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Jason Hickel is Postdoctoral Fellow at the London School of Economics. He is coeditor of the book Ekhaya: The Politics of Home in KwaZulu-Natal.

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20th century



This book shines a beacon of hope by offering a vision of an alternative model to the destructive force of growthism: growth for its own sake. It’s strength lies in the criticality of the discussion it provokes. It is not entirely intellectually honest, but the topic is important. The book wraps up nicely a whole school of thought on how to save the planet while bringing in some fresh ideas.


As you learn in the book, the thinking around the best model forward to save ecosystems and humanity is divided amongst proponents of two camps: green growth and degrowth. The green growth believers think capitalism is fine and with a few tweaks and technological breakthroughs, we’ll be fine. They accuse the degrowth crowd of leading humanity back to Stone Age. The degrowth believers see capitalism as coupled with the ecological disaster. They dream of a world where resources are shared, nature exploitation is capped. They accuse the green growth of burying their head in the sand and making an arrogant gamble with the ecosystem.

This book is a plea for the degrowth camp.

Like any ideological stance, it is not always intellectually honest, nor balanced.

In the first two chapters, I noted recurring sins against the intellect.

Attribution of motives:

« We often think of the Church and science as antagonists, but in fact the architects of the Scientific Revolution were all deeply religious, and shared common cause with the clergy: to strip nature of spirit. »

Language abuse:

« That the excess emissions of a few rich nations will harm billions of people in poorer nations is a crime against humanity and we should have the clarity to call it that. »

The author also sees colonisation everywhere. Air pollution is air colonisation. Facebook is colonizing people’s attention-span. Given how central colonisation is to the author’s thesis, it cannot be an innocent metaphor, it is plain language abuse.

These turned me off. I find it hard to believe that this book will convince anyone outside of the choir, mostly because of the abundance of such ideological markers in the early chapters.

Also, the writing has some rough edges. Take this example:

« In the United States, officials reached out to Simon Kuznets, a young economist from Belarus, and asked him to develop an accounting system that would reveal the monetary value of all the goods and services that the US produced each year. »

What does being a young economist from Belarus got to do with anything? As a reader, I want to know: what about Simon Kuznets interested the US officials? There were a lot of these frustrating moments where I would look things up on Wikipedia to complement the authors rough writing.


The strength of the book is in explaining many ideas to support the proposed model. It reads fast and can be quite persuasive.

I just wish the author would have been more balanced and spent more pages detailing how you go about implementing the drastic measures proposed and less pages bashing Descartes and « the North ». I am not taking out any stars for my wishes though. I know I should just write my own book if it’s that easy.
… (mere)
Bloum | 4 andre anmeldelser | Feb 23, 2024 |
“Less is More” offers insights about the limitations of green energy, the effects of growth policies on our approach to climate change, and the very useful social policies that could derive from a no growth approach.

“Capitalism artificially creates scarcity to drive growth. It avoids satisfying human needs. It is irrational and ecologically violent.”

The author complains that the drive for profits causes capitalists to use up the bounty of the planet.

I must interject here to say that I am a businessman although it would be a stretch to say I am a successful capitalist, or any kind of capitalist.

In my experience, making a profit in this go-go economy is increasingly difficult at the micro level.

This is not something the author seems to have any expertise in. A no growth economy could have deleterious effects on my livelihood, but I am older. Maybe a younger man can figure it out.

I can tell you one thing: higher sales does not necessarily equate to higher profits.

As far as I can tell it is completely verboten to discuss a no growth strategy at any level of policy with the powerful economies of the world.

When people ask me whether my next purchase of a car will be electrical I usually answer “First I must take at least one car off the road. Why not two?”

According to the author at every stage of the game capitalism has sectioned off the commons for the personal gain. That is why wealth is exponentially accumulating in the hands of the few, and little will be done to curb our ravenous destruction of the earth’s abundance.

The gig economy will game the system. Increasing numbers of refugees will work for less and increase domestic strife. The Syrian exodus was just the beginning of much larger waves of immigration from climate change effected regions to the benefactor wealthier nations in the north.

Is no growth the answer forever? That’s hard to say. There is plenty of wealth to redistribute in the meantime that will not undercut the lifestyle of the middle class.

If the pandemic showed us anything it’s that there are alternatives to millions of commutes along the roadways.

And surely the world’s banking system can muscle up to squeeze the tax havens and global money-laundering.

Does every family need a dog? Research tells us that one-fifth of all meat production in the US goes to create pet food, and meat production is a leading source of greenhouse gases.

All that is needed here is a little honesty to start.
… (mere)
MylesKesten | 4 andre anmeldelser | Jan 23, 2024 |
This is not the first time that I have regretted my inclination to give so many books a five star review. I have, on more than one occasion, wished for a sixth star. The problem here is that even that would not be sufficient: at least ten stars are required to indicate just how important and significant this tome is.

