Serge Latouche is Europe’s preeminent degrowth scholar – an original, deep, and provocative thinker. The Simplicity Institute is pleased to be publishing four “Essays on Frugal Abundance” by Professor Latouche, in which he considers and responds to various misunderstandings and controversies surrounding the notion of degrowth.
Part 1 of this series on Frugal Abundance is available here, and I’ve posted a section of the foreword below.
“The great Yale economist Irving Fisher (1867-1947) was said to have a parrot which he had trained to answer any question his students might ask with the words, ‘It’s the law of supply and demand.’ As I find myself facing the same old questions about degrowth over and over again in interviews and debates, I often wish I had such a partner. But if the laws of the market can provide an answer to virtually any economic question, this is unfortunately not the case in the anti-economic world of degrowth. Explaining, even in very simple terms, what degrowth is and answering the objections it raises is beyond the ability of a talking bird. If you taught a parrot to declare that degrowth is a ‘performative fiction’, a ‘concrete utopia’, or indeed a project to build a society of frugal abundance in order to free ourselves from the paradoxes of the consumer society, its answers would be pertinent and scrupulously exact. But these words are likely to leave the questioner feeling baffled and unsatisfied. Besides, degrowth raises questions to which there are no ready-made answers. There is no dogma yet – and hopefully there never will be any. Answering all questions and ending the debate is not the aim of objectors to growth, and controversies exist within the degrowth movement itself. However, I have listed the most frequent misinterpretations and the most common objections that I have encountered over the years in interviews and debates with audiences of all kinds.”
The full essay is available here.