Radical Ecological Democracy

Searching for alternatives to unsustainable and inequitable model of ‘development’

Capitalism

AnalysisIdeas

What if humans aren’t in charge of Earth? A review of Ecocene Politics by Mihnea Tănăsescu (2022)*

As the world slides, inevitably, into a climate induced catastrophe, the society is continually updating its vocabulary to ponder its angst and anguish. Do words like “anthropocene”, “plutocene”, “capitalocene” describe well the Earth era we are passing through? Or, is “ecocene” a better descriptor? Christine Dann reviews Mihnea Tanasescu’s recent book, “Ecocene Politics” in which the author tries to discern the fractured relationship between people and their environment, and rethinks the role politics could play in repairing it. Dann concludes that Tanasescu, while on the right track, needs to dig deeper into the available philosophical discourse on environment as well as the current commentary on, and practice of, ecological democracy to come up with a more convincing and coherent argument.

Read More
ActionAgendaIdeasPoliciesStories

‘Susu’: Ghana’s Informal Economy is a Case Study in Post-capitalist Development

As the world looks for alternatives to neoliberal fundamentalism, many economic and financial systems rooted in tradition are providing renewed hope for restructuring our lives around collective effort and sharing. Caroline Shenaz Hossein and Natalie Holmes explore the Susu System of Ghana to understand its remarkable bottom up functioning and its prudent promise as a replicable model for other parts of the world.

Read More
ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasNewsStories

Earth Uprisings – une histoire

As the pace of environmental degradation and climate change intensifies all around us, how does civil society express its opposition to neoliberalism and plutocracy? Christine Dann scrutinizes the popular movement, the “Earth Uprising”, in France, to discern the evolving design for organizing protest against insidious elite structures all over the world.

Read More
AnalysisIdeasPoliciesStories

On the Cusp – Reframing Democracy and Well-Being in Korchi

Decentralized governance mechanisms are beginning to question and occasionally replace the orthodoxy of top down systems in many parts of the world. Yet, the process has been painstaking and often unpredictable. Neema Pathak Broome, Srishti Bajpai and Mukesh Shinde analyze the weaknesses of the government introduced initiatives in India, and contrast them with the success of a grass-roots program on local governance in the state of Maharashtra – a worthy template for replication elsewhere in the country.

Read More
ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

‘Emancipate richnesses!’

Hope in hopeless times is a necessary imperative of the human condition, and now a new book by John Holloway articulates that longing through a critique of the contemporary political economy and revolutionary theory itself, pointing a way out of the current socio-political despondence towards reasoned action. In this incisive review of “Hope in Hopeless Times”, Anitra Nelson, an old friend and comrade of RED, takes us through the contours of Holloway’s ideas on reclaiming human richness from the clutches of money “to ensure that capitalism comes to an end before it leads to the extinction of humanity.”

Read More
AgendaAnalysisIdeasNewsStories

“Giorgia on our minds”: Exploring “alternatives” as the ultra-right overtakes Italy

As the ultra-right prepares to take power in Italy following the recent elections, a major soul searching is underway among the left and progressive circles on what ails their movement, and how to reconstruct an agenda to appeal to the alienated Italian electorate. Mitja Stefancic probes the recent failures of the Italian left and concludes that progressive politics can only be revived if alternative political movements are accompanied by reliable economic “alternatives” that challenge the top-down neoliberal model.

Read More
AgendaAnalysisIdeasPoliciesStories

Technology and (dis)empowerment: A call to technologists

Could technology become an unambiguous force for social good, and help usher in a more equitable and fairer ecosystem capable of handling challenges of inequality, exploitation, poverty and climate change? Aaditeshwar Seth answers this important question in his recently published book, “Technology and (Dis)empowerment: A Call to Technologists”. In this article, Seth discusses the many ways in which technology could aim to overturn hegemonic and unjust social and economic structures to create an equal and just society, a strikingly bold thread running through his book.

Read More
AgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

Living bioregionally, now

Could bioregional forms of governance that start from the biophysical realities of ecosystems, which are particular and even unique to places, be a part of the solution to the environmental and climate crises being experienced by the world? Christine Dann analyses the promise and the challenges inherent in that hope based on her extensive work on critical environmental issues in New Zealand.

Read More
AnalysisIdeasStories

Localization: Bringing about Buen Vivir to address climate fluctuations and globalization

In the last fifty years or so of rampant globalization, the decision making processes related to all aspects of people’s lives – food, water, shelter, learning, health, governance – have become restricted to a self-serving collaboration between corporations and international finance, enabled by their nexus with governments all over the world, whether they are openly autocratic or continue to operate under the pretense of democracy. The results now stare us in our faces – runaway economic inequality and increasingly frequent environmental crises. Is there a way out of this quagmire? Christian Stalberg advocates for local control over the means of production and trade, and self-reliance in meeting basic needs from within a human-scale local region. Based on a presentation he made at a session at the World Social Forum earlier this year in Mexico City, Stalberg advances the Andean idea of “Buen Vivir” centered on “localization”, where our choices can be informed by their impact on the earth’s ecology as well as human wellbeing, not just the chimera of convenience and price tag.

Read More
ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

Five axes of transition: Imagining “alternatives” for the post-pandemic future

At some point in the next year or so, we, as a society, may enter the endgame of the Covid-19 pandemic. But, are we, in any way, prepared to deal with the political and economic stresses that will continue to hound us long after? And, how do we even begin to purge ourselves of the pandemic induced detritus that clogs the arteries of our socio-psychological existence? Arturo Escobar, a prominent political-ecologist and an old ally of the Radical Ecological Democracy website, lays out a strategy – what he calls the five axes of transition – needed to come out on the other side of this societal collapse with hope, and to “give impetus to our deepest yearnings for other worlds and worlds otherwise.”

