'Is degrowth against growth in poor countries'? There are many misunderstandings circulating on this issue, so time for a ... THREAD @MaxCRoser@BrankoMilan
Those of us who write about degrowth write first and foremost about the part of the world we live in - Europe and North America. We do not see ourselves part of the expertocracy that feels entitled telling Africa or the rest of the world what they should be doing. /2
Our call about degrowth applies to Europe and North America. Degrowth means stopping the pursuit of GDP growth, prioritizing wellbeing and the environment. This will likely have negative effects on output, hence a need for policies for "managing without growth" (Peter Victor) /3
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
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
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 :)
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
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
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
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 journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/JPE/… /3
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. howtowriteanacademicpaper.com/how-to-write-s… /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 howtowriteanacademicpaper.com/getting-the-ti…. (Laughed out loud with the terrible titles academics, myself including, come up with..)/3
This is a good point. I have addressed it in my recent book ('Degrowth', 2018, @agendapub) and in my work with @jasonhickel. Let me summarise and hopefully clarify for the sake of a better conversation. THREAD /1
Our claim is NOT that the relationship between GDP and GHGs is immutable, or a law of physics. (If I have used language in my less mature texts that made it seem so, my apologies – but I don’t think I did ☺). /2
Indeed, if that were the case, then the only way to reduce GHGs to 0 would be to halt all economic activity, an absurd conclusion, for which we would not have to wait for the current crisis to prove it wrong. /3
1. @TimHarford wrote a piece in the @FT arguing ‘that the pandemic is giving us a taste of what an end to growth might look like’, proving that 'hitting demanding emissions targets through crude degrowth would be hopeless'. Some thoughts - THREAD ft.com/content/0b1718…
2. To begin, no one that I know is arguing for the crude, undirected type of degrowth ‘of five pandemics in the next decade' that @TimHarford attributes to degrowth advocates. We are scientists, and generally scientists don’t say nonsense like that. Our argument is more nuanced.
3. @TimHarford cites @r_mastini defining degrowth as “the abolition of economic growth as a social objective”. Right. But then Hartford goes on interpreting this as targeting negative GDP growth rates, by any means necessary (including ‘crude’ ones, such as pandemics). Wrong.
1. There is a weird chart circulating, which supposedly shows that covid-induced ‘degrowth’ (sic) is an order of magnitude more expensive in reducing carbon emissions than clean energies. There are so many things wrong with this analysis, that I don’t know where to begin….THREAD
2. First, as Jason Hickel has argued for the nth time, degrowth is not the same as recession or depression. -
3. Does anyone seriously think we would call for sustained depression to reduce carbon emissions, if need be by a pandemic? That's pure madness. We aren't mad as those who expect the global economy to grow 3% per year, that is 11x by the end of the century, and all be cool.
1/ For those new to degrowth and my work, here is a a brief presentation of my 3+1 books on degrowth (the +1 is coming out this September) with a few selected highlights. THREAD (23)
2/ My first book is an edited volume, the Degrowth vocabulary, published by @routledgebooks, coordinated with my good friends and colleagues Giacomo D’Alisa and Federico Demaria. Published in 2014, we collected in the book chapters from the top thinkers on degrowth at the time.
3/ Our intention was to show that degrowth is not a monolithic concept, but a network of keywords and ideas, the whole more than the sum of the parts. We presented 52 interconnected concepts (conviviality, commons, basic income, work sharing, etc), each chapter linking to others.