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12 Conclusion: towards sustainability with justice
The diverse case studies related to conflicts over two vital natural resources, forests and water, indicate an underlying pattem. These conflicts emerge from 'development' interventions, which are primarily aimed at commercial exploitation of natural resources. At a superficial level, the diversion of resources from sustenance needs to the demands of the market generates conflicts between commercial interests and people's survival. At a deeper level, the diversion of resources from nature's economy of essential ecological processes to the market economy of commodity transactions generates ecological conflicts.
A schematic picture of how ecological crises emerge, and how conflicts arise is presented in Figure 12.1. With the growth of market economy in individual sectors, resource consumption rapidly increases. In polarised societies like India, this instantaneously leads to resource conflicts. Based on the politics of distribution of benefits (RC,), struggles for justice have hitherto been based on how the cake is shared. Ecology movements link sustainability with justice. They are based on the politics of distribution of costs of resource degradation (RC). They raise issues of how a cake is made, and indicate that increased sectoral production and economic growth does not make the cake any bigger. In fact the cake often shrinks because of the patterns of natural resource utilisation which accompany economic growth.
Figure 12.1 Resource Conflicts Ecological Crisis and Ecological Intervention
With the continuous growth of sectoral economic activity, which is guided solely by the economic forces of the market, there arises a situation where the total withdrawal of natural resources both for basic needs satisfaction and for sectoral growth, becomes more than the renewability of natural resources. At this point, the Gross National Product (GNP,) keeps increasing while the Gross Natural Product (GNP:) starts declining. With this decline in the renewability of natural resources or the Gross Natural Product, the conflict over distribution of benefits becomes more acute and new conflicts over distribution of costs arise. Else poor and marginalised groups suffer because the natural resource base of their survival economy is eroded, and the lack of income and purchasing power prevents them from entering the market economy. If the process of decline in the renewability of natural resources is allowed beyond a critical limit, the process of degradation becomes irreversible. Once this critical limit of degradation is crossed, the politics of distribution of benefits becomes irrelevant for the survival of the people. With the collapse of the productivity of nature's economy, not only does the survival economy collapse, but the market economy also collapses. The history of Roman and Mesopotamiam civilisationsis an example of total societal collapse due to the erosion of nature's economy. Ecology movements are interventions in these processes of decay and disintegration, that have in isolated and localised forms existed throughout human history, but have become pervasive and global with the ideology of development.
From Commons to Commodities
Development projects inevitably involve a major shift in the way rights to resources are perceived. At the political level, development involves the privatization of resources. This transformation of commons into commodities has two implications. First, it deprives the politically weaker groups of their right to survival, which they had through access to commons. Second, it robs from nature its right to self-renewal and sustainability, by eliminating the social constraints on resource use that are the basis of common property management. In Third World countries the transformation of natural resources, i.e., from commons to commodities, has been largely mediated by the state. However, state initiated development activity does not necessarily focus on the collective public interest. It can often be a powerful instrument of privatisation of resources. Thus, while the forests were transformed from village commons to state reserved forests, they were managed to serve the interests of the private pulp and paper industry by ensuring cheap and regular supply of raw material. Similarly, while dams are built by public funds and state bureaucracies, they aim to satisfy the energy and water needs of private industry or the irrigation needs of cash crop cultivation. Credit from public sector banks is essentially used to finance the private tubewells or private trawlers of economically powerful groups. Conflicts over natural resources are therefore conflicts over rights. Most critical ecology movements are based simultaneously on the need to protect nature, and the need to strengthen people's collective rights to common resources.
The destruction of commons was essential for the creation of natural resources for a supply of raw material to industry. A life support system can be shared, it cannot be owned as private property or exploited for private profit. Commons therefore had to be privatised, and people's sustenance base in these commons had to be appropriated for feeding the engine of industrial progress and capital accumulation.
