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.”

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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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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.”

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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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Ending systems of domination: Reclaiming our bodies and politics from global trauma

COP26 is just around the corner, and the world is preparing for another bout of smoke and mirrors from the international ruling class – looking sincere while doing nothing with sincerity. People understand the need to create solutions to the climate and economic crises independent of the elite, and many initiatives are underway all over the world. Eva Schonveld and Justin Kenrick of the “Grassroots to Global” platform describe the thinking, and the preparations afoot to hold “Sunset” and “Sunrise” assemblies to advance solidarity and action on crucial socio-political and ecological issues.

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Great Reset and the global resistance to come

Four decades of neoliberalism have seen a relentless push by the world’s mega corporations to capture global governance and the global commons. With the rise of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution,’ and the global crises unleashed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns, they may have found their biggest opportunity. But resistance, too, is in the air. Sajai Jose analyzes the tussle for our future evolving and taking shape in the world.

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Water, the driving force of Nature: Emancipation through popular consultation

Water is under threat from commodification, as capital increasingly ensnares nature all over the world. But, a consolidated resistance comprising indigenous communities, environmental activists and left progressive groups is challenging those devious designs. Alberto Acosta explains how Andean communities are using referendums and popular consultations to push back on extractivist pressures, and exploitation of natural resources, to build a democratic firewall to defend water and the rights of nature.

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More powerful together – Alternatives as Resistance (Part 2)

The contemporary resistance to neoliberalism is searching for ways in which it can raise up the values and relations it is fighting for. It is also looking for low-carbon, ecologically sensible, culturally grounded alternatives, which would help stop the destruction of the planet. In this second part of her series, “More Powerful Together – Alternatives as Resistance”, Jen Gobby describes how movements in Canada are challenging the stale idea of making our existing systems work better. Instead, they are offering new societal alternatives by forging resistance to colonialism and resurgence of Indigenous economies, governance structures and ways of life.

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Decolonial feminism and Buen Vivir

The idea and practice of Buen Vivir have gained popularity all over South America because of its far-reaching socio-political acuity and penetration. Thinkers and practitioners of “alternatives” have analyzed Buen Vivir’s efficacy in dealing with various societal challenges – gender relations being a significant subject for that interrogation. Dennis Avilés Irahola provides an insight into how decolonial feminists are assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the process of implementation of the principles of Buen Vivir taking the Constituent Assemblies of Bolivia and Ecuador as examples, and how it could be sharpened to create an “alternative” paradigm in the continent without delaying action on women’s demands.

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Setting out the principles of post-growth conservation

What would the post-growth conservation model look like? Would it continue to promote “fortress conservation” professing to preserve isolated ecosystems of “value” without really impacting the continued global exploitation of natural resources? Or, would it finally confront the profound sense of alienation that has developed between people and nature over the last three centuries through an almost demonic belief in free market capitalism ? A group of academics and activists from Wageningen University, the Netherlands and Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group puts forward a conceptual outline of the future of conservation.

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Looking beyond the pandemic: Agroecology, and the need to rethink our food system

The on-going pandemic has laid bare the inequalities inherent in the neoliberal economy. As jobs and livelihoods of the struggling majority get severely impacted all over the world, access to food has become a critical issue for people. In this in-depth analysis of the global food system, Helena Paul underlines the growing need for reshaping our food infrastructure around agroecology, a new paradigm where producers and consumers are connected with each other, and in harmony with land and nature.

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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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Coronavirus and the life lessons from “ordinary” people to save the Earth and ourselves

As the world grapples with the challenges posed by Covid-19, it needs to decipher the messages encoded in the disease. Can we continue on the path of environmental destruction, which scientists predict may make pandemics more likely? How do we create alternatives to the industrial forms of natural resource use which have disrupted natural systems irreversibly? How do we break from the artificially created integration of production, consumption and trade under globalization? Ashish Kothari helps us solve the critical societal puzzle that Coronavirus has confronted us with in these mystifying times.

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Regenerating the Commons in Galiza, Spain

Continuing with our solidarity series with the “Yes to Life, No to Mining” network against the scourge of extractivism, this time we take a trip to Galiza in northern Spain. In this remarkably vivid and inspiring account, Joám Evans Pim, a community leader from Frojám Community Conserved Area and activist in Galician anti-mining network ContraMINAcción, explains how small communities like his are confronting destructive mining by regenerating traditional territories and reviving community governance.

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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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Resist. Restore. Revive: The frontline communities sowing the seeds of post-extractivism

The metal and mineral mining industry, worldwide is responsible for over 20% of global carbon emissions. It has also destroyed critical ecological areas and has a frightful record of systematic human rights violations. Yes to Life, No to Mining Network (YLNM) is a network of and for communities who choose to resist mining while at the same time protecting and advancing life-sustaining knowledges, practices, economies and governance systems. Recently, YLNM undertook an exploration of a few of these community initiatives to create a series of interactive case studies, which share the stories of resistance to mining, restoration of damaged ecosystems and protection and development of alternatives to extractivism. REDWeb is collaborating with YLNM to bring five of these “emblematic case studies” to its readers over the course of the next five months. In an introductory article, Hannibal Rhoades from YLNM gives us an idea of the areas and issues this series will cover, and how it explores the evolving idea of the “search for alternatives”.

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REDWeb Conversations Series – Defining A Utopian Present In Christiania, Copenhagen.

What started as a politicized form of squatting in an abandoned military base has turned into a unique experiment in utopian thought and practice in Christiania, an autonomous neighborhood in Copenhagen. Ashish Kothari and Shrishtee Bajpai speak with Natasha Verco, a resident and activist about the promise and challenges of Christiania.

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Matching Resources to Needs – Moving the Flow of Gifting from Theory to Practice

Since the advent of the industrial age the relationship between humans and the web of life has gradually ruptured. The natural abundance and flow that guided interactions between humans and nature have been impeded to the extent that we now face existential threats to our civilization. Miki Kashtan helps us understand how we can restore interdependent flow of energy and resources through collaboration and releasing our reliance on control.

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In Search Of A Grown-up Economy

Is it possible to create an alternative to the corporatized conception of a good life? How do we challenge the stranglehold of endless growth on our economic system? Katherine Trebeck and Jeremy Williams critically examine the orthodoxy of development in this article and introduce us to the exciting idea of “economic arrival”, which advocates for shared wellbeing on a healthy planet.

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