Radical Ecological Democracy

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

Ecology

AgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

BEAUTY & FASHION: CONFRONTING COMMODIFICATION, ADVANCING ALTERNATIVES (Part 1)

“People’s longing to give expression to their individuality has evolved through time and survived the ebb and flow of history, but in these modern times have we done enough to preserve that instinct from getting overawed by the sterile and mechanical functioning of capitalism?” In this first chapter of a three part series, Alessandra Monaco scrutinises the fashion industry to understand its troubled past and its inherently exploitative present to search for an alternative, which blends human creative desires with the societal need for egalitarian cultural standards.

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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.

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AgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

Knowing Our Home – a review of “Ecosophies of Freedom” by Milind Wani and Sucharita Dutta-Asane

As a society, how do we better inform our response to the exacting environmental challenges around us? Could an evolved understanding of the world’s ecological philosophies allow us to intervene in the impending climate collapse? Milind Wani and Sucharita Dutta-Asane’s new book, “Ecosophies of Freedon” is an attempt at building on the societal moral, spiritual and ecological underpinnings to help contribute to the evolving socio-political dialogue on environmental sanity and security. Our regular contributor, Christine Dann, reviews the book for RED readers.

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AnalysisIdeasPoliciesStories

Traditional Governance Systems of the Van Gujjars in Uttarakhand (India)

The lives of the Van Gujjars, the migratory cattle herders of north India, have often been romanticized in folk-lore and literature, but the contemporary challenges being faced by the community have required them to reconfigure their age-old governance mechanisms. Neema Pathak Broome and Akshay Chettri discuss how enduring traditions and modern socio-political strategies are coming together to help a community negotiate the changing times.

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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.

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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.

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IdeasStories

“Where the mind is without fear”

Earlier this August, India marked the 81st death anniversary of the iconic Bengali poet, writer, educationist and philosopher Rabindranath Thakur. His acclaimed poem, “Where the mind is without fear” has inspired generations of Indians to work for wisdom and wellbeing in the country. Ashish Kothari honors Rabindranath Thakur’s memory inspired by that celebrated poem, introducing an “alternatives” twist to the great poet’s sentiments in a poem of his own.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

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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ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

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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AgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

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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ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

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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ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

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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AgendaAnalysisIdeasPoliciesStories

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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AgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

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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ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasStories

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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ActionAgendaAnalysisIdeasNewsStories

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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ActionAnalysisIdeasStories

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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