For Full Enjoyment, Not Full Employment!

At Baker Beach on a cross-Presidio walk the day after Xmas.

Happy new year friends. It’s been a good long while since I blogged. I just posted before this the review essay I wrote about two anarchist books that was originally published at The Fabulist. Having written three such essays for my pal Josh Wilson over there, I haven’t had much time for this blog. A bigger reason of course is that I’ve just hit 81 chapters and 270,000 words on my new novel, and I’m still not done! Sheesh! It’s been a year of pretty diligent writing, so that is gratifying. Like most writers, I go back and forth between thinking I’ve got something pretty good going and the vertiginous sensation that it’s a huge pile of crap and I’ve wasted a year writing an irredeemably long shaggy dog story that suffers from too many subplots and way too many characters. I guess you’ll all get a chance to cast judgment eventually!

I write this as the Republicans continue to demonstrate their fealty to … what exactly? In this case, they don’t seem to be able to wield power, which I thought was the whole point of their growing disdain for elections and majorities. Now the teensy minority of the demonstrably insane are being allowed to tyrannize the rest of their own party, not to mention the rest of congress—I never thought I’d say this, but this is a moment when we could use Willie Brown! He pulled off an unprecedented maneuver, gaining support from a few Republicans to keep him in the California Assembly Speaker’s chair when the Democrats had narrowly lost their majority back in 1994. I find it hard to believe that there aren’t at least 10 to 20 Republicans in Congress who want no part of the Boebert/Gaetz Circus, who would see their interest in cutting a deal with Democrats to ensure a functioning institution for the next two years. Not that I expect anything from any of these people, either Repubs or Dems. It’s all basically a club of the rich in service of the ultra-rich (with a few obvious exceptions to make it seem legit). And therefore, beyond the fascinating spectacle, which is more like sports than politics, I don’t really give a shit what they do. Nothing good will come of any of it, regardless.

Writing my novel about catastrophic weather and earthquakes and floods—and then parts of the neighborhood got flooded last week! Over 10 inches of rain in San Francisco, the most since 1871! And more to come. Weird to be writing detailed descriptions that weeks later come to life! So it goes.

Mission Creek roared back to life during the deluge on Dec. 30-31, 2022. I called this “Lake Office Supplies” after the defunct store whose parking lot we’re looking at near the corner of 14th and Harrison.

A few days later it was pretty well cleaned up.

The alley between Rainbow Grocery and the office supplies place was under water, and of course Rainbow had to close due to flooding earlier this same morning.

Back to “normal” a few days later.

This essay, though, is about a few books I just read that go considerably beyond the tired repetition of old political dogma, at least in part. All three are published by Verso, who I have a bad attitude about from their poor treatment of Bad Attitude: The Processed World Anthology 32 years ago! But they do publish a lot of good books nowadays!

Before the pandemic Kate Soper wrote her book Post-Growth Living: For an Alternative Hedonism (2020); with the pandemic underway three degrowth proponents, Mathias Schmelzer, Andrea Vetter, and Aaron Vansintjan published The Future is DeGrowth: A Guide to a World Beyond Capitalism (2022); similarly, lefty geography professor Matthew Huber penned his useful Climate Change as Class War: Building Socialism on a Warming Planet (2022) during the pandemic. In interesting ways these books are in conversation with each other—perhaps that’s why they all issued from Verso.

The pitch for a hedonic approach to daily life at the heart of Kate Soper’s book immediately appealed to me (the title of this blog, an old slogan from the 1980s, has been a watchword for me ever since). She lays it out right at the beginning: “We need, in short, to challenge the presumption that the work-dominated, stressed-out, time-scarce and materially encumbered affluence of today is advancing human well-being rather than being detrimental to it.” (p. 2) Elsewhere she sensibly reminds us of a dimension systematically ignored by most of these discussions: “whenever we speak of the contemporary consumer’s pleasure, we should also speak of displeasure and of delights we do not enjoy. That side of the hedonist account has received scant representation, not least some of the ‘other pleasures’ we are presently going without.”

Sadly, her description of these other pleasures fell short for me, perhaps because I’ve made a similar argument for years. One of her most detailed examples involved the creation of cycle paths that lead to more people bicycling and enjoying more of their physical and mental lives as a result; a perfectly good example but it being so familiar to me it felt quite inadequate and even banal. Elsewhere she gestures to the pleasures of enjoying free time, engaging with work in deeper and more pleasurable ways, slowing down to enjoy cooking, reading, walking, etc.–all perfectly reasonable.

