Eco-Swaraj: Towards a Radical Ecological Democracy
As multiple crises engulf humanity and the rest of life, we are groping for ways out. How can we tackle the climate and biodiversity crises, the abysmal chasm between rich and poor, the continued deprivation of a billion people from dignified life, and geopolitical conflicts that threaten to annihilate life on earth?
Even as these and other issues seem to be unsurmountable, quiet work across the world is showing that they are not. ‘Ordinary’ people are finding pathways towards sustainability, equality, justice, through means and visions that have the potential to be truly transformatory. They are not content with band-aids like ‘green economy’ and ‘sustainable development’, but are challenging concentration of power manifested in patriarchy, capitalism, statism, racism, and other forms of exploitation and discrimination that are currently dominant. From the re-assertion of indigenous worldviews like buen vivir to the emergence of more recent alternatives like ecofeminism and degrowth, from new interpretations of leftist/Marxist revolution to Gandhian concepts like swaraj, and much else, we are slowly finding answers.
In a grounded way, many of these are finding more equitable and sustainable ways of securing food, water, energy and housing, or of creating conditions for greater equality and fairness, or of more democratic monetary and non-monetised exchange, or of producers taking back control over production, or of community-led alternative health and learning, or many other such practical and conceptual initiatives. This presentation will focus on alternative practices and visions emerging from the South Asian context, the contexts and reasons for their emergence, the challenges they face, and what kind of links can be made with resistance and alternative movements elsewhere.
For further reference, please check out the book Alternative Futures: India Unshackled and Radical Ecological Democracy. Ashish Kothari also has a forthcoming book called Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary.