South Africa: People First - Getting to the Root of Degrowth in South Africa - Part Two

opinion

What would degrowth in South Africa look like? What do South African 'degrowthers' -- or even those who do not identify themselves thus, but agree with the movement's policies -- want?

This is Part Two in a two-part series. Part One can be read here.

John F Kennedy's environmental adviser, the economist Kenneth Boulding, once quipped that "anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist".

Boulding saw the slow rise of consumerism during his early childhood in England and when he moved to America, he witnessed first-hand how manufacturers and advertisers constantly pushed the envelope to get people to buy and consume more stuff every day.

Belief in the Keynesian concept of continued population growth and productivity was unshakeable.

Boulding's contemporary, the Austrian Joseph Schumpeter, would later develop a theory on production known as "creative destruction" -- the tendency for new innovations to rapidly replace old ones and render them obsolete.

American firms leveraged America's post-World War II global dominance to export GDP obsession, rapid innovation, hyper-consumerism, privatisation, supermarketisation, Macdonaldisation and other free-market policies to the rest of the world.

As free-market GDP growth became the dominant orthodoxy...

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