Prosperity Without Growth Manifesto

Our economic model is bankrupt; we are immersed in a financial, economic, energy, environmental and social crisis. All these problems have a common cause: a development model built on the hypothesis that unlimited growth can be maintained and that this should be based on individual action, boundless accumulation of wealth and consumption driven by financial and environmental debt. A model that creates unemployment and destroys workers’ rights in Europe while involving the destruction of the habitats and social systems of many peoples in the developing world. A model which, generally speaking, has not ended poverty or hunger, which increases social inequality within and between countries and is rapidly destroying the biosphere.

There is no scientific basis for the notion of indefinite exponential growth, and even less so in an overcrowded, over-exploited world with finite resources. On the contrary, the capitalist model, based on private property and the limitless exploitation of natural resources, is leading us to a dead end; to environmental, economic and social collapse. We urgently need a change of direction, a new model.

Solutions to the recession: prosperity without growth

At the height of economic decline and decreasing energy resources we need to create options to construct our preferred social model, while preventing the political right from sticking to its austerity discourse and the left, in contrast, from advocating levels of public expenditure that generate new debt which we may never be able to repay. We wish to "make the most of the recession" to build new alternatives, abandoning the erroneous idea that economic growth in all fields is the solution to overcoming the recession and achieving prosperity. Prosperity will only come from a new model in which the sectors that contribute quality of life grow while those which consume non-renewable resources and energy shrink. We therefore accept the challenge of constructing post-capitalism with a new macroeconomic vision in which economics and ecology are integrated in one model; where sectors causing environmental and social damage become smaller and those that contribute to sustainable prosperity are maintained and, whenever possible, increase.

For this task we will seek new prosperity indicators that are more reliable than GDP, which simply quantifies the goods and services that a country produces for the market but does not take into account external factors, collateral damage or loss of heritage in the form of biodiversity and non-renewable natural resources. We will work with prosperity indicators such as equality, the environment and the real progress made by countries and individuals.

We will fight for the fostering of all kinds of entrepreneurship, activity and work that is useful for society and the environment, and for wealth redistribution, social rights and public services, the only guarantors of equality.

We reject the pursuit of growth as the paradigm of full employment and accept that only the redistribution of work and leisure can prevent society fracturing into the employed and the unemployed, while providing a better distribution of essential social tasks, of caring for individuals and families. We are aware that the best division of paid and unpaid work between men and women as well as among different social groups reduces inequality.

We propose a universal basic income linked to the undertaking of unpaid work for the community as the backbone of a cultural change in the relationship between money and society, one in which personal and community resources flourish from the restoring of relationships between the members of society, the recovery of the tools of coexistence, the reconstructing of the concept of identity and of belonging to a society of cooperation.

We will promote self-sufficiency and relocation strategies to reduce our debt-creating dependence on other countries for energy and basic resources. We will encourage local production and consumption, self-sufficiency in food, local renewable energy resources and energy saving policies.

We will develop a social economy based on networks of cooperatives that act in the areas of suppliers (of goods and services) and consumers (cooperative consumption) as well as funding (cooperative funding models).

We will promote a change in consumption patterns, shifting from a system based on the ownership of goods to one that is more efficient and rational, based on collaborative consumption and on the use and rental of services. Favouring collective proposals over individualistic approaches will enable us to be frugal without reducing welfare.

We advocate the creation of a state-owned bank that promotes the funding of projects of social and environmental interest and the recovery of democratic control over the creation of money as a strategic element for the functioning of society.

We maintain that it is necessary to regulate the financial economy so that it serves the productive economy, and not the other way around. Taxing financial transactions would discourage speculation, the waste of resources and creation of pollution, and provide the resources necessary to meet the challenges facing the human race.

We wish to promote interpersonal relationships and the grassroots economy, comprised of the human resources that make up and sustain social life. We want sociality to be a cause of happiness and social cohesion because we aspire to a genuine democracy which is more representative and proportional than the current one, and that at given moments provides more direct participation and consultation procedures.

For all these reasons we demand

Policies that advocate equality, denounce inequalities and the illegal accumulation of wealth and capital that lead to power being concentrated in the hands of a few and at the expense of the will of the majority.

Policies that are at the forefront of attitude change and which contribute the idea of prosperity without growth to public and political debate, that put forward the alternatives in a positive way and are able to explain them and win over the public. This is the proposal of the XXI century, of modernity, because the capitalist model of the XX century has become obsolete. We need transforming political forces and social movements to come forward with solutions for organizing the transition between the old model and the new.

We ask political parties concerned by this manifesto to abandon the traditional role of guide parties and become hinge parties or network parties, capable of integrating and echoing the growing number of sectors that are not represented by anyone. We need representatives that work with grassroots movements and create initiatives which spread throughout the whole of society.

Eco-socialism has to facilitate the model’s shift towards sustainability and social justice. We have to confront hegemonic economic discourse. We are not alone and more authoritative voices are calling for this shift all the time.

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July 2012


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