Contribution to GTI Roundtable "Radical Ecological Democracy"
In this piece, Ashish Kothari gives us a vitally important view of India, revealing the high costs of economic growth for people and the planet. This information needs to be spread as far and wide as possible to counteract the false, but dominant, messages in the media. The recent phenomenal growth in India is supposed to have lifted millions of people out of poverty. The ecological and social costs, indeed the increases in poverty that growth has created, are ignored. In actual fact, the global economic system is responsible for massive social upheaval, destroying community and cultural identity and laying waste to the natural environment. With radical ecological democracy, Kothari presents a methodical approach that would be far more successful in addressing poverty on a broad-scale, while respecting ecological limits. Because it takes emotional as well as physical needs into account, it is a holistic system, which lays the foundation for genuine well-being or happiness.
At the end of the piece, Kothari raises an important point: we need a shift from global to local economics, but we need to build local to global people’s movements. In other words, groups need to come together to build a global movement to localize economies. Localizing and creating radical ecological democracy is born of genuine collaboration, while economic globalization leads to exclusion and monoculture, with only the 1% and multinational corporations having a voice. The more we globalize, the more powerful the corporate monopolies become, and the more democracy is undermined. Localization, in contrast, is a prerequisite for inclusion and diversity, for giving a voice back to individuals and communities and restoring genuine democracy.
Ashish Kothari’s insights in this piece, and all his writings, are beautifully expressed and grounded in both experience and deep analysis. His emphasis on bridging the gap between the head and heart is especially important as we move forward to transform the dominant economic system.