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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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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“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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“Hola, Gustavo!”- A personal tribute to Gustavo Esteva

The struggle for progressive “alternatives” suffered a great loss last month when one of its prominent standard bearers, Gustavo Esteva, passed away at the age of 86 in Mexico. In his remarkable and revolutionary journey spanning over six decades, Esteva redefined the very idea of “societal transformation”, and charted a unique course of praxis and theory for the realization of his vision. In this personal tribute, Ashish Kothari recounts Esteva’s enormous contributions, and their collaboration in the quest for meaningful “alternatives”.

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Is Italy’s new vision for environmental protection a real commitment to carbon neutrality?

As the need to address climate change and other environmental crises becomes increasingly critical, many countries have found it necessary to amend their national constitutions to strengthen existing provisions for environmental protection, and even introduce new ones. This past February, the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament passed legislation to amend two crucial Articles in the Constitution to align the country with the rest of Western Europe’s progressive vision on climate intervention. Fausto Corvino and Mitja Stefancic discuss the promise and challenges inherent in this significant move, particularly as the energy fallout from the on-going Russia-Ukraine conflict causes complex and worrying problems for Italy.

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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.”

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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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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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We Thought It Was Fiction

The recent revelations concerning Pegasus, the malicious hacking software developed by the Israeli tech firm, NSO, confirm the paralyzingly intrusive capabilities being developed by the State-Corporate nexus to surveil and dominate the increasingly connected world we live in. Alfredo Lopez, Melanie Bush, Hamid Khan and Ken Montenegro, our colleagues from ” May First Movement Technology” discuss how the progressive and “alternatives” communities should organize to push back against this steady erosion of people’s rights, and work to end tech dominance and intrusion into our lives.

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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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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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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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