Steady State Manchester has consistently produced critical and constructive writing that challenges not only the status quo extractive economy, but even some of the popular alternatives.
They have done this from a real place and context, moving their work from purely theoretical, to deeply practical, even personal.
The analysis is deep and clearly argued.
Andy Goldring, CEO Permaculture Association, trainer, activist / Our Future Leeds City Hub More endorsements click here
Ten years ago we formed Steady State Manchester. Since then we have produced many articles, pamphlets, reports and blog posts, exploring the post-growth alternative, practically and conceptually. Since then, degrowth has become more widely known about and discussed. It has yet to achieve hegemony but those who make reasoned arguments for the feasibility of continued economic expansion on a finite planet are increasingly embattled.
The body of work that we have produced has, as its main focus, the implications of a post-growth approach to economy and society at the meso-scale, that of the city region, or better, the bio or eco-region. What would it mean to adopt that approach and how feasible would it be, given that we are still inextricably linked with a global economic super-system? There is no simple answer and we have explored a number of dimensions to this question. Sometimes our work has extended beyond that meso-level, to more fundamental questions: Can growth be decoupled from environmental destruction? What is the role of money and could reforming it be part of the needed policy-mix? What social safety net is required in a shrinking economy and what policy instruments might help equitably constrain the expanding material economy? Our small group has become established as a serious voice in our city region and we have made many international contacts. Our work has been syndicated by other websites and media resources. Some of it has been presented at conferences and events nationally and internationally and some has appeared in book chapters, journal articles and publications of other campaigning organisations. However, until now it has been scattered.
So here is a selection of our work, as a resource for the wider movements in degrowth, post-growth, climate activism, ecological economics, political economy, community psychology, urban studies, social and public policy, and political activism more generally. The book is divided into twelve sections. Each has an introduction to its chapters, contextualising and, where necessary, bringing the topic up to date. The book finishes with a postscript, rhetorically asking if there is a Viable Future. It also considers our impact as a group, questions of scale and issues that got insufficient attention in the previous selections.
1. The Viable Economy and Society sets out the basic ideas of the post-growth approach in accessible terms.
2. Social analysis of present day realities – including problems of post-industrial settlements, Ideology-Action-Structure complexes and the nature of work in a global context.
3. What about a Green New Deal? a constructive but critical analysis.
4. The decoupling question. Two critical pieces on the idea behind green growth.
5. Money, exchange, credit and investment. Three pieces covering alternative financial structures and the critique of green money-fetishism.
6. Carbon emissions – Manchester as a case study. The analysis is local but the overall approach and conclusions have a wider relevance.
7. Another false solution: the “circular economy”. Can it really be the solution to resource depletion and pollution?
8. Plans and visions: the spatial dimension. Consultation and ‘done deals’, and People’s Spatial Framework, a vision from the future.
9. Policies. Our Policy suite, Viable Greater Manchester, and the ecological dimension of housing financialisation.
10. Economic development. Alternative approaches to a post-growth economy that provides for citizens.
11. Social welfare. Three pieces on women and community solidarity, universal basic income and the alternatives, and on ‘convivial social policy’.
12. Strategy and politics. Sustainability: Utopian and Scientific, and Degrowth and the British Labour Party.
Postscript: A Viable Future?