Tuesday, September 15, 2009
A review of Earth democracy
We are in a time where giant corporations wield great power over our nations, our politics, our culture and even the food we eat. Within a span of two decades their influence over third world countries has grown enormously. Money power can influence politics and in turn can influence economic policies. Rules made by WTO can affect the lives of poor farmers in third world countries without even their participation in the policy making. Democratic participation of citizens is only limited to voting and the government, a slave of capitalism and free trade can sometimes impose dangerous and harmful policies to the domestic markets.
Globalization is said to reduce prices of food and make food available to the poor. Is it true and is it also true that genetic engineering and its unknown consequences to mankind is a sign of progress? When did globalization start and how did it progress? These questions and many more about globalization are taken over and dealt with in the book.
The seed idea in her past work is extensively developed in this book where Earth citizenship transgressing national and international boundaries has been emphasized. With globalization and the reach of the corporations across national boundaries influence every aspect of our lives, citizens need to think globally too, and reclaim their rights to commons from powerful few. Vandana develops these ideas into three sections—living economies, living democracies and living cultures.
Living economies is about the sustenance economy that majority of the population is dependent on. Firstly,there is the nature economy which is often neglected but is the source of life. Second,there is the sustenance economy that has been practiced by many generations of farming where life taken out from earth is given back to it in the form of animal mature or in other words eco-conservatism, so that nature is not depleted of her ability to regenerate.Third and the most dangerous to earth and nature is the market economy which governments extol as the only economy existing, which has been depleting earth and nature of the ability to regenerate and irrational logic of machinating life on earth as raw materials for excess production and greed.
Living cultures is about the indigenous cultures that have a history and knowledge to preserve nature and at the same time enjoying the plenty of it.Agriculture supports large populations in third world countries. Though market econony is given prime importance, sustenance economy dependent on agriculture is on a declin in third world countries. Poverty and joblessness is on an increase. Quality of life and freedom to live is on a decline for the poor. Monoculture way of industrialized farming may for sometime give great yields greatly damage earth of her life and ultimately rendering the land useless for any purpose. Vandana quotes Gandhi several times to invoke conservatism and oppose hegemonic and barbaric WTO policies that destroy living cultures that care for nature. Greed and market economy have become synonymous.Genetic engineering with its unknown consequences has to be implemented with great care.The author also mentions the importance of women as symbols of preservation and corporations as patriarchal hegemony. She gives the example of chimpko movement in east India to support eco-feminism. Diversity and compassion for all life and moral and spiritual responsibility for conservatism is greatly invoked.
Living Democracies is the participation of all citizens in making collective decisions about rights and usage on commons. Land and water though owned by the king were for public usage. They have been enclosed by landlords starting from 16th century in England with the backing of the king. Now it is the private ownership of land and water by huge corporations that is the treat. The poor who have a right to the commons have lost all their rights and they have been reduced to labor. Increasingly, the corporations have been encroaching on the commons and appropriating them; also damaging the ecosystems irreparably. Living democracies is about the fight of the citizens for their land and water; their right to survive and cohabit with nature.
The last section of the book deals with earth democracy in action. Several examples from the fight of the native people in India for water and land rights to major fight against WTO in first world countries are mentioned. There is a growing awareness of the treat to nature and sustenance economy. As earth citizens it is incumbent to revive the depleting and vanishing people and cultures.
Though globalization has been rebuked and rightly so in this book, I suspect there are some advantages of globalization and trade if rightly done. Subsidies given to agriculture and dumping of cheap quality food in third world countries is killing the local industries. So, this is unfair trade and governments should protect their national interest and their citizens first. But for other industries trade and globalization to my understanding may be beneficial. Like technology, globalization is like a double edged knife. It depends on how we use it consciously and responsibly. The damage by wrong policies of globalization are tremendous, hence they need to be revoked and WTO needs to take responsible policy making for the good of all citizens of the world and not for enlarging the profits of the corporations. America has to stop bulling the world and need to be the pioneer and harbinger to conservatism and earth safety and sustainability.