The concept of economic growth is at the center of capitalist theoretical and practical economics. He describes the movement of the real economy. When you look at them, it becomes obvious that everything that is economically important becomes more comprehensive, bigger and more efficient in the course of time, be it the production facilities, the product output, the corporations or even the extraction of material resources. This movement began with industrialization. The phase shift between rising and stagnant growth has not yet led to the replacement of growth as a fundamental feature of the capitalist economy and its transformation into a post-growth economy. The reason lies in the fact that growth is a compelling element of the existing economy, and therefore a forceful force. It would take huge forces to overcome it. Anyone who is involved in the project of a post-growth company can tell enough about it.
The growth principle also applies to humans. This happens in two ways. On the one hand, this happens in the field of production. Even if a person applies for a job, she sees herself in a competitive situation; she is surrounded by many others who also apply. Everyone knows that they have to be better than the others to get the job. The CV must provide information about whether and how the applicant has developed as a personality and, in particular, as a potential employee. Development means here: training, further education, good certificates for previous professional activities, exact profile for the vacancy, etc. In short, in principle, all applicants must be better than the others. You have to identify yourself with personal growth. Even those who are awarded the job, is obliged to be better than good, so continue to grow according to the needs of the employer.
On the other hand, the growth principle works not only within, but also outside the sphere of production, namely, where people consume. There, they encounter an overabundance of goods. One might think that this would give the possibility that the range of goods could, reasoned, be used to buy the right things and actually consume them. This is, however, an economy-related ideology. Because if all people actually behave like that, the production companies could no longer grow, they would have to produce according to demand and not growth-oriented. The ideology breaks like a glass falling on the stone floor. Because the advertising does nothing else, as the consumer sometimes whispering, sometimes hammering to make it clear that they should consume more and more.
Consumption means use or consumption of consumable goods. This happens first at the level of the reproduction of life. In our highly developed societies, this also includes education, cultural offerings, etc. that one may need; This may be called extended reproductive consumption. But each and everyone will confirm that they often and much and more – and thus sometimes really unreasonable – buy. The purchased goods heaps tend to exceed consumer needs and consumption. Nevertheless, they are consumed to a high and increasing degree. Consumption takes on a form that can be described as consumerist consumption. The doubling in this designation should clarify the following: Never in human history has consumption taken such a high significance in the life of the consumer, as is the case today.
Growth in consumerism
As production grows, it spits out new and more and more goods. These must be consumed so that the resulting exchange value can be invested in production and distributed generously to the owners of the capital. How beautiful and how sweet the goods come along: they are members of a forced bond. And they continue to give the coercion to the consumers. This can be seen, for example, in clothing sales. Many garments become obsolete by the dictates of the fashions after two or three times use; they are thrown away after a short time and replaced. This fuels the production, which has a high impact on workers in Southeast Asia, for example. Another example is the medicalization of the care of the elderly. The research aims, among other things, at extending human life. Those who live longer consume more medical products. Or: In times when Western and Eastern potentates wage wars, plan or threaten wars, the (absurd) demand and production of weapons increases. They too are goods that are finally consumed and consumed. Finally, it should be recalled that the growth compulsion in production as well as in consumption presupposes a moderate exploitation of natural resources. It has now progressed so far that the consequences of it are felt in this hot summer for all.
We are watching a worldwide competition today. It is fought by those who cling to the fundamentals of existing societies and thus to the growth principle and those who want to overcome them. These outline pictures of a post-growth society. On the one hand, they do this by examining which alternatives to the capitalist growth economy are conceivable. They think about possible futures. And on the other hand, they practically try out the pictures: they experiment with the pictures by giving them a practical shape in everyday life, in economic regulations, in the education of children and adults. These processes are not or hardly in the traditional political structures. They are characterized by autonomy and networking among themselves. This creates a rich diversity. Here I would just like to name a few principles that guide the many practical projects.
- It can be seen across the board that societal islands are emerging that are adopting the growth principle. They question the capitalist economy as a whole.
- It is no longer the capitalist pursuit of profit that is the guiding principle of economic activity, but the common good. To put it simply: All people should be fine without exception. This affects nutrition, housing, education, etc.
- For this purpose, production and consumption are subjected to the consistent application of sustainable principles.
- Wherever growth falls, so do large parts of the competition. In their place, more and more human cooperation and solidarity occur.
It goes without saying that such principles are not introduced by formalistic decisions. Rather, they must be tested, struggled for – in a capitalistic environment that is bound to be resistant. This resistance is opposed to independent learning of individuals and groups.