Commons, which the Crown in England had termed wastelands, were not really waste. They were productive lands, providing extensive common pastures for the animals of the established peasant communities, timber and stone for building, reeds for thatching and baskets, wood for fuel, wild animals and birds, fish and fowl, berries and nuts for food. These areas supported large numbers of small peasants through these common rights. They also gave shelter to the poorer and landless peasants who migrated from the overcrowded open field villages of the corn-growing districts. But at the same time these wastes and unimproved commons were 'the richest seams of untouched wealth that a landlord could hope to find on his estate in the seventeenth century...' apart from minerals. By clearing trees, draining marshes, fertilising barren soils and enclosing the improved grounds and parcelling them out into large farms for lease at competitive rents, the lords of the manors could tap the new wealth. It would benefit not only the landlords, but also those who could afford these leases. But it would be at the expense of the landless, the medium and smaller peasants who would be impoverished by the loss of their pasture and common rights, on which the viability of their farms so often depended, labourers and industrial workers who would be deprived of the resources that kept them from being entirely dependent on wages or poor relief. Thus there developed a head-on clash between the lords of manors and the main body of the peasantry in many parts of the country over their respective rights and shares in the unimproved commons and wastes. This conflict was to decide whether the landlords and big farmers or the mass of the peasantry were to control and develop the wastes and commons. This was the central agrarian issue of the 1630s and 1640s and of the English Revolution.
The fate of the forests was similar to the pastures. The Crown possessed the forests, while the peasants had common rights to forest produce. With the increasing resource demand for capitalist growth, the Crown adopted a policy of deforestation. As a result, the peasants lost their common rights, and the Crown and the lords of manors, enclosed their deforested land and parcelled.them into large farms for lease at competitive rents. The policy of deforestation and the enclosure of the forest commons led to 'perhaps the largest single out-break of popular discontent in the thirty-five years which preceded the start of the civil war In the period 1628 to 131 large crowds attacked and broke down the enclosures and large areas of England were in a state of rebellion.
The policy of deforestation and the enclosure of commons was later replicated in the colonies. In India, the first Indian Forest Act was passed in 1865 by the Supreme Legislative Council, which authorised the government to declare forests and wastelands ('benap' or unmeasured lands) as reserved forests. The introduction of this legislation marks the beginning of what is called the 'scientific management' of forests; it amounted basically to the formalisation of the erosion both of forests and of the rights of local people to forest produce.
The transformation of common property rights into private property rights' implies the exclusion of the right to survival for large sections of society. The realisation that under conditions of limited availability? uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources involves taking away resources from those who need them for survival has been an underlying element of Indian philosophy. Prudent and restrained use of resources has been viewed as an essential element of social justice. According to an ancient Indian text, the Isopanishad, a selfish man overutilising the resources of nature to satisfy his own ever increasing needs is nothing but a thief, because using resources beyond one's needs would result in the utilisation of resources over which others have a right. This relationship between restraint in resource use and social justice was also the core element of Gandhi's political philosophy. In his view, 'the earth provides enough for everyone's need, but not for some people's greed.'
The Chipko and the Appiko, the anti-dam and anti-drought movements, and the struggle of traditional fishermen are different forms of contemporary expressions of ecology as justice. They differ from earlier responses in the fact that they do not merely warn against the potential threat to human survival, but they emerge from the existential reality and the concrete threat to survival arising from unjust and destructive use of natural resources.
They differ from earlier responses in that they do not merely face the explicit and formal dispossession of basic rights by colonial powers, but also the tacit and hidden dispossession resulting from the privileged use of capital and technology by some sections of society. Financial investments and technology inputs are the two prime instruments through which informal rights to privatisation of common resources are established. International aid and technology transfer for 'development' are central to the diversion of natural resources from nature's economy and survival economy to the market economy. On the one hand this ensures privatization of common resources, on the other it contributes to the globalisation of control over local resources.
From Local to Global Control
Development as an ideology allows the indirect entry of global market domination. it creates the need for international aid and foreign debt which provide the capital for such development projects that commercialize or privatise resources. Local resources thus increasingly move out of control of local communities and even national governments into the hands of international financial institutions. The conditions for the loan determine the mode of utilization of natural resources. Thus World Bank loans that finance forestry projects are tied to cultivation of Eucalyptus to generate high financial rates of return, even though Eucalyptus mono cultures return little to the soil, and yield no benefits for the poorer sections of rural society in search of fodder and food. Similarly, rates of return on investments in irrigation projects create an imperative for cash crop cultivation and wastage of water, even though it leaves the land waterlogged or an arid desert. The logic of international financing is not linked to nature's law of return but to the banking compulsion of returns on investment. The pressure of repayment and servicing of debts further consolidates the globalization. Total integration with the global market economy thus marginalises the concern for nature's economy and the survival economy. In the resulting anarchy of resource use, the visible enclaves of economic development with their elite minority residents enjoy a disproportionately high access to resources and the invisible hinterlands of economic underdevelopment, the homes of the silent majority, are left with shrinking access to a shrinking resource base.
