... carried a piece by Dan O'Neill recently on a post-growth economy in France.
I’ve recently returned from France’s first high-level “beyond growth” event, entitled An Innovative Society for the 21st Century. The conference, which included five separate sessions for the 250 or so attendees, was officially sponsored by François Hollande, President of the French Republic. It is one of only a handful of events that has received official government support for the topic of building a post-growth economy. The event was organised by IDDRI, the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, and was held in one of the historic buildings of the French National Assembly.
A number of politicians spoke at the event, including Claude Bartolone, the President of the National Assembly, who gave the opening address. Mr. Bartolone was more to the point than I was expecting and seemed to accept the end of the era of economic growth in France. He was careful to say that low growth does not mean an end to progress, and that the “social economy” could provide answers to the problems that we face. He made the particularly strong statement that “we can accept a 4 percent deficit, but we cannot accept 4 degrees of global warming”. To close, he said that “we must invent the world we want, starting now”.
It ends like this:
Although the conference was high on rhetoric and low on solutions at times, I still believe it was a success. For the first time, politicians and researchers were discussing the possibility of a post-growth economy in the halls of the French National Assembly — no small achievement. It was clear from who was present, however, that the idea of a prosperous non-growing economy still resonates more with the left than the right. Moreover, it seemed like there were quite a few former left-wing parliamentarians offering their support. A more cynical person might question whether they would still do so if returned to power!
Umm! It'll all be just fine so long as foreigners keep buying French debt which seems sure to increase in a post-growth economy that glories in living beyond its current means. We are not much different. Best not think too much about our grandchildren's children. I wonder who they will find to buy our debt?