Saturday, July 27, 2013

Proud Not Primitive

The Proud Not Primitive movement makes some strong comments v. monetary/market economies.
Is development possible by destroying the environment that provides us food, water and dignity? You have to pay to take a bath, for food, and even to drink water. In our land, we don’t have to buy water like you, and we can eat anywhere for free.
This is what Lodu Sikaka, a representative of the Dongria Kondh asks. Her people grow more than 100 crops, harvest up to 200 wild foods and have an understanding of more than 150 plant and 350 animal species. Another representative Malari Pusaka says:
We don’t want to go to the city and we don’t want to buy food. We get it free here.
The movement offers other examples —although referred to as ‘primitive’ and ‘poor’, a study of the hunter-gatherer tribe Jarawa found self-sufficiency delivered ‘optimum nutritional status’ while neighbouring Great Andamanese lost their land and suffered deaths through disease in colonisation by the British. Today they rely on state welfare, suffer alcoholism and TB.

Check out the the Proud Not Primitive movement.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Larry Lohmann, climate activism, commodities and money

The central theme of a recent issue of the journal Mute (3:4) centres on what I call 'the algebra of capitalism', the quasi-mathematical framework of monetary exchange, on which the so-called efficiencies of production for markets and exchanges using money are based. It includes a great article, 'Performative equations and neoliberal commodification: The case of climate' by Larry Lohmann an activist associated with The Corner House.

Here Lohmann shows how the standardisation and commensuration attempted by monetary exchange and production for money and markets frames climate policy. He concludes that:
The strenuous commodifying processes of simplification, abstraction, quantification, propertisation and so forth reflected in performative equations constitute the deep structure of the attempted ʻinternalisation of environmental and social externalitiesʼ that is the public face of the market environmentalism characteristic of the neoliberal era. These processes continually reinterpret and transform the challenges they confront; their goals are never exogenous but are incessantly reshaped by the very process of addressing them. Internalising externalities through commodity formation gives rise to fresh externalities that continually undermine the internalisation project from an environmental perspective.
Breaking commodification processes down into bite-sized chunks using performative equations helps give substance to the intuition that commodification has many forms, dynamics and degrees ... Should regulation try to revise, elaborate and extend the contradictory performative equations that underpin the new ecosystem commodities, as is implied by most critical writings on climate markets? Or should it aim at progressively ʻdeactivatingʼ some set of these equations? This article ... has tried, in short, to unfold some elements in the core of strategic sense behind many a recent anti-commodification slogan, whether ʻour Earth is not for saleʼ, ʻI am not your ATMʼ, or ʻtu no puedes comprar el solʼ.
The whole article is well worth a read.