Ben Bartosik

April 11, 2023

Jason Hickel, author of Less Is More, wrote a great article advocating for universal public services as a way forward for a just transition. His underlying point is that when we privatize these essential services and goods, people need more money in order to afford them. This keeps them in jobs creating even more things that puts extra strain on our natural resources. His solution is to ‘decommodify’ these essential goods - to which he includes healthcare, education, housing, transit, nutritious food, energy, water, and communications — and eliminating artificial scarcity.

“Right now it is impossible to take even obvious steps toward climate mitigation (such as scaling down fossil fuel production or other destructive sectors), because people in affected industries would lose access to wages, housing, healthcare, etc. No one should accept such an outcome. With universal services and an emancipatory job guarantee, we can protect against any economic insecurity and guarantee a just transition. There is no necessary contradiction between ecological and social objectives. The two can and must be pursued together."

His ideas are worth engaging with, mainly because we need to take seriously the limits of something like green capitalism as a solution. This is a compelling vision of a society that seeks the welfare of all alongside the welfare of the planet. He ends by suggesting that these demands should be part of a united climate and labour movement.

I agree.