Degrowth, Solidarity and the Welfare State

Image for Degrowth, Solidarity and the Welfare State


The fires and pandemic of 2020 have set the scene for a century which threatens to burden Australians — and the planet more generally — with ever-greater ramifications from climate change and inequities of both power and wealth. How should we respond?

In this conversation, Anitra Nelson and Boris Frankel engage with the responses to these crises offered by degrowth, mutual aid and solidarity movements, including advocates of a radical revision of the welfare state. All three responses are captured in books launching a new 'FireWorks' series from Pluto Press (London) — Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide by Vincent Liegey and Anitra Nelson, Pandemic Solidarity: Mutual Aid During the Covid-19 Crisis by Marina Sitrin and Colectiva Sembrar, and Reinventing the Welfare State: Digital Platforms and Public Policies by Ursula Hews.

As co-author of Exploring Degrowth, Anitra will unpack the oft misunderstood 'missile word', degrowth, and spell out its core philosophies and politics of frugal abundance, 'open relocalisation', horizontally networked organising and autonomy. The book engages with activism at individual and collective levels, and explains how resistance and degrowth projects offer strategies for the transformation of societies in order to live within Earth's limits.

In the face of the rampant COVID-19, Pandemic Solidarity describes and analyses cases of grassroots organisation and self-sacrifice in 18 countries and regions, including India, Rojava, South Africa, Iraq and North America to reveal a universality of values and what an alternative society built on equity and justice might look like.

Ursula Hews' book Reinventing the Welfare State focuses on some of the significant interests also shared by Boris Frankel. She interrogates the gig economy, universal credit, and gendered and domestic labour, criticising the current state of welfare in the UK and elaborating a radical transformation of state policies, such as a universal basic income and new legislation for universal workers' rights. Boris will respond and discuss some of these issues.

Join us with your questions on constructive ways forward in challenging times.


Associate Professor Anitra Nelson joined MSSI as an Honorary Principal Fellow in 2020. Widely published, her books on degrowth include Housing for Degrowth: Principles, Models, Challenges and Opportunities (lead editor, 2018) and Food for Degrowth: Perspectives and Practices (lead editor, forthcoming 2020) and co-author of Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide (2020) in the FireWorks series of Pluto Press (UK) for which she is also the series editor. For more, see:

Professor Boris Frankel is a well-known media commentator and participant in policy debates and Honorary Principal Fellow at MSSI. His most recent book is Fictions of Sustainability: The Politics of Post-growth and Post-Capitalist Futures (2018) and his new book Capitalism Versus Democracy? Rethinking Politics in the Age of Environmental Crisis (2020) will be published shortly. See other books written by Boris Frankel