How should ’degrowth’ apply to the South? Serge Latouche

Last December we (Le Monde Diplomatique) published an article about contraction economics – décroissance or ’degrowth’- a topic that has become a major subject of debate, not just within the counter-globalisation movement but in the wider world. The big question is: how should ’degrowth’ apply to the South?

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“Degrowth is not a concept. There is no theory of contraction equivalent to the growth theories of economics. Degrowth is just a term created by radical critics of growth theory to free everybody from the economic correctness that prevents us from proposing alternative projects for post-development politics… In fact degrowth is not a concrete project but a keyword… Proponents of contraction want to create integrated, self-sufficient and materially responsible societies in both the North and the South. It might be more accurate and less alarming if we replaced the word degrowth with “non-growth”. We could then start talking about “a-growthism”, as in “a-theism”. After all, rejecting the current economic orthodoxy means abandoning a faith system, a religion… If the South is to attempt to create non-growth societies, it must rethink and re-localise. Southern countries need to escape from their economic and cultural dependence on the North and rediscover their own histories – interrupted by colonialism, development and globalisation – to establish distinct indigenous cultural identities. “

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