She doesn’t really address the problem that the vast majority of people in the so-called “developed world” are not enjoying the affluence she refers to, belying her own class position. People working two or three jobs are rarely in any position to cut their rent by 1/3 or stop car payments, or [fill in the blank]—and then take time to enjoy gardening or bicycling instead. By extension, a great number of the intellectuals and activists that have embraced a degrowth agenda, centering the critique of consumption, affluence, and profligate and wasteful use of resources, have shown a frustrating inability or refusal to examine the role of class in the reproduction and maintenance of all the problems they detail. Instead, we have Soper arguing,

“…workers as consumers are collusive in the reproduction of the capitalist economy – an issue on which much of the left has so far been extremely evasive. Furthermore, however critical they may be of capitalism in other respects, socialists are still much too ready to subscribe to conventional views on the ‘good life’ and what constitutes a ‘high’ standard of living.” (p. 30)

Well, yes to the problem of conventional attitudes among leftists, but workers are only occasionally consumerist for its own sake. The vast majority are bound to buy the things they buy, to own cars, to shop at big chains, etc., by the logic of their lives, a logic over which few have any obvious control. As Matthew Huber correctly asserts, “production constrains consumption choices,” and that “when we choose commodities, we can only choose those that are profitable to produce in the first place.” Towards the end of her book, Soper removes any lingering doubt about her antipathy to working class politics as we know them:

“But it makes little sense to invoke the working class as the sole possible agent of opposition to the existing economic order, or to insist on the shop floor as the only potentially effective site of eco-socialist agitation. If anything, working-class people have been rather unlikely to commit to any greening of the economy (often by reason of their dependency on jobs in the aerospace, automobile, defence and other less than eco-friendly industries). Labour militancy and trade union activity have, by and large, become confined to the protection of income and employees’ rights within the existing structures of globalised capital rather than setting out to transform the consumerist dynamic of affluent cultures.

… In this context, any left-wing project that continues to view worker militancy at the point of production as the key to change, or whose cultural loyalties are too exclusively directed to the working-class, is likely to seem increasingly irrelevant to those who otherwise agree about the need to counter the dominance of unregulated corporate capitalism. At the very least, we need to qualify the Marxist notion of workers as a ‘universal class’ by invoking a more general interest that may well at times conflict with the immediate aims and aspirations and special interests of organised labour…” (p. 173 and 174)

To be sure, she is almost the exact target of Huber’s wrath in his predictable left-wing repudiation of the politics of degrowth. In some ways I was tickled by his assault on her eminently middle-class focus on consumerism and agree with plenty of his points. Soper comes right out and says what seems obvious to many people on the anarchist and progressive left: “Nor, surely, can we any longer expect meaningful opposition to the status quo to be initiated by a concerted proletarian movement.” (p. 34) Huber, for his part, takes the opposite position throughout his well-argued book, that the working class is the only social force with the structural power to confront the climate crisis. But he ends up sounding like a leftist yearning for the middle of the 20th century with its unambiguous working class toiling in factories, increasingly conscious of itself as a collective political and historical agent. We might argue about whether or not that is an accurate characterization of the working class at any time in the 20th century. But for Huber (and, by the way, for anarchist Tom Wetzel, author of Overcoming Capitalism reviewed in the previous post), the politics of degrowth can never win over a working class whose experience of daily life is not one of wealth and comfort, but deprivation and precarity.

…a politics of “less” and “limits” has no resonance for the vast majority of people already living precarious and insecure working-class lives. For the working class, steeped as it is in basic material deprivation, we need to assert a politics of more that explains how much we have to gain from a climate program. (p. 38)

This echoes my own argument of many years, again implied in the title of this post, that we won’t get far without promising a much better life to anyone we’re inviting to participate in revolutionary transformation. After years of therapy I decided that an untrammeled embrace of more wasn’t a particularly healthy approach to anything, and that life is better when I embraced the idea of enough. And that is the window through which the degrowth argument flows. As argued in The Future of DeGrowth:

…scarcity, as well as the social hierarchies that limit autonomy and self-determination, are imposed by a capitalist system of production. As a corollary, degrowth is not about imposing limits on society according to natural scarcity, but about regaining autonomy to collectively create public abundance, and also deliberate and set limits. And this – collectively setting limits – is a key prerequisite for the formation of autonomous, democratic governance… Degrowth’s ecological materialism enables a critical debate about the biophysical scale and form of an emancipatory and post-capitalist society. (p. 129 and 132)