Ecology movements in India are an expression of protest against the destruction of the two vital economies of natural processes and survival from the anarchy of development based on market economy. It is not surprising that these movements are strongly critical of the international lending institutions, whose finance fuels the process of the monetary growth-oriented economic development at the cost of ecology and survival. Thus, it is also not surprising that these international lending institutions and the elite of the recepient countries perceive these ecology movements as obstructionists and anti-progress, since they are committed to obstruct ecological destruction and halt the process that results in progress for a few and hardships for many. In the perspective of the three economies, the proverbial cake is shrinking, while in the limited perspective of the market economy there is a short-term and unsustainable growth. On the one hand there is increasing scarcity of water, of forms of biomass like fodder and fuel, and an ever increasing threat of temporary meteorological drought turning into large-scale, permanent desertification. On the other hand there are more bottled drinks, more milk and milk products in urban markets, more flowers and vegetables for urban and export markets.
Left to itself the development programmes of the Third World would have, by now, internalized the vital economies of natural processes and survival. The emergence of large international aid projects and loans, however, lends tremendous support to the classical model of growth based development. It is from this perspective that ecology movements are critically evaluating the international financial institutions and their aid giving programmes In this context the most vocal criticisms have been raised against agencies like the World Bank and its regional counterparts. There are three important reasons why ecology movements are highly critical of multilateral development banks (MDB).
First, a high percentage of the loans and credits from these banks is allocated to environmentally sensitive areas such as agriculture, forestry, dams and irrigation. In 1983, half the project loans totalling US $22 billion were directed to these sectors globally. Thus, although as a percentage of total economic investment these loans account for only a small fraction, in terms of the impact on natural resource systems they are very significant.' As the case studies in this volume indicate, World Bank financing has in general played a catalytic role in generating conflicts over natural resources. Whether it is forestry, dams, or irrigation projects, World Bank funding has created the context for diversion of natural resources from the maintenance of ecological balance and sustenance of human survival to the generation of short-term profits.
Second, that these MDBs are crucial to determining the development patterns and resource use in Third World countries is reflected by the fact that they require borrowing governments to demonstrate commitment to projects by pledging so-called 'counterpart' funds and making complementary investments of their own. The World Bank in particular has overwhelming influence on the overall development policy through its country programming and sector policy papers and country economic memoranda. But the MDBs' greatest leverage is in 'structural adjustment' and sector lending by which the banks influence long term economic policy and not only single projects. The Structural
Adjustment Loans of the World Bank are creating long-term institutional changes towards privatization and the adoption of a strategy of export led growth, both of which strongly influence the pattern of control over and utilization of natural resources.
The third mechanism by which the MDBs affect the utilization of natural resources is through the links between foreign aid and export financing. In 1978, Johnston J., Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, testified to the US Congress that 'every dollar we pay into the MDB's generates about $3 business for U.S. firms'.' Bushnell, Deputy Director for Developing Nations of the US Department of Treasury, told the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the House Appropriations Committee on 16 March 1976:
From U.S. national point of view these banks encourage development along lines compatible with our own economy. They stress the role of market forces in the effective allocation of resources and the development of outward-looking trading economies... our participation.... in international development banks will also provide more assured access to essential raw materials, and a better climate for U.S. investment in the Developing world.... '
The massive involvement of international finance in the economic development of Third World countries changes the natural resource management strategies in drastic ways. Rapid growth of export-oriented resource utilisation has led countries into the debt trap, with its concomitant ecological degradation. The link between borrowing and ecological degradation can be exemplified in the case of Brazil. In 1984-82 Brazil had borrowed nearly US $300 million which rose to about US $950 million in 1983 and 1984. When the disbursements were used up Brazil was not able to generate the counterpart funds to complete the projects and loan repayment started on incomplete projects. The burden is on farming for export, leading to increasing deforestation and human displacement in the Amazon. The story of Africa, the continent with the most serious ecological crises, is no different. In 1983 there were no African countries among the large debtors. Today, the external debt of forty-two sub-Saharan economies is in the order of US $130 135 billion. The case of Sudan is illustrative of what is happening in Africa. A few years ago, agencies like the FAO viewed Sudan as having the greatest agriculture potential, especially for export crops. Sudan did 'develop' its agriculture with heavy borrowing. Today, Sudan has a US $78 million proposal for emergency aid and US $213 million In interest due after rescheduling on US $10 billion external debt. Thousands of Africans are dying because development first destroyed their sustenance base and paying the debts for that development is further depriving them of their entitlement to survival. When the whole economy has virtually collapsed, Africa's ecological regeneration is surely a far cry. The state of anarchy of development and its after-effects are summarised in the following words of the Peruvian President Garcia Perez:
At this moment when hundreds of millions of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America are waiting in vain for food, when poverty and violence loom over our societies, the banks can wait: the poor have waited long enough for reason and justice.... we say that first comes the need to defend our natural wealth. We are not going to pay, as in Shakespeare's 'Merchant of Venice', with the flesh and blood of our people: we are going to defend and retain within our country the surpluses and resources that the vicious structure of the world economy directs abroad.
