The fact that the language of localism is being increasingly co-opted by authoritarians around the world is itself a sign of localism’s appeal. Left uprooted and adrift by the globalized economy, people are desperate for a sense of connection: to one another, to the living world, to a place and culture that’s familiar to them.
When thinking about climate solutions, people often picture technical fixes. In principle, scientists and engineers could deploy any these–but should they? To answer this, society needs the humanities and its intangible tools, argues Steven Allison & Tyrus Miller. Also included, a talk on ‘Climate Change and the Humanities’ by Subaltern Studies pioneer Dr Dipesh Chakrabarty.
Jack Thomas writes: I have worked for the last 15 years or so as a professional in various parts of the environmental movement. And I’m sorry. All of us who have feasted off the carcass of a dying planet bear some responsibility, but those of us who got paid to know what was happening and
Paul Kingsnorth was once an ardent environmentalist. But as it began to focus on ‘sustainability’ rather than the defence of wild places for their own sake and as global conditions worsened, he grew disenchanted with the movement he once embraced. Here is Kingsnorth’s classic essay, full of grief and fury and passionate evocations of nature.
Ted Kaczynski, known to the FBI as the Unabomber, sent parcel bombs from his shack to those he deemed responsible for the promotion of the technological society he despises. Is it possible to read someone like Kaczynski and be convinced by the case he makes, even as you reject what he did with the knowledge?
Many of these battles were fought not because people understood how these projects affected the environment but because they saw the loss of their land and livelihoods as the loss of security and dignity. As a woman adivasi farmer succinctly put it, “I wish to be a farmer, and not a housemaid in someone’s home.”
Michael Löwy writes: Capitalism, driven by the maximization of profit, is incompatible with a just and sustainable future. Ecosocialism offers a radical alternative that puts social and ecological well-being first. Attuned to the links between the exploitation of labor and the exploitation of the environment, ecosocialism stands against both reformist “market ecology” and “productivist socialism.”
Stefany Ann Goldberg writes: Famous for his plant-response studies, J.C. Bose was also the first scientist to study inorganic matter the way a biologist examines a muscle or a nerve. Bose performed his plant experiments on rocks and metals, too. Remarkably, he found that the “non-living” responded when subjected to mechanical, thermal, and electrical stimuli.
In a meeting with his colleagues, Odum suggested that his ecology class be required of all new biology majors. His fellow scientists looked at him and laughed. Odum stormed out of the room but was not deterred. That night, he began writing a note that would ultimately become the foundation for the first ecology textbook.
Russian geochemist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863-1945), founder of biogeochemistry, also laid the foundations for the ‘Gaia hypothesis’ with his idea that life is a geological force that can change Earth’s landforms, climate, even the contents of its atmosphere. “What Darwin did for life through time, Vernadsky did for life through space on a geological scale”.
From Toward Freedom: The second iteration of ConCiencias, a conference creating dialogue between the Zapatista’s and leading left wing scientists from throughout the world, took place at San Cristobal de Las Casas. The struggle to decolonize knowledge is part and parcel of the Zapatista’s broader project of resisting indigenous genocide, neoliberal capitalism, and political repression.
From GreatTransition.org: The concept of Vivir Bien (or Buen Vivir), reflecting an indigenous cosmovision that emphasizes living in harmony with nature and one another, gained international attention as an alternative to the rampage of neoliberalism. As its popularity has grown, however, its meaning has been compromised, warns Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s former ambassador to the UN.
Some of the most celebrated scientific ideas and books of the 20th century may not be useful for us in this century, while lesser-known works of the past acquire new relevance. Here, then, is a selection of such works, along with an invitation for readers to critique and contribute their own suggestions to this list.
Ursula K. Le Guin, legendary American sci-fi author and creator of the classic ‘Earthsea’ series, died on January 22. She was 88. In this tribute, we present a video of her talk on “Transformation Without Apocalypse: How to Live Well on an Altered Planet”, as well as her article on ‘the future of the Left’.
Peter Buffet writes: Reconsider. Everything. Is it feeding fear? Is it feeding off trauma? Is it creating more suffering? Most of our institutions will crumble under the weight of these questions. And when we have reconsidered the lives we have built, how will we live? Look to the people that are weathering the early storms.
Erik Lindberg writes: In contrast to a conflictual and adversarial approach to activism, which aims at victory over those who stand in the way of progress, the Transition model and the community spaces it creates, open doors for the sort of narrative whereby we accept responsibility and move forward with recognition of our collective errors.
From Ecosocialist Horizons: The First Ecosocialist International is not just another gathering, nor another reunion of intellectuals to define ecosocialism. Neither is it a single organization with a seal, or with the omnipresent danger of becoming a bureaucracy. It’s simply a common program of struggle, with moments of encounter and exchange, which anyone may join.
Ridiculed when she first proposed it; biologist Lynn Margulis‘ theory of symbiosis in cell evolution is now considered one of the great scientific breakthroughs. A co-developer of the ‘Gaia hypothesis’ and a sharp critic of the Richard Dawkins-led school of Neo-Darwinist biology, Margulis was also a remarkable personality, as this interview with Edge.org clearly demonstrates.
Joanna Macy, an eco-philosopher and a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory and deep ecology, coined the phrase “The Great Turning” to describe “the essential adventure of our time”: the shift from what she calls the “industrial growth society” that is consuming the planet to a life-sustaining civilization. Here’s Macy’s interview with Truthout.org’s Dahr Jamail.
Sulak Sivaraksa, the 85-year-old Thai Buddhist monk, thinker and peace activist, is currently facing the prospect of a fifteen-year jail sentence, for criticising his country’s royal family and military junta. Here, he speaks on the global economy’s built-in inequities and biases. Also included is ‘Heavenly Messengers,’ an excerpt from his book, ‘The Wisdom of Sustainability.’