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Economic Democracy: People, Nature, Environment and Work
Corporate globalisation is a war against the planet and people
Market forces, resource intensive and profit intensive systems are creating havoc in our world, disrupting the planet’s ecosystems and society’s systems of democracy, justice and equality. Climate change, is wiping out entire communities and earth’s life-sustaining biodiversity, threatening the freedom of diverse species and diverse cultures to evolve. Species have disappeared at 1000 times the natural rate as monocultures and toxic chemicals are globalized through industrial agriculture. Water is disappearing, and soils are being desertified, driving communities and people off their land. Non communicable chronic diseases are emerging in epidemic proportions as our body is denied its essential biodiversity-based nutrition , and our vital gut micro-biome is assaulted by toxics. The freedom of diverse species and diverse cultures to evolve is being threatened by greed and the extractive society and the totalitarian tendencies that hold it in place.
This path is leading us to eventual self-destruction.
Economy as a subset of ecology and society.
Economy is derived from Oikos which means home. Ecology is the science of the household, economy the management. Trade is the subset of economy, the economy is a subset of ecology and society.
Corporate globalisation has put corporate profits above people and the planet, and reduced Earth’s home economy to the corporate economy. Greed, corporate globalisation and free trade are producing a sick planet, dying democracies and dying economies.
Governments, corporations and financial institutions are hiding this sick economy behind false measures. Chemicals, derived from war, are being spread around the world through industrial farming, destroying the planet and contaminating our bodies. ‘Growth’ is used as a measure of the health of the economy – an anonymous figure which tells us nothing in real terms of wellbeing and is used to justify the destruction of species and people’s lives. It is a calculation of a fiction which is based on commodification and commercialization of everything that is life. GDP is based on the assumption that if you produce what you consume, you don’t produce. Thus the real circular economies that sustain nature and society are reduced to zero. GDP is based on extracting resources from nature and wealth from society. This extraction creates the illusion that corporations, by extracting from nature and society and trading in goods and services which others have produced, are the ‘creators’ of what society needs and without them our needs will not be met.
The polarisation of society between the 1% and 99% is a symptom of the economic war against society. The 1% now controls 82% of the economy, robbing the rest of humanity of their rights and their share to the planet’s resources, societies’ wealth, livelihoods and basic needs. This system of theft from the 99% is built into the rules of corporate globalisation written by the controlling corporations for their unfettered profits and undermine all democratic systems that ensure justice and equality.
Free trade and corporate globalisation are based on privatising public goods, enclosing our commons, dismantling welfare systems and dismantling regulatory processes created for the protection of nature, workers, and vulnerable groups. They are based on the subversion of democracy. ‘Free market democracy’ is an oxymoron which really means complete freedom for corporations and no democratic rights for people.
When globalisation was imposed on the world in the name of free trade, leaders created the illusion that it would close the gap between rich and poor and create equality. They proclaimed free trade was like “a rising tide which lifts all boats”. Instead, corporate globalisation has created a steady tsunami that has wiped away small businesses, small farmers, small communities, local economies and local and national democracies everywhere.
This greed based polarised economy and free trade system has also divided society along lines of religion, race, gender, a convenient tool that is distracting the public from the absence of common good and institutionalising a divide and rule policy based on violence. Women and the most vulnerable bear the brunt of this violence through displacement because of war, climate change and competing interests in land and resources control. This covers the spectrum of climate refugees, war refugees, economic refugees, farmers, unemployed youth, small artisans, all of which the billionaire 1% class is now labelling the 99% of ‘useless’ people. These globalisers are also ‘pink washing’ and justifying their greed by claiming that free trade empowers women and promotes feminism, the latest illusion to come out of the WTO conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017.
The 1% does not represent society, economy or democracy. They only represent their limitless urge for profit, accumulation, extraction, and dominate and control. The levels of wealth accumulated through illegitimate means and writing the rules of trade and economy in violation of all democratic imperatives is now a cancer in society threatening the very systems it feeds on. Only the cancer cell does not know when to stop growing. All living systems from the tiniest microbe and cell to the largest mammal and the planet as a whole are self organised systems and are regulated to maintain their health and wellbeing. Regulation is vital to democratic and living systems.
Economic democracy is now a social, political, ecological imperative. Sowing the seeds of the future demands that we participate in democratically shaping our economies and our systems of production and consumption, replacing competition with cooperation.
With this manual we invite you to participate in the decisions that shape our lives and take back our power to stop the present destruction.
Principles for economic democracy include,
- The right and duty to protect people and the planet, our ecosystems, society and democracy. Globalisation and free trade have robbed us of our right and duty to protect under the label of “protectionism” allowing corporations to label our rights and duties to protect as an offense against their right to greed and profit. Corporations have invented the word “protectionism” as a corporate ploy to subvert economic democracy.
- The promotion, protection and practice of diversity : biological, cultural, economic, political, and knowledge for flourishing local and creative economies. Mechanistic, reductionist and linear systems of thought and action, undermine life’s intelligence, creativity, caring and knowledge.
- Defending, reclaiming and rejuvenating the commons as the common good and reversing all enclosures imposed by corporations. These include nature’s commons such as biodiversity, water, atmosphere, soils, our food, our health. The commercialization of the commons for corporate profits and market trading is a symptom of a competitive system of unfettered corporate greed.
- Reclaiming, recovery, and rejuvenating local economies based on subsidiarity, through localisation and decentralisation to reduce the ecological foot print, increase economic opportunities and wellbeing of people and communities, and enhancing community cohesion – a reversal of the present undemocratic imposition of globalisation, centralisation and concentration.
- Reclaiming national economic sovereignty based on democracy from the ground up through coherent local economic sovereignties, to promote the common good – vital for the prevention of the violence and destruction that is being fuelled through the rise of cultural nationalism based on the policy of divide and rule, and corporations’ free hand to control the national space, including suing government, leading to the subversion of democratic rule.
- A sustainable planet is based on ecological circular economies, supplying the needs of all within the parameters of the planet’s health. Non sustainability is based on linear extraction and competition, increasing pollution and waste. ‘Greenwashing’ terminology creates illusions, not sustainability.
- Social justice and economic equality are based on circular economies where the opportunities to create wealth and share wealth are circulated in society. The objective of all economic activity is to enhance the wellbeing of the planet and people. The flooding of “cheap” products and services is based on exploitation, extraction and externalisation of the true cost of the planet and people.
- All living systems, including people’s living economies and economic democracy are based on cooperation, sharing, sufficiency, mutuality, solidarity. Corporate control and greed is based on competition and commercialization of the commons, making communities compete for shrinking ecological, economic and political space, spreading insecurity and conflicts.
- Everyone has a right to dignified and creative work and society has an obligation to protect and reward all work equitably with justice and fairness. The deliberate destruction of work and rights of workers is at the heart of corporate globalisation. Corporations are imagining a world without work and defining the 99% as useless people. This future is no future in democracy.
- People’s real work and real knowledge are central to rejuvenating the earth and society.
By Dr Vandana Shiva – The Asian Age, 26 December 2017
By Dr Vandana Shiva, 8 February 2017
Navdamya International, June 2016