Mary Mellor

I welcome particularly two aspects of Kallis’s paper: the attention to care and the need to work at other levels as well as the local.

I want to begin with a few points on care:

(1) I don't think many degrowthers realize how heavy a burden care work will be without domestic equipment—cookers, washing machines, hot water, vacuum cleaners, etc. This is not an argument to keep them, but domestic work is going to take a lot of the day. In most communities, this falls to women. I am troubled by how much attention in the literature is given to welcoming increased leisure time by male authors.

(2) Health care and other public services are not easily localized—specialist care and specialist training in particular.

(3) The local has often been oppressive for women: a lot of gender equality was about breaking free.

(4) On a more positive note, there is no reason why a provisioning economy could not be built on care as a source of wealth; while de-growing in resource terms, we could grow in care terms.

The key is where money enters the economy. At present, new money emerges through a commercial circuit of investment/loans profit/repayment and trickles out to public services. My proposal is to expand the public money circuit (public money creation—public/social expenditure—retrieval through taxation). If this were directed to education or care, that would become the source of wealth, with money trickling out to the commercial sector. Quantitative easing shows how easily monetary authorities can create new money; they just need to give it to the people not the banks. What neoliberalism calls a deficit is better thought of as surplus public expenditure, money in circulation not extracted through tax. This debt-free money can be used for the exchange of use value.

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Mary Mellor
Mary Mellor is Professor Emerita at Northumbria University in the UK and the founding Chair of the University’s Sustainable Cities Research Institute. Her work focuses on the development of alternative economies, combining environmental, socialist, and feminist ideas. She is the author of the recent books The Future of Money and Debt or Democracy and is working on a new book on the history of money.

Cite as Mary Mellor, "Commentary on 'The Degrowth Alternative,'" Great Transition Initiative (February 2015),

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