Read More
ActionAnalysisIdeasStories

Carbon commodification in the Peruvian Amazon: The Kichwa People’s Struggle Against Territorial and Climate Destruction

The contemporary model of “fortress conservation” continues to dispossess Indigenous Peoples around the world of their territories to justify the implementation of dubious projects pushing climate change mitigation mechanisms and biodiversity conservation actions. It ignores the ancient rights of communities over their territories, and actively impairs their own local governance systems perfected over time. The resistance to this fraudulent attempt at conservation, however, is gaining ground all over the world. In this article on the emerging issues in Peru, Matias Pérez Ojeda del Arco discusses the ongoing struggle of the Kichwa people to ensure the enjoyment of their traditional livelihoods and the continuation of their territorialities and relationalities with their forests. While the situation is far from perfect, this contestation has allowed for the creation of an “alternative” paradigm where the communities are recognized as key actors for any conservation action undertaken by the Peruvian State to meet its climate commitments.

Read More
AgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

A Sisyphean Politics of Desire – Camus’ Philosophy in the Anthropocene

Albert Camus’ outstanding scrutiny of the human condition using the lens of the “absurd” has afforded post-war western society a keen insight into its intensifying socio-psychological ennui and fatigue. Yet, is that somewhat edifying self-reflection enough to discern and intervene in the current unceasing tumble into an environmental and economic dystopia? Adam Cogan examines Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus” to weigh the suitability of its message to effect societal mediations, and concludes that a world beyond Camus’ faltering exhortations needs to be fervidly reimagined to contest the “despondency of capitalist realism, and the destruction it condones.”

Read More
AgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

Development as Service

Is nature an entity in its own right with intrinsic value to which one owes gratitude and respect, or is it a mere slave of human possession and exploitation? Dorine van Norren answers this question with deep reflection on traditional paradigms which have existed in indigenous cultures for thousands of years, and after having survived the centuries long onslaught of free market fundamentalism, are now providing viable alternatives to the fast crumbling ideas and practices of modern “development”. Delving into the tenets of African Ubuntu, Andean Buen Vivir and the Bhutanese precept of “Gross National Happiness”, van Norren asserts that these paradigms are paving the way toward establishing a society rooted in solidarity with one another and one’s living environment, with an enduring commitment to “development”, which is centered on service or reciprocity.

Read More
AnalysisIdeasNewsStories

Gustavo Esteva Had a Vision

All through his uniquely inventive life, Gustavo Esteva conceived and established trailblazing initiatives, opening up fresh possibilities to fashion new worlds, and he did so with an ever-expanding group of spirited and thoughtful collaborators, particularly in his native Mexico. In this tribute, David Barkin, one of Esteva’s long-time comrades, recounts the enormous impact his ideas and initiatives had on the quest for societal transformation.

Read More
AgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

Against the Universal Agent of Separation: A Review of Anitra Nelson’s “Beyond Money: A Post Capitalist Strategy”

In this second part of our series on Anitra Nelson’s, “Beyond Money: A Post-Capitalist Strategy”, John Clark reviews the path breaking book for RED. He concludes that Anitra Nelson’s inquiry takes “seriously the real possibilities for escape from the power of money and the urgent need to begin realizing those possibilities in the immediate future.”

Read More
ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

Ingredients for a decolonial politics – cooking up a future to delight in

Creating “alternatives” to the political and economic structures that bolster the existing neoliberal order is as much a function of resisting their impact on society as it is to understand and challenge our own co-option into the colonial mindset that perpetuates that oppression. In this article, Eva Schonvled and Justin Kenrick present an inspiring framework for activists, academics, civil society campaigners and radical reformers to create “alternatives to our internalized and cultural habits of domination.”

Read More
ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

Is post-capitalism post-money?

If money is the lynchpin of the contemporary capitalist order then it is imperative that an alternative to that world is imagined and crafted outside the constraints of money. In her path-breaking new book, “Beyond Money, A Post-Capitalist Strategy”, Anitra Nelson lays the ideological foundation of a post-money society based on real, non-monetary, social and ecological values that define a new order committed to fulfilling people’s basic needs. In this exclusive article for RED, Nelson provides an insight into her revolutionary ideas essential for designing a world without socio-economic inequality and crippling environmental stresses.

Read More
ActionAgendaAnalysisConversationsIdeasNewsStories

Indian farmers prevail: A conversation with Kavitha Kuruganti, a farmers’ rights activist

No mass movement in India’s recent history has captured the imagination of the country the way the just concluded farmers’ movement did over the last one year period. After a protracted struggle the farmers were able to force the Indian government to withdraw three farm laws, which were aimed at corporatizing the country’s agriculture. In a wide ranging conversation with Kavitha Kuruganti, an Indian farmers’ rights activist, I discuss the implications of this victory for the Indian farmers, and how a sustainable and people-focused agricultural alternative could be constructed in the future.

Read More
ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

Caught in a rut?: How to stop resisting change and establish systemic “alternatives”?

It has always been hard for societies to effect change. Even when it does occur, change is painfully slow, and often late. Clem McCartney explores the socio-psychological reasons behind this resistance, and advances a strategy for intervening in the moribund societal discourse on meaningful transformation.

Read More
ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

ANARCHY, SOCIALITY, AND THE WAY

As we continue to interrogate the ideas of “alternatives” and “transitions”, John Clark offers a response to Ted Trainer’s comparative analysis of “ecoanarchism”and “ecosocialism”, featured earlier on the website. While stressing the common ground between the two ideas, Clark points out that the effort towards creating “communities of liberation, solidarity, awakening and care” has been “a mere object of ideological faith, detached from practical reality” for ecoanarchism, a failing, which needs to be redressed for it to contribute effectively to social change.

Read More