The need for development that will lead to improved standards of living, not undermine them, that will create ecological stability, not instabilities, is clear. The crisis of market orientation of economic development has generated responses from the local communities as well as from ecological movements. The contribution of international development aid and loan to the processes of ecological destruction of the resource base for survival in the Third World has provided the platform for a joint global response of ecology movements in the North as well as in the South.
The World Rainforest movement is a worldwide alliance of organisations and individuals concerned about the destruction of forests, and is an attempt to reverse this process. It has been severely critical of the US $8 billion Tropical Forest Action Plan (TFAP), part of a global plan initiated by the World Bank, to expand commercial forestry activities in tropical forest regions as an attempt to ~conserve' tropical forests.
The TFAP has several major flaws. First, it fails to take into account the role of international development financing in the destruction of tropical forests through dams, mining and resettlement projects and blames; the poor for this destruction. It is biased against the poor, in both form and content. Second, the Plan is an extension and expansion of ongoing World Bank forestry projects which have had serious negative social and ecological impacts. These projects are based exclusively on the 'retums on investment logic' and prescribe the large-scale transformation of natural forests as well as prime agricultural lands into commercial plantations of industrial wood. The Plan has a commercial and industrial bias and is indifferent to human and ecological concerns. Third, the different projects under various categories of 'agroforestry', 'watershed' and 'industrial plantations' all sham this commercial and industrial bias. The Plan is misleading both in terms of nomenclature of projects and investment profiles. It takes forestry away from the control of communities and makes it a capital-intensive, externally controlled activity. Fourth, the Plan does not take into account the rights of indigenous peoples who have lived in tropical forests since time immemorial. It overlooks the economies of tribal and peasant life based on natural forests and food production and focuses exclusively on the economies of production of commercial wood.
Under the theology of the market that the World Bank propagates, commercialization of forestry and land use is the objective. The commercial interest has the primary objective of maximising profitability in the market through the extraction of commercially valuable species. Forest ecosystems are therefore reduced to timber mines of commercially valuable species.
The Tropical Forest Action Plan based on the market is a plan for the increased destruction of tropical ecosystems and destitution of local communities. It is inherent in the logic of globalisation to destroy diversity and, hence, ecological stability which is an outcome of diversity. The contemporary food crisis and famine conditions stem from the globalisation of agriculture through the Green Revolution. Further aggravation of the ecological destruction of the tropical countries in future will arise from the Second Green Revolution-the globalisation and total commercialization of forestry including its genetic base. Conservation presupposes maintenance of diversity, and diversity can only be maintained locally. People's action plan for saving tropical forests and tropical peoples has to be based not on the rule of the market, but on respect both for nature and for people's survival needs. It has to be based not on the ideology of trees as 'green gold' to be exploited and felled, but as life-support systems which must be protected. In particular, it has to build on the little traditions of people which ensure the protection of nature and local communities and do not allow them to become victims of global markets and plans.
Ecological recovery cannot be based on centralized and globalised control over resources. It has to be based on the decentralised logic of Gandhi's 'ever-widening, never ascending' circles.
Life will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose centre will be the individual always ready to perish for the village, the latter ready to perish for the circle of villages till at last the whole becomes one life composed of individuals, never aggressive in their arrogance, but ever humble, sharing the majesty of the oceanic circle of which they are integral units. Therefore, the outermost circumference will not wield power to crush the inner circle, but will give strength to all within and will derive its own strength from at
Can the Market Solve the Ecological Crisis?
The ideology of this development is, however, confined within the limits of the market economy. It views conflicts over natural resources and ecological destruction as distinct from the economic crisis, and proposes solutions to the ecological crisis in the expansion of the market system. As a result, instead of programmes of gradual ecological regeneration of nature's economy and the survival economy, immediate and enhanced exploitation of natural resources with higher capital investment is prescribed as a solution to the crisis of survival. Clausen, the President of the World Bank, recommended that 'a better environment, more often than not, depends on continued growth. In a more recent publication Chandlers further renews the argument in favour of a market-oriented solution to ecological problems and believes that concern for conservation can only come through the market. Solow, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to economics in 1987, states that production and growth can completely do away with exhaustible natural resources and exhaustion of resources is not a problem. It is alleged that 'the ancient concern about the depletion of natural resources no longer rests on any firm theoretical basis'. This belief of modem economics is based on its unquestionable faith in modern Western science. As Solow states: If it is very easy to substitute other factors for natural resources, then there is, in principle, no problem. The world can, in effect, get along without natural resources, so exhaustion is just an event, not a catastrophe.
As illustrated by the case studies in the preceding chapters, and schematised in Figure 12.1 economic growth takes place through over-exploitation of natural resources which creates a scarcity of natural resources in nature's economy and the survival economy. Further economic growth cannot help in the regeneration of the very spheres which must be destroyed if economic growth has to take place. Nature shrinks as capital. The growth of the market cannot solve the very crisis it creates. Further, while natural resources can be converted into cash, cash cannot be converted into nature's ecological processes. Those who offer market solutions to the ecological crisis limit themselves to the market, and look for substitutes to the commercial function of natural resources as commodities and raw material. However, in nature's economy, the currency is not money, it is life.
The increased availability of financial resources cannot regenerate the life lost in nature through ecological destruction. An African peasant captured this essence: You cannot turn a calf into a cow by plastering it with mud.
The neglect of the role of natural resources in ecological processes and in people's sustenance economy, and the diversion and destruction of these resources for commodity production and capital accumulation, are the main reasons for the ecological crisis and the crisis of survival in the Third World. The solution seems to lie in giving local communities control over local resources so that they have the right and responsibility to rebuild nature's economy, and through it their sustenance.
Speth believes that economic growth is imperative, and only technology continued economic growth is essential as ecological recovery arises from an artificial separation of development from conservation, with connections established only through financial investment. Further conservation is reduced to 'wilderness' management, and development is viewed as the exclusive domain of production. Nature and people's self-provisioning economies have no role in production according to this view. Nature is defined as free of humans. The commercial approach to conservation is best illustrated in the WRI/UNDP Working Paper on The International Conservation Financing Project (Figure 12.2).
Since conservation is conceptualised as dependent on finances, and increased financial resources can only be generated through economic growth, it is assumed that economic growth is an imperative for conservation.
The Third World reality, however, indicates something else which is schematised in Figure 12.3, adapted from Fahser who has discussed the different constellations of production factors- nature (soil), man (work), capital. Fahser has also indicated that because of their different degrees of importance or vulnerability, these production factors cannot be exchanged at will or stood on their heads without threatening to upset the equilibrium.
In a stable constellation of economic organization, nature's economy is recognised as the most basic, both in the sense that it is the base of the survival and market economies, and in the sense that it has the highest priority to and claim to natural resources. However, development and economic growth treat the market economy as primary, and nature's economy and the survival economy as marginal and secondary. Capital accumulation does lead to financial growth, but it erodes the natural resource base of all three economies. The result is a high level of ecological instability, as illustrated in the ecological crisis created by commercial forestry, commercial irrigation and commercial fishing. In order to resolve ecological conflicts and regenerate nature these economies must be given their due place in the stable foundation of a healthy nature. The anarchy of growth and the ideology of development based on it are the prime reasons underlying the ecological crises and destruction of natural resources. The introduction of unsustainable cash crops in large parts of Africa is among the main reasons for the ecological disaster in that continent. The destruction of the ecological balance of the rainforests of South America is the result of the growth of agribusiness and cattle
Figure 12.2 The Commercial Approach to Conservation
According to the International Conservation Financing Project (WRWNDP), the figure above illustrates the extent to which an increased environmental orientation in development planning broadens the activities of development institution to in clude more conservation components (represented by the dotted contours of the larger triangle) as part of their overall programmes. The narrow top of the triangle suggests that increased commtment from such institutions will not meet all conservation financing needs Therefore, increasing the financial commitment of environmental institutions and the creation of new institutions (shown by the contours of the smaller triangle) may help fill this gap of unmet needs.
