Engage politically

The “space in-between” is political – a space created when people interact in speech and action.  Politics emerge in “the space in-between” beings; it cannot emerge with oneself.  The “space in-between” is a place to decolonize ourselves.

We are political in plurality, that is, politics occur in-between persons whose difference and diversity contributes to their politic.  They use their unique embodied voices to speak collectively because they are willing to act in the world (Cavarero, Arendt).

This page is written to provoke your thinking about participating in the political.  It asks: how do we create change to make our world a better place?

Let me begin by introducing several words:

  • Oikos (Greek root of eco-) usually means ‘place of habitation’. It is the root of both ecology and economics.  I interpret oikos as ‘collective habitation’ or ‘our dwelling’, which implies a politic of place that is inclusive of all species (MacAuley, 1996).  This reinterpretation of oikos decentres the human in the collective community shared by all beings and is congruent with “naturecultures,” a term used by Do17Image_cooperacion - vectorstock_1048760nna Haraway and Bruno Latour to refer a nondual concept that indicates the inter-relatedness of nature and culture (Puig, 2009, p.157).
  • Oecumene (Greek: oikouménē) means ‘inhabited’ and was used by ancient Greeks as a term for the known world, the inhabited world, or the habitable world. Under the Roman Empire, it came to refer to civilization.  Today is used as the root for ‘ecumenical’ which refers to the collaboration and co-operation of religious organizations.
  • Re-oecumene (my coin) means ‘re-inhabiting the world with the intentional to build a new civilization’.  It is the agentic shift to a new paradigm that replaces the preceding civilization and its reliance on neoliberal capitalism.
  • Agency usually means a deliberate action that produces an intended effect; however, Karen Barad views agency as a process, not a noun.  She uses the adjective ‘agential’ to indicate that agency is performed or enacted through embodied discourse.  Furthermore, she insists that all matter is agential because it is always in flux…. It is always becoming something else: “All matter feels, converses, suffers, desires, yearns and remembers” (Dolphijn & van der Tuin, 2012a).

The process of becoming ecocentric is not about forming a new identity (who I am), but about opening, expanding and intra-acting toward earth-centred ways of being and thinking.  Becoming ecocentric is not a solitary process; it is a process that involves agential learning   in community.

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Intra-action, a neologism introduced by Karen Barad, contrasts with ‘interaction’, which assumes that there are separate individual agencies that precede their interaction and are constantly differentiating.  Entanglements occur when beings “emerge through and as part of their entangled intra-relating” (Barad, 2007, ix).  Humans are intrinsically entangled with all beings and come to matter “through the world’s iterative intra-activity – its performativity.”

Adrianna Cavarero defines political space as a “small community” located in intimate, domestic spaces as well as in public spaces.  This definition echoes the classic feminist slogan that ‘the personal is political’ and implies that the political voice is organic.  The first political actions of an emerging activist is generally close to home, in one’s geographic small community with other adults who share a commitment to create change.

 Valuing Diversity.  The Western mind makes a habit of categorizing differences:  when “we begin to see everything about our world from the starting gaze of difference; we also lose the connections and interconnectedness among ourselves” (Dei, 2002, p.128).  If Natality’s starting gaze seeks relationality, it will flourish because it feels secure in its interconnectedness with the Other.  We learn to cherish the Other, not to fear difference or to oppress the Other.

Rosi Braidotti insists that a radical refocusing from material as object to material as process shifts the cultural imaginary from a fragmented world to mutual interdependence (Braidotti, 2010, p.203). This shift has the potential to disrupt capitalism, a “self-imploding system” that is inherently self-destructive and necrophilic as it feeds on the very condition of its survival: “It eats the future itself” (p.202, 215). As an all consuming death machine, capitalism lacks the imagination to create a new paradigm.

Take time to research and explore post-capitalist alternatives, such as:

  • GNH.  In 1971, the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan rejected GDP as the only way to measure progress; “it has championed a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.” (Thimphu, The Guardian, 1 Dec 2012).
  • Indigenous philosophies.  The Good Life refers to philosophies of vitality in the inter-connectedness of all beings in community. These philosophies include Buen Vivir or Sumak Kawsay in Andean cultures, Ubuntu in southern Africa and Mino Bimaadiziwin in Anishinaabeg First Nations of Canada.  We can explore these philosophies, not as appropriations of aboriginal culture or nativism, but as praxis for decolonizing ourