EcoJustice Education: Communal Learning Beyond Capitalism
It is time we face up to some ‘inconvenient truths’ in a far more radical way than what Al Gore would like us to believe. At a time when the IPCC and Al Gore receive the Nobel Peace Prize, when Climate Change dominates the news and even the political agenda of G8 meetings, it is worth noticing that hardly any of the discussions, let alone the proposed solutions go to the heart of the matter. And if you don’t dare to go to ‘the heart of darkness’, it is clear from the very start, that you will only ever get to treat some of the minor symptoms. The root cause of the problem, as writers as divers as Vandana Shiva, Fritz Schumacher, Wendell Berry, Chet Bowers and Mahatma Gandhi have long realised, is Western ‘Civilisation’, with its capitalist economic system and the underlying values which by definition and by practice – as worldwide globalisation of this model clearly shows – is incompatible with sustainable development and ecojustice – whatever the glossy CSR reports of multinational corporations and concerned statements of so-called ‘world leaders’ might claim to the contrary.
I have recently come across a proof of this assertion which in its frankness and starkness came as a surprise. When you go to the inner sanctuaries of the prevailing economic ideology, none of the greenwash, none of the mellow tones to make the doctrine acceptable to a wider audience, are necessary. In the context of my job I decided to take an introductory course to business management and economic theory. And there, not far into the course, we were presented with the one inalienable and unchangeable law of capitalist society (and it was certainly sold to us as a Law of Nature):
‘Formal aims for economic activity, which define the business mission (such as return on investment, profit ratio, cost effectiveness, economic viability, liquidity)
are always superior to / more important than output aims, i.e. the results of economic activity (such as performance, achievement, markets, leadership, organisation, Ecology, society).’ (taken from course manuscript and translated from German)
In short, this means that it is simply impossible to reconcile our economic model and practice with a sustainable society, where the priorities have to be reversed: ecology and society are always superior to profit.
The following article tries to deal with this problem in more detail and give answers to the question of what can be done about it. In this context it is important to have a closer look at education and its role as a change agent, because it is more often than not invoked as the saviour from an unsustainable present.
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