Discussion Do we have to stop growth to save the planet?

Talk ©Neue Visionen

Thu, 04.11.2021

19:00 GMT


Online Discussion Accompanying the film Oeconomia

This discussion accompanies the screening of Oeconomia by Carmen Losmann, which will be freely available to stream from 1 - 13 November on Goethe on Demand. Just click on the button at the bottom of this page.

In her documentary Oeconomia filmmaker Carmen Losman tries to understand how concentration of wealth, economic growth and debt are interrelated in the capitalist system. Her point of departure is the question of how money is generated. Her investigation reveals that the generation of money depends on continuous economic growth. Commercial banks issue credits to those that will invest in profit-oriented activities. Innovation and the creation of ever new products and their consumption is central to making profit. The financial crisis of 2007/2008 seemed to indicate a possible implosion of this system, but it recovered to the detriment of another system - the ecosystem Earth. Economic growth as we know it and a healthy planet are incompatible.
So in order to save the planet from further destruction does economic growth have to be stopped or even be reversed? Or is economic growth possible without destroying the planet and how would this work?  

These and other questions were discussed by Frank van Lerven, Senior Economist at the New Economics Foundation (NEF), and Matthias Schmelzer, co-author of the forthcoming The Future is Degrowth. A Guide to a World Beyond Capitalism. The discussion was chaired by Dalia Gebrial, author, political commentator and co-host of the current podcast series Planet B - Everything Must Change.

Click here to see a recording of the conversation until 13 November 2021.

About the film:

Where does the money actually come from? Director Carmen Losmann pursues this question in her meticulously researched film. She interviews bankers, shows conversations between them and their customers, their meetings. They operate in buildings made of glass and steel. At first everything appears open and clear, but neither the architecture nor the system allows any real transparency, making it even difficult for the bankers themselves to explain how the system works. The director seeks advice from a "council" of experts gathered around an alternative Monopoly game that help her to see through the systems many refractions. On a simulated computer screen she breaks down her findings for us. Things are getting clear. Money is generated through constant growth, but can we afford it and can the planet survive it?
In the course of the work on this film project, I realised that I had to find other narrative ways of approaching certain economic contexts. My interviewees from the economic world seemed to me to be too strongly enclosed in an ideological frame within which my questions neither had a place nor were understood.
Carmen Losmann
Please note, the film will be available to stream on Goethe on Demand from 1 November.

Watch Oeconomia