Crisis of the hegemonic civilizational pattern
We are experiencing the terminal crisis of an anthropocentric, monocultural and patriarchal civilizational pattern, based on endless growth and on systematic war efforts against the conditions that make life on planet Earth possible. The civilization of scientific and technological domain over "nature", measuring human wellness through the accumulation of material goods and through unlimited economic growth –of which capitalism is the utmost expression–, is reaching its edge. Its destructive dynamics, the commoditization of all dimensions of life, is, hastily, undermining the conditions that allow this civilizational pattern to exist. Capitalism requires permanent economic growth, as a condition of reproduction of its accumulation patterns; this is obviously not possible in a planet with limited resources. The more capitalism seeks to outstrip its own limits, incorporating new territories, exploiting new common goods, usurping Others' knowledge and manipulating the codes of life (biotechnology) and the codes of matter (nanotechnology), it deepens its own destructive dynamics and accelerates its advance towards its own limits.
In this historical moment, in which humankind has a deeper need of cultural diversity and the multiplicity of cultures, of various knowledge forms, ways of living inside the totality of lifestyles (as a condition to answer this civilizational crisis), indigenous and non-urban peoples and cultures of all the planet being threatened by the inexorable advance of the logics of "accumulation by dispossession". Today, the matter we will be confronting is not whether capitalism is able to survive its terminal crisis. If in little time we are not able to end this systematic destruction machine, what will be at stake is the ability of humankind to survive the final collapse of capitalism.
And thus begins what in my opinion is the most comprehensive yet concise and digestible treatise upon that which faces us as a nation, a species, and a planet: A new historical period? Civilization crisis, limits of the planet, inequality, assaults to democracy, permanent war state and people in resistance by Edgardo Lander.
Edgardo Lander is a professor of social sciences at the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas.
Lander is one of the leading thinkers and writers on the left in Venezuela, both supportive and constructively critical of the Venezuelan revolution under Chavez. He is actively involved in social movements in the Americas that defeated the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA).
He is a member of the Latin American Social Science Council’s (CLACSO) research group on Hegemonies and Emancipations and on the editorial board of the academic journal Revista Venezolana de Economía y Ciencias Sociales. He is currently part of the steering committee of the Hemispheric Council of the Social Forum of the Americas.
The article represents the latest version of a living thesis Lander has been developing and speaking upon for a very long time. Here is a video which includes many of the same points, presented by Dr. Lander at Fifth Annual Human Security Forum hosted by the Centre for International Studies at Cape Breton University on November 4 and 5, 2011 as part of a forum called "Life After Capitalism: Imagining an Alternative World.
As noted before, Dr. Lander stands well to the left of the precepts of Chavismo, the political ideology of Hugo Chávez and the PSUV. In an April 2011 interview, Lander noted that while Venezuela under Chávez has "seen profound transformations of popular culture in terms of empowerment, giving people the power to intervene with dignity for their futures", "it is also in constant struggle with the concentration of power and hierarchical decision-making." He continues,
The worst that could happen in Venezuela would be a situation where we are confronted with two options: Stalinism or neoliberalism. If that happens, we would be in a serious mess. People say, for example, that the opposition has no programme. It's not true: they have a programme, it's called neoliberalism. The idea of a free market, openness to foreign investment, probable privatisation of PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company: all these things make up a packet of measures that does not have to be invented because it already exists. On the other hand, we still have to see whether it is possible to build a more democratic society, and whether socialism is necessarily Stalinism.
Given his stance on the state of Venezuelan governance, his critique of the Green Economy as put forth by the UNEP represents a radical stance that will never be heard in the mainstream media, which naturally makes it a critical position to understand.
The Green Economy is a cynical and opportunistic manipulation of the ecological and social crises. Rather than addressing the real structural causes of inequality and injustices, capital is using “green” language to launch a new round of expansion. Corporations and the financial sector need governments to institutionalise the new rules of the Green Economy to guarantee them against risks and to create the institutional framework for the financialisation of nature. Many governments are willing partners in this project as they believe it will stimulate a new phase of growth and accumulation.
The Green Economy is not the future that WE want.
Much of Dr. Lander's writing can be found archived at the Transnational Institute. His warnings about the situation we face are important, as are his thoughts on some of the methods we may use and the dangers we must overcome if we are to successfully join a global fight against the forces that threaten to end us all.
I close with the final words from A new historical period?.
From the point of view of the diversity of movements and fights associated to the World Social Forum, it is essential to deepen the debate about the meaning and the potentials of these new movements. How to debate, relate and articulate with this new wave of protests without seeking to absorb them in a way that political parties would do?
It is necessary to start from the recognition of the plurality and of the different contexts from which them stem and in which they operate, as well as of the diversity in backgrounds, objectives and conceptions of how and why to fight.
In Raúl Zibechi’s words:
“To anti-systemic forces… it is impossible to draw one single strategy for the planet and it is useless to attempt to establish universal tactics. Although there are common inspirations and general shared objectives, the different speeds of the post-capitalist transition, and the notable differences between the anti-systemic subjects, raise awareness of the risk of making universal assumptions”
 Rio+20 Portal, February 2, 2012, http://rio20.net/en/documentos/a-new-historical-period
 Transnational Institute, http://www.tni.org/users/edgardo-lander
 YouTube, Edgardo Lander - Socialism and Democracy in the 21st Century, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOQQkqwgm2o
 Wikipedia, Chavismo, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chavismo
 Red Pepper, The path for Venezuela can not be neoliberalism or Stalinism, An interview with Edgardo Lander., http://www.redpepper.org.uk/the-path-ahead-for-venezuela-interview-with-edgardo-lander/
 United Nations Environment Programme, Green Economy, http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/
 Transnational Institute, Is the Green Economy a new Washington Consensus?, February 15, 2012, http://www.tni.org/article/green-economy-new-washington-consensus