduce production, how difficult it is to organize politically against the capitalist interests & ideologies that leave no alternative to working & consuming more and more. /6
No one that I know has said any of this is easy. So @BrankoMilan 's repeated 'Gotcha' sound hollow to me. I had 'gotcha' myself before him and devoted a full chapter on the limitations of the case for degrowth in my 2018 book 'Degrowth' /7
Degrowth might well be socially or politically impossible (I want to maintain an optimism of will and think it isn't, but I can understand the Balkan 'I've seen it all' cynicism). Even so, this does not make the alternative any more sustainable. /8
Capitalist elites of course want to make us think that there is an easy alternative fix and we can have our cake and eat it all. They sell fairy tales of fantastical technologies and all. @BrankoMilan seems to know better, and fortunately does not repeat such myths. /9
If we accept that compound growth - green or else - is catastrophic for the climate and bound to come to a crash end, then the responsibility to come with alternatives is not only 'ours' (those of us who point to the obvious fact), but also of all other reasonable citizens. /10
And if @BrankoMilan is right about the social/political impossibility of degrowth, then I want to hear what is is his alternative. Or how does he see 'capitalism alone' surviving 3 or 4C climate change and in what form. And what will such a world mean for global inequality? /11
Maybe take a short sabbatical out of these unnecessary and unhelpful tweets and posts that repeat well rehearsed arguments that economists have parroted the last 50 years, and devote the time to think more seriously about alternatives and implications? Just saying. END OF THREAD.

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More from @g_kallis

3 Feb
Interesting thread, but I don't think ecosocialists or degrowthers are arguing that if German socialists had come to power the world would be green by now. Socialism is not automatically green. Eco-socialism is what it says - a green version of socialism - to be tested /1
The historical counterfactual also in not totally convincing. So let's assume Germany and Europe went socialist. The world economy would have evolved exactly the same way it did? 🤔 I doubt it, this is too deterministic. Examples: /2
We do not know if the transition from coal to oil would have taken place when it took place, the way it did. From Timothy Mitchell we know that oil was a fix for capitalism to bypass the labour strikes of coal workers. One would think that socialists would treat workers better /3
Read 12 tweets
29 Sep 20
On twitter we spend time in silly debates: is degrowth impoverishment, negative GDP, lockdown misery bla bla. But in our normal lives we are producing some pretty k.a. research. Here are 22 papers by researchers from the (broader) degrowth community published just the last year!
I give these in no particular order. And they range from the most quantitative to the most ethnographic or the most philosophical (disclaimer: I am in involved in 4). These are papers that I happened to read. I am sure I miss many more - please add at the end of the thread!
I wont summarise the papers. Take a look at the abstracts. And if you don't have access to the full paper, email the first author for a copy. In the degrowth community we are happy to share our research. So, here we go, let's start the countdown! 22 papers to go :)
Read 34 tweets
25 Sep 20
One of the seemingly strongest arguments in support of green growth is that an economy can keep growing based on non-material goods and services without using more energy. @Noahpinion distills this into a thought experiment of a Matrix economy. THREAD/1
The Matrix economy is a world where energy/resource input is steady, but GDP keeps growing as we pay more and more for virtual experiences that give us more and more pleasure (paying with virtual work) /2
This is a thought experiment, a parable meant to show that a service-based green growth is possible. The response cannot be that a Matrix world is technically impossible, or socially undesirable, as Keanu and co thought. @Noahpinion does not propose this literally, granted /3
Read 26 tweets
22 Jul 20
Last year I published a book on Malthus and Limits. Let me explain what I argued, and how it is relevant to current debates where the name of Malthus and his supposed false prophecy keeps popping up / THREAD Image
According to the standard story, Malthus posited that while food production can grow only arithmetically (1, 2, 3, 4), population grows geometrically (1, 2, 4, 8), predicting thus famines. Malthus, the story goes, underestimated the power of technology and was proven wrong. /2
Environmentalists today, this story continues, commit the same fallacy as Malthus. They predict climate disasters and resource depletion, but they underestimate the power of technology. They want to limit growth, but they will be proven wrong too. /3
Read 29 tweets
7 Jul 20
@ii_sambliss wrote an excellent thread fact-checking Shellenberger's ‘Apocalypse never’. . If you want a researched story of the origins and evolution of the ideas behind the book check our 2019 paper @journalofpolit1… /THREAD
Shellenberger styles himself now in the ‘born-again’ mold that Americans love. He is supposedly an environmentalist who saw the light, and comes out to tell the world the truth about environmentalism /2
Truth is Shellenberger has been styling himself the same way and saying the same exact story ever since he appeared in the mid-2000s, as we explain in our paper… /3
Read 19 tweets
11 Jun 20
One of my side-projects is a website on how to write better papers, mostly for social scientists. Here is a thread with the posts you can find there #writingcommunity #academicwriting #postdoc #PhDthesis #AcademicTwitter #researchpapers #PhDChat /1
My most-viewed post is the one on how to write simply – how to cut the crap, that is. I was inspired by William Zinsser’s ‘On writing well’ (highly recommended!). A workbook accompanies the post with exercises on how to simplify your own text.… /2
I plan a series of posts on writing different parts of a paper: the abstract, the conclusions, etc. For now, here's a piece on how to get a nice title for your paper…. (Laughed out loud with the terrible titles academics, myself including, come up with..)/3
Read 26 tweets

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