Can “Ecological Democracy” Be The Response To The Crisis Of Democracy?
Looking at politics around the world today, it’s not a pretty sight, is it?
From poker machine companies buying the Tasmanian election to coal companies preventing climate action; from global treaties being negotiated by, with and for transnational corporations to civil society groups being denied the right to campaign and advocate; from public space being handed over the private corporations to sell us stuff we don’t want or need to yet another push to cut company taxes while saying there’s not enough cash to support desperate people or pay for better schools and hospitals – it’s no surprise that people are increasingly disheartened, disconnected and disenfranchised. Democracy is in crisis.
So what are the main responses to this crisis? Mostly, we see a turn to the extreme right, a revival of social democracy, and, in the middle, a clinging to liberalism. I view the first as utterly repugnant, the second as insufficient, and the third as naive.
The real solution, which isn’t yet properly in the picture, is what I call “ecological democracy”. It’s not yet in the picture largely because it’s a more radical vision than any of the others, and consequently it’s held back and kept out of the discussion. But we should admit that it’s also not yet in the picture because we haven’t done a particularly brilliant job of articulating it. That’s central to the task I set the Green Institute, and will be a big focus of this year.
To me, “ecological democracy” is a radical political vision of deep interconnection and interdependence; rejecting capitalism’s hyper-individualism, growth fetish, and celebration of greed; beyond socialism while unashamedly of the left; intrinsically intersectional; embedded in nature. It draws deeply on the ancient ideas of The Commons – a system based on understanding and valuing connection between people living as part of the natural world.
There will be much more to come on this in the near future, but, to start the conversation, here is a speech I gave to Politics in the Pub in Sydney recently. You can read the text and you can watch the video of the speech, as well as a Q&A session with Stuart Rees at the end.
And please note – this is not an individual project! It’s very much about a group discussion! I would very much appreciate your feedback, ideas and critique, either in the comments below or by emailing me.
Look forward to the conversation developing as we walk, run, cycle and hoverboard towards an ecological democracy 🙂