Figure.12.3 The Ecological Approach to Conservation
Development and economic growth are perceived exclusively in terms of processes of capital accumulation. However, the growth of financial resources at the level of the market economy often takes place by diverting natural resources from people's survival economy and nature's economy. On the one hand this generates conflicts over natural resources,' on the other hand it creates an ecologically unstable constellation of nature, people and capital. ranching in the clear felled areas. The business groups encouraging cash cropping can opt out when the productivity of newly opened lands declines. They have no compulsion towards the ecological rehabilitation of the ravaged land. They command the resource base by making decisions that transcend their basis in legal ownership, but do not have to bear the ecological costs of the destruction of soil and water systems. The costs of destruction of Africa's grazing lands and farm lands, and of Latin America's forests have not been borne by multinational food corporations but by the local peasants and tribals. Agribusiness just moves on to other resources and other sectors to maintain and increase profits. The global market economy has no internal mechanism for ensuring ecological rehabilitation of natural resources destroyed by the market itself. The costs of ecological destruction are to be borne by the inhabitants of the respective areas alone, who participate in the survival economy of the same land. Under these conditions, the market is incapable of responding to the requirements of nature's economy and the survival economy. Even while the market economy erodes nature's economy and creates new forms of poverty and dispossession, the market is proposed as a solution to the problem of ecologically-induced poverty. Such a situation arises because the expansion of the market is mechanically assumed to lead to development and poverty alleviation. In the ideology of the market, people are defined as poor because they do not participate overwhelmingly in the market economy and do not consume commodities produced for and distributed through the market even though they might satisfy those needs through self-provisioning mechanisms. They are perceived as poor and backward if they eat self-grown nutritious millets and not commercially produced and distributed processed foods; and if they live in ecologically suited, self-built houses made from local natural resources like bamboo, stone or mud instead of cement or concrete bought from the market; and if they wear indigenously designed hand-made garments of natural fibre instead of mechanically manufactured clothes made of man-made fibres. Bahro has quoted an African writer who differentiated between poverty and misery. Culturally conceived poverty based on non Western modes of consumption is often mistaken to be misery. Culturally conceived poverty is not materially rooted poverty or misery. Millets or maize, the common non-Western staple foods, are nutritionally far superior to processed foods and are once again becoming popular in the West as health foods. Huts constructed with local materials represent an ecologically more evolved method of providing shelter to human communities than the concrete houses in many rural socio-ecological conditions. Natural fibres and local costume's are far superior in satisfying the region specific need for clothing than the machine-made nylon and teylene clothing, especially in the tropical climate. These culturally induced perceptions of poverty and backwardness have provided undeserving legitimisation for the accepted form of development? which has in turn created further conditions for invisible material poverty, or misery. by the denial of survival needs themselves through resource-intensive production processes. Cash crop production and food processing divert land and water resources away from sustenance needs, and exclude increasing numbers of people from their entitlement to food as described by Barnett:
The inexorable processes of agriculture-industrialisation and internationalisation-are probably responsible for more hungry people than either cruel wars and unusual whims of nature. There are several reasons why the high-technology-export-crop model increases hunger. Scarce land, credit, water and technology are pre-empted for the export market. Most hungry people are not affected by the market at all.... The profits flow to corporations that have no interest in feeding hungry people without money.
At no point has the global marketing of agricultural commodities been assessed in the light of the new conditions of scarcity and poverty that it has induced. This new poverty is no longer cultural and relative, it is absolute and threatening the very survival of millions on this planet. At the root of this new material poverty lies an economic paradigm which is governed by the market forces. Neither can it assess the extent of its own requirements for natural resources, nor can it assess the impact of this demand on ecological stability and survival. As a result, economic activities that are most efficient and productive within the limited context of the market economy, often become inefficient and destructive in the context of the other two economies of nature and survival. The logic of the market by itself is not adequate to induce these changes in resource use that threaten ecology and survival especially in the context of the Third World.
Ecology movements linked to survival are more promising. As the analyses of people's responses to development induced scarcity indicate, ecology movements in India are struggles of the disadvantaged aimed at conserving nature's balance to conserve their option for survival. They are movements of the marginal communities who have been deprived of the benefits of the dominant development pattern but who bear all the costs of this development. The goals and priorities of ecology movements are to ensure local survival, yet because local survival is threatened by non-local pressures (either in terms of direct exploitation or in ferms of development paradigms and development financing), local movements have non-local, sometimes even global implications. Furthermore, since local survival is threatened by particular scientific perceptions and technological modes which have become global, in spite of being rooted in a particular culture, ecological movements as a struggle for survival at the local level impinge on the global scientific and technological culture, as critiques of its special bias, and as sources for alternative science and technology systems.
The ecological threats to survival demand a paradigm shift in the perception of economic development. Societies have not always progressed along the Rostownian linear path, those that have neglected their resource base for sustenance have collapsed after an initial period of growth. The collapse of the Mayan and Mesopotamian civilisations was associated with a collapse of their life systems. The threat to the survival of the sub-Saharan countries is again rooted in the destruction of life-support systems. Societies have never followed paths of unending growth based Oh over-exploitation of resources. The history of civilisation can be depicted in terms of two models. According to the first model, societies traverse the path of the classical trajectory, they rise and they fall. This happens when they do not limit their resource utilisation within the constraints impose-d by the cycles and processes of nature. According to the second model, they move in a stationary state or in an orbit, like an electron around the atom or the satellite around the earth, with and not against the cycles of life. To be in a stationary state does not mean to be stationary, it involves movement and progression within an orbit. The ecological consciousness of ancient civilisations had allowed them to progress along the 'stationary' or ecologically stable state. But just as classical physics is incapable of explaining or understanding the motion of the electron, conventional economics interpreted stability as stagnation, and stationary state movement as no movement at all. Capturing this civilisational conflict between stable and unstable societies, Gandhi stated that modern civilisation seeks to increase bodily comforts, and it fails miserably even in doing so.... This civilisation is such that one has only to be patient and it will be self-destroyed.... there is no end to the victims destroyed in the fire of (this) civilization. Its deadly effect is that people come under its scorching flames believing it to be all good.
It is a charge against India that her people are so uncivilised, ignorant and stolid, that it is not possible to induce them to adopt any changes. It is a charge really against our strength. What we have tested and found true on the anvil of experience, we dare not change. Many thrust their advice upon India, but she remains steady. This is her beauty, it is the sheet anchor of our hope.
Contemporary ecology movements are a renewed attempt to establish that steadiness and stability is not stagnation, and balance with nature's essential ecological processes is not scientific and technological backwardness, but scientific and technological sophistication towards which the world must strive if planet earth and her children are to survive. At a time when a quarter of the world's population is threatened by starvation due to the erosion of soil, water and genetic diversity of living resources, chasing the mirage of unending growth, by spreading resource destruction technologies, becomes a major source of genocide. Killing people by destroying nature is an invisible form of violence which is at present the biggest threat to justice, peace and survival. Claude Alvares has called it the Third World War: 'A War waged in peacetime, without comparison but involving the largest number of deaths and the largest number of soldiers without uniform'.
Ecology movements are a non-violent response to this Third World War which threatens the survival of humanity and which must destroy all, even the victors. They are political movements for a non-violent world order in which nature is conserved for conserving the options for survival. These movements are small, but they are growing. They are local, but their success lies in their non-local impact. They demand only the right to survival yet with that minimal demand is associated the right to live in a peaceful and just world. With the success of these grassroots movements is linked the global issue of survival. Unless the world is restructured ecologically at the level of world views and life-styles, peace and justice will continue to be violated and ultimately the very survival of humanity will be threatened. The counter trend captured in emerging ecology movements is indicative of incipient attempts at such a fundamental restructuring towards justice and sustainability.
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