Matthew Huber is very good at laying out the basic dynamics of the capitalist economy, driven as it is by the compulsion to increase relative surplus value in every moment. The Degrowth authors concur and emphasize a similarly structural argument against the idea of individual capitalist “greed” being the reason for endless capitalist modernization and growth. The system requires constant production of surplus value and that requires endless expansion. What this also means is that there is a constant push to cheapen the cost of everything. Few in our culture even question this overarching sensibility—hell, Walmart and its ilk even cater to it by endlessly promising the lowest prices possible.

“At its core, neoliberal politics is structured through a political ontology of cost. By ontology, I truly mean a way of being that is obsessed with tracking, isolating, and most importantly cutting monetary costs. Although the market and competition are constructed as the best mechanism to achieve cost-reduction, these are merely the means to the ends of cost-cutting.” (p. 135)

More important even than the obsession with money and costs is the underlying fact that climate change and ecological breakdown are a product of industrial production under capitalism, especially now in the so-called post-industrial era. Huber says “the entire human relationship to the natural world is, at its core, a relationship of production—how we produce the food, energy, housing, and other basics of life.” (p. 3) Somehow this gets elided by advocates of voluntary simplicity or critics who put consumerism at the center of their concerns.

Huber quotes the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to debunk the stupid arguments laying responsibility for climate change on individual behavior, or our personal carbon footprint. Turns out, even if you add transportation, the “residential sector” (i.e. consumers) only account for 15% of total emissions. Iron, steel, and cement produce 44% of all CO2 emissions, while other intensive emitters are chemicals, plastics, fertilizers, pulp and paper, aluminum, food processing, and textiles. All these industries are sites of surplus value creation and exploitation or they would stop existing. When you buy products from them long after the production has taken place, it does not make you responsible for the decisions of billionaires to operate these industries the way they do.

The recently restored Quartermaster Reach at the Presidio, part of the watershed restoration running from El Polín Spring to Crissy Lagoon.

Huber develops his critique of the professional class (which isn’t really a class so much as a well-paid fraction of the working population) because according to his analysis, it’s this strata who have dominated climate politics. Long disassociated from a class perspective or even one that centers work and production, this strata, mostly well educated, focuses on “a process of learning, then knowing, then acting.” (p. 30) And most climate activists have foundered on the confusion that ensues when they “explain the facts” and find that it changes nothing. Huber is not deluded.

“Capital, and its associated ideologies, are blocking the changes needed. A clear barrier is simply an ideology of private property… This respect for property legally allows private capitalists to continue to extract fossil fuel and sell it for a profit. As of this writing, governments still approve thousands of fossil fuel extractive projects all over the world.” (p. 7)

An interesting contribution to the climate discussion handily presented in Huber’s book is the role of nitrogen fertilizer (produced with natural gas) in cheapening food production, thereby facilitating a broad cheapening of the cost of reproducing labor, and contributing to the dramatic decline in agricultural employment (with greenhouse gas emissions being the ‘price’). It has also produced vast dead zones where rivers draining agricultural basins reach the sea. Read the book to get the full argument, but it’s a fascinating reinforcement of the idea that production shapes the world we face as consumers, severely limiting our choices by what happens upstream.

On class divisions, he quotes a Brookings Institution study showing that 44 percent of the US labor force ages 18-64 are “low-wage” workers. These nearly 53 million people make a little over ten bucks an hour and less than $20,000 a year. That’s a lot of working poverty when juxtaposed to the cost of housing, medical care, and food these days. Repeatedly, Huber re-emphasizes his framing of the climate crisis, a crisis of human relationships to each other and to nature:

… the lack of control over the basics of life (food, energy, land, housing, etc.) defines working-class life (what I call proletarian ecology). (p. 21) … we can define working-class life under capitalism as alienation from and lack of control over the ecological conditions of existence. (p. 190)

I agree with most of Huber’s framing. But when it comes to his “program,” we part company dramatically. But before I talk about his enthusiasm for a (non-existent) rank-and-file campaign among electrical workers in the (incredibly conservative) IBEW union, let me talk more about the most interesting of these three books.

