It is not easy to tackle the dogma of growth as it wants to question while the holding to the economic and social development. It is the ambiguity of the concept of sustainable development, appeared in 1987 on the international scene through the United Nations Brundtland report. If you quote forever the definition of sustainable development listed in the report as "development mode" that meets the needs of the present without compromising the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs, going willingly ignored the fact that this same report dares the large gap in stating that "what we need is a new era of growth"", vigorous growth and at the same time, socially and environmentally sustainable." How indeed "invent" this new era, while the growth, as it defines itself today, is based on the dogma of unlimited progress and the infinite expansion of our trade, at the risk of totally destabilize our global ecosystem and the human communities that inhabit it
The growth is like a hard drug which would have conditioned our vision of development posing as an absolute value of which depends on the comfort, the search of happiness and the fight against social inequalities (the "trickle down" anglo-saxon or even the famous "fruits of growth"); It must be said that the "économiciste" ideology has its roots in the advent of modern times in the West, which establish a clear separation between the purpose of human existence and the nature and unlimited reservoir of resources available to the human. Or to say in current terms and paraphrase the President Bush's father, the "way of life of Americans is not negotiable"...
It is also very difficult to rely on the concept of growth in a sustainable development perspective, when we know that the GDP that determines the growth rate measures the amount of economic activity, regardless of its quality: thus an environmental disaster or corporate scandals create activity and therefore growth! Some alternative indicators exist, such as the genuine progress index (Genuine Progress Indicator) in the United States, which measures the quality of economic growth: according to the latter, economic growth in the United States in 2004 would have been about 1, the Enron affair alone "creating" 1 billion of economic activity... But these indicators remain confidential and weigh nothing to the conventional analysis grids. The question then arises: would it not be better reject the notion of growth
Zero decreasing growth
Attempts to get "rid of growth" are not lacking: remembered the concept of "growth" zero in the 1970s in the wake of the report Meadows 1972, entitled "The growth stop!", and the oil shocks. If René Passet at this time insists on the need to "make the economy to human and environmental purposes", the American Herman Daly highlights the need to put an end to the ideological sway of growth, now the economic system of production and consumption in a stationary State, which does not continually create new needs artificial and destructive. If this theory has the merit of highlighting the ecological urgency, is it humanly satisfactory to consider our societies in a fixed manner, by imposing a form of conservatism somewhat daunting Steady economy was also criticized by the master to suggest Daly, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, brilliant Professor of Economics at Harvard mit developed in the 1970s the theory of the decay, movement which are similar in France of economists as Serge Latouche.
While many are those who refuse even to pronounce the word, it is not irrelevant to look at the theory of the decay of closer, because it raises critical questions on how to respond to the serious ecological and social threats facing global balances. In relying on the physical laws of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics (irreversible dissipation of energy), Georgescu-Roegen engaged in a radical redefinition of our economic model by putting down the illusion of an infinite reservoir of resources nature and source of unlimited energy. His eyes, the only viable solution to the ecological and social impasse today is to implement the decay, i.e. a new dynamic societal respond fairly to the needs of men while ensuring the sustainability of ecosystems. What Serge Latouche today called "friendly decay", through a return to localism, a frugal lifestyle and the abandonment of some consumption patterns for the benefit of non-material values such as spirituality or happiness.
Towards an "eco-economy."
Critics of the theories of decay are often vitriolic and sometimes a little simplistic: one can certainly see an avatar of hyperdéveloppées societies, a speech of rich who would impose their own wishes against all those legitimately seeking material progress; but the decline poses the right questions, without compromise: what are our real needs of consumption and material comfort How to articulate our economic exchanges with the ecological and social urgency How to get the "more", that represents the dogma of growth, to "better", which assumes an alternative design of the aims of the existence
The risk of the authoritarian scenario
The major criticism that can be send to decay focuses on political risk: in addition to the difficulty there is to "sell" the idea of decay, because it based on unconscious way to feelings of loss, withdrawal, lack, non-épanouissement, flat the threat of an authoritarian scenario. According to the followers of the decay, this would be the only possible outcome to the ecological and social challenges. But sustainable development is a democratic bet on the future which could provide an answer, but it is more than urgent to move from the speech acts, otherwise the concept will be a passing fad and remain us more than to turn to hypothetical technology solutions.
Pass the speech acts means giving growth a novel form, which means put the nature in the heart of the economy, and the economy at the service of human: one cannot conceive of "sustainable growth" that if we fully back our production and consumption patterns, which implies profound changes of behaviour of all actorscompanies, individuals, public authorities. Promising tracks already exist: among these, the economy of the feature () aims to make compatible business wealth creation and a drastic reduction in levies in raw materials, and energy: the crossing of an economy of production, heavy negative externalities, a "service economy" is undoubtedly a way forward, that reconciles General interest and special interests, and brings individuals and public authorities to rethink their roles within the economic circuit.
More generally, it would be to move towards a "eco-economy" that can respond to the challenges of unemployment and social misery, while breaking with this unlimited production and operating logic is more "sustainable". May need to find a new vocabulary; in any case if today seriously speak of "sustainable growth", it is necessary to make all the changes needed