Post-capitalism, post-growth, post-consumerism? Eco-political hopes beyond sustainability

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Ingolfur Blühdorn Institute for Social Change and Sustainability, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria

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As a road map for a structural transformation of socially and ecologically self-destructive consumer societies, the paradigm of sustainability is increasingly regarded as a spent force. Yet, its exhaustion seems to coincide with the rebirth of several ideas reminiscent of earlier, more radical currents of eco-political thought: liberation from capitalism, consumerism and the logic of growth. May the exhaustion of the sustainability paradigm finally re-open the intellectual and political space for the big push beyond the established socio-economic order? Looking from the perspective of social and eco-political theory, this article argues that the new narratives (and social practices) of postcapitalism, degrowth and post-consumerism cannot plausibly be read as signalling a new eco-political departure. It suggests that beyond the exhaustion of the sustainability paradigm, we are witnessing, more than anything, the further advancement of the politics of unsustainability – and that in this politics the new narratives of hope may themselves be playing a crucial role.

Ingolfur Blühdorn Institute for Social Change and Sustainability, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria

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Global Discourse
An interdisciplinary journal of current affairs