Dialogue with Sérge Latouche

“The Cocoon and the Butterfly”

Sérge Latouche, a French economist, leader of the so-called “economy of decreased growth,” Stefano Bartolini, economic professor at the University of Siena, and Luigino Bruni, professor at the IUS and the University of Bicocca of Milan, met at the Lionello Bonfanti EoC (Economy of Communion) Industrial Park in Incisa Val d'Arno last 21 February, in order to give life to a whole different way of thinking that kept almost 300 people nailed to their chairs for more than two hours, all the way to the end.
How to get out of the crisis that has gripped economic systems, whole nations and even transnational projects of vaster scale such as the European Union? There are different points of view with which to analyze this situation: first, a critical and convincing analysis of the evils of capitalism that makes of consumerism its God at all costs, rendering people increasingly unhappy. 
Then there is the environmental question, often undervalued, but that reminds us that the natural resources available to us are not infinite, so an initial shared response by the speakers called for the need to embrace a simple lifestyle.
The solutions proposed are diverse. The proposal of  Latouche seems to be that of an eco-socialism of the frugal-abundance, in which subordinate work leaves room for productive activities that are self-sufficient and limited to a local basis, and to non-economic relationships that are more interesting and a source of happiness. Following this, the reading given by Stefano Bartolini underscored the serious deterioration in human relationships, with an analysis for the reasons for the crisis, oftentimes are not considered sufficiently. The talk by Bruni contained a brief incisive mention of the need to re-conquer the original physiognomy of the market economy, of which capitalism is, among the forms possible, the dominant one and typical of the last 250 years; that is, the need to bring back also in the market – understood as a place of freedom, of civilization and human flourishing – relationships of fraternity, gratuity and communion.
The real question, then, is not whether to grow or not grow, but whether to be or not to be. The subject is then transposed onto an anthropological plane and demands a lofty answer, but no less pragmatic, connected to the question of meaning, in relation also to the economic dynamics.

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