The downshiftism is a philosophy established on the theoretical bases of the economic decrease. According to Jean-François Jaudon, this contemporary philosophy is defined by the three following postulates:
- spirituality can fight against the worst of the pitfall of Western economy, the consumerism,
- the search for political solution to the ecological problems has as a sine qua non indispensable condition the exit of its corollary and consumer society, the economic growth,
- the intensity of the disorder of the end of the consumer society will be inversely proportional to the level of awakening by the citizens of this end.
The downshiftism constitutes a true component of the altermondialism. Agnostic, Jean-François Jaudon, born on March 14th, 1970 in Grenoble (France), is engineer of training. He studied the economic transition process of the communist system to the capitalist system in Budapest - Hungary - after the fall of Berlin wall and obtained a diploma of Master's degree on the economic transition. He is the initiator of this philosophy. It is convinced that the economies in Western type will enter in economy of sobriety because of physical scarcity of fossil energies and this, for three reasons:
- indeed, fossil energies are nonrenewable on a human scale,
- they are consumed by more and more companies,
- 80% of the energy used in the world are fossil energy.
In addition, the economy in sobriety is saving for the environment. One speaks to use an anthropological vocabulary of the homofrugalis in opposition to the homoconsuméris.
An example: Europe. Its current ecological footprint is twice higher than the acceptable average by the Earth. Europe lays out of technologies to decrease its ecological footprint, but in more modest proportions. Technology is not the solution with the ecological problems: only the economy in sobriety is a solution.
This economy of sobriety will be marked by the recognition of the individual initiative, in particular by the microloan, in the economy and the recognition of the collective in town planning and transport.
The transition from the consumer society to an economy in sobriety will pass by one period of the reduction. Its experiment of the economic transition in the countries from Eastern Europe showed him that to avoid anomia at the time of this transition, the political officials must plan the economic decrease, while in particular making become aware with the citizens of the end of the consumer society. Lastly, it supports the candidature of lists favorable to the decrease for the European elections of 2009. The downshiftism coped with the dominant ideology of the economic growth, and is in the tradition of Eastern philosophies founded on the being and not on having it. One should not confuse decrease and recession: the decrease must be planned whereas the recession is a cycle of capitalism. Beyond the reconsideration of the growth in the rich countries, the downshiftism is favorable to an awakening by the citizens of the disastrous ecological consequences and the end of the consumer society. In his book Microloan and Maxiconso, Jean-François Jaudon speaks about macro consumption. This philosophy recognizes the ecological footprint per capita like principal indicator of development of a country, preaching the economic growth for the countries whose ecological footprint is lower than that acceptable by the Earth, and the economic decrease for the countries whose ecological footprint is higher, knowing that the problem of the greenhouse effect is related to the Western economic model.
The ecological footprint is a multidimensional indicator: one speaks about the ecological footprint of an inhabitant, a city, a country, a continent. The downshiftism is favorable to the economic growth of the poor countries: Jean-François Jaudon evokes the paradox of the downshiftism. In any event, technology is not a solution with the ecological problems, by recognizing that it can decrease the ecological footprint of certain countries in proportions without common measurement with the ecological problems, which require a massive fall of the world ecological footprint. Lastly, the legitimacy given to the economic growth in the rich countries to leave poverty is a lure: the exit of poverty in the rich countries is a question of social justice and not of economic growth. In an article of the newspaper Politis n°1022 of October 16th, 2008, Jean-François Jaudon, initiator of this philosophy, spoke about the downshiftism as follows: “the concept of the reduction is indissociable concept of footprint ecological. The ecological footprint is the share of ecosystem necessary to the lifestyle of a human being. Thus, according to Serge Latouche, one would need the equivalent of 8 planetary ecosystems if all the human beings lived like Americans. Always according to Latouche, the Earth can support its hosts provided that they live like French in the years 1960. It is an interesting indicator.
As a downshiftist, I am for the growth of the economies of Burkina Faso, of the Viêt - Nam, [...], because these countries have an ecological footprint lower than the acceptable average by the Earth. I am for the decrease of the economies American, French, German, because these countries have an ecological footprint higher than the same average. These assertions are part of philosophy downshiftist. The problem of the éco-growth is that it does not call into question the consumer society by putting forward sustainable development (for example, 4X4 with engine not very transmitting CO2, motorway with frogducs, etc). The decrease, it, calls into question always more quickly, always more. The human beings do what one inculcated to them in their imaginary: to consume more, it is “good for employment”. […] If, tomorrow, the human beings of the consumer societies understand that the decrease is necessary for the safeguard of the environment and thus for the world of their children, they will make efforts. Serge Latouche speaks about “decolonisation about imaginary”. In any event, with the oil shortage (80% of energy used universally are fossil), the Western economies will enter in decrease. If the inhabitants become aware of it, the shock will be less hard. If many countries “do not take off” not economically [and thus, do not return in this cycle of the growth and the model of consumer society], the cultural aspect is very important. The concept of growth of the economies is very new (appeared at the 19th century). During thousands of years, the countries lived without growth. “