Reflections for the planet

Starting a revolution

The immediate past is not the best guidebook to the future. Why learn from wasteful, profit-driven practices, when we can learn from the patterns and processes of nature, from water, trees, and honey bees? Why let agribusiness destroy fertile soils, virgin forests, and our common future, when we are in great demand of diverse, neighborhood-integrated food systems? Why contribute to the pollution of lakes and rivers, when soil nutrients can be recycled locally? No, our neighborhoods should not be treated like waste dumps. No, our future is not a commodity to be traded. No, we do not have to accept the supposedly free market, nor do we have to adapt to unsustainable living conditions. We do not have to accept the unacceptable or give up our right to resist, because our lives are not for sale; the environment is not a service and our future is not a commodity. It probably takes courage and certain experiences to act differently, but if we begin to act – the sooner the better – as if capital had lost its influence on us, it is more likely that our individual and collective actions will create the necessary conditions for our own emancipation.

What is to be done can only be done together. Indeed, nothing should deter us from building new bonds of solidarity, from uniting our struggles for planetary sustainability. We must stop acting as if we were spectators of history, lacking the ability to challenge the institutions of capitalism, be they military or financial, covert or overt. However, this is not to say that it would be easy to transform society. It would be foolish to expect a smooth (linear) transition to a post-capitalist society. It would likewise be foolish (and dangerous) not to learn from pbrior mistakes, an ever-expanding collection of historical experiences. Nevertheless, when moving beyond the current social order towards a new one, we still have to live with the devastating consequences of the former.

It is high time to create a new society, high time to start the revolution. As social and ecological revolutionaries trying to restore the human scale to our lives, we must challenge the existing boundaries of identity and responsibility. No matter what awaits us, it is time to think and act as if it was possible to create social systems that allow us to live well within the planetary boundaries – needless to say, not without redefining what it means to live well, not without questioning what is given. The transformation to a radically democratic and ecologically literate society requires nothing less than a total revolution, and it is time to seize the moment.

From a survival perspective, it is obvious that we need new, decommodified social and ecological relations, primarily manifested through new forms of democracy and new forms of creativity, but also through a scientifically based framework for the preservation of our only planet, that is, a social system justified as a collective effort to put an end to the state-sanctioned, corporate-led crimes against the biosphere. At the local level, the root level of ecosocial reproduction, we need to adopt a variety of practices that contribute to the health of the planet and its species.

A sustainable society is not only possible, it is within reach. By rejecting the reified capitalist version of reality, by nurturing social and ecological connections that serve the common good, and by rebuilding our neighborhoods with equality and sustainability in mind, rethinking everything from soil and water practices to public health from a commons perspective, we are not trying to reverse history: we are using our human creativity for the benefit of all. The choice is still ours. The choice has to be ours. Today, it is obvious that long-term sustainability is impossible without a radical re-imagination of what it means to be a human being on this planet. This is our last chance – not to make a little difference, but to make the great revolution happen.