We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bolivia's Evo Morales: Capitalism and Plastic No, Mother Earth and Indigenous Products, Yes

by Jan Lundberg from Culture Change. The author reports on his observations of the recent People's World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth which he attended in Bolivia. He points out some contradictions and problems with Bolivian efforts at dealing with climate change and environmental destruction. He poses this important question:
How far can the global climate justice movement get by fighting capitalism?
And then provides this answer:
There is strong logic in attacking an unfair system that corrupts governance and divides people into competing workers. The failure of the Copenhagen U.N. climate meeting in December was definitely related to corporate business interests pulling puppet strings of politicians.

But can a social movement do such things as turn around overpopulation and make collapse survivable for everyone? Most of us looking at the vulnerabilities of the dominant system and the state of the ecosystem believe not. At this conference there is no evidence of awareness of petrocollapse or collapse by any other name. There is fear of climate change and anger at capitalism and all its ills (consumerism, loss of community, ecocide). What is unsaid is that because climate change is out of control, getting rid of capitalism may be too late. Abolishing capitalism at midnight around the world would leave us with about the same climate-crisis challenge.
My response is the fundamental thesis of this blog: the functioning of the capitalist system is in direct contradiction to a sustainable planet. It might be too late to save a sustainable and livable planet for humans and other species, but there is not the slightest chance of saving it if we do not replace capitalism with a system that is sustainable. The engine that is driving this vehicle Earth off the climatic and energy cliffs is the system of capitalism. A movement which intends to work toward a viable replacement is of critical importance. Whether the Morales administration in Bolivia or Chavez' in Venezuela are capable of doing this is up for debate. In my opinion, this effort will have to be a worldwide movement to be successful. We must all, wherever we reside, do our part by contributing to this effort. I suggest that we look at the models of Inclusive Democracy and The Simpler Way for guidance.