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“De-Growth” versus Freedom
Let's dive into 2 diverging ideologies about our future, as articulated by two influential personalities in Europe: activist Anuna De Wever and Member of the European Parliament Christine Anderson
Today, mad world brought to my attention two particularly noteworthy video clips, which summarize highly diverging ideological views about our future.
A first view is by Belgian activist Anuna De Wever and the second is by German Member of the European Parliament Christine Anderson.
Both views were expressed in a European context, and encapsulate a crossroad: will European citizens opt for degrowth, i.e. negative economic growth / recession, or for freedom?
Context is critically important here
1. The debate emerges following the COVID-19 crisis and the severe repression of individual and medical freedom that occurred in parallel with the near instant decline of the 4th estate, i.e. the independent press.
2. This emerges in a new geopolitical world situation, with the rapid expansion of BRICS, led by China, India, Russia, and with an anticipated membership of some 30 countries from Asia, Latin America and Africa, and in parallel, the growing isolation of Europe, along with the US, UK, Canada & a few other countries.
3. There isn’t talk about the Euro currency to play a larger role in international trade, but for sure, there is much talk about de-dollarization, as the BRICS countries are creating their own system and are anticipated to less and less rely on the US$ for their trade, with major implications for the future status of the US currency.
4. To be added to this complex context is the dangerous and volatile security situation in Europe, with the proxy war in Ukraine, the sabotage of the NordStream pipeline; this induces not only considerable human costs, but also considerable economic costs, including to absorb refugee influxes.
5. The energy crisis in Europe — officially it is called “energy transition” — seems to be just at its beginnings, as both fossil fuels and nuclear energy are mostly “non grata” and renewables such as wind, solar and hydro are nowhere near able to meet demand.
So let’s turn now to our two video clips. First one is by a 21 year old “Climate and Social Justice activist” from Belgium, Ms Anuna De Wever, who received a standing ovation for her speech at the “Beyond Growth” conference held in Brussels last week.
“The very important first questions we need to ask ourselves: who are we growing this economy for? And what stories do we use to justify it? We need to acknowledge what lays below our growth: white supremacy, colonialism and imperialism. … There is no de-growth without de-colonization …” she argued to a captivated audience.
And she called on the attendees to “make sure that for all of the hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists demanding growth, there are thousands of us demanding de-growth.”
The conference, which explored “pathways towards sustainable prosperity in the EU,” was organized by 20 members of the European Parliament, from several parties, including The Greens, The Left and Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. These parties have significant political weight as they respectively have 72, 37 and 143 out of a total of 705 MEPs.
Of course, at no time in history has any country achieved “sustainable prosperity” through economic recession, but well … that doesn’t seem to have been discussed at the conference …
Not discussed either were important considerations such as the possible future role of safe nuclear energy in Europe or the actual ability of C02 related measures to significantly influence temperatures.
Today, in Europe, discussing such aspects is widely perceived as kind of a fringe conspiracy theory, similarly as the demand for informed consent regarding vaccination has been propagandized as anti-vaccination.
Interestingly, the influential Club of Rome was prompt to post the speech of the European Union’s president on its YT channel.
“You Cannot Comply Your Way Out of a Tyranny” — Christine Anderson, MEP
Let’s now contrast this with the message of German Member of the European Parliament Christine Anderson, from the Alternative for Germany party, which holds 9 seats in the European Parliament.
In the past years, Ms Anderson, who studied economics and is also a lawyer, has been a vocal opponent of the European COVID-19 narratives and policies, including lockdowns and vaccine passports.
At the recent International Covid Summit, held in Brussels, she argued that “You Cannot Comply Your Way Out of a Tyranny.”
“In the entire history of mankind, there has never been a political elite concerned about the well-being of regular people.”
“And it isn’t any different now,” she stressed.
“You cannot comply your way out of a tyranny. It is impossible. Trying to do so, you will only feed a gigantic alligator in the hopes of being eaten last. But guess what? Your turn will come.”
“Speak up! ... stop complying — start rebelling,” she urged. “In order to deal with this unfree world, to defy this unfree world, I have decided to become so absolutely free that my very existence is an act of rebellion. And that’s what we all need to do.”
Ms Anderson also expressed her views about climate lockdowns and more.
"The next step is a climate lockdown, in order to do that they need these 15-minute cities. You are only allowed to leave your immediate area 2- or 3 times a year. It will be a complete impoverishment and enslavement of all the people."
Opposing Perspectives about the COVID-19 Injections
While the perspectives of Ms A. De Wever and MEP C. Anderson are at odds regarding regarding economic growth and sustainability, they also sharply differ regarding the COVID-19 injections.
Here is De Wever’s stance, as reported in February 2021. She was 19 at the time and apparently just holding a high school diploma:
"Of course I get vaccinated. I am someone who believes in science. Who am I to say that a vaccine doesn't work when science says it's okay," she said.
"I don't understand that people without a scientific background can say: oh no, that vaccine is not good, I pass."
“I think it is normal that young people also take responsibility."
In contrast, in October 2021, MEP Christine Anderson stated:
“As far as I am concerned, I will not be vaccinated with anything that has not been properly vetted and tested and has shown no sound sign of scientific evidence that the benefits outweigh the disease itself and possible long term side effects, which to this day, we don’t know anything about.”
“I will not be reduced to a mere guinea pig by getting vaccinated with an experimental drug. And I will most assuredly not be vaccinated because my government tells me to and promised, in return, I will be granted freedom.”
“Let’s be clear about one thing. No-one grants me freedom, for I am a free person.”
And in light of the evidence that came to light since, her position now is:
“This vaccine campaign will go down as the biggest scandal in medical history.”
“Moreover, it will be known as the biggest crime ever committed on humanity.”
What about De-Industrialization, “De-Growth,” “Sustainable Prosperity”?
Here are some thoughts to conclude.
There are several analysts who see the de-industrialization of Europe as inevitable. Why? Because of soaring energy prices, scarcity of domestic fossil fuels, sabotage of Nord Stream pipeline, sanctions against Russia, and intrinsic limitations of solar, wind and hydro in a European context, to name just those factors.
All of this makes many industries unable to compete, which leads to scaling down industrial investments, re-locations of industries or straight bankruptcies.
So “de-growth” may not be a voluntary act but rather the product of de-industrialization.
There are no short term fixes for the energy crisis in Europe. And obvious medium-term fixes, such as new nuclear plants, seem disregarded by policy makers, even in the absence of viable alternatives.
Note that the campaigns against nuclear energy have now lasted some 50 years in Europe.
Germany, in April, in the middle of the current energy crisis, decided to shut down its last 3 nuclear power stations.
While Germany plans to opt out of coal by 2038, it is presently increasing coal-fired energy production, despite the high CO2 emissions it entails.
The de-growth / de-industrialization of Europe is actually happening right now, and this will likely translate into years of economic recession. And Germany was just announced to be in recession.
Now can such de-growth become the “sustainable prosperity” that sounds so good as a concept and that about nobody would, in theory, be opposed to? The answer is no!
It’s just not how economies work. Economic recessions mean unemployment, poverty, reduced spending on health and social services, inflation, reduced purchasing power, social unrest, increased indebtedness, stock exchange crashes, etc. i.e. all those things that we want to avoid.
How can Europe avoid this highly undesirable outcome? By fixing the problems, one by one, starting by ending the ongoing war and associated embargoes / sanctions and solving the energy crisis, through massive investments to increase production.
However, this logical “easy” fix is probably impossible to achieve in Europe, because of all the ideological hurdles. The current trend towards decline, de-industrialization, will therefore likely continue.
But will the rest or the world fall with Europe? No!
For the USA & Canada, which don’t have a similar energy crisis to deal with, one can expect more economic isolationism, with reduced trade with Europe and the rest of the world, in the next decades.
While Europe falls, the BRICS countries (China, India, Russia, South Africa, etc.) can be expected to continue focussing on economic growth — not de-growth! They can be expected to generate employment, reduce poverty and improve the living standards of their population.
The BRICS countries are expected to use conventional economic development strategies that are well known to work, while the ability of Europe to convert “de-growth” into “sustainable prosperity” remains to be proven.
An important question remains: can the European Union survive such self-inflicted demise? After all, the current 27 member countries are not obliged to stay in the union. With Brexit, the UK already left.
The former Eastern Block countries - Hungary, Poland, etc. - joined mostly for economic reasons, not to lose sovereignty and be brought to de-industrialize!
Maybe some sanity will come from those countries, or it may be possible that some of them will simply decide to leave and … join BRICS!
This brings us back to our 2 “featured speakers.” Will the countries whose leaders believe in “de-growth” stay in the EU, and those who believe in freedom, leave, leading to an implosion of the European Union and the Euro Zone?
The author is a policy analyst, a former lecturer & a graduate from Oxford & Brussels Univ. Over the past 3 years, he provided C19 news & policy analysis. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jpkiekens