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"Earth Democracy" is the name of a book by Vandana ShivaW. This page will present some of key ideas in this book, that are very important to take into consideration as we go about finding and creating solutions in the post-modern age. The idea of earth democracy is not new. The web of life that Chief Seattle talked about has its counterpart in many cultures. In the struggle for environmental justice, and social justice we must decide how we are going to frame the problem. How we respond to the problem in contingent on how we perceive the problem. When we reframe the problem in terms of the idea that we are all the intertwined and interdependent organism we call planet earth. Thus, it makes sense that we should all have a say in a democracy and that we all have a right to life.
"Logic" of Domination
The "logic of domination" is the term used to explain the complex and reinforcing ideologies of power, privilege, and oppression that are expressed in colonialism, racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism and other outcomes of systematic prejudice. The forces of neo-colonialism expressed in the globalization that is culminating current global socio-economic policy is based on the "logic of domination" and there are many other supporting ideologies such as the tragedy of the commons, the myth of overpopulation and the myth of scarcity. All these incomplete analysis' of the problem lead to problematic solutions. To better understand the issue we need to deconstruct the complex ideologies.
False Tragedy of Commons
In many communities around the world, such as England, the land was managed communally, and that land was called the commons. Before privatization this was the cooperative way people democratically shared resources. Privatization is when the land and resources of the communities are taken over using a "logic of domination" to justify the dispossession. These enclosures lead to the polarization of the "common interest of the people in to the interest of the rich and the powerful and the poor and marginalized" (Shiva:2005: 53). Garret Hardin is responsible for reviving the idea of the tragedy of the commons and he turned into a science, and a commonly accepted and taught ideology. The tragedy of the commons is in reality the tragedy of privatization. The degradation of the commons results from the ability of the powerful and rich to exploit the resources of the poor.
Myth of Overpopulation
Neo-malthusians use the idea of overpopulation in environmental security policy. In Garret Hardin's "Lifeboat Ethics" the poor are considered expendable, and women in the so-called Third World are blamed for population growth and our current ecological crisis. Thus, the populations of the Third World need to be controlled so that the U.S. can continue its high consumption lifestyle. But "controlling the populations without controlling production and consumptions patterns", including the type of technology and the government policies that influence these patterns, does not address the environmental crisis(Shiva: 2005; 58).
The IPAT equation (IPAT) fails to include the appropriative practices of the neo-colonialist policies of powerful countries like the U.S. with it's hegemonic relationship with South America.
"Population growth is not a cause of the environmental crisis but one aspect of it, and both are related to the resources alienation and the destruction of livelihoods"(Shiv: 2005; 60).
An Alternative: Living Economies
Earth democracy moments are the resistance of the disadvantaged, and excluded who are working to protect their fundamental rights to the earth's resources. Market and free trade-led globalization removes the responsibility and accountability from the corporations and in this system the poor have the function of bearing all the costs. History has shown us that societies that over-exploit their resources/life-support systems are bound to collapse.
Living economies are an alternative to the unsustainable system. Living economies are "based on co-ownership and coproduction, on sharing and participation" (Shiva: 2005; 63). Living economies are an extension of the renewable systems or economies of nature, and the diverse and sustainable people's economies. A living economy "respects the renewable limits of natural resources and share those resources to ensure everyone's needs are met"(Shiva: 2005; 63). Biodiversity and water cannot be privatized in a living economy. A living economy, relies on localization as an ecological imperative. Two principles that are key in a living economy are the "precautionary principle" and the "polluter pays principle". The precautionary principle protects our future generations form unnecessary risks. The polluter pays principle makes the corporations responsible for the environmental degradation they cause.
Globalization leads to growth of the market, without creating jobs or providing security, living economies revolve around human beings and nature. Economics and ecology are not pitted against each other in living economies. The question of how we choose to view the world is based on our values. Living economies value life over profit. Living economies are our future.
- 2005, Earth Democracy; Justice, Sustainability, and Peace, South End Press, ISBN 0-89608-745-X