Contributors: Schmelzer, Matthias (University of Geneva)
Matthias Schmelzer, economic historian and political activist based in Berlin, currently works at the University of Geneva. Next to studying neoliberalism, international organizations, and the history of the growth ideology, he has been involved in the altermondialista and degrowth movements.
Scientific paper contribution: ‘Expand or die’. The historical foundations of the economic growth paradigm
Abstract: ‘Economic growth’ is widely regarded as a key goal of economic policy, not only across the political spectrum but also in all countries. How did the pursuit of growth become the essential goal of policy-making and a key priority taken for granted among social scientists, politicians, and the general public? This contribution to the special session "Degrowth and History" takes up this question through a transnational historical analysis of economic and policy-making expertise within the OECD. Four discourses that reinforced the growth paradigm in the postwar era are specifically highlighted. These assumed that GDP, with all its inscribed reductions, assumptions, and exclusions, adequately measures economic activity; that growth was a panacea for a multitude of (often changing) socio-economic challenges; that growth was essentially unlimited, provided the correct governmental and inter-governmental policies were pursued; and that growth was practically the same as or a necessary means to achieve essential societal goals such as progress, well-being, or national power. history, economics, GDP, Cold War, international political economy Facing the current crisis