Jason Hickel provides, in just 290 pages, the best history of Capitalism that I have ever read. Surely, that's enough, but no; the author goes on to point towards the way in which we should be looking to move on to pastures new. Absolutely brilliant!

Towards the end, I was finding myself frustrated at Mr Hickel's use of the word human to cover the relationship between other animals, plants and the terrain. It was only when I tried to insert a more suitable word that I realised that, whilst 'human' is not right, our language, rich as it is, has no suitable one to explain this relationship and that, until something more accurate comes along, 'human' will have to suffice.

This is a MUST read book!!!!
… (mere)
the.ken.petersen | 4 andre anmeldelser | Oct 3, 2022 |
I am assuming in our heart of hearts that the majority of us know that we must consume less to save planet earth from ecological disaster. Jason Hickel outlines the history of the rise of capitalism whose central tenant is that we must all consume more. It is little wonder then that he is of the belief that capitalism is going to destroy the planet. I don't think he ever uses those words exactly, but this is his message. This all chimes very neatly with my own views and so for the majority of the book I was nodding my head in agreement. However a book with such a dramatic title and subtitle is bent on changing the minds of other people who do not hold the same views: this I think is where it might fail. It can seem a bit simplistic with perhaps not enough gravitas, although there are pages of references and end notes.

The book is divided into two parts; More is Less and Less is More, but in my view there is a third part to this book, which continually threatens and then succeeds in tipping it over into the realms of an anthropological conclusion, which strays too far away from the issues of climate change. So lets start with the first two parts of the book as stated in the contents list. More is Less is Hickel's take on the rise of capitalism; a history that neatly reflects my own views, because at many points I was thinking to myself I could have written this. He starts or should that be; we start, with a long definition of capitalism and how it is based on continued growth: the breakdown of feudalism in the late middle ages which gave rise to the enclosure acts in Britain and the wealth created by the merchant class. The early capitalism fuelled more inequality and the continued race to expand, led to colonisation in the search for raw materials and cheap labour. This section concludes with the authors view that: the over reliance on a country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as a measurement of well being is hopelessly flawed. He concludes by asking the question: Why do we need to keep expanding the economy year on year. The Second Section; Less is More starts with the premise:

"We know exactly what works: reduce inequality, invest in universal public goods, and distribute income and opportunity more fairly.
What’s exciting about this approach is that it also has a direct positive impact on the living world. As societies become more egalitarian, people feel less pressure to pursue ever-higher incomes and more glamorous status goods. This liberates people from the treadmill of perpetual consumerism."

He then explores alternative approaches to capitalist consumerism, before running through the obstacles to any new initiatives: noting the richest 10% of the population are responsible for over 50% of carbon emissions, the richest 1% have their hands firmly on the levers of power and will do all they can to stifle democracy. He says the reason why we are starring down the barrel of an ecological crisis is because our political systems have become completely corrupted.

Jason Hickel is an economic anthropologist by training and what is bubbling beneath the surface of his text and which finally breaks through towards the end is his belief in the interconnectedness of nature. He gives examples of anthropological studies of peoples who have learned to live with their environments, people that see little difference between humans, other animals and plant life. People that believe in reciprocity: what you take away from the planet you should put back in. He believes in the more than human world:

"It gestures towards how we might begin to heal the rift from which this crisis has ultimately sprung. It empowers us to imagine a richer, more fertile future: a future free from the old dogmas of capitalism and rooted instead in reciprocity with the living world. The ecological crisis requires a radical policy response. We need high-income countries to scale down excess energy and material use; we need a rapid transition to renewables; and we need to shift to a post-capitalist economy that’s focused on human well-being and ecological stability rather than on perpetual growth."

Hickel does stray into the realms of Gaia a sort of personification of the earth that might deter some readers. I understand where he is coming from, but have not the understanding of the issues to make any sort of valid judgement. I am more at home with the historic, economic and practical information that is contained in this book. The book is easy to read and I wish some of my friends would read it. A four star read
… (mere)
baswood | 4 andre anmeldelser | Nov 21, 2021 |


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Amy Hall Journalist
Raj Patel Contributing editor
Christina Hicks Contributing editor
Nick Dowson Journalist
Iris Gonzales Contributor, Journalist
Conrad Landin Contributor
Husna Ara Contributor
Carole Concha Bell Contributor
Nanjala Nyabola Contributor
Richard Swift Contributor
Stefanie Swanepoel Interviewee
Tina Burrett Contributor
Symon Hill Contributor
Stella Nyanzi Contributor
Leigh Goodmark Contributor
Dee Woods Interviewee
Pat Mooney Interviewee
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