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Eco-communalism (a portmanteau word combining ecology and communalism) is an environmental philosophy based on ideals of simple living, self-sufficiency, sustainability, and local economies. Eco-communalists envision a future in which the economic system of capitalism is replaced with a global web of economically interdependent and interconnected small local communities. Decentralized government, a focus on agriculture, biodiversity, ethnic diversity and green economics are all tenets of eco-communalism.



[edit] History

Eco-communalism finds its roots in a diverse set of ideologies. These include the “pastoral reaction to industrialization of William Morris and the nineteenth-century social utopians (Thompson, 1993); the Small Is Beautiful philosophy of E.F. Schumacher (1972); and the traditionalism of Gandhi (1993)”[1]:18

The term eco-communalism was first coined by the Global Scenario Group (GSG), which was convened in 1995 by Paul Raskin, president of the Tellus Institute. The GSG set out to describe and analyze scenarios for the future of the earth as it entered a Planetary Phase of Civilization. The GSG's scenario analysis resulted in a series of reports.[2] Eco-communalism took shape in 2002 as one of six possible future scenarios put forth in the GSG’s 99-page essay entitled "Great Transition: The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead." This founding document describes eco-communalism as a “vision of a better life” which turns to “non-material dimensions of fulfillment – the quality of life, the quality of human solidarity and the quality of the earth”.[1]:42

[edit] Alternative scenarios

The eco-communalist vision is only part of GSG’s scenario analysis in the Great Transition essay which is organized into three categories. The first, Conventional Worlds, sees capitalist values maintained and only market forces and incremental policy reform trying to curb environmental degradation. The second, Barbarization, is one in which environmental collapse leads to an overall social collapse. The third, Great Transition, is a pathway that includes the “social revolution of eco-communalism” (October 2005 Monthly Review John Bellamy Foster) which finds humanity changing its relationship with the environment. Eco-communalists would be actors in a broader global citizens movement.

[edit] Philosophy

At its core, eco-communalism holds a mindfulness for sustainable development, a belief in human goodness, which often manifests itself through conflict resolution or multiculturalism. Also apparent is a longing for society to advance past reckless industrialism towards a more localized, environmentally palatable system.

Eco-communalism is often associated with eco-socialism, which emphasizes a movement away from capitalism and toward a less materialistic society. The word communalism itself is a term that describes social movements and theories which emphasize the centrality of the community, and eco-communalism ultimately sees the community as the catalyst to help propel the move away from greed and corporate irresponsibility. In 1983, E.F. Schumacher published Small Is Beautiful, a collection of essays in which he expressed the unsustainability of the modern world’s consumption behavior and the need for a new outlook to prevent otherwise inevitable environmental collapse: "Ever bigger machines, entailing ever bigger concentrations of economic power and exerting ever greater violence against the environment, do not represent progress: they are a denial of wisdom. Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the non-violent, the elegant and beautiful."

These are the ideas espoused in the philosophy of eco-communalism – rather than a world of capitalist states and their often exploited workers driven by their own greed, eco-communalism envisions a world in which government is decentralized, settlements are integrated with larger cities, local farming is the primary source of produce, and ecological thinking and interconnectedness are the new human values (44-45). As John Bellamy Foster describes in “Organizing Ecological Revolution,” eco-communalism will be the achievement through revolutionary struggle of a more egalitarian society.” It will be one in which “a vigilant civil society would foster more responsible corporate behavior and new values would change consumption and production patterns.” (19) The GSG gives eco-taxes, social subsidies, and green accounting as examples of how eco-communalism could be practically applied (61).

[edit] Real-world application

Eco-communalism has taken root all over the globe on different levels. Towns such as Auroville, Nimbin, and the Federation of Damanhur attempt to provide an environmentally low impact way of life. Larger groups such as the Findhorn Foundation provide education to help new communities form. In addition, all of these groups and more are collaborators in the Global Ecovillage Network; which strives to support eco-communalism worldwide. Eco community Transylvania will create eco communities based on the ancient Sekler heritage.

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