The three authors of The Future of DeGrowth are clearly immersed in the rapidly expanding global conversation about degrowth politics. Huber’s criticisms, which have been repeated by many pundits across the ideological spectrum are addressed quite well in this book. They start out by carving out a degrowth critique of the Green New Deal that is in part centered on the rejection of the preponderance of stupid work dominating our lives:

In contrast to most Green New Deals, degrowth formulates active policies to achieve a selective downscaling and de-accumulation of those economic activities that cannot be made sustainable, contribute little use values, or are superfluous consumption – and these include things like advertising, planned obsolescence, ‘bullshit jobs’, private planes, or fossil fuel and defence industries… Degrowth thus aims at ‘escaping from the economy’, which importantly also includes a critique of economics – of the perspectives, methods, and basic assumptions of the discipline claiming to explain economic activities. (p. 9 and 19)

This is the kind of direct assault on the logic of economics and the misery of bullshit jobs that is missing from Huber, from Democratic Socialist thinking, even from an anarcho-syndicalist like the aforementioned Wetzel. When I wrote Nowtopia 15 years ago, I was trying to incorporate these sensibilities into what I identified then as an exodus from both the economy and the misery of wage-labor. Some years later I was invited to contribute a synopsis of the Nowtopia thesis to Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era (2015: Routledge), which eight years ago was the first attempt to bring together the many threads that comprise this new constellation of thought. Now, very flattering to me, the term ‘nowtopia’ has become a noun referring to all sorts of projects, from a festival that took the name at Christiania in Copenhagen in 2018, to a whole section of this book “The Future of DeGrowth.”

Many activists in the degrowth movement are engaged with one or more of these practices and are involved in collective nowtopias. While these are often discussed through the lens of individual renunciation and self-sacrifice when degrowth is reported on in the mainstream media, many of these projects are fundamentally oriented towards needs, based on a post-scarcity logic, and strive for collective organizing and large-scale political change… What clearly distinguishes nowtopias, however, is how they understand what constitutes political activity…more revolutionary nowtopias [such as the ZAD in northern France, Rojava in northern Syria, or the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico] can be seen as ‘territories in resistance’ which actively seek to model new forms of democratic government that are in opposition to a growth-based, highly centralized, hierarchical, and unecological social structure.

It is exciting and gratifying to have the neologism take on a life of its own. My own definition in 2008 was rather more prosaic, having to do with projects often of a rather small scale that involved people taking their time and technological know-how out of the market, and engaging in practical projects that were immediately and directly satisfying, both personally and socially. But in the fifteen years since then, the concept has grown into something more substantial and international and that can only be good.

The authors of this new Degrowth volume take on most of the arguments made by the socialist left, including the interesting question of the role of the state. For Huber, following socialist writers like Christian Parenti, the state is, or should be, the target of working class activism. In his earlier identification of the rather limited number of industries and businesses (and therefore the rather few people actually overwhelmingly responsible for the climate crisis), he was calling for a seizure of these people’s power and assets. Presumably once the state has nationalized these industries it could begin a deliberate de-carbonizing effort that the demands of profitability block under private ownership. Here is Huber:

if we wish to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, we cannot ignore state power … and building a working-class majoritarian politics is the necessary, if difficult, route to taking that state power. In explaining his concept of ecological Leninism, Andreas Malm correctly observes, “It is incredibly difficult to see how anything other than state power could accomplish the transition required, given that it will be necessary to exert coercive authority against those who want to maintain the status quo.” (p. 201)

The DeGrowth authors are coming from a more anarchist-leaning perspective, but here’s how they address the same question:

Many socialists argue for taking over the state first, before letting it wither away, while anarchists argue the needed changes are impossible without the dissolution of the state. Relying on the state may seem expedient at first in order to bring about macro-level changes, but this has its limitation in that the state itself reproduces hierarchy, power structures, and violence. Nevertheless, the scale of action needed requires a powerful actor, and the state currently remains the dominant actor on the world stage, being one of the key loci of struggle for climate justice, labour, feminist, and decolonial movements alike. (p. 265)

As I read these two books I kept finding areas of commonality that made me realize that there is far less separation than appears at first sight. Huber asserts that a “proletarian ecology would seek to extricate working-class needs from the market itself through a program based on decommodification,” something I’ve been arguing as long as I can remember. Our DeGrowthers are not arguing for a reduction in living standards even if that’s the claim of their critics. In this quote, they sound quite the same as Huber:

…to withdraw from the market, or decommodify, the supply of goods and services necessary for a good life for all. It is therefore demanded that basic goods and services such as housing, food, water, energy, local transport, and communication, education, and health be made available to all regardless of the current rate of economic growth or individual income. This should take place largely beyond the market, for example, in the form of public access for all, municipal cooperatives, or through commoning. (p. 225)

According to Huber, even DSA is pushing to “decommodify survival,” “guaranteeing living wages, healthcare, childcare, housing, food, water, energy, public transit, a healthy environment, and other necessities for all.” Is there a New New Left taking shape here? One that is informed by the robust debates being carried out in degrowth circles? It seems like there could be, but Huber, and I suspect lots of people who hold on to Old Left models of state socialism and its derivatives, remain committed to the institutions that for many of us are already thoroughly discredited. Huber spends a fair amount of time building on his critical view of the “professional class” (that’s he’s part of, ironically) by attacking various types of decentralized, anarchistic political forms that became very influential on the left in the post-60s era, all the way to the present. He argues that this broad rejection of unions, the state, even nuclear power (!), had the effect of disempowering the working class, the only force that could stand up to the ruling class’s massive counterattack and seizure of wealth during the past half century.

But of course that ignores all the ways that workers and their unions were full-throated participants in their own undoing. To cite only a few examples: in San Francisco the ILWU signed the Mechanization & Modernization Agreement in 1960 that contributed to the accelerated unraveling of San Francisco manufacturing and the demise of the once-mighty Port of San Francisco. The longshoremen got lucrative wage deals but saw working class power developed over a quarter century steadily weaken. Building Trades Unions in San Francisco were ardent supporters of the idiotic and finally blocked plans to crisscross the city with elevated freeways. Another example is the role of the United Food and Commercial Workers in undercutting the 1985-86 Local P-9 meatpackers strike against wage cuts in Hormel, Minnesota. There are countless examples of unions working against the interests of the working class more broadly, all too often even against the interests of their own members.

The old Santa Fe Railroad pier at night from the back of the Bay View Boat Club, looking north towards Pier 50 and downtown behind it.

Matthew Huber argues for a climate strategy centered on electrical sector workers. The largest union in that sector, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, is an old AFL craft union from the 19th century. Huber himself cites a 2014 example where IBEW officials and members occupied a federal building in Pittsburgh PA against Obama’s meager Clean Power Plan to address climate change, and then sued the administration the following year. The United Electrical Workers (UE) is at least an old communist union, like the ILWU, but after intense Cold War repression they lost out to the IBEW over the years. IBEW Local 1245 represents more than 12,000 PG&E workers, but when PG&E declared bankruptcy in 2019 in the face of multi-billion dollar losses and criminal negligence convictions for the San Bruno pipeline explosion, the incineration of Paradise, CA, and multiple other wildfires started by their century-old transmission lines, the IBEW business manager declared that IBEW union workers would “staunchly oppose any sale, break-up, municipalization or change of ownership at PG&E.” This at a time when twenty California mayors, including those of Sacramento, Oakland, Berkeley, Davis and others wanted to see PG&E turned into a publicly owned cooperative. As journalist Katherine Blunt concludes in her excellent book California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric—and What It Means for America’s Power Grid:

The idea to transform PG&E imagined a very different sort of cooperative, one with a huge service territory and a dense base of customers who would together own it. Its shareholders would be bought out through the bankruptcy process, their need for dividends eliminated. It would be free to set its own rates… Ultimately, [Governor] Newsom chose the status quo. He struck a deal with the company to support its bankruptcy plan—if it used shareholder funding to reduce its debt load, held off on paying dividends for a few years, and submitted to more stringent regulatory oversight that could, in extreme circumstances, put a state takeover back on the table… Wall Street ownership would endure. (p.237-240)

For Huber to argue that the IBEW, transformed at some point by a (hopefully, forthcoming) rank-and-file movement, is the best entity to take on the powers that be with regard to the fossil fuel economy seems no less farfetched than imagining that Extinction Rebellion or the Sunrise Movement are going to successfully occupy Wall Street and bring down the finance capital that sustains the whole mess. I understand the wistful hope for a section of the organized working class to lead us to a post-carbon future. But Huber loses me with his selection of this, one of the most moribund and status-quo oriented unions around. It gets worse when he brings up nuclear power, that strange and toxic way of boiling water that so many people are returning to by waving away all the known unsolved problems with security, waste, and mining, to name but a few. Here’s Huber’s take on it:

