Degrowth in Movements: Buen Vivir []

"The good life should be considered as something that is undergoing a constant construction and reproduction process. It is not a static concept, and certainly not a backward one. Buen Vivir is a central element of the philosophy of many societies. From this perspective, it is a design for life that has global potential despite having been marginalised in the past.

In some indigenous communities, there is no concept analogous to the ‘modern’ Western concept of development. There is no concept of a linear life with a former and subsequent state (in this case underdevelopment and development). Nor are there concepts of wealth and poverty based on the accumulation or lack of material goods.

As such, Buen Vivir entails a world view that differs from the Western world view in that it has community and not capitalist roots. It breaks both with the anthropocentric view of capitalism as the dominant civilisation and with the different manifestations of socialism to date. The latter must be rethought from a socio-biocentric position and cannot be updated by simply changing the name.

The good life entails a process of decolonisation, which should also involve depatriarchalisation (see Kothari et al 2015). This necessitates a profound process of intellectual decolonisation on political, social, economic and cultural levels.

Ultimately, Buen Vivir is highly subversive. It is not an invitation to return to the past or to an idyllic but otherwise non-existent world. It should also not become a kind of religion with its own commandments, rules and functions, including political ones. We can understand Buen Vivir to be persons living in harmony with themselves, with other people in the community, harmony within the community and between humans and nature.


If we are moving beyond the exploitation of nature for the purpose of accumulating capital, there are even more reasons to stop exploiting human beings. We will have to recognise that human beings are creatures that are not individuals by nature but rather part of a community, and that we are that community. These communities, peoples, nations and countries should live in harmony with one another.

This dual solidarity – with nature and within the community – requires that we take the civilising step of recognising applicable human rights and the rights of nature without restrictions."

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