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EARTH DEMOCRACY Creating living economies, living democracies, living cultures
This essay trains the lens differently upon the phenomenon of globalisation by focusing upon the long-term effects felt by the people of the south when their very livelihood is threatened by policies and practices of multinational corporations. The rationale for framing this debate in terms of popular culture is to show that such systemic and systematic impoverishment results in sowing the seeds of terrorism. By connecting globalisation to terrorism, and suggesting a solution through democratic and localized forms of reform, the article brings to light the need for immediate ethical action, both by the state and by the masses.
The problem: the inseparability of globalisation and terrorism
‘Globalisation’ and ‘terrorism’ are the dominant terms of our times. They are usually treated as separate, but are intimately interconnected at multiple levels as they reinforce each other and create vicious cycles.
Globalisation as economic terrorism
To terrorise is to fill with terror and fear, to coerce by threat or violence. Terrorism is the systematic use of terror as a means of coercion. Globalisation in the form of coercive rules of trade and trade liberalisation, whether embodied in the structural adjustment conditionalities of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), or in the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), is clearly a form of terrorism. The financial conditionalities of the World Bank and the trade sanctions of the WTO are the systematic use of terror against the poor and the Third World to coerce them to give up what little they have and transform it into the property and markets of global corporations. This terrorism is particularly vicious in the area of vital resources such as biodiversity and water, and basic needs such as food. In this sense globalisation is genocidal. But it is also suicidal, as recorded in the collapse of Enron, WorldCom, Vivendi and other corporations.
Globalisation as source of insecurity and exclusion, the context for the rise of terrorism
Globalisation is a war against people, especially the poor, as the economic exclusion and economic insecurity intrinsic to globalisation also create a climate of fear and
South Asian Popular Culture Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2004, pp. 5–18 ISSN 1474-6689 print/ISSN 1474-6697 online © 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals DOI: 10.1080/1474668042000210483
Instead of integrating people. xenophobia and communalism help keep an unjust and inequitable economic order in place. In a democracy. social and cultural exclusion. and national politics is emptied of economic sovereignty by shifting power and decision making outside national boundaries – to the WTO. It integrates markets globally. Over the past two decades. because they focus on economic injustice by seeking to correct it through democracy. The negative economy of globalisation creates a culture of despair and fear. and insecurity. which subsequently give rise to fundamentalism. These are movements based on hope – they strive to create a better world. IMF and global corporations – representative democracy feeds on and nurtures a politics of divide and rule on the basis of ethnicity. Globalisation and the rise of xenophobic fundamentalist politics When democracy is emptied of economic content. From another angle of critical scrutiny. Class issues and economic justice disappear. movements for the defence of people’s rights to livelihoods and basic needs are the democratic and peaceful response to the terrorism of globalisation. only to be replaced by the politics of identity. the economic agenda is the political agenda. caste and religion. Consequently. World Bank. And the rise of terrorism is used to push forward the free trade globalisation agenda. terrorism and fundamentalism. ‘The Harvest of Rage’ drew similar links between the Oklahoma bombing and the US farm crisis. In an inverted scale. but excludes people from the economy and from democratic decision making. I have witnessed conflicts over development and conflicts over natural resources mutate into communal conflicts. especially among those who are unable to grasp the roots of their insecurity in the terrorism of globalisation. Social and political polarisations are also useful threats that serve as diversions and smokescreen to push through the agenda of corporate globalisation against which there is worldwide resistance and backlash.6 SOUTH ASIAN POPULAR CULTURE hopelessness. My book Violence of the Green Revolution was an attempt to understand the ecology of terrorism. to explain how aggressive state policies create fertile ground for extremist fundamentalist ideologies and actions. religion and ethnicity. I have fought the explosive tendencies in economic globalisation that erode cultural diversity and identity. impoverished democracy breeds fundamentalisms of all kinds. it is evident that democracy emptied of economic freedom and ecological freedom becomes a potent breeding ground for fundamentalism and terrorism. I want to engender systematic social movements that seek to correct such rampant modes of globalisation that produce systemic economic exclusions and end up creating political. where I forcefully represented the Global . The only cards left in the hands of politicians eager to garner votes are those of race. corporate globalisation is tearing communities apart. Exclusion and insecurity provide fertile ground for breeding extremism. In Seattle in 1999. It is a child of economies built without concern for people. culminating in extremism and terrorism. By keeping people’s energies diverted from issues of basic needs and economic democracy. When the former is hijacked by the World Bank. and which assault the political freedoms of citizens. There is in fact a comfortable partnership between the supporters of globalisation and the promoters of the politics of hate. And fundamentalism effectively fills the vacuum left by a decaying state system that refuses to nourish its people on real dividends of livelihoods. IMF or the WTO it is democracy that is decimated.
