[WSMDiscuss] Fwd: Why we need alternatives to development, By Ashish Kothari, Ariel Salleh, Arturo Escobar, Federico Demaria, and Alberto Acosta

Ashish Kothari chikikothari at gmail.com
Fri Nov 23 18:03:37 CET 2018

This article, introducing an upcoming book on radical alternatives, may 
be of interest,


NEW!’Alternative Futures: India Unshackled’,https://www.amazon.in/dp/B077S479W4

Ashish Kothari
Apt 5 Shree Datta Krupa
908 Deccan Gymkhana
Pune 411004, India
Tel: 91-20-25654239; 91-20-25675450
Twitter: @chikikothari

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: 	Why we need alternatives to development, By Ashish Kothari, 
Ariel Salleh, Arturo Escobar, Federico Demaria, and Alberto Acosta
Date: 	Thu, 22 Nov 2018 22:08:31 +0000 (UTC)
From: 	alberto acosta <alacosta48 at yahoo.com>
To: 	alberto acosta <alacosta48 at yahoo.com>


  Why we need alternatives to development

/By Ashish Kothari, Ariel Salleh, Arturo Escobar, Federico Demaria, and 
Alberto Acosta/

The seductive nature of development rhetoric, sometimes called 
developmentality or developmentalism, has been internalized across 
virtually all countries. Decades after the notion of development spread 
around the world, only a handful of countries that were called 
‘underdeveloped’ or ‘developing’, now really qualify as ‘developed’. 
Others struggle to emulate the North’s economic template, and all at 
enormous ecological and social cost. The problem lies not in lack of 
implementation, but in the conception of development as linear, 
unidirectional, material and financial growth, driven by commodification 
and capitalist markets.

Despite numerous attempts to re-signify development, it continues to be 
something that ‘experts’ manage in pursuit of economic growth, and 
measure by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a poor and misleading indicator 
of progress in the sense of well-being. In truth, the world at large 
experiences ‘maldevelopment’, not least in the very industrialized 
countries whose lifestyle was meant to serve as a beacon for the 
‘backward’ ones.

A critical part of these multiple crises lies in the conception of 
‘modernity’ itself – not to suggest that everything modern is 
destructive or iniquitous, nor that all tradition is positive. Indeed, 
modern elements such as human rights and feminist principles are proving 
liberatory for many people. We refer to modernity as the dominant 
worldview emerging in Europe since the Renaissance transition from the 
Middle Ages to the early modern period. The cultural practices and 
institutions making up this worldview hold the individual as being 
independent of the collective, and give predominance to private 
property, free markets, political liberalism, secularism and 
representative democracy. Another key feature of modernity is 
‘universality’– the idea that we all live in a single, now globalized 
world, and critically, the idea of modern science as being the only 
reliable truth and harbinger of ‘progress’.

Among the early causes of these crises is the ancient monotheistic 
premise that a father ‘God’ made the Earth for the benefit of ‘his’ 
human children. This attitude is known as anthropocentrism. At least in 
the West, it evolved into a philosophic habit of pitting humanity 
against nature; it gave rise to related dualisms such as the divide 
between humanity and nature, subject and object, civilized and 
barbarian, mind and body, man and woman. These classic ideological 
categories both legitimize devastation of the natural world, as well as 
the exploitation of sex-gender, racial and civilizational differences.

There is no guarantee that development will resolve traditional 
discrimination and violence against women, youth, children and intersex 
minorities, landless and unemployed classes, races, castes and 
ethnicities. As globalizing capital destabilizes regional economies, 
turning communities into refugee populations, some people cope by 
identifying with the macho power of the political Right, along with its 
promise to ‘take the jobs back’from migrants.. A dangerous drift towards 
authoritarianism is taking place all over the world, from India to USA 
and Europe.

*Development and Sustainability: matching the unmatchable *

The early twentieth-century debate on sustainability was strongly 
influenced by the Club of Rome’s /Limits to Growth /argument. Regular 
conferences at a global level would reiterate the mismatch between 
‘development and environment’, with the report /Our Common Future 
/(1987) bringing it sharply into focus. However, the UN and most state 
analyses have never included a critique of social structural forces 
underlying ecological breakdown. The framing has always been on making 
economic growth and development ‘sustainable and inclusive’ through 
appropriate technologies, market mechanisms and institutional policy 
reform. The problem is that this mantra of sustainability was swallowed 
up by capitalism early on, and then emptied of ecological content.

In the period from 1980s on, neoliberal globalization advanced 
aggressively across the globe. The UN now shifted focus to a programme 
of ‘poverty alleviation’ in developing countries, without questioning 
the sources of poverty in the accumulation-driven economy of the 
affluent Global North. In fact, it was argued that countries needed to 
achieve a high standard of living before they could employ resources 
into protecting the environment. This watering down of earlier debates 
on limits opened the way for the ecological modernist ‘green economy’ 

At the UN Conference for Sustainable Development in 2012, this hollow 
sustainability ideology was the guiding framework for multilateral 
discussions. In preparation for Rio+20, UNEP published a report on the 
‘green economy’, defining it ‘as one that results in improved human 
well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental 
risks and ecological scarcities’. In line with the pro-growth policy of 
sustainable development advocates, the report conceptualized all living 
natural forms across the planet as ‘natural capital’ and ‘critical 
economic assets’, so intensifying the marketable commodification of 

The international model of green capitalism carried forward in the 
declaration /Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable 
Development/ reveals the following flaws:

  * No analysis of how the structural roots of poverty, unsustainability
    and multidimensional violence are historically grounded in state
    power, corporate monopolies, neo-colonialism, and patriarchal
  * Inadequate focus on direct democratic governance with accountable
    decision-making by citizens and self-aware communities in
    face-to-face settings;
  * Continued emphasis on economic growth as the driver of development,
    contradicting biophysical limits, with arbitrary adoption of GDP as
    the indicator of progress;
  * Continued reliance on economic globalization as the key economic
    strategy, undermining people’s attempts at self-reliance and autonomy;
  * Continued subservience to private capital, and unwillingness to
    democratize the market through worker–producer and community control;
  * Modern science and technology held up as social panaceas, ignoring
    their limits and impacts, and marginalising ‘other’ knowledges;
  * Culture, ethics and spirituality sidelined and made subservient to
    economic forces;
  * Unregulated consumerism without strategies to reverse the Global
    North’s disproportionate contamination of the globe through waste,
    toxicity and climate emissions;
  * Neoliberal architectures of global governance becoming increasingly
    reliant on technocratic managerial values by state and multi-lateral

*The framework of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), now global in 
its reach, is thus a false consensus*

We do not mean to belittle the work of people who are finding new 
technological solutions to reduce problems, for instance, in renewable 
energy, nor do we mean to diminish the many positive elements contained 
in the SDG framework. Rather, our aim is to stress that in the absence 
of fundamental socio-cultural transformation, technological and 
managerial innovation will not lead us out of the crises. As 
nation-states and civil society gear up for the SDGs, it is imperative 
to lay out criteria to help people identify what truly is 
transformative. These include a shift to well-being approaches based on 
radical, direct democracy, the localization and democratization of the 
economy, social justice and equity (gender, caste, class etc), 
recommoning of private property, respect for cultural and knowledge 
diversity including their decolonisation, regeneration of the earth’s 
ecological resilience and rebuilding our respectful relationship with 
the rest of nature.

/This article is an excerpt of the introduction to the forthcoming book 
“*Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary*”, Ashish Kothari, Ariel 
Salleh, Arturo Escobar, Federico Demaria, and Alberto Acosta (editors), 
published by Authors Upfront and Tulika, Delhi. /

*Ashish Kothari* is with Kalpavriksh and Vikalp Sangam in India, and 
co-editor of /Alternative Futures: India Unshackled/.

*Ariel Salleh* is an Australian scholar-activist, author of /Ecofeminism 
as Politics/ and editor of /Eco-Sufficiency and Global Justice. /

*Arturo Escobar* teaches at University of North Carolina, and is author 
of /Encountering Development. /

*Federico Demaria* is with Autonomous University of Barcelona, and 
co-editor of /Degrowth: A Vocubalary for a New Era. /

*Alberto Acosta i*s an Ecuadorian economist and activist, former 
President of the Constituent Assembly of Ecuador.
*Imagen integrada

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20181123/2dfdb4a8/attachment.htm>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: 1542924145378blob.jpg
Type: image/png
Size: 408937 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20181123/2dfdb4a8/attachment.png>

More information about the WSM-Discuss mailing list