I’m a believer in the power of repetition to spread and embed ideas in our culture. Just as repetition is useful for learning new subjects or skills, it’s also useful for making certain ideas familiar to people. An example that’s relevant to this blog is the switch from using “global warming”, to using “climate change” in mainstream public discourse. It was a deliberate policy, pushed by Frank Luntz, because his focus groups thought the latter was less scary than the former. Not only did that effort work, but it also paved the way for climate deniers to say that the change was made by environmentalists because there wasn’t any warming.
There’s a simple rule: You say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and then again and again and again and again, and about the time that you’re absolutely sick of saying it is about the time that your target audience has heard it for the first time.
I think this approach is also why it’s now pretty normal to heard the Democratic Party referred to as the “Democrat party”, because someone decided that change made them look worse, and the Republicans look better. Luntz is a horrible person, judged by the harm he has done, but I think his understanding of propaganda is worth learning from.
All of this was to say that I’m aware that I repeat myself on this blog, and to some degree that’s deliberate. That said, this blog isn’t just about spreading a set number of messages I believe should be spread. It’s also an ongoing learning process for me, and for anyone who happens to learn from my work. That means that as much as I do repeat myself, I also try to delve into new topics on a regular basis.
Degrowth is one of those topics that I’ve been meaning to dig into, but I’ve been putting off. At my current level of understanding, it feels a little over-simplified, but like an obvious conclusion. Infinite growth is not possible in a finite world, and so any system that relies on infinite growth is definitionally unsustainable, and so dangerous. As with the constant calls to “organize” or to “build collective power”, my knee-jerk reaction is to ask, “Ok, yes, but how? What can we actually do in our day-to-day lives that counts as ‘organizing’?”
I don’t have the answer, and my guess is that most other people are in the same situation. We mostly haven’t been taught how a post-capitalist society could even exist. The default stance in mainstream “western” politics is that capitalism and liberal democracy are the end goal of humanity, and that they should be how everything is run for the rest of our existence of a species.
This is, apparently, as good as it gets.
It’s not surprising that we weren’t taught to think outside that box – that’s not what our education systems were designed for. So I’m trying to do at least a little to fill that gap, as one human among a multitude working on the same project. I’m going to start learning more about “degrowth” and writing more about it, about the proposals for achieving it, and so on.
For now, here’s a video from Our Changing Climate on the subject:
There are lot of ways a degrowth scenario could play out, the worst of which would be forced upon us by the climate. I remain firm in my belief that we can build a sustainable society that still benefits from advanced technology, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t require big changes to our own lives as we change things at a systemic level. I think that the more pro-active we are about this, the better our chances for a good outcome, and the more room we will have to screw up without disaster.
Going forward, I’m going to be putting more effort into degrowth content, and stuff like that, and I welcome any input and suggestions that you, dear reader, may have.
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