Editor's Desk

Why this online compilation on Ecological Democracy?

Human beings on Mother Earth are led by people who seem to be zealously chasing the Consumer Paradise. Across the globe, transcending ideological boundaries, our governing elite are acting as intoxicated faithfuls chasing this paradise. Their present pursuits seem to be totally sanitised from the civilisational experience of the interface of humans with nature.

Their consciousness has suppressed any understanding of various non-material urges of humankind. They have become nearly incapable of feeling the joy, pain, flight and music in their own lives as well as in the lives of other fellow human beings. Their faith in the ultimate resolution of all problems of current human predicament through a combination of technology and capital is nearly absolute.

Democrats of the liberal variety, provided they are authentic, propose more democracy as an answer to the challenges of democracy. This makes sense if one believes in the axiomatic fact that all human beings are endowed with critical judgment. Democrats believe in right to personal property, right to life and liberty and for the material well-being of humans. They believe in a regulated state, a welfare state and a regulated market.

Unlike liberal democrats, the corporate dogmatic reaction does not believe in market principles, in the need to regulate the market, or in democratic principles of transparency and participation. The simple fact is that this segment believes in the desirability of absolute power of the corporates. To achieve absolute power for corporate no means are foul. To deepen their control over the people and natural recourses they talk of democracy but conspire against dictators and democracies alike if it hurts their corporate interests.

As a class of people, the corporate leaders ability to marginalize and deflect any fundamental criticism against the corporate controlled or at least corporate-led system is immense. The top crest of fundamentalist and dogmatic corporate leaders are clearly identifiable. A good number of them gather together at the World Economic Forum every year and dish out their world view, diagnosis and dreams to the world.

People who are not corporate fundamentalists are a varied lot but all generally believe that a large part of humanity has participated in bringing about modern forms of production - the nature of production, relations between producers and consumers, and technologies of production - to achieve the present peak of civilizational achievements. They believe in the innate capacity of humankind coupled with faith in modern science and technology. They believe that if there are any distortions then course correction will automatically take place through social processes.  That is what makes it so difficult to fight the corporates.

If the world view of the enemy and the top actors are so clearly identifiable then where is the problem to displace this world view and class of people with an alternative world view and alternative set of leaders? The simple answer to this question is that life, both its perception and practice, is not just about two poles but a continuous grey between the two poles. No social segment on this continuum can externalize itself, stand apart and claim to be belonging to only one end of the two poles. In real life an overwhelming section of humanity has mixed- up perceptions and practices.

Except perhaps for a significant number of those whom we call indigenous people in South America, Asia and Africa, all the rest of us have a complicity in varying degrees in bringing about and providing legitimacy to the world as it stands today in terms of its mode, nature and relations of production as well as consumption.
With regard to governance systems, the degree of exceptionalism is even less. To realize the goals of sustainability and comprehensive democracy, the challenge is not how to identify the enemy but how to (i) understand the linkages between our complicity in the corporate controlled/led perceptions and practice, and (ii) the success of the dominant juggernaut.

To understand our complicity in the demonic thrust of contemporary times does not require only intellectual energy. It demands enormous moral, emotional and spiritual energies. It also requires innovating various instruments of intervention in which the lowliest and the humblest can also participate for self- introspection as well as for formulating polices for a paradigm shift. Imagination(s) cannot be cohered  by a handful of empathetic liberators or top-down command structures.
The present violent social, economic, political structures, when seriously challenged, will produce even more violence then what we witness today. Those of us who claim to work for Alternatives can mitigate imminent violence through our imaginative practice and absolute commitment to the idea of a non-violent order. If our journal could be used as a debating chaupal, not as vanguard liberators but as those who are engaged in an act of extrication with a sense of humility, internal confidence and openness to criticism even by the enemy, then we will have performed a meaningful role.

Hopefully, future issues of Ecological Democracy will be widely used by readers of the English language to discern areas of convergence and divergence for a future dream of Swaraaj. We hope to also discern the method(s) that will take societies towards a paradigm shift with least painful birth pangs.

Vijay Pratap