Degrowing and Democratizing the Economy
This paper investigates the transition of societal institutions in light of the climate crisis. It proceeds from an understanding of capitalism shaped by recent literature on the "metabolic rift", primarily drawing upon the work of Jason Moore. From here, it considers the origins of the degrowth movement and literature, which has been one of the more radical forces originating from an explicitly ecological framework. Degrowth is traced from its origins in the work of Georgescu-Roegen and the entropic implications on the economic process, through the French revival of his ideas, and its reincorporation into the academic literature. Degrowth institutional reforms are summarized and it is provisionally concluded that they represent a significant break with certain tenets of capitalist development, although the way in which they are integrated is thought to be crucial. However, the question of the role of the market is raised in consideration of a break with capital accumulation. This leads into the second major part of the paper in which a debate on market socialism is revisited, in order to clarify how the market can be theorized in the transition away from capitalism (and towards degrowth), as well as how the economy can be democratized. The debate reveals some of the essential differences between market socialists and non-market socialists and enables the elaboration of their strategies for democratizing economic life. The debate is also contrasted with an understanding of markets in the development of capitalism, in which markets came to mediate two elements of life that were previously uncommodified: land and labour. In considering degrowth on the market debate, it is suggested that markets should be initially socialized and democratized (along some of the lines exposed in the elaboration of the debate) and then gradually reduced as the economy moves toward a more sustainable basis. This follows from the similar conclusion that degrowth and democratization must be integrated parts of a societal transition. The paper concludes with some promising avenues of political mobilization which incorporate a spirit of systemic change in both an ecological and social direction.