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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“Beautiful Resistance” in Palestine: Challenging occupation by forging inner peace

Resistance is a multifaceted undertaking – it demands clarity of purpose, steady action, regular strategic and tactical innovations, and access to resources. But, most importantly, it needs committed people at peace with their purpose. In Palestine, where the ugliness of occupation, violation of human rights and dehumanizing oppression are a lived reality, how do people respond without succumbing to frenzied violence, particularly its youth who grow up witnessing the unceasing shattering of their future, everyday? Alrowwad, a Palestinian cultural and arts organization uses the philosophy of “Beautiful Resistance” to work with the country’s youth and children to establish a sense of creative peace in their hearts and minds, with the ultimate aim of transmitting that ideal to the rest of the Palestinian society, and to lay the “alternative” pathway to freedom and self-rule. In this article, Abdelfattah Abusrour, the founder of “Alrowwad” discusses the philosophy and the practice of “Beautiful Resistance”.

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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.

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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.

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Marketing the planet: The financialization of nature

As pressure increases on corporations to transform their business models to address climate change, their response has been a stealth move in the shape of a project, which aims to financialize nature. The power elite recognize that as ecological services regulating climate, and providing food, water, soil stabilization and cultural values become scarce and gradually degrade, they become more attractive to financial markets as economic assets for speculation and trade. Helena Paul discusses why this attempt at deflecting attention from the real need to change our current economic system based on perpetual growth would prove disastrous, and how “alternative” ideas and practices are contesting this nefarious design to perpetuate the neoliberal order.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Prosumer Economy: Being Like a Forest

“Transition” explorations are sprouting all over the world. In Turkey, the “prosumer economy” is increasingly gaining recognition and support among the people looking for “alternatives”. Uygar Özesmi explains the progressive environmentalism and egalitarian economic thinking behind this unique initiative.

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Challenging colonization: Building sustainable human and natural communities in Palestine

As resistance to Israeli occupation continues to inspire the Palestinian people, a search for “alternatives” is also emerging as a national imperative. In a two part series we explore how the universe beyond the political question is being imagined by the people of Palestine. In the first part, Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh gives an insight into the hard work of environmental conservation in a landscape battered by colonization.

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Quand vous voudrez…a 1976 poster which envisioned degrowth

In 1976, a poster produced for a local election in Paris, France took an enormous leap forward to imagine a world defined by ecological sustainability and social conviviality. Christine Dann discusses the contemporary relevance of the Quand vous voudrez poster and the revolutionary idea of degrowth it envisioned far ahead of its times.

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More powerful together – Integrating Resistance with Alternatives

Societal discontent manifests itself in the shape of resistance to the existing structures and is channeled through people’s movements. Hope, on the other hand, propels the society to look for alternatives to the existing paradigm. In this first article in a two part series, Jen Gobby provides an insight into how “resistance” and the search for “alternatives” are coming together to shape the movement towards an ecologically sensible and economically egalitarian future in Canada.

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Migration and the shared planet

Migration has been a constant factor shaping human history. People have moved from one geographic area to another for ages, sometimes out of choice, but far too often fleeing threats to personal safety and physical survival. In our times, immigration has become a point of tension in international politics as well as a significant cause of rising socio-political discord within countries. In this second part of our series on “Shared Societies”, Clem McCartney describes a path away from the fear, alienation, desperation and misery, which have marked the issue of migration. The article imagines a place where new solutions could be crafted and executed in an efficient and humane manner, more in consonance with our shared humanity than the malign cycles that our society has been caught up in.

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Saving a critical pastureland in Montenegro

In September 2019, the government of Montenegro converted a huge pastureland within a proposed Regional Nature Park into a military training ground against the opposition of the local people. Traditionally, pastoralists from the surrounding areas have used this area in the Sinjajevina Mountains as the summer grazing ground for their flocks. The decision was made with no publicly available environmental, health, or economic impact evaluations, and without any substantial negotiations with the affected communities, as well as in contravention of national and international laws. Pablo Domínguez, Maja Kostić-Mandić and Milan Sekulović tell us the story of a resistance movement, which is challenging rabid nationalist discourses, incipient neoliberalism and the entrenched ethno-politics of the Balkans to save a critical ecological area from disaster in Montenegro.

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Salween Peace Park – A place for all living things

Situated in the crucial Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, the ancestral land of the Karen people of Myanmar is threatened by mining, mega-dams, logging and myriad other infrastructural development projects. In this fourth case study in the on-going solidarity series between REDWEb and the global “Yes to Life, No to Mining” (YLNM) network, the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN) takes us to the “Salween Peace Park” where a successful initiative is charting a path away from destructive development.

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In Defence of Life: Cajamarca, Colombia

Deep in the embrace of the Colombian Andes Mountains, farmers, youth and other environmental defenders from Cajamarca have stopped a vast gold mine, re-valued the ‘true treasures’ in their territory and begun to develop regenerative alternatives to mining ‘development’. Mariana Gomez Soto and Benjamin Hitchcock Auciello explore this story of resistance and revival. This is the second case study in the on-going collaborative series between REDWeb and the global “Yes to Life, No to Mining” (YLNM) solidarity network.

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Rethinking “Social Transformation”: Understanding the Communitarian Revolutionary Actor

As the need to counter the neoliberal assault on the planet is felt around the world, the idea of social transformation is undergoing fresh scrutiny to make it relevant to contemporary challenges. David Barkin and Alejandra Sanchez explore the unfolding socio-political experiments taking place in Latin America to give us an insight into the “Communitarian Revolutionary Actor” ushering in change on the continent.

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