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Report: Beyond Growth, or Beyond Capitalism?

February 15, 2011 One Comment

Recent publications have revived interest in Herman Daly’s proposal for a Steady-State Economy. This report by IPRD Research Associate, ecological historian Dr. Richard Smith, argues, that the idea of a steady-state capitalism is based on untenable assumptions, starting with the assumption that growth is optional rather than built into capitalism.

Dr. Smith demonstrates that irresistible and relentless pressures for growth are functions of the day-to-day requirements of capitalist reproduction in a competitive market, incumbent upon all but a few businesses, and that such pressures would prevail in any conceivable capitalism. Secondly, he takes issue with Professor Daly’s thesis, which also underpins his SSE model, that capitalist efficiency and resource allocation is the best we can come up with.

This belief is misplaced and incompatible with an ecological economy, and therefore it undermines Daly’s own environmental goals. The report concludes that since capitalist growth cannot be stopped, or even slowed, and since the market-driven growth is driving us toward collapse, ecological economists should abandon the fantasy of a steady-state capitalism and get on with the project figuring out what a post–capitalist economic democracy could look like.

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Copyright 2010 - Institute for Policy Research & Development

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