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ideas & ideology

The science and politics of human progress: Closing a widening gap

Richard Eckersley writes: The core flaw in the dominant model of progress arises from the equation of progress with modernisation, especially the processes of cultural Westernisation and material progress (measured as economic growth). Global politics is based on this outmoded and increasingly destructive model of human progress and development. Can science change a dire situation?

Bookshelf: Alternative Futures: India Unshackled

A remarkable, first-ever collection of essays on India’s future, by a diverse set of authors – activists, researchers, media practitioners – those who have influenced policies and those working at the grassroots. It presents scenarios of an India that is politically and socially egalitarian, radically democratic, ecologically sustainable and economically equitable, and socio-culturally diverse and harmonious.

Atulya Bingham: The forest man

Ludwig Appeltans is an experienced permaculture teacher who has lived in the forest for four years. He runs the Earth Ways permaculture project, aiming to reconnect people, land and nature. Here, he is in conversation with Atulya Bingham, an earth building practitioner who has lived close to nature for many years in her native Turkey.

The heritage of 20th century science for the 21st century: A list and an invitation

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.

Why we can no longer shrink from the most urgent conversation on the planet

Richard Heinberg writes: Many problems are converging at once because society is a complex system, and the challenges we have been discussing are aspects of a systemic crisis. A useful way to frame an integrated understanding of the 21st century survival challenge is this: we humans have overshot Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for our species.

R.I.P. Ursula Le Guin, visionary science-fiction writer

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’.

The Inner Life of Animals: Surprising Observations of a Hidden World

Peter Wohlleben, author of the best-selling ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’, explores the emotions and intelligence of animals in his new book. New scientific discoveries in this field have big moral implications, he says. A review and an excerpt, plus the video of an eye-opening talk by animal ethologist Jonathan Balcombe on the inner life of animals.

Cory Doctorow: Why disasters don’t have to end in dystopias

Here’s how you make a dystopia: Convince people that when disaster strikes, their neighbors are their enemies, not mutual saviors and responsibilities. The belief that when the lights go out, your neighbors will come over with a shotgun isn’t just a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s a weaponized narrative. It is what turns mere crises into catastrophes.

The fierce urgency of “how”

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.

The 2017 movements and victories that give us reason to hope

The bad news streaming through our media in 2017 has been relentless. However it doesn’t tell the full story. Beyond the headlines, there have countless amazing social movement struggles in different regions of the world that deserve to be celebrated. Here are ten stories showing that people power works, courtesy the Transnational Institute‘s 2017 recap.

To embrace the transition, we must go beyond ‘environmentalism’

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.

Marx’s Capital at 150: An invitation to history

Radhika Desai writes: Read what Marx says. Pay no attention to those who tell you Capital is hard: they are merely saying ‘read my book first’. You have limited time: spend it on reading Capital. Remember, Capital was serialised in a workers’ paper. You are today’s workers and Capital is your invitation card to history.

The first Ecosocialist International is born!

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.

Meet the new age Robin Hoods building a post-capitalist Catalonia

From Shareable.net: An intriguing blueprint for a post-capitalist world is gradually being built in a converted spa in Barcelona, Spain. Founded by dissenter Enric Duran, the Catalan Integral Cooperative is a wide-ranging operation offering diverse services; including a financial co-op, food pantry and open-source tool workshop, all run on its own local currency —the eco.

“Gaia is a tough bitch”: Remembering Lynn Margulis, scientific pioneer

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.

George Monbiot: Why ‘conscious consumption’ won’t save the world

Recent studies show that those who identify themselves as conscious consumers use more energy and carbon than those who do not. Why? Because, environmental awareness is higher among wealthy people. It’s not attitudes that govern our impacts on the planet, but income. The richer we are, the bigger our footprint, regardless of our good intentions.

Easter Island: A sustainable society falsely blamed for its own demise

Catrine Jarman writes: Recently, the Easter Islands have become the ultimate parable for humankind’s selfishness; a moral tale of the dangers of environmental destruction. But 60 years of archaeological research and recent genetic data shows that this dark tale of ecocide and Malthusian collapse has more to do with Western ignorance and prejudice than facts.

Learning to see in the dark: An interview with deep ecologist Joanna Macy

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 on the structural violence of the global economy

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.’

Bookshelf: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis by George Monbiot

George Monbiot‘s powerful new book looks at how democracy and economic life can be radically organised from the bottom up. He argues against the “society-crushing system of neoliberalism”, and for a political agenda “that isn’t destined to destroy the living planet”, power given back to people so that wealth isn’t continually distributed to the rich.

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