Sunday, April 17, 2016

5th International Degrowth Conference and Money

Hope to see you at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest 30 August–3 September where I will join with Francois Schneider and others for a Special Session on Housing and Degrowth, with a proposal for us to edit a book on the topic. I went to the degrowth conference in Montreal in 2012 and it was great so I am really looking forward to this one. More particularly for this blog, I will present a paper on the case for a non-monetary future. I've posted the accepted abstract below.

Non-Monetary Degrowth is Strategically Significant
(Conference theme: The un-common sense)

Even for many radical adherents of degrowth, money is a common-sense — not simply capitalist — tool, so alternative currencies and banks abound. This paper argues against this common-sense logic, as follows. The most direct and efficient form of degrowth requires as-local-as-is-feasible production focusing on people’s basic needs, implying that future distribution is decided simultaneously with collectively agreeing on productive goals and ways of achieving them. Say, each person contributes a number of hours to collective production as a community obligation and, in return, has their basic needs met. Decision-making focuses on bio-physical, environmental and social measures and values; complex bio-physical and social efficiency is paramount in limiting throughput in production and associated exchanges. As a result, money has no place in degrowth, where grassroots political decision-making replaces production for trade and market exchanges. Similarly, so-called ‘alternative’ currencies that serve functions of legal tender or the ‘universal equivalent’ on which capitalism depends, are redundant. In non-monetary degrowth, reward for work is the security of having life-long basic needs met with continuous input in making decisions on both local production and the terms of exchange (compacts) with as-local-as-feasible neighbour-producers. There is personal, but no private, property: the entire Earth is commons with clear, efficient and universal principles and terms for commoning. Such a vision suggests that advancing specifically non-monetary degrowth — consciously breaking with monetary production and exchange — is of crucial strategic significance.