Among my varied Summer reading I found in my hands this interview with Serge Latouche, economist and Professor Emeritus of the University of Paris, that was published in the newspaper El País on 18th August and which I believe is deserving of an attentive reading. Latouche is one of the precursors of the ‘Theory of Degrowth’, a concept we approached in this blog last year based on the reflexions of the Brazilian theologist and philosopher Leonardo Boff.

Serge Latouche calls for a society producing and consuming less, stating that that is the only way to stop the deterioration of the environment threatening the future of humanity. In his last book ‘The society of frugal abundance’ (Icaria) he explains that we have to aim for a better quality of life and not to the unlimited growth of the gross domestic product. The issue is not to advocate a negative growth either, but for a priorities reorganization. Some concrete measures that he proposes in his book are taxes for excessive consumption, or limits to credit. He also says that we have to work less to earn more, because the more we work, the less we earn. It is the law of the market. If there is more work offered for the same demand, salaries go down. So he believes that we have to work less hours so all of us can work, and above all, so that we can live better.

When asked about how to get out of this already very long crisis, he quotes the president of Iceland, who last year, in Davos, said:” the solution to the crisis is easy, cancel the debt and then the recovery will come very quickly”. Although for that a revolution is necessary, obviously without hanging anyone, only with a radical change of orientation, because ”those who believe that an exponential growth is compatible with a finite planet are either mad men or economists”, he concludes.

Published by Carmen Echevarría in ‘Construyendo capital humano’ on 13th September 2013