… while most people debate nuclear versus other energy sources on the merits of its cost or its environmental safety, we might also ask which energy forms contain bases of working-class power? On this front, nuclear is clearly a winner. The Utility Workers of America, for example, are champions of nuclear as key to climate solutions… The director of renewable energy for the Utility Workers Union of America said: “The clean tech industry is incredibly anti-union … It’s a lot of transient work, work that is marginal, precarious and very difficult to be able to organize.” (p. 251-252)

As Harry Shearer likes to chant each week on his indispensable Le Show, “clean, safe, too cheap to meter… cheap, clean, too safe to meter…” etc. First of all, nuclear power is easily the dumbest technology ever put to use to boil water. The vast toxic and radioactive residue of mining uranium, mostly on Native lands, is only the beginning. The dozens of accidents, Fukushima and Chernobyl only being the most well known; the impossibility of building nuclear reactors without massive public guarantees (and endless rate hikes); the security state employed to protect big centralized reactors and to expand the nuclear arsenal which is the real reason for civilian nukes–well don’t get me started. It’s an absurd argument that we need nuclear, period! For Huber to include his union friend’s whining about how hard it is to organize clean tech workers is even more incredible. Transient, marginal, precarious… doesn’t that describe the vast majority of the planet’s actual working class? That working class that Huber has been promoting as the agent of change? Or is he just an Old Left guy who wants a big state that runs things “for the workers”? Because it sure sounds that way.

He correctly reiterates towards the end of his book that class struggle is the motor of history. But he construes class struggle in a way that has been superceded by the autonomist workers of Italy’s car factories back in the 1960s, and built on during successive waves of strikes and working class revolt that has taken place well outside the factory. Theorizing back then about the “social factory” they were able, with crucial contributions from Sylvia Federici and other radical feminists, that work had moved beyond the factory and was being diffused throughout everyone’s everyday lives. We are all working, all the time! And the unwaged care work carried out mostly by women remains the largest single subsidy to the ability of the capitalist class to generate relative surplus value. Somehow Huber misses this.

But the DeGrowth folks do not.

…degrowth aims at fundamentally transforming work – by phasing out unnecessary and destructive work, automating as much as possible those necessary activities that cannot be made empowering, making those activities that sustain social life as pleasurable as possible, and giving those that do the work autonomy in their workplaces, thus continually transferring economic activities to a logic beyond the imperatives of accumulation… In addition to the equitable redistribution of work, particularly in terms of gender, a central goal of shortening working hours is the achievement of ‘time prosperity’ and the expansion of free time, which can be used for activities beyond the market economy, for political self-determination, care, or for the hedonic enjoyment of a more relaxed existence beyond the treadmill of the ‘work and spend’ economy. (p. 232, 235)

Elsewhere they put at the center of the degrowth agenda democratic social processes to decide on what we do and how we do it. Fundamentally they are proposing a framework and asking questions that befit a robust anarcho-syndicalist approach to social revolution.

…economic decisions must be seen as political problems. This means putting the economy in the hands of people and involving more and more people in key decisions – such as the producers in a factory, the neighbors of a farm, the users of a community-owned power plant, or the care recipients in retirement homes deciding what is produced, how to relate to the environment and other economic agents, which services are needed, and how work is organized. (p. 216)… The question degrowth puts at the center is: Which technolog[ies] should society use? And for what, by whom, how, and how much of it? And who decides? It is also a matter of opposing the myth of unstoppable and independent technological progress, the continuous increase of productivity, and the constant improvement of social productive forces (as it also prevails in large parts of the techno-futuristic left) and about offering a democratic alternative. (p. 229)

Ultimately the evolving politics of Degrowth seeks to guarantee public abundance, not a politics of less but a politics of enough for all. The authors are at times are quite self-critical, sounding notes not dissimilar to Huber’s criticisms. They’ve been around the debates in Europe long enough to know that degrowth proponents sometimes sound naive and unrealistic, focused on cultural change, especially in the realm of consumption and desire. But at the end, recognizing that degrowth itself is unlikely to become the movement that will change things by itself, they are hopeful that they’ve helped reshape the discussions percolating on the radical left. After reading these books, I can assure you that this endeavor has already had a major impact. None of these writers are delusional about how much work there is to do, but all of them help us to consider our lives beyond the narrow confines of employment. On to a life of genuinely full enjoyment!

Sun setting over Land’s End from Baker Beach.

Pt. Lobos, December 21, 2022.

San Gregorio Beach, December 22, 2022.


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