Degrowth is the unconventional post-Brexit future the UK wants


Because the Brexit negotiations wrap up and Theresa Could’s deal is lambasted by Remainers and Leavers alike, it’s nonetheless removed from clear what the longer term holds for the UK. On March 29 2019, it is because of depart the European Union.

Brexit is the primary time a member state has voted to withdraw from the EU and it has induced a geopolitical earthquake, unleashing uncertainty within the UK and overseas. We don’t know what the affect on the UK will likely be when (and if) it truly leaves the EU. If it does so on poor phrases, or by way of the nonetheless doable “no deal” eventuality, there are a wealth of devastating projections which can materialise.

The Red Tea Detox

The one factor that we might be positive of is that Brexit represents a second of giant social, political and financial rupture. Nevertheless, historical past tells us that such moments are additionally moments of alternative for radical departure from the established order.

Rupture as alternative

Let’s be frank, Brexit isn’t a progressive endeavour. It threatens social and financial turmoil through which probably the most susceptible in society will – as at all times – be the toughest hit. Leaving the EU may jeopardise advantages to UK residents within the type of employees’ rights, environmental protections and meals requirements. The political local weather outdoors of the EU additionally provides an more and more undesirable group of potential allies and merchants, dominated by the rise of the far-right in North and South America.

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Alternatively, uncritical adoration of the EU overlooks the fact of what the Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis has described as “a regressive set of vile establishments”. It can’t be denied: the EU is a big and brutal drive for neoliberalism.

From this important stance on the EU, I nonetheless voted Stay within the referendum. I believed then – and nonetheless imagine now – that regressive forces will revenue from the UK’s exit and that the susceptible will endure. So, as we strategy the March deadline, if the UK does certainly crash out of the EU, the left must be ready with visions of different futures, and be able to battle for them.

The expansion query

The realities of a post-Brexit UK seem bleak, actually within the quick time period. However separation opens the door for options to the dominance of free-market fundamentalism. We may transfer from a society centred round financialised capital and the Metropolis of London, to at least one that promotes social and environmental justice within the UK and internationally.

Experiences declare that Brexit will imply decrease ranges of financial progress for the UK. For politicians it is a horrifying prospect. However falling progress needn’t be feared, if it’s built-in inside a broader transformation of society.

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The degrowth motion rising amongst lecturers and activists argues that the logic of infinite progress is driving ecosystem collapse and local weather breakdown. As said within the newest IPCC report, we now have solely 12 years to radically restructure society to cap international temperature at 1.5 levels Celsius above pre-industrial ranges. If we fail, we’ll face catastrophic local weather impacts.

Development fanaticism centred within the Metropolis of London sidelines the remainder of the UK, and damages the planet.
Andy Rain/EPA.

Degrowth as a radical different

Degrowth argues that the rich and closely polluting international locations of the worldwide north – such because the UK – should bear a part of managed and socially equitable financial contraction. That is essential to downscale wealthy economies to inside secure ecological limits.

The necessity for countless financial progress pushes us to provide extra, devour extra and make extra revenue. It has left our society overworked, over-stressed and stricken by excessive ranges of inequality.

These dire social circumstances have been blamed for the Brexit vote itself and limitless progress additionally fuels local weather breakdown, with the UK as a giant contributor to international carbon emissions.

Merely, our slavish devotion to progress is making us depressing and destroying the planet. Degrowth may liberate us by arguing that extra progress isn’t the answer, however the issue. We are able to and should stay higher with much less, shared extra pretty.

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From progress to wellbeing

Degrowth would rid our society of pointless manufacturing and consumption. Lets say goodbye to “bullshit jobs” – the pointless make-work that retains employees confused with none apparent worth to society past enriching company elites. Manufacturing and consumption may very well be organised in service of social and environmental well-being somewhat than revenue.

This degrowth transition may very well be pursued via concepts which confront the relentless treadmill of labor, equivalent to a four-day week. Poverty and inequality may very well be tackled by implementing a common primary revenue and a most revenue. A basic decentralisation of the UK’s political and financial panorama may finish London’s dominance by distributing extra democratic autonomy to the areas.

Degrowth thus acknowledges that liberating society from the expansion crucial isn’t solely an ecological necessity, but in addition loosens the grip of the capitalist wage-labour market. This frees individuals to dedicate extra of their lives to the issues that basically matter to them.

Is degrowth a probable future for the UK after Brexit? Actually not within the quick time period. However, as Brexit and local weather breakdown destabilise our politics, nothing a lot is for certain. Solely that we have to be ready with visions of a greater future, and be able to battle for them.


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