President Musharraf was in Washington while talks were underway one day after the conclusion of the Doha negotiations. a few days after the very successful and totally peaceful rally of a million people in Florence at the European Social Forum. is an example of how all democratic protest against undemocratic. At a local level. Pakistan was silenced by a ‘one billion dollar plus’ aid package to reward Pakistan’s support of the US in Afghanistan. It is a little known fact that the ‘Homeland Security Act’ has been used to create corporate subsidies for the information and biotechnology industry. or the Anti-terrorism. and has been used to give immunity to the pharmaceutical industry. However. Instead of addressing the root causes of terrorism and fundamentalism in the growth of economic insecurity and collapse of economic democracy by ensuring that people’s needs are met and their livelihoods protected. As a Third World country representative has stated: September 11th is an act to be lamented by all humanity. brutal economic globalisation is being criminalised and labelled as terrorist. Bangkok. November 2002: 11) During the WTO ministerial talks at Doha. Whether it is the Patriot Act in the US. which in turn promoted a climate of insecurity. using old laws from the fascist period. but what gives cause for even greater regret are the economic benefits that were extracted by the industrialised countries out of this disaster. imperial voice of corporations under the guise of free trade. While India and Pakistan were silenced in Doha. was silenced at the last minute by making the accusation that opposing a new round for enlarged WTO powers implied supporting terrorism. The arrest of 20 young activists of the anti-globalisation movement in Italy on 15 November 2002. was silenced by the subversive. Those responsible for corporate globalisation are increasingly trying to criminalise dissent and democracy by identifying the movements for justice and peace with ‘terrorism’. We had jokingly referred to it as the World Terrorist Organisation. all anti-legislation in key sectors was passed when the communal frenzy was at its peak. democratic forces ground the WTO to a halt. and the aid package was ignored in Washington. the Doha ministerial declaration would not have contained even half of its obligations. I would even venture to say that if September 11 had not happened. India. wherein both General Motors crops and a new Patent Act were cleared. defence of democracy = terrorism.EARTH DEMOCRACY 7 South. Crime and Society Act in the UK (ATCSA). one of the largest democratic nations. (Quoted in Aileen Keva. Focus on the Global South. In India. communities were divided and pitted against one another in the subcontinent. too. the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were used to resurrect a failing WTO and even enlarge its powers. new laws created after 11 September 2001 are not just laws against terrorists – they are also laws against citizens’ democratic defence of their fundamental freedoms that are being . In the language and perception of those supporting corporate globalisation. India. geo-corporations made huge strides during the worst ethnic violence since India’s independence. states across the world are equipping themselves with laws to shut down democracy and freedom in the name of fighting terror. ‘Power Politics in the WTO’. The war against terror becomes a war against people fighting the terror of globalisation. Prevention of Terrorism Act in India (POTA).
as I see it.000-year-old images of peace. race or religion. My role. it divorces terrorism from its roots by separating it from the context of insecurity and exclusion engendered by globalisation. Why is violence engulfing us so rapidly. is not to stop globalisation but to demand an equitable sharing of resources and profits. of attempting to blow up the Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir on 1 October. However. of Pakistan and India threatening to go to war as 2001 gave way to 2002 – indicating that globalisation in its current economic mode is certainly not the route to ‘one’ world. the political and economic context create potential for violence or non-violence. To understand terrorism we need to understand the roots of terrorism. and demand accountability from organisations such as the WTO at a structural level. the dominant system emphasises that the roots of terrorism lie not in economic insecurity and political exclusion or economic globalisation but in artificially constructed insular identities. because that can help us find ways to build cultures of non-violence. Just as quantum measurement influences the property of quanta. of terrorists blowing up the World Trade Center on 11 September. extremist violence and religious intolerance are growing rather than disappearing as economic globalisation spreads. We have had terrorists of every race and religion. it allows the disease of globalisation to be offered as the cure for the symptoms of terrorism that it has given rise to. it would have been described as the rise of fascism and totalitarianism. In another period. On the other. This Cartesian essentialising is doubly convenient. Violence and non-violence are not essential characteristics of particular groups of people or cultures. the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Terrorism cannot be identified with any particular group. It is helpful to pause and reflect on the context which creates violence. and ruling through fear and violence are becoming the dominant mechanism for governance. Fear and violence are currently the dominant forms of human expression. so totally? Why has violence become the dominant feature of the human species across cultures? Could the violence characterising human societies in the new millennium be linked with violent structures and institutions we have created to reduce society to markets and humans to consumers? The solution: ethical globalisation If ‘terrorism’ is the dominant category of our times. . with the totalitarianism of corporate control over markets combining with totalitarianism of militarised states taking away from people their fundamental rights and freedoms. The year 2001 will be etched in our memory as a year in which the vicious cycle of violence was unleashed worldwide – the Taliban bombing the 2. and the Indian Parliament on 13 December. They are potentials which emerge according to the context. negativity is the dominant trend. On the one hand.8 SOUTH ASIAN POPULAR CULTURE trampled upon by the forces of globalisation. of a global alliance bombing out what remained of Afghanistan after two decades of superpower rivalry and civil war. Suicide bombers have become the metaphor of liberation in our age of negativity. Roots of terrorism Even though globalisation and terrorism are interconnected and support each other.
