Coronavirus and degrowth, in The Ecologist – a summary

By Asitha Jayawardena

To improve the lives of the people, degrowth advocates sharing what we already have more fairly while investing in public goods.

This is the summary of the article ‘Coronavirus and degrowth’ in The Ecologist by Anitra Nelson and Vincent Liegey on 3 April 2020 (see under ‘More…’).


Human beings live in the Capitalocene and their activities have caused the rise in carbon emissions leading to global warming and climate change. The resulting wider temperatures have caused and continue to cause floods, fires, coastal inundation, melting ice and more of environmental degradation.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, we have undergone the fragility of urban living, massive socio-economic inequities, of production for trade, a fragmented and globalised supply chain — all characteristics of advanced capitalism.

These economic effects should be looked at in attempting to overcome the crisis.


Covid-19 is not a new crisis. Rather, it is just a variation of an old capitalist crisis theme.

In response to growing global economic, political and social crises, anti-capitalist, post-growth and post-capitalist movements such as Occupy and Extinction Rebellion have grabbed the headlines. Another such movement is ‘degrowth’.

In the English-speaking countries, degrowth is not a familiar word. So, in 2019, we collaborated on writing Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide (Liegey and Nelson, 2020) to give an idea of the word ‘degrowth’ and the degrowth movement to English speakers.

Activism, Equality and Local

Degrowth is often a ‘provocative slogan’ and comprises the dynamic contradiction between productivist economic growth and earth’s material limits. The degrowth movement exists with the experiments with living more with less, embracing ‘small is beautiful’ and ‘small is necessary’.

The book, published by Vincent Liegey and Anitra Nelson, is not the first English book but is unique in concentrating on degrowth activism and on degrowth as a movement. In the book, we discuss how the theoretical founders of degrowth developed clear conclusions from analysing the limited resources of Earth. Hence, the move to changing the way we live, which is degrowth.

Degrowth is a movement that deals with ecologies and economies. But a first principle of degrowth is to deal with inequality.

Covid-19 turns our attention to health and economic crisis. With degrowth, humans can nurture the earth while it nurtures us.

In short, another world is not possible but also preferable.


Coronavirus and degrowth

‘Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide’, by Vincent Liegey and Anitra Nelson (Pluto Press, 2020)


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