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September 16 2011


P2P Foundation » Blog Archive » P2P Essay of the Year? The Radical Implications of a Zero Growth Economy - 2011-09-15


commentary by oAnth:

Generally I would like to state, that sustainable growth in future is no more to describe simply by the amount of produced goods, but in the efficient differentiation from energy sources as well as the circular use of commodities.

The article neglects a lot of recent developments in energy support technologies, which might guarantee a much higher sustainability than the traditionally centralized energy supply, like burning all forms of carbon and waste or nuclear based energy centrals.

Further insists the article IMO too much on data given by a supposed status quo (I remember that e.g. the FAO comes to quite other conlusions), and proposes as alternative a kind of subsistence economy, which in its use today is historically to see as a socially useful last remain at the country side e.g. in South Europe of a feudal society economy (supposedly with commons). This income source today is nevertheless depending on a centralized industrial production economy, and by this on the incomes of family members (away in other parts of the countries, or in work migration), which are not in particular a part of the subsistence economy household and are supporting still by a monthly amount of money parents, brother, sister, working in the  subsistence unit. Means, in those countries, where it is still in use, it has the function of a kind of social assurance, but hardly as a basic economic factor [ cf. actual tendencies in Greece of unemployed populations to return from Athens to the country side, where family members have still a smaller business or some (minor) agriculture].

I can't see how a world population would reduce its means in such a way, taking in account, that industrial production of any kind would be technological restricted in its development in order to keep the technological concurrence between all market participants in a constant balance to avoid any uncontrolled innovation impulses, from which could result again unwanted growth. etc. etc.

oAnth - Muc - 2011-09-16

September 15 2011

What Vaclav Havel Didn't Bargain For: Central Europe's Loss Of Interest In Ideas - The Economy, Stupid | - 2011-09-13 |

"The artistic and literary scene that flourished paradoxically under censorship and repression has died off. ... The people of Central Europe traded in ideas for groceries and for not being beaten to death by the police.

Source:, via ArtsJournal: Daily Arts News


quotation by oAnth:


Twenty years after the Velvet Revolution, Havel gave a public speech in which he assessed the current state of the free Czech Republic. “On the one hand everything is getting better — a new generation of mobile phones is being released every week,” he said. “But in order to make use of them, you need to follow new instructions. So you end up reading instruction manuals instead of books and in your free time you watch TV where handsome tanned guys scream from advertisements about how happy they are to have new swimming trunks... The new consumer society is accomplished by a growing number of people who do not create anything of value.”

The artistic and literary scene that flourished paradoxically under censorship and repression has died off. The public intellectual is, for the most part, no longer invited to the most important parties. Anna Porter writes, “Now that everyone can publish what they want, what is the role of the intellectuals?” and she can’t find an answer. It’s no longer the police state that’s attacking the intelligentsia — it’s disinterest and boredom. It’s distraction. It’s a trade off. And it’s one that we should be able to acknowledge and be allowed to mourn. When the historian Timothy Garton Ash visited Poland in the 1980s, he admitted to an envy for the environment there. “Here is a place where people care, passionately, about ideas.” The people of Central Europe traded in ideas for groceries and for not being beaten to death by the police. No one could possibly blame them, but at the same time, Havel and the other leaders had no sense of the true cost of democracy.


As F. S. Michaels writes in Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything, “When you’re inside a master story at a particular time in history, you tend to accept its definition of reality. You unconsciously believe and act on certain things, and disbelieve and fail to act on other things... Over time, the monoculture evolves into a nearly invisible foundation that structures and shapes our lives, giving us our sense of how the world works.”


Michaels’s book has its faults. Her summations of how the world once work — meant to both show how much we’ve devoted to this economic story today and remind us that things can be different — are tinged with the hue that colors Ostalgie: the backward-looking amnesia that infects those Central Europeans who have decided things were so much better under communism, or, if you’re in the right country, under the Habsburgs. “Back in the 1950s, the relationship between employees and their companies involved commitment and reciprocity; workers were committed to the job in return for wages and promotions, and the company was committed to its workers in return for their hard work and loyalty.” Well, maybe. But admittance to the wider workforce was restricted at best. Such a point is like looking back on the days of incredibly low unemployment in communist Poland... without mentioning that if anyone protested for safer working conditions, the police might just shoot him in the head. Every monoculture will have its downsides, and trading one for another will always lead to unexpected deficits. But maybe if we acknowledge that the economic story looks like it’s coming to an unhappy ending of environmental degradation, widespread poverty, and hunger as resources become scarce, we can see what we might get in return.

Leaving the economic monoculture, particularly now that it’s a worldwide system, is not going to be any less of a dramatic act than Havel’s Velvet Revolution. Michaels makes a strong case that this story is stripping us of our environment, our creativity, and our personal happiness. We are, for the most part, bogged down in the daily struggle for survival, too worried about losing our fragile position within a corporation to envision an entirely different way of being. It’s going to take another Havel, someone who can see the world for what it is and find a better story to tell.




The problem with thatkind of books is quite obviously, that they describe rather well the status quo, but don't give sufficient answers by lack of an adequate analysis of the socio-economic impact into the cultural and academic sphere, which is causing the observed depletion.


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