corporate states which deregulate corporate activity and over-regulate the everyday life of citizens. However.EARTH DEMOCRACY 9 Negative economies. they excluded diverse cultures and they excluded women’s . Negative economies are taking the resources of the poor and converting them into corporate property. compassion and conservation. The political response from us needs to put human beings in all their diversity at the centre of economic thought. Ending the madness requires. Negative economies and negative politics feed on and fuel negative cultures and identities. As identities are displaced and insecurities grow. They are destroying the earth. negative politics. They excluded other species. Ironically. and ‘growth’ is created artificially. wherein cultural diversity co-evolved with biological diversity. the destruction is externalised. destroying more than they produce. from negative economies of death and destruction to living economies that sustain life on earth and our lives. Humanity defines itself through its inhumanity. and of community. as more soil surfaces across the globe are desertified. and living cultures. All liberation movements in recent history have been partial and exclusivist. And we need to evolve an inclusive agenda for human rights which includes all humans and all rights. since culture as self-expression is destroyed by corporate globalisation. taking more than they return. The survival imperative demands that we make a transition from negative to the positive – from vicious cycles of violence to healthy cycles of non-violence. spreading non-sustainable production and consumption patterns worldwide and making people dispensable and redundant in every society. markets and capital as ‘people’ for whose ‘protection’ all the necessary safeguards can be removed from human beings. more small farmers are uprooted. negative cultures are drawing sustenance from each other. living democracy. We must not allow the annihilation of citizens’ rights and human rights by all-powerful global corporations. from negative cultures that are leading to mutual annihilation to positive cultures based on caring. Negative economies are being supported by negative politics – inverted states which create freedom for foreign investors and destroy the freedoms of their citizens. identity is shaped by insecurity – culture is experienced through negation of the ‘other’. Earth democracy allows the emergence of living economies. but rather that globalisation is a political project and it needs a political response. of culture. in ecosystems and economies. more people suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Cultures have shaped positive identities – a sense of self based on sense of place. not living under the illusion that globalisation is natural and inevitable and hence nothing can be done about it. more ‘growth’ appears in the form of super profits for agribusiness. pushing our lives into insecurity and non-viability. Cultures have been shaped by the land. first. Negative politics is also expressed in the death of economic democracy and economic nationalism and the rise of fundamentalist ideologies and cultural nationalism. more biodiversity disappears. from negative politics of corruption and totalitarianism to living democracies which include concern for and participation of all life. We must stop treating corporations. and this is not an essentialist or romanticised concept of self but rather one that advocates a conscious regeneration of self through legitimate paths of ownership – of person. They are negative with respect to people and nature.
Closely linked to the rule and reification of abstraction are dominant traits which threaten life in its diversity. it is time to re-envision this kind of globalisation. identity. Once we break free of this mental prison and see the world in its interconnectedness and non-separability. In the reductionist. politics and the economy have all become negative. Why are we as a species destroying the very basis of our survival and existence? Why has insecurity been the result of every attempt to build security? How can we as members of the earth community reinvent security to ensure the survival of all species and the survival and future of diverse cultures? How do we make a shift from life-annihilating tendencies to life-preserving processes? From the ruins resulting from a culture of destruction how do we build cultures that sustain and celebrate life? A major source of threat to our ecological survival and growing culture of insecurity is the rule and domination by abstract constructions. For the first time we have an opportunity to seek freedom in inclusive ways. and terminator seeds. a division and separation. between objective and subjective. good food. The monoculture of the mind pushes to oblivion and extinction biological and cultural diversity which are the very preconditions of ecological and cultural security. Globalisation. the concrete. This inclusivity. creative peace and life. We need a new movement which allows us to move from the dominant and pervasive culture of violence to one of non-violence. politics. It shuts out in-between species in nature and culture. to seek freedom for humans in partnership with other species and to seek freedom non-violently. mechanistic worldview. a paradigm based on competition and war. Atomisation has become the dominant thought and dominant practice. It allows the dominance of corporations – a carefully constructed legal fiction – over the lives of real people and citizens. the life giving. the constructed has primacy and is more real than reality itself. The law of the excluded middle becomes the basis of the legitimisation of exclusion of ecocide and genocide. This domination of abstract construction over lived reality is based on a blindness. The false assumption of separability based on abstraction allows the emergence of life-threatening technologies like genetic engineering. rich cultures for the creation of fictitious wealth of more than $3 trillion a day. which is nearly 100-fold more than the real goods and services it can command. this freedom of diversity. and the economy. in our diversity. biodiversity. new alternatives emerge – despair turns to hope. of soil. water. It allows the destruction of real wealth. between primary and secondary qualities. and scarcity transforms into abundance and insecurity to security. and denies the existence of biodiversity on farms. decontextualisation and disembeddedness to the disintegration that result from separation of that which is interconnected. . We need once more to feel at home on the earth and with each other. In order to think through an equity-based globalisation model we must ask ourselves a few questions. Currently.10 SOUTH ASIAN POPULAR CULTURE politics of making change through everyday life. is the alternative to the current mode of globalisation. That is why in India we started the Earth Democracy Movement. and food from forests. This ‘escape’ from our biological species/being is historically rooted in the Cartesian/Newtonian divide between mind and matter. and a denial of the real. violence gives way to non-violence. We need a new paradigm to respond to the fragmentation caused by various forms of fundamentalism. has created a world of many wars and multiple conflicts. Earth democracy involves the reinvention of cultural identity. self-organisation and self-renewal – the monoculture of the mind and the law of the excluded middle.
(b) the deepening of poverty and the exclusion of millions from livelihoods and economic security. when a Muslim singer prays to Durga and Shiva. Globalisation is. biodiversity. development against environment and people against the planet and against one another in a new culture of hate. The maintenance of life in its diversity and integrity rather than limitless extraction of profits through monopolies over biodiversity and water and all vital resources is the basis of relationships in Earth democracy. Earth democracy provides an alternative worldview in which humans are embedded in the Earth Family. water and food. peace and cultural diversity. ecological non-sustainability. and (c) the destruction of democracy. most frequently. they are invented through globally financed. ecological responsibility and economic justice as objectives of human life. The global economy is symbolised by corruption scandals. and diverse cultures in the mosaic of cultural diversity which enriches our lives. restructuring constellations of power and revitalising freedom and democracy. It is symbolised in farms rejuvenating biodiversity and in species acting in mutuality to benefit one another. the stock market and destruction of jobs and livelihoods. Earth democracy recontextualises humans as one member of the Earth Family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam). The first is the continuum of freedom for all life on earth. The second is the continuum between. It is based on living democracy which is inclusive. Earth democracy is based on creating living economies that protect life on earth and provide basic needs and economic security to all. of rootedness. race. Reclaiming and re-creating the indivisible freedom of all species is the aim of the Earth Democracy Movement. justice. Cultures stop growing from a place from the earth. of limits of sharing within those limits. it means actively fighting against religious polarisation when Hindus visit a Muslim shrine on their pilgrimage to Sabarimala and Wasiffudin Dagar. cultural identity and politics are symbolised by suicide bombings and ethnic cleansing. and without justice there can be no peace. In Earth democracy positive systems ensure the fundamental right to life of all species. class and species. It helps to address exclusivist monocultural modes of dominant thinking that lead to: (a) the destruction of resources and the creation of monopolies over land. globally organised fundamentalist ideologies. governance systems and economies mutate into negative systems when they are determined and shaped by external forces. Earth democracy transforms our mind and our actions. justice and peace by reorganising relationships. The Earth Democracy Movement is a commitment to go beyond the triple crisis of economic injustice and inequality. and all peoples are defended. and indivisibility of. peace and sustainability – without sustainability and a just sharing of the earth’s bounties there is no justice. in fact. the replacement of selfdetermined. keeping the ancient Dhrupad tradition alive for a composite culture. from a sense of place. In India. I advocate re-embedding humans in the ecological matrix of biological and cultural diversity. which reopens spaces for sustainability. and liberates us from patterns of thought and paradigms which have pushed us to our contemporary predicament. Cultures.EARTH DEMOCRACY 11 where. we are connected to each other through compassion. and it embodies two indivisibilities and continuums. self-organised systems with externally manipulated systems. Earth . Earth democracy enables us to transcend the polarisation. In Earth democracy our primary identities come from the earth. and the decay of democracy and the rise of terrorism. divisions and exclusions that place the economy against ecology. and all humans without discrimination on the basis of gender. religion.
and gender and class inequality. Corporate globalisation ruptures these continuities. it is alive. They are centralising authority and power. even of the shallow representative kind. It is everyday life and decisions and freedoms related to everyday living – the food we eat. with rights flowing from responsibility instead of the current dominant paradigm of rights without responsibility and responsibility without rights. or even the false clash of cultures. do not have to bear the burden of that pollution. the WTO or by corporations. The separation of rights and responsibility is at the root of ecological devastation. and have no purchasing power in the marketplace. It is a permanently vibrant democracy. On the one hand. Earth democracy shifts the constellation of power from corporations to people. We have a duty to ensure their well being. attempts are being made to alienate people’s rights to vital resources of land. from global institutions and centralised governments to local communities. This creates the need for direct or basic democracy. It combines economic democracy with political democracy and ecological democracy. the clothes we wear. On the other. Gandhi’s concept of Swadeshi – of economic freedom and economic democracy – is one of the principles at the core of Earth democracy. and definitely not just humans privileged through class. or from genetic pollution resulting from GM crops. is dying. and natural rights to the conditions of staying alive. Earth democracy is based on those who pay the price having a say. The law of the included middle also implies multi-functionality.’ This creates human responsibility as trustees and stewards. under globalisation. of the law of the excluded middle. Earth democracy is about life. It is not just about elections and casting votes once in three or four or five years. and creates competition and conflict between different species and peoples and between different aims. of apartheid. Since other species do not vote. Corporations that earn profits from the chemical industry. Earth democracy is not dead. Earth democracy creates an obligation on us as humans to take their well-being into account. Earth democracy also nourishes diversity by going beyond the logic of exclusion. even though. They are not given by states nor can they be extinguished by states. control and ownership. democracy. and those who carry responsibility having the rights. It is in the included middle where diversity and creativity flourish in nature and in culture. it recognises that biodiversity can be preserved and also support human needs. just as they are excluded from the benefits. Governments everywhere are betraying the mandates that brought them to power. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama said on his 60th birthday: ‘All beings have a right to well being and happiness. nature versus culture. the logic of ‘and’ – of inclusion. It transcends the false polarisation of wild versus cultivated. cannot lobby. this implies decisions moving downwards. race. Earth democracy puts responsibility and duties at the core of our relationships. Under the present mode of economic or corporate globalisation. It allows for the forest farm and the farmed forest. gender and religion. water and biodiversity. the water we drink. both by subverting democratic structures of constitutions and by promulgating ordinances that stifle civil liberties. The social and ecological costs are externalised and borne by others who are excluded from the decisions.12 SOUTH ASIAN POPULAR CULTURE democracy is the democracy of all life. it implies a shift in our interpretation of sovereignty. instead of the dominant notion of mastery. of either/or. Rights to natural resources for maintaining life are natural rights. of ‘us’ and ‘them’. The Earth . and rebalances the role and functions of the state which is increasingly taking on undemocratic forms. It establishes corporate rule through a divide-and-rule policy. not just humans.
productive work. Rights to natural resources for sustenance are natural rights. In contrast. In this global ‘dollar’ economy the world is borderless for capital but not for people. our production systems and consumption patterns from the poverty-creating global markets to the sustainability and sharing of the earth community. limiting commercial activity to prevent harm to other species and to people. Democracy is dead when governments no longer reflect the will of the people but are reduced to antidemocratic. as the Enron and Chiquita cases make so evident. these are part of the web of life. with the greatest powers at the lowest level. Privatisation and enclosures destroy it. the right to life. This shift from global markets to earth citizenship is a shift of focus from globalisation to localisation of power from corporations to citizens. As members of the Earth Family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam) we have a share in the earth’s resources. Earth democracy is exercised through decentralised power and peaceful coexistence. The most basic right we have as a species is survival. and globalisation has accelerated the substitution of real wealth and real value with fictitious wealth and false value. This ‘dollarisation’ of the economic value of nature. Survival requires guaranteed access to resources. but the ‘trade’ in finances is $800 billion to $1 trillion. This real wealth has been destroyed by fictitious wealth that is concentrated in a few hands. $20–50 circulates in the economy of pure finance.EARTH DEMOCRACY 13 democracy movement is about living rather that dead democracy. They are not given or assigned. it is our human relationships – based on mutuality and love. which is dominated by trade in dollars. and are recognised or ignored. Corporate globalisation is centred on corporate profits. Real wealth is our soil. From dying economies to living economies The first shift that needs to be made to create living economies from the ruins of dying economies is to value real wealth. and operates according to the ecological laws of nature. Hence. it is our creative. water. corporate monopolies on water through privatisation and corporate monopolies over food through free trade. This shift is also an ecological imperative. Having said this. The daily trade in goods is only $20–25 billion. Commons provide that guarantee. people and market have been reduced not only to the market but also the phenomenon called the ‘global market’. the three economies of nature. For every $1 circulating in the productive world economy. It is based not on productive activities but speculation. is an essential part of globalisation. Localisation is necessary for recovery of the commons. for example. And Earth democracy is the movement to relocate our minds. The eminent domain principle inevitably leads to the situation of ‘all for some’ – corporate monopolies over biodiversity through patents. . and products necessary for human survival. the economy based on speculation has power to destroy the real economy in which people provide for themselves on a daily basis. not fictitious wealth. All economic value is therefore reduced not only to market prices but also to global market prices – the dollar. and power being delegated upwards on the basis of subsidiarity. biodiversity. unaccountable instruments of corporate rule under the constellation of corporate globalisation. Earth democracy is based on maintaining cooperation and freedom for all species and people. Creation of money thus becomes hugely unrelated to the creation of value. It is a trend in India.
and thereby creates poverty. of air.14 SOUTH ASIAN POPULAR CULTURE made evident in recent advertisements which equate natural resources with dollars and yens. the privatisation of water through structural adjustment programmes and trade in services and corporatisation of food and agriculture needs a combination of strategies at local. Both unemployment and poverty. One model for living democracies Living democracy for us has become a process for building alternatives. corporations and citizens: (1) At the local level. after the Mandakini River. toxic chemicals.000 people from 200 villages of Uttaranchar gathered at Agastyamuni. Resisting the privatisation of biodiversity through intellectual property rights (IPRs). the recovery of the commons requires a recognition of local community rights and a reinvention of sovereignty. 5 June 1999. This not only robs people of their livelihoods. Living economies protect resources and people’s livelihoods. Technology and Ecology and Navdanya launched a movement called the Jaiv Panchayat: Living Democracy. Fictitious wealth is a construct to facilitate the ‘welfare’ of another fiction – the corporation as a person. A key element in living democracy is the recognition that the right to vital resources is a natural right. they give meaning to us as creators and producers – they do not reduce us into two classes. it is both the duty and the right to commons – the commons of water of biodiversity. Ecological and social costs. and so it cannot be taken away by corporations through privatisation. the Research Foundation for Science. And the destruction does not register in the global trade figures. and a shift from states . It is not given by nation-states. (2) At the national level. when in fact more resources are being consumed. on the banks of which it was made (see p. and values. conservation and protection of biological diversity and knowledge. all corporate responsibilities have evaporated into a system of absolute rights and absolute irresponsibility. The second shift is a shift from labour productivity to resource productivity. the right to life and life’s sustenance is also a common right. and. Uttaranchal. Hence. As a natural right. More than 20. and adopted the Mandakini Milan Declaration. and is the cause of resource wars. Over time. and creates a false illusion that more is being produced. on World Environment Day. equally important. Treating labour alone as an input in production also gives power to capital. the recovery of the commons needs the strengthening and assertion of local community rights and people’s sovereign and natural rights to vital resources such as water and biodiversity. 15). and fossil fuels. employment and livelihoods. for the rejuvenation. Ecological agriculture can produce 100 units of output using 5 units of input. Industrial agriculture uses 300 units to produce 100 units. Reclaiming the community and the commons is at the heart of building living economies. it also ravages the planet and leads to climate change. To relocate control and decision making over knowledge and biodiversity from the multinational corporations to these self-governing Panchayats. It is facilitating the takeover of biodiversity through ‘bio-prospecting’ and of water through ‘private–public partnerships’. while taking back power. ecological destruction are rooted in replacing people with machines. national and global levels and a shift in the constellation of the power and rights of states. disappear and are destroyed. The creation of fictitious wealth is destroying work. namely a class of consumers and a class of disposable people.
(3) At the global level. cattle. Uttaranchal Today. the sacred land of Rishi Agastya. we. Maharishi Jagdamni. This pledge assumes more significance as it is being taken in Agastyamuni. trees. Distt. From our forefathers we have inherited the right to protect the biodiversity of our Himalayan region and also the corresponding duty to utilise these biological resources for the good of all people. who through his dedication and research stabilised the mighty Himalayan mountains (therefore the name Agastya – the stabilising force). sheep. by way of this Declaration. as a revered gift and our ancestral heritage. Rishi Atri. animals. tigers and in fact all animals. Their work has contributed to the conservation and sustainable use of all kinds of medicinal plants and floral wealth and other precious biodiversity of these mountains. Through such decentralised democratic decision-making we will make real the democracy for life. The Jaiv Panchayat will decide on all matters pertaining to biodiversity. Mata Anasuiya and other saints. on 5th June 1999. and our entire diverse biological wealth. seeds are our biological resources and we shall not let any outsider exercise any control over them through patents or destroy it through genetic engineering. As a community. precious medicinal plants and manure. which in turn prevents patenting of life forms and privatisation of water. plants. birds. Both humanity and nature have greatly benefited from the diligent research of Maharishi Agastya. soil. Rudraprayag. the people of Agastyamuni. The research has been further enriched by Maharishi Charak and other saints and health practitioners who compiled the volumes of Samhita and Nighantu detailing the uses and properties of our biological resources. lions. ownership and commodification.EARTH DEMOCRACY 15 Mandakini Milan Declaration 5 June 1999 Agastyamuni. These principles need to be enshrined in international law and policy. on the auspicious occasion of World Environment Day. Therefore we pledge. we shall together be the guardians of our biological heritage. trees. This tradition of sharing shall be kept alive through the Jaiv Panchayat – the living democracy. the recovery of the commons requires a movement of people to keep water and biodiversity beyond monopoly. buffaloes. that we shall not let any destructive elements unjustly exploit and monopolise these precious resources through illegal means. They become the source of popular democratic pressure to reform the WTO and the . goats. water. functioning on the doctrine of eminent domain to states functioning on the doctrine of public trust. Cows. take the solemn pledge that we will continue to protect our plants. sustainable and just use of these biological resources in her/his everyday practical living. These volumes were bestowed to the community for well-being and continue to live through the Ayurveda. So that in our communities and countries we can truly establish a living people’s democracy wherein each and every individual can associate herself/himself with the conservation. Garhwal.
It is an expression of the quest for freedom for all people and all species. They are subjects.16 SOUTH ASIAN POPULAR CULTURE World Bank – to implement the review of TRIPs in which countries of the South are calling for an exclusion of life forms from patentability. humans and cultures have intrinsic worth. it has meant refusing to ethically. The Salt Satyagraha was India’s refusal to cooperate with the unjust Salt Laws and an expression of India’s quest for freedom with equity. We all have a duty to protect the rights and welfare of all species and all people. other people or the knowledge of other cultures through patents and other intellectual property rights. (5) Since sovereignty based on the doctrine of eminent domain is becoming the conduit for global usurpation of people’s resources and the undermining of people’s sovereign rights. In periods of injustice and external domination. Incidentally. For us. No humans have the right to own other species. On 5 March 1999 Navdanya launched the Bija Satyagraha (Seed Sovereignty) – non-cooperation with immoral. real freedom or self-rule and Swaraj (self-governance) also create a duty to resist unjust laws and unjust rule. not objects of manipulation or ownership. illegitimate patent laws. Bija means ‘seed’ and Satyagraha means ‘the struggle for truth’. then. local community rights at the global level. my activism to advocate an ethical globalisation is to work through Earth democracy and its principles of justice. The movement was part of the campaign for Bija Swaraj – Seed and Biodiversity Sovereignty. and the destruction of food security through the free-trade rules of the WTO. and redefining a new partnership between people and governments on the basis of subsidiarity and the public trust doctrine. and an assertion of our seed and food rights. and strengthen. Global commons not built from or based on local commons constitutes an ecologically and democratically fraudulent category. when people are denied economic and political freedom. The global commons is merely a recognition and reinforcement of local community rights. (4) The citizen treaties to defend water and biodiversity as commons will have democratic power and substance to the extent they reflect the recognition of. sustainability and peace: • We are all members of the Earth community. Intrinsic worth of all species and peoples: all species. It is not the level at which rights are exercised or assigned. • . No humans have the right to encroach on the ecological space of other species and other people. reclaiming the biodiversity and water commons must go hand in hand with reclaiming sovereignty. This is the most persuasive agenda for bringing ‘the people’ into an active democracy. which was initiated to protest against the colonisation of salt as an Indian resource by the Salt Laws imposed by the British Empire. 5 March 1999 was the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Salt Satyagraha’ (Salt March). and to review structural adjustment programmes which impose export-led agricultural strategies and policies of water privatisation. Real democracy. and building coalition for equitable globalisation. We build our living Earth democracy campaigns concretely as Anna Swaraj (Food Sovereignty). Bija Swaraj (Seed and Biodiversity Sovereignty). intellectually or legally accept patents on life and monopolies on seed. reclaiming freedom requires peaceful non-cooperation with unjust regimes. To conclude. or treat them with cruelty and violence. The Bija Satyagraha is the refusal to accept the colonisation of life through patents and perverse technologies. and Jal Swaraj (Water Sovereignty).
Earth democracy globalises compassion.EARTH DEMOCRACY 17 • • • • • • • • Diversity in nature and culture: defending biological and cultural diversity is a duty of all people. resilient local economies. patent. Balancing rights with responsibility: in Earth democracy. The earth economy is a living economy. using local resources or local knowledge. reductionist and anti-life. Living economies are built on local economies: conservation of the earth’s resources and creation of sustainable and satisfying livelihoods is most caringly. Earth democracy is living democracy. pluralistic systems that protect nature and people. monopolise. . have the right to sustenance – to food and water. Living democracy: Earth democracy is based on local living democracy with local communities. they are birthrights given by the fact of existence on earth and are best protected through community rights and commons. Living knowledge is knowledge that maintains and renews living processes and contributes to the health of the planet and people. a source of both material and cultural richness. Authority is delegated to more distant levels of governance on the principle of subsidiarity. not greed. All humans have a duty to share knowledge. they protect people’s livelihoods and provide basic needs to all. Living knowledge: Earth democracy is based on earth-centred and communitycentred knowledge systems. to erode or undermine these natural rights or enclose the commons that sustain all. These rights are natural rights. creatively. Natural rights to sustenance: all members of the Earth community. No person or corporation has a right to enclose. not war. Earth democracy is based on economic democracy: economic systems in Earth democracy protect ecosystems and their integrity. and peace. a value. The global economy does not crush and destroy local economies. Living knowledge is a commons. care and compassion: Earth democracy connects people in circles of care. Diversity is an end in itself. Earth economy is based on economic democracy and living economy. should be produced non-locally and traded long distance. nor can they be extinguished by state or corporate action. efficiently and equitably achieved at the local level. organised on principles of inclusion and diversity and ecological and social responsibility having the highest authority on decisions related to the environment and natural resources and to the sustenance and livelihoods of people. No state or corporation has the right. which support national and global economies. Only goods and services that cannot be produced locally. diverse. are chosen by people. including all humans. Those who bear the consequences of decisions and actions are the decision makers. to safe and clean habitat. it belongs collectively to communities that create it and keep it alive. to security of ecological space. for the benefit of the common good. Localisation of economics must be social and ecological imperatives. or exclusively own living knowledge as intellectual property. In the earth economy there are no disposable or dispensable species or people. Earth democracy is based on vibrant. rights are derived from and balanced with responsibility. cooperation and compassion instead of dividing them through competition and conflict. Globalising peace. It is based on sustainable. through privatisation or monopoly control. it is not abstract. It is also living knowledge in that it is embedded in nature and society. They are not given by states or corporations.
water conservation. Address: A-60 Hauz Khas. She is one the world’s leading activists. and Ecology. She runs short educational seminars in India on biodiversity.com] . She sits on the board of the WTO. and earth democracy. and Navdanya: Seeds of Freedom organization in New Delhi. and is the founder of the Research Foundation for Science. [email: vshiva@vsnl. India 110016. New Delhi.18 SOUTH ASIAN POPULAR CULTURE Vandana Shiva is a Particle Physicist by training and a renowned ethicist in practice. Technology. and is also active in the struggle for equity for women in the home and in the work-place. championing the rights of disenfranchised peoples of the global south on issues ranging from safeguarding water and food supplies to battling the World Trade Organization and World Bank on Intellectual Property Rights and the granting of Patents. India.
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