By Gabriel Asenjo
Invited by the collective Dale Vuelta-Bira Beste Aldera, and under the title of his conference Degrowth, an alternative to capitalism? , demanded that society establish a self-limitation of its consumption and environmental exploitation. From their point of view, it is not a question of proposing an involution but rather of coupling the speed of expenditure of natural resources with their regeneration.
Specialist in North / South economic relations, European Amalfi prize for sociology and social sciences, his degrowth movement, born in the 70s and extended in France, defends the sobriety of life and the preservation of natural resources before their exhaustion. In his opinion, if the decrease is not controlled, "the decrease that we are already experiencing" will be the consequence of the collapse of an unsustainable form of capitalism, and it will also be disproportionate and traumatic.
A semantic bomb. Serge Latouche affirms that the term degrowth is a slogan, “a semantic bomb caused to counteract the intoxication of the so-called sustainable development”, a way of thinking, sustainability, extended by the liberal economism of the eighties, and that favors paying for everything , "For example, in the case of wheat, it obliges to pay for surpluses, for its storage, and you also have to pay to destroy the surpluses." "We should talk about A-growth," he said as an invitation to reflect on our lifestyle, including on the display of superfluous and excessive enrichment.
From his point of view, "we live phagotized by the economy of accumulation that leads to frustration and wanting what we do not have and do not need", which, he says, leads to states of unhappiness. "We have detected an increase in suicides in France in children," he added, to later refer to the granting by banks of consumer loans to people without salary and assets, as happened in the United States at the beginning of the world economic crisis . For Professor Latouche, “happy people don't usually consume”.
His numbers as an economist assure that they are right: every year there are more inhabitants on the planet while resources decrease, without forgetting that consuming means producing waste and that the environmental impact of a Spaniard is equivalent to 2.2 hectares, and that each year 15 million hectares of forest "essential for life" are consumed. "And if we live at this rate it is because Africa allows it," he stressed. For Professor Latouche, any type of shortage, food or oil, will lead to the poverty of the majority and the greater enrichment of the minorities represented in the large oil or agri-food companies.
Work less and produce smart. Crossed by his detractors as naive, he postulated to work less and distribute the job, but to work less to live and cultivate life more, he insisted. From a project that he described as "eco-socialist", in addition to consuming less, society should consume better, for which he proposed to produce near where they live and in an ecological way to avoid that up to 4,000 trucks circulate through any border post between Spain and France a week "with Andalusian tomatoes crossed with Dutch tomatoes." He ended with a praise of the stoicism represented in Spain by Seneca: "Happiness is not obtained if we cannot limit our desires and needs."