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How Far is Degrowth a Really Revolutionary Counter Movement to Neoliberalism?

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Capitalism is often modernised and stabilised by its very critics. Gramsci called this paradox a ‘passive revolution’. What are the pitfalls through which critique becomes absorbed? This question is taken up using a Cultural Political Economy approach for analysing the resistant potential of ‘degrowth discourses’ against the neoliberal hegemony. Degrowth advocates an economy without growth in order to achieve the transformation that is necessary in ecological and social terms. It thus does not follow the neoliberal idea of green capitalism that already has absorbed much environmental critique. This paper argues that degrowth needs to be further differentiated in order to draw any conclusions about its counter-hegemonic potential. Three dimensions are identified for differentiating sub-hegemonic from counter-hegemonic degrowth positions: the mode of growth critique, the interpellation of the individual and the subsequent actions motivated.
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Keywords: degrowth; hegemony; neoliberalism; passive revolution; social ecological crisis

Affiliations: Technical University Darmstadt

Appeared or available online: June 17, 2019

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