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

Monday, July 21, 2014

Progressive extractivism: hope or dystopia?

Click here to access article by Don Fitz from Climate & Capitalism. 
The controversy over extractivism in Latin America has become a lot hotter.  Though social justice and environmental activists have sought a partnership for years, this could become a wedge issue.  The debate is core to our conceptualization of what type of society we are working to build and how we plan to get there. [my emphasis]
Fitz summarizes the contending arguments from pro-extractivism advocates and anti-extractivism advocates, following which he concludes:
The two sides often talk past each other while paying scant attention to fundamental issues of their opponents.  And there are multiple problems which are insufficiently addressed by either side.  Anti-extractivists often write of horrible effects of extractivism without delving deeply into the question “How can Latin America lift people out of poverty?”  This weakness is flaunted by virtually every one of their critics.
Pro-extractivists write well of the need to reduce poverty while paying little more than lip service to the objection that extraction is destroying humanity-of-the-future.  The “pro-” side also tends to downplay “externalities” such as destruction of community and damage to health.  Instead, authors imply that the quality of life would be better if people could buy more things, without taking into account increases in asthma, cancer and water-borne illnesses.