In a wider sense, which includes nature, dépense indicates that share of energy which cannot be employed by living organisms, owing to their physiological limits. This portion continues to circulate aimlessly in the environment up until the point where it extinguishes itself. From an anthropological framework, energy could be redefined as the fuel of action, that is, the fuel that calls us to act. The portion of energy that a living being employs for either sustenance or biological growth, Bataille terms “servile.” In fact, mere biological sustenance can be achieved spending only a miniscule portion of the total amount of available energy. The basic problem relates to the residual energy that exceeds the share devoted to such servile use. Excess energy requires a “sovereign” use: it is necessary to choose a destination for the fuel of action on the basis of the philosophical intent of a political prospect. It is the sovereign employment of excess energy that qualifies us as “humans.” Dépense is a key concept, then, for theorizing a way out of the growth society.
Romano, O. (2018). Dépense. In G. D'Alisa F. Demaria G. Kallis (a cura di), Decrescita. Vocabolario per una nuova era (pp. 108-113). ITA : Jaca Book.