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The growth of 'de-growth' in France: Bringing greens and the left together

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In a world marked by capitalism’s twin crises -- economic and ecological -- there is an increasing amount of discussion, thinking, writing and activism that seeks to fuse greens and the left (broadly defined). Ian Angus, occasional rabble contributor and editor of the Climate and Capitalism blog, has been involved in efforts to found an “Ecosocialist International” and has edited a new collection of essays on The Fight for Global Climate Justice. And one of the feature stories that has received the most positive feedback this year at rabble.ca is Murray Dobbin’s piece 'Prosperity without growth.'


In France, the discussion of these ideas has been gaining prominence in recent years.


The August issue of Le Monde Diplomatique (LMD) has an interesting two-page spread on the growth of the "de-growth" (décroissance) movement: "an influential but unorganized trend" that rejects the dogmas of economic growth and productivism:


The term "décroissance" covers a wide-range of ecological and green perspectives, but boils down to the notion of 'living better with less.' Its supporters reject economic growth as it is measured today by indicators such as GDP, and propose different ways of measuring and assessing a society's well being. Although there are some neo-Malthusians and anti-immigration types who share these views, the article gives the impression that the much stronger trend stresses social justice and economic equality.


The Monde Diplomatique article covers some of the interaction between the Left and Green parties and movements in France. The Socialist Party comes in for damning criticism, "The absence of intellectual curiosity amongst its leaders seems to protect [the party] from all contact with these ideas." But a number of smaller left parties are taking these ecological ideas seriously, including the upstart Nouveau Parti Anti-Capitaliste (NPA).


French journalist Hervé Kempf, whose Toronto book launch of How the Rich are Destroying the Earth was sponsored by rabble.ca, has been popularising similar ideas for some time. Kempf has just put out another book, with another unsubtle title, Pour sauver la planete, sortez du capitalisme. Easily translated, it's a sentiment that seems to be growing as people around the world challenge capitalism's insatiable drive for endless growth.

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