A little-noticed movement with roots primarily in France, Spain and other parts of Europe may be one of the Renegade Consumer movement's strongest allies in the years to come.
The movement, which originated nearly a century ago and came into prominence in the 1970s, is known as La Décroissance − French that translates as “degrowth.” It represents a school of thought that, put simply, believes that world economies should de-grow − shrink − to create a more sane and sustainable future for all.*
The core of the décroissance movement is the magazine of that name — Journal La Décroissance — which can be found at the website www.laDecroissance.com. Unfortunately, the magazine and web site (and nearly all of the supporting and other links) are exclusively in French. AltaVista will do a decent job of translation, if you're used to reading things in Babelfishian (and/or have several years of rusty high-school French, as I do), but it looks as if one group or another is going to have to cross the linguistic barrier to move ahead. At the risk of seeming Francophobic (which I am not) and USAcentric (which I strive not to be) I'll point out that the magazine and movement have been around quite a while and are almost unknown outside of France and southern Europe. Maybe it's time to give the English-speaking world an easier entrée à la bagarre, eh, copains?
An arm of the movement, or perhaps an ally, is the Casseurs de [la] Pub — which translates as “breakers of advertising” or, I assume... AdBusters. There does not seem to be any formal linkage between the US AdBusters organization and this splinter of the décroissance movement, but there is undoubtedly some infoleakage one direction or the other. Interesting.
The reigning pundit of décroissance, Serge LaTouche, is an emeritus professor who more or less coined the term at a 2001 UNESCO conference but now partially disavows it, saying his intent was closer to “a-growth” in the sense of apolitical, atheist etc. — “not growth” or halting growth rather than de-growth. In any case, this notion is congruent with the distant Renegade aim of a slowed national and global economy, and is thus worth exploring.
Having only fumbled around the edges of décroissance writings, I am hesitant to say that it is truly a companion movement. I suspect it gets more deeply into specific politics than we do, and advocates strongly for egalitarian use of resources — something we are in tune with but which lies outside our apolitical and dogma-free stance.
A more general web site with material in several languages (primarily French, English and the southern Spanish dialect Catalan) can be found at www.degrowth.net. I invite all Renegades to look into the décroissance movement and its publications. Those of you who are more fluent in French and the other core languages are invited to post abstracts and summaries of articles and any commentary you see as useful to the Renegade movement, or a potential alliance.
In any case, it's worth keeping this movement on the Renegade radar.
* Being a word with an accented character in it, the site software won't permit it to be used for a title or index. Merde. If you don't wish to look like a barbarian, you can enter the accented e using Alt+0233 on Windows numeric keypads.