An “ideology of growth”3 lies at the very core of today’s worldwide cultural network driven by a universally accepted growth imperative.4 Centuries of positive perceptions of demographic, economic, and urban increases have stood in the way of reassessing the merits of continued growth in human populations, economies, and cities. While some have been willing to question the wisdom of further demographic and urban growth, the most difﬁcult conceptual leap has been that of attempting to visualize economies characterized by stability rather than growth. A “world ﬁxated on growth”5 has been unable to let go of the idea of economic growth as progress. In 1973 the steady-state economist Herman E. Daly described what he called the malady of growthmania, which he referred to as “the paradigm or mind-set that always puts growth in ﬁrst place-the attitude that there is no such thing as enough,” even though “[w]e may already have passed the point where the marginal cost of growth exceeds the marginal beneﬁt.”6 Daly speciﬁcally labeled GNP accounting that neglected to count the costs of growth as “growthmania,” and the associated counting of those costs as beneﬁts in GNP calculations as “hyper-growthmania.”7 As Daly noted, “Growthmania is the paradigm upon which stand the models and policies of our current political economy.”8 Local jurisdictions seeking to stop growth will have to recognize the ongoing dogged support for the growth imperative outside local settings, especially the unwavering continued endorsement of economic growth, and the challenges that such a pro-growth bias present to moving local communities toward a state of no growth. Communities wanting to shut down growth and transition to stable, sustainable futures will have to contend with growth myths that still extol the virtues of demographic and urban growth, but the greatest challenge will undoubtedly come from having to counter the pro-growth mythology associated with economic
growth. Current international and national stances on economic growth clearly evidence a virulent form of growthmania, in that both demonstrate an excessive enthusiasm or obsession with continued economic expansion. The respective stances of states and existing regional jurisdictions towards growth, and economic growth in particular, are almost as obsessive. The ﬁrst three sections of this chapter are intended to portray the nature of these persistent pro-growth attitudes in international, national, state, and regional contexts, in order to convey the extent to which local jurisdictions will have to go it alone in attempting to stop local growth and move their communities toward stable, sustainable entities. The third of these sections acknowledges the pro-growth orientations of most regional entities in America, but suggests that a past willingness to consider strong growth controls in a few of those entities holds out the hope of bioregionalism becoming a new organizational framework for realizing no-growth communities. The ﬁnal section of the chapter addresses the critical role of urban places in realizing sustainability, and argues that cities will only be able to further the transition to a sustainable future if they ﬁrst realize stable, sustainable states of no growth.