Radical Ecological Democracy

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

New Economy

AnalysisIdeasStories

Matupi athu Moyo wathu (Our bodies Our lives): Building feminist holistic health and direct democracy in Malawi

In a large part of the world, movements from below are bringing a new sense of purpose and urgency to the pursuit of social transformation, as they channel people’s disappointments with big, unwieldy ideas of change from above. In this uniquely stimulating piece, Salimah Valiani strings together grassroot voices highlighting the struggles and triumphs of women ushering in direct democracy in Malawi.

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‘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.

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‘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.”

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“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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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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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.

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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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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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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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 many misunderstandings of degrowth: A response to Kelsey Piper’s “Can we save the planet by shrinking the economy?”

The concept of “degrowth” is evoking interest in the mainstream media, but more as an exotic, impractical idea than a serious attempt at addressing the current environmental emergency and rising economic inequality. Carlos Tornel responds to a recent article on “degrowth” in the Vox Magazine to set the record straight.

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The path to a just and sustainable society

If the current neoliberal dispensation continues to make the society increasingly unequal, and the planet progressively unlivable, how do we transition to a new system, which addresses these challenges with deliberate intent and assured success? In the second part of his discussion on “Eco-anarchism”, Ted Trainer lays out the core characteristics of a post consumer capitalist society, operating on the principles of “The Simpler Way”.

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Eco-socialism vs. Eco-anarchism: Exploring “The Simpler Way”

As the search for alternatives to the current neoliberal order becomes increasingly essential and urgent, analysts and activists are beginning to clarify their theoretical frameworks for crafting a new world. In this first part of a two part series, Ted Trainer discusses the idea of “The Simpler Way” to construct a sustainable future based on Eco-anarchism.

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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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