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Accepted Contribution:

Geopolitics of post-growth  
Richard Wouters (Green European Foundation)

Short abstract:

Post-growth and geopolitics are an uneasy couple. If the European Union were to abandon economic growth and opt for 'humble' technologies, would it be able to defend itself, its allies and its values at a time when aggressive autocracies are invading or threatening their democratic neighbours?

Long abstract:

It is unlikely that we can defuse the climate time bomb, let alone other ecological threats, as long as our economy continues to grow. But what would abandoning economic growth mean for geopolitics? Could an EU that is the first to embrace post-growth still be a global actor? Would it be able to defend itself, its allies, democracy, human rights, and the international rule of law at a time when aggressive autocracies are invading or threatening their democratic neighbours? After all, the power of countries and alliances is largely determined by their wealth and military capabilities. We see this in Ukraine: the fact that the country has withstood Russia’s imperialist assault until now is largely thanks to Western financial and military support.

Technology is paramount here. Many US and EU arms are technologically superior to Russia's, reflecting a wider lead in tech development. Technology is also a major factor in the relations with China. China’s dependence on key western technologies gives the West some leverage over Beijing, which might help persuade it to refrain from attacking democratic Taiwan. Would the EU be able to maintain a technological edge over Russia and China if it put technology development at the service of post-growth, sending it down a ‘humbler’ path?

Clearly, post-growth and geopolitics make an uneasy couple. In a recent report for the Green European Foundation, I outline some ways to reconcile them, including in the field of technology. I would love to discuss post-growth, geopolitics and technology with this panel.

Combined Format Open Panel P346
STS and post-growth futures: a place for critical perspectives on societal change
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 July, 2024, -