Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Agenda for an Ecological Commonwealth

U.S Activist Steve Johnson has developed the document below, outlining principles for a new radical global movement. I heartily endorse (please note this is a draft). This document seeks to concisely state some of the most important objectives which a movement for change in our day must embrace if it is to adequately address our ecological, social, and economic crises, in the light of the best current information.

At present, there are few or no movements or organizations which integrate each of the points below into a single agenda. Instead, some of these points have long remained separated out in mutually opposing ingroups, which have developed the habit of stressing certain valid points while dismissing the equally valid points of other groups, resulting in an unbalanced and incomplete agenda. For example, many people who are concerned about population do not recognize how capitalism inevitably drives destructive human impacts and must be replaced rather than merely reformed; meanwhile, Marxists and others, swayed by historical antipathy towards Thomas Malthus, an 18th C. defender of aristocratic interests, fail to think clearly about the role population plays in multiplying destructive human impacts. Thus these points have been traditionally kept apart, rather than integrated, by existing groups and traditions, for purely historical rather than logical reasons.

It is time to cast aside historical blinders, and unite behind a rational, integrated, and up-to-date agenda that cogently addresses all factors bearing on our situation. The scientific realities underlying our crises will not bend to accommodate the blind spots which people hold to due to their allegiance to outdated traditions. Either we adapt to reality, or we will experience disastrous outcomes.

We, the undersigned, affirm that an agenda that answers the pressings needs of our moment must include the following objectives: 

1. Cooperative economics. Replace growth-dependent global capitalism with largely (but not entirely) localized economies, managed by a process of participatory democratic economic planning rather than markets.

2. Democracy. Develop democratic institutions for discerning and applying the people's will, at local, bioregional, and international levels. Delegates rotate regularly, and do not receive remuneration or other privileges greater than those of others.

3. Equality. Ensure that every person has roughly equivalent access to the earth's bioproductive capacity, and enjoys a standard of living that is equivalent to a worldwide norm.

4. Applied ecological science. Continue to develop, refine, and implement sound methods of applied ecological science to restore damaged ecosystems. The permaculture movement is an important network of experimentation and information sharing to draw upon.

5. Smaller population. Reduce human population, humanely and democratically, over a period of generations, until we are "out of the woods" re ecological, biodiversity, and resource issues. Achieving 1 and 2 above would create the ideal conditions for making this easier to do, though there are steps we can take now short of that. There are also unjust and counterproductive approaches to population control, pushed by capitalist-aligned governments and NGOs, which must be rejected.

6. Material simplicity. Reduce materials and energy use to a small fraction of current North American levels, while eliminating deprivation in poor societies by implementing the best technical practices and building social and economic relationships of cooperation and equity.

7. Eliminate dangerous substances. Bring to an end the production and use of fossil fuels, uranium, persistently toxic chemicals, genetically modified organisms, and other polluting and dangerous substances.

[Click this link, or email a request to thinkingaloud@gmail.com, for a list of related papers and projects.]

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