Kohei Saito presents "Slow Down: The Degrowth Manifesto" in conversation w/Basav Sen

Kohei Saito presents "Slow Down: The Degrowth Manifesto" in conversation w/Basav Sen

Sunday, April 21st 2024
2:00 pm
Red Emma's
Why, in our affluent society, do so many people live in poverty, without access to health care, working multiple jobs and are nevertheless unable to make ends meet, with no future prospects, while the planet is burning?

In his international bestseller, Kohei Saito argues that while unfettered capitalism is often blamed for inequality and climate change, subsequent calls for “sustainable growth” and a “Green New Deal” are a dangerous compromise.

Capitalism creates artificial scarcity by pursuing profit based on the value of products rather than their usefulness and by putting perpetual growth above all else. It is therefore impossible to reverse climate change in a capitalist society—more: the system that caused the problem in the first place cannot be an integral part of the solution.

Instead, Saito advocates for degrowth and deceleration, which he conceives as the slowing of economic activity through the democratic reform of labor and production. In practical terms, he argues for:

  • the end of mass production and mass consumption
  • decarbonization through shorter working hours
  • the prioritization of essential labor over corporate profits

By returning to a system of social ownership, he argues, we can restore abundance and focus on those activities that are essential for human life, effectively reversing climate change and saving the planet.

“Kohei Saito is one of the most important scholars in the world. In Slow Down, he delivers a Karl Marx for the climate crisis and a vision of communism for the 21st century. No work could be more vital today.”  —Malcolm Harris, bestselling author of Palo Alto

Kohei Saito is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Tokyo. He received his PhD in philosophy from Humboldt Universität zu Berlin in 2016. He was awarded the 2018 Isaac Deutscher Memorial Prize, the most prestigious academic award for Marxian studies, making Saito its youngest recipient. In 2020 the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science awarded him the highly prestigious JSPS prize, awarded to the top 25 scholars (only a few in humanities and social sciences) in the entire country under the age of 45. In 2021, Slow Down received the "Best Asian Books of the Year" prize from the Asia Book Awards.

Basav Sen joined the Institute for Policy Studies as the Climate Justice Project Director in February 2017. His work focuses on climate solutions at the national, state, and local level that address racial, economic, gender and other forms of inequality. Prior to joining IPS, Basav worked for about 11 years as a strategic corporate campaign researcher at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). He has also had experience as a campaigner on the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and global finance and trade issues. As a member of a grassroots neighborhood-based environmental group, he has been involved in local struggles on energy justice in Washington DC.

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