This is how it’s going to work. I’m going to have thoughts. And then those thoughts will find their way here. So this is a series. Of thoughts. Published randomly. For no reason. Thank you for coming.

Shrinkage is another kind of degrowth

The word of the day, or at least the word I’ve been thinking about lately is: degrowth. I know, I have a dirty little filthy perverted mind. But I’ve been thinking about degrowth because in many ways that’s what seems to be going on. Not everywhere, but certainly in much of the world. What is a plague but a hard stop? A reset of sorts. (In Quebec, because of the plague, deaths outnumbered births last spring for the first time on record — the population continues to grow because of immigration though I can’t imagine too many people are migrating anywhere by choice these days…). So degrowth. The term, when used, um, in a professional setting (and not, I don’t know, on a porn set) is normally heard among environmentalists as a strategy/philosophy to set things right in the world, to ensure the continued survival of the species because they have figured out the radical notion that you can’t continue to live in a house if that house is on fire.

This doesn’t seem like a hard thing to understand, but, of course, it is a hard thing to comprehend. We don’t like being told we can’t consume. Or grow. Because without growth, there is less…consumption. Which is bad for people who make things the rest of us consume. Which is almost everyone. So we get Black Friday sales the Friday before Black Friday. China’s economy (and because it’s China, the world’s economy as well) turns on Singles Day. Look at some of those numbers. No, not some. Look at ALL of those numbers. They are mind boggling. All that… shipping. (This leads me to another aside — hence the parentheses! — I watched a presentation about the circular economy and I started to think about…labelling. Why not label all consumer products? List not just the “ingredients” but the carbon footprint across the entire supply chain. In other words, the true cost of the product you’re about to purchase. Why not? I’m sure the food industry in every country cry foul when required to label all food.)

And then thinking of degrowth, I get to…Trump. I’m sorry. HE’S HARD TO AVOID. But he seems like a Neanderthal (which makes this ironic). An evolutionary dead end. He won in places where the plague was soaring, because of course he did. It’s bad in places it’s not taken seriously and those are his people. And he’s going down fighting, lighting things on fire, then taking some of that fire, and lighting other things on fire. And his followers, who love fire, and even accept being burned by it for the most part, are decamping to other places where they can light more things on fire. Look, as long as they keep it among themselves, great. Have fun. But just don’t ask me to light things on fire. Or set me on fire. You can have all the rights in the world, but you lose that right the moment it impacts me. Then my rights come into play. Someone once said I have the right to punch you but I lose that right the moment my fist hits your face. Something like that. Honestly, this is how I feel about religion as well. Have fun. Just have fun without me.

Speaking of degrowth: I know John Lennon said “imagine there’s no countries” (and that’s a promising start for a song — it’s the first line! — but then in the final verse he gets to “no possessions” and by then you’re like, easy for you to say John you already have everything you’re ever going to need) but, um, try. “It isn’t hard to do.” This piece tries to combat the wave of nationalism (which is almost always ugly, like 95% of the time) with an idea that progressives should latch on to it to form a new kind of global thinking. I’m not so sure. The plague and the climate shows globalism is needed to fight global problems. Yes. But local solutions are best sourced locally. I’m all for no borders. But I also understand that I want the local fire department and hospitals (etc) to be run by my neighbours. I’ve long been enamoured of the concept of city-states. But then you have those hinterlands and what are they going to do? My take away: Humans are complicated. Where’s my Nobel?

And what could be more degrowth-sounding than the fact that the world’s birth rate is in freefall? This is a good thing all around. It means we are more prosperous, and that women are being educated and empowered. All good! Resources are finite and we need to live within our limits. Some countries have shown that low growth (or no growth) need not harm prosperity in general. Like Japan, for example. But there’s also this: sex toys. Or more precisely, sex robots. There will be social ramifications when sex robots become a thing. Which is happening. I read this article about sexbots and could not stop thinking about it. Or the idea of “uncanny vulvas.”

Finally: do you remember the first rule of fight club? Of course you do. I thought everyone knew the first rule of fight club. But these people didn’t. Neither did these people. If enough people know about your fight club that they can write jokes about your lack of following the rules of fight club you have definitely not followed the first rule of fight club. Or dance club. Secrets don’t remain secrets on social media. That’s the first rule of social media for those who aren’t too sure.

Except for this dance club. Which should be shared far and wide. It feels like the perfect metaphor of the human condition. Not just right now, but forever.

Writer. Complainer. I drink bourbon. I have edited media, worked in content and branding and strategy, and chances are I’ll do those things again. @arjunbasu

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