For my final blog post, I would like to cover an alternative to Neoliberal Capitalist Development that is an intriguing concept within the effect of climate change on Development. As I have mentioned in previous posts, many people believe that climate change will eventually become such a pervasive issue that the global political and economic structures will change to accomodate it. As I have also mentioned in previous posts, one unique theory (Wainwright and Mann, 2012) is that climate change will catalyze two specific struggles that will define the global framework that emerges to address climate change: a global sovereignty vs. no global sovereignty, and capitalist vs. non-capitalist. As my final alternative to Neoliberal Development, I am going to look at the result of these two struggles that Wainwright and Mann believe to be the most effective at addressing climate change, and the most ethical in considering issues of justice, but also the least likely. This would be the Climate X World Model, a theoretical global system that both transcends capitalism and is void of political hegemony.
Wainwright and Mann do not specify what the Climate X World Model looks like, just that it is post-global sovereignty, and post-capitalism, which leaves plenty open to interpretation. I see it as a global push to remove everything related to the patriarchal, whitewashed western colonialism of the past few centuries, and giving true power over one’s livelihood back to those who have it taken from them in this world system. To accomplish this, I see a world that moves past globalism, colonialism, and capitalism to local autonomy – what many people would define as a traditional lifestyle – as the Climate X.
I have dedicated a large amount of this blog to the concept of post-capitalism, enough that I do not think I need to explain again why it needs to be a part of the equation in an alternative to Development. I will instead present why the Climate X includes dissolving a global sovereignty.
Let’s look at the last major decision made by our current global sovereign. At the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) on Climate Change, a majority of the world agreed to action against the use of carbon emissions that would cap global temperature increase at 2 degrees celsius compared to the preindustrial era, and with a strong effort to keep that as low as 1.5 degrees celsius (Paris Agreement, 2015). The problem with this agreement, and a global sovereign as a whole, is how when working on such a massive scale, decisions work slowly and only affect a sliver of the issue at a time. Even ignoring the concept of intersectionality, climate change is result of much more than just carbon emissions. Deforestation, agriculture, and the meat industry are just as large of contributors, but those are left out both because of how difficult they are to address, and how tied in they are with global economics and politics. You can start to see with this that a global sovereign stifles change and protects its own interests. If local autonomy was restored, communities with a care for their environment would more easily be able to make the changes appropriate in preserving it, and groups without a care for the environment would not be able to force the rest of the world into an unfair system that helps them sustain an unsustainable lifestyle.
Another issue with a global sovereign is that there is no way that it can hold all interests in mind at the same time. This is where Development becomes very relevant. Education is a large part of Development, but a globalized education system teaches from the perspective of the sovereign. Our global education system is built on European rationality and objectivity. History is the same across the world, regardless of where you are from. This is especially difficult for marginalized groups within a given country. According to a Kurdish news source called Rudaw, it is only now, following the 28th anniversary of the Anfal genocide, that the crime against the Kurdish people will be taught at the schools in the Kurdistan region (Rudaw, 2016). This is great news for the education of the region, but shows how long it took to add the curriculum, and begs the question how much more has been forgotten throughout history. In relation still to a global sovereign not being able to keep all interests in mind, the Development Project often pushes an economic development agenda on places that do not want them. Even in Western countries, this formula of Development is not completely representative. For example, in New York City the Movement for Justice in El Barrio has grown to 954 members since its founding in 2004, and has been driving an anti-gentrification movement in New York that continues to pick up steam. In a statement showing the value of autonomy in the movement, member Diana Vega stated “We believe that those who suffer injustice firsthand must design and lead their own struggles for justice” (Davies, 2016).
Many people argue that this description of a global system is not possible because societies do not move backwards. To this I ask why finally dissolving the racial and gender issues tied up in western colonialism and adequately fixing climate change has to be seen as going backwards. I think if we were able to value anything other than economic growth as a society, then finally solving the issues of injustice that plague our world system would in fact be seen as progress. I would go as far to say it would the most ethical way to facilitate the broad social progress that is the goal of the Development Project.
Conference of the Parties. Twenty-First Session. Adoption of the Paris Agreement. 11/30/2016, 12/11/2016.
Davies, Jessica. “Participatory Democracy Drives Anti-Gentrification Movement in New York’s El Barrio.” Truthout. 16 Apr. 2016. Web.
“Kurdish Children to Be Educated on Anfal Genocide.” Rudaw. 16 Apr. 2016. Web.
Wainwright, Joel, and Geoff Mann. “Climate Leviathan.” Antipode 45.1 (2012): 1-22. Web.