Ability of someone not to be dependent on others.

Character of something that works independently.

As early as 1881, Paul Lafargue noticed the polysemy of the term “Autonomy” with a surprising description: “There are as many autonomies as omelettes and morals: omelette with jams, religious morality; omelette with fine herbs, aristocratic morality; bacon omelette, commercial morality; omelette soufflé, radical or independent morality, etc. Autonomy, no more than Liberty, Justice, is an eternal principle, always identical with itself; but a historical phenomenon which varies according to the milieu in which it manifests itself. Even if the rhetoric of Lafargue is ready to smile, it illustrates quite well the purpose as the notion of autonomy is vast and evolutive …

For the economist and philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis, autonomy is defined as our capacity to give ourselves to our laws and rules, in complete independence and consciousness. But Castoriadis specifies that the Other and Others must not be regarded as “external obstacles” or as a “curse suffered” because “human existence is an existence to many”. Autonomy is therefore opposed to the closure and fear of the Other, and can only be conceived as a collective project.

These reflections reveal one of the basic functioning of the growth society that underlies the idea of ​​dependence. Capitalism and the consumer society produce a willing population, which does not question the decisions made by others. It loses its individual autonomy and thus re-enters into a way of thinking which limits its personal capacity to make decisions, such as lobotomized by consumerism and materialism. This begins with trivial things on material issues, but gradually it involves the acceptance of patterns of behavior and “social meanings” through addiction and dependence on goods and comfort, and thus reduces the ability to act and create. Even today, many believe that technology alone can provide an answer to the ecological crisis.

van Illich, an important figure in industrial society, developed the concept of a “radical monopoly” of demonstrating that the “industrial production process exercises exclusive control over the satisfaction of an urgent need, excluding any recourse, for this purpose , to non-industrial activities “. Solutions and personal productions are systematically replaced by standardized industrial products. Ultimately, it is impossible to satisfy even the simplest needs outside the market because, according to Illich, the radical monopoly “introduces compulsory consumption and therefore restricts the autonomy of the person”.

In the medium term, it leads to the outright loss of practical skills, since they can no longer be exercised. And we must admit the illusory character of the logic of capitalist growth, based on the constant need to arouse new needs and aspirations, and to respond to them. The irony is that this postulate deprives us of the right to determine for ourselves the content of our needs and desires and underlies the senseless project of taking the consumer in charge from birth to death. irony also wants that the frustration and the desire of “always more”, end up taking precedence over satisfaction. But it is difficult to imagine a real form of self-government and self-government that does not call into question the sovereign imperative of economic growth except by touching on all areas of everyday life, involve a participatory act of buying and consuming, thus imposing new eating and clothing habits, in its way of moving and promoting walking and cycling, or going to the show to counter the all- power of television.

To join and extend this idea of ​​a society of decay, the economist Serge Latouche extends the vision of Castoriadis of a society where the conviviality and the autonomy complement each other, where the pleasure of the conviviality can replace the pleasure sought in the consumerism or in the subjection and exploitation of others. It thus proposes to be self-limiting consciously and through a democratic organization aimed at establishing a common world and putting forward the ideals of autonomy, conviviality and regeneration by rejecting the ideology of economic growth without limits.

Source: Giacomo D’Alisa, Federico Demaria, Giorgos Kallis – article by Marco Deriu, assistant professor in sociology at the University of Parma.
Giacomo D’Alisa and Federico Demaria belong to the ICTA: Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Giorgos Kallis is an environmental economist. G. D’Alisa, F. Demaria and G. Kallis are members of Research & Degrowth in Spain.

  • What you make is important.
  • Design is an integral part of the business.
  • The product must be honest.
  • You decide what you will make.
  • There is a market for good design.

This simple set of statements has defined a company’s product philosophy for many, many years. It’s no coincidence that Herman Miller has remained a contemporary, sustainable, design-driven business.