Parecon and Degrowth

Just dropping this here to see if anyone has anything to say about Parecon and the growing degrowth movement. How can they inform each other, aid, help, relate etc.? Can there be a relationship? Stuff like that. Anything really. Is it partly an aesthetic issue that something like degrowth attracts attention and Parecon doesn’t. Just asking. Anyone?

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Do the degrowth people propose some kind of new economic system?

I’m not an expert, but my impression is they want people to develop a lifestyle where we produce and consume less, but they don’t necessarily advocate for a new economic system. It’s more about a change of values.

Is that a fair impression? Lol.

Hi Michael,

Yeah, spose. In a nutshell. Not sure why I posted about it really. It’s just it’s a growing movement. It has appeal. Michael Albert has written recently about it. Things like Solarpunk, simplicity, degrowth, eco-villages, indigenous movements, Rojava, Zapatistas, seem to resonate with people in ways that things like Parecon don’t. Romantic, idealist, practical doings that can be done now etc…I agree that degrowth is low on economic institutional structure, from what I can see, but it’s quite explicit about what needs doing (decoupling is not possible) and there seems to be a split, gap or a chasm between things more explicitly economic, like Parecon, a very radical proposal, that I think could aid degrowthers and simplicity folk and even less radical, we gotta do something right now Green New Deal folk, like the bloody necessary idea Pollin and Chomsky are advocating.

I’m really not sure what I’m even thinking or want from my post here. I know Robin has debated and written about degrowth a lot. Goes back a ways too.
I suppose I’m thinking about coming together, unity, within movements that seem at odds (seem) and wondering if other people have ideas, ways, thoughts about bringing things like Parecon, which garners little attraction from the wider public, even has trouble within the left landscape, together. To help each other. Or something. Or are the two things forever to talk past one another?

Yeah, don’t really know why I’m asking exactly. I’ve read a shit load of simplicity stuff and degrowth over the years and always feel Parecon would be a perfect vehicle to help where I think the degrowthers, simplicity folk fall short.

Sorry about all the vagueness Michael.

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It’s alright, I enjoy reading your thoughts!

It would be nice if leftist groups would come together more. It seems like it’s our lot in life to constantly argue over details and split up.

There are disagreements among some of us here, but I think we do a good job of respecting differences; we understand we’re all on the same page in the greater scheme of things.

I actually think we could learn a bit from some of these romantic type proposals. Parecon tends to be presented in a very technical way… I enjoy that aspect of it, but I think it would help to present it in a more romantic or simple way when talking to the general public.

I agree. There’s a guy here at the Simplicity Institute in Melbourne, a simplicity/degrowther/eco-village advocate, who’s writing a new series of essays on what he calls the Will to Art. It’s taking an aesthetic approach to change. It’s not his main game, he’s done lots of things, but it’s a thing he thinks we need to get degrowth and simplicity into our heads or to a better world through aesthetic activity, a Will to Art. It’s not as simple as I set out or easy to get, but…Maybe that’s true fro Parecon. It lacks an immediate aesthetic appeal to people (again, I don’t want to do injustice to Samuel Alexander’s work by simplifying it and even though I’m not really a fan of his thesis).

But I think there’s room for Parecon to slot into helping specific aspects of degrowth thinking which could give them a non-market particpatory economic institutional structural approach to degrowth.

For example. Anitra Nelson, a simplicity degrowth kind of advocate, in her recent book, outlines her vision for a future community/society along degrowth simplicity lines. All good. But then she says at one point, but there will still be a digital library. What’s that? I assume by that she meant an internet of sorts containing information. Well, my very first thought was, cable or satellite? If it’s satellite, we need a space program. Plus, it just requires a whole industrial, technological, extractive, maintenance, knowledge and transport, complex of industry that degrowthers just never deal with in any serious coherent concrete way. Like modern medicine as well. They may think they do, but they don’t. I’m reading a new book on degrowth and it mentions healthcare in the first chapter or intro. I searched to see where else it would be mentioned, or modern technological medicine, but nothing else came up in the book. Nothing.

Robin can argue with degrowthers about decoupling with his economic knowledge and degrowthers will stand their ground and yell back with theirs. Average folk can’t do that. Were just left wondering who to believe. Then it could become an aesthetic problem in a way, about how the average person is affected by such stuff. We can get put off by it. Further it just pits degrowth and people like Robin, a Parecon inventor, against each other and then degrowthers ignore things like Parecon, because it becomes an ideological battle or an aesthetic battle, and a matter of pride or even a kind of spite. There is definitely a somewhat negative association degrowthers emphasise regard the concepts of linear time, abstraction and mechanistic. Hence something like Parecon may be viewed as a product of these concepts, which they deem partly why were in this mess. That’s a kind of aesthetic attitude.

Maybe there’s another way. Like saying, “hey, you want to do this, and that, x and y, well, you probably gonna actually need something like this, Parecon. It could really help man. Seriously. It could.”

“Like do you want markets? If so why? Do you want participation and full transparency with social costs and benefits of everything produced and consumed within a degrowth world or community? Well if you want those things Parecon can help. You want a digital library and modern medicine but not screw with the ecological basis of degrowth, well you need something like Parecon, because it don’t have markets either man and they screw with everything? It’s anarchistic in nature, and many of you degrowthers have anarchist sympathies, and it deals with values that are by no means contrary to those you hold.”

I don’t know, something like that. What usually happens is an intellectual shit fight, they say this, non-degrowthers say that, etc… And then there are those who see degrowth as similar to anarcho-primitivists(some don’t like the term), like Derek Jensen, Kevin Tucker or John Zerzan. But they’re not that extreme. At least anarcho-primmies aren’t vague in what they demand…it’s just…well, they are extreme and it’s just not gonna work. The majority of degrowth and simplicity folk aren’t necessarily that extreme.

I don’t know anymore what to think really. Pretty much about anything.

Below is the link to the essays on Will to Art…gets pretty abstruse, post moderny sort of, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche loom large, notions of beauty and an aesthetic telos is given to the universe, from the Big Bang and on, maybe even “before” the Big Bang (which technically has no meaning, like a zen koan, does your mind in)…that kind of stuff. But he’s also fairly feet on the ground as well. The videos below are an example. But shit, you wouldn’t hear a peep about something like Parecon for the future at all, even if he has read about it (which he has). It’s just not on their radar. Like it’s not on most other peoples as well.

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