Misleading and true proposals for the planetary crisis

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By LEONARDO BOFF*

Any model that intends to deal with the planetary crisis must rescue what we once had and lost and is guarded by the original peoples

It is now obvious to recognize that we are immersed in a dangerous planetary crisis. Even the most staunch deniers are feeling the effects of the current crisis on their own skin (typhoons, floods, unimaginable snowfalls, severe droughts, desertification, open-air wars and genocides and other phenomena). Climate change spares no one, affecting more than 40 countries in the NorthoC below zero and among us, as in Rio de Janeiro, at 50oC with perception of 70oC above zero. Such events do not allow for tergiversations. Many are realizing that they are on board a sinking ship and are looking for solutions of all kinds, some of great perversity.

The first was considered within the trailblazers (0,1% of humanity) who meet annually in Davos. They designed the Great reset of capitalism, that is, the great and radical resumption of capitalism taken to the extreme. Through Artificial Intelligence, they propose a type of cybernetic despotism, through which they control each person, an entire people, cell phones and computers turned off and even the briefcase tooth I'm using. They would impose their type of production, distribution and consumption on all humanity. This project is so perverse that it has no chance of being realized. Every power would be opposed by an anti-power of all humanity and would make its intention unfeasible.

The second proposal is “green capitalism”. He proposes to reforest all the devastated areas and conserve all the green areas, which seems very attractive. But capitalism is always capitalism. This project does not change the system that produces goods, aiming for profit. Green does not question perverse social inequality. Rather, it commodifies all of nature. Example: not only does it profit from the sale of bee honey, but it charges for its pollination capacity. As Michael Löwy, director of sociology research at the CNRS in Paris, rightly says in an article about degrowth: “There is no solution to the ecological crisis within the framework of capitalism, a system entirely dedicated to productivism, consumerism and the fierce struggle for “ market shares”. Its intrinsically perverse logic inevitably leads to the disruption of ecological balance and the destruction of ecosystems.”

But there are promising proposals, assuming we have time for this. We will just point out a few. The one that projects the greatest future is that economy that works on the territory (bioregionalism). It defines the territory not by the conventional division into municipalities, but by the configuration that nature itself offers: type of fauna and flora, water basins, lakes, mountains and valleys and type of population. On the ground, it is possible to build a truly sustainable economy with the rational use of natural goods and services, with networks of solidarity production cooperatives, integration of the entire population, allowing for a truly representative democracy, appreciation of cultural assets such as traditions and local festivals and the celebration of notable characters who lived in the region. As everything is produced on site, long transport is avoided. We could imagine planet Earth as a tapestry of millions of territories with an integrated and sustainable economy, with more equity or a real reduction in poverty.

 Another model comes under the name of solidarity and agroecological economy. As the name suggests, these are cooperatives that work in solidarity based on agroecology, in tune with the rhythms of nature, diversifying production to allow the regeneration of the territory. They expanded with NGOs Cities Without Hunger, urban and school gardens. Unused spaces in cities or entire terraces are used to produce local consumption, with everyone's participation. It is not presented as a total project, but as a way of guaranteeing healthy food for the population. The MST has shown the beneficial and integrative effects of this type of solidarity economy.

Another model is presented as circular economy. It is based on reduction, reuse, recovery and recycling and energy. Especially packaging, glass, PET, PP and paper are recycled. Natural resources are saved, what has already been used is used. In this way, the current linear model of extraction-production-elimination is broken. This model is ecologically interesting, but it does not raise questions of social ecology that aims to overcome social inequalities. Therefore, the circular economy is limited in scope.

A model lived by the Andes for centuries is living well. It is a profoundly ecological economy, as it is assumed that Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) produces everything. Human beings, with their work, help when they lack abundance. For them, the main concept is harmony that begins in the family and extends to nature, in which each being is the bearer of rights, even enshrined in the new constitution of Bolivia and Ecuador. The centrality is not placed on the economy, but on peaceful coexistence and friendly relationships with nature, waters, forests and mountains. Who knows, when one day humanity awakens to its deep belonging to the Earth and nature, living well will be an ideal to be lived by everyone.

There is also the Francisco and Clara economy movement proposed by Pope Francis. After making a scathing critique of the capital system and its consumerist culture, he proposes a universal fraternity. This is in force among all beings and among humans, all brothers and sisters (his encyclical Fratelli tutti). The centrality is occupied by life in all its forms, especially human life, with particular care for the lives of the most vulnerable. The economy and politics would be at the service of life in the first place and only then the market. It is a generous ideal, still in gestation.

Certainly the project of ecosocialism is the one that has the greatest chance of historical achievement. It has nothing to do with socialism experienced in the Soviet style, but it wants to realize the greater ideal of giving to each person according to their needs and each offering their possibilities. This project is the most advanced and solid. It presupposes a global social contract with a plural center of governance for humanity's global problems, as was the case with the Coronavirus and now with climate change.

Natural goods and services belong to everyone and a decent and sober consumption is proposed that would also include the community of life that also needs the nutrients necessary for its sustainability. It would gain more momentum if this project went beyond its ecological sociocentrism and incorporated the safer data of the new cosmology and biology that consider the Earth and human life as a moment of the great cosmogenic, biogenic and anthropogenic process. Ecological ecosocialism would be an emergence of this global process.

Finally, any model that intends to deal with the planetary crisis must rescue what we once had and lost and is kept by the original peoples: our deep belonging and communion with Mother Earth and all her creatures. This ancestral vision for the original peoples, according to the thinker Ailton Krenak (cf. Ancestral future), our future, the one that will guarantee us to continue on this planet. We hope that the times on Earth will be generous for us to live this dream.

*Leonardo Boff is an ecologist, philosopher and writer. Author, among other books, of Inhabiting the Earth: what is the path to universal fraternity (Voices) [https://amzn.to/3RNzNpQ]


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