Socio-ecological democracy

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By LEONARDO BOFF*

If we want to survive together, this democracy will be characterized by being a cosmocracy, a geocracy, a biocracy, a sociocracy

We are all committed to safeguarding a minimal democracy in the face of a mad president who continually threatens it. As we are experiencing a general, paradigmatic and irremissible crisis, it is now convenient to dream of another type of democracy.

I start from an assumption, according to data from serious scientists, that we will face in a few years, due to the accelerated and unstoppable climate warming, a serious risk of survival of the human species. Earth will be different. If we want to continue on this planet we have to, firstly, lessen the harmful effects, with science and technique and finally, elaborate another civilizing paradigm, friendly to life and feeling like brothers and sisters of all other living beings. Because we have the same basic genetic code with them. They say to me: “you are pessimistic”! I respond with José Saramago: “I am not a pessimist; the reality is that it sucks.”

Already in 1962 the American biologist Rachel Carson in her famous book the silent spring (Silent Spring) warned of the ongoing ecological crisis and concluded: “The question is whether any civilization can carry on a relentless war against life without destroying itself and without losing the right to be called a civilization”. The vast majority are not aware of the real ecological situation of the Earth. Therefore, we have to be uncomfortable and talk about the urgency of these things to raise awareness to accept the essential changes if we want to continue on planet Earth.

Within this realistic context, I propose the relevance of another type of democracy: the socio-ecological one. It would represent the culmination of the democratic ideal. Is it a utopia? Yes, but necessary. Underlying it also prevails the original idea of ​​all democracy: everything that interests everyone must be thought about and decided by everyone. This will be done in several ways.

There is “direct democracy” in small communities. When larger, “representative democracy” was projected. As the powerful generally control it, a “participatory and popular democracy” was proposed, in which those on the floor below could participate in the formulation and monitoring of social policies. More progress was made and we discovered the “community democracy”, experienced by the Andean peoples, in which everyone participates in everything within a great human-nature harmony, the famous “well live”. It was seen that democracy is a universal value (Norberto Bobbio) to be lived daily, an endless democracy (Boaventura de Souza Santos). Faced with the risk of the collapse of the human species, everyone, to save themselves, would unite around planetary super-democracy (Jacques Attali).

More or less along these lines, I think of a socio-ecological democracy. The survivors of Earth's mutations, which would stabilize its average climate around 38-40 degrees Celsius, these, as a means of survival, will necessarily have to relate in harmony with nature and with Mother Earth. Hence, they proposed to constitute a socio-ecological democracy. Social because it involves the whole society. Ecological because the ecological will be the structuring axis of everything.

Not as a technique to guarantee the sustainability of the human and natural way of life, but as an art, a new way of tender and fraternal coexistence with nature. They will no longer force nature to adapt to human purposes. These will adapt to the rhythms of nature, taking care of it, giving it rest to regenerate. They will not only feel part of nature but nature itself, so that by taking care of it, they are taking care of themselves, something that the natives have always known.

This type of socio-ecological democracy has a cosmological basis. We know from the new cosmogenesis, from the sciences of the universe, Earth and life that all beings are interdependent. Everything in the universe is relationship and nothing exists outside of relationship The basic constant that sustains and keeps the universe still expanding is constituted by synergy, by symbiosis and by the inter-retro-relationship of everyone with everyone. Even Darwin's understanding of the survival of the fittest falls within this universal constant. That is why each being has its place within the Whole. Even the weakest in the game of interrelations has a chance to survive.

The uniqueness of the human being, and this has been proven by neurologists, geneticists, bioanthropologists and cosmologists, is to appear as a being, a knot of relationships, of love, cooperation, solidarity and compassion. Such singularity appears better when we compare it with the superior simians from which we differ in only 1,6% of genetic load. They also have a corporate life. But they are guided by the logic of domination and hierarchization. But we differ from them by the emergence of cooperation and solidarity. Concretely, when our humanoid ancestors went out to get their food, they didn't eat it individually. They brought us to the group and lived the solidary commensality. This made them human, beings of love, care and cooperation.

The UN has already admitted that both nature and the Earth are subjects of rights. They are the new citizens with whom we must live amicably. The Earth is a biogeophysical entity, Gaia, which articulates all elements to remain alive and produce all kinds of life. In an advanced moment of its evolution and complexity, it began to feel, to think, to love and to care. Then came the human being, man and woman who are the thinking and loving Earth.

It was organized in societies, also democratic, in the most different ways. But today, because the planetary ecological alarm has sounded, we must, with wisdom, forge a different democracy, the socio-ecological one in the terms referred to above.

If we want to survive together, this democracy will be characterized by being a cosmocracy, a geocracy, a biocracy, a sociocracy, in short, an ecological-social or socio-ecological democracy. Time is pressing. We must generate a new awareness and prepare ourselves for the changes and adaptations that will not take long to arrive.

*Leonardo Boff He is a theologian and philosopher. Author, among other books, of Inhabiting the Earth: What is the path to universal fraternity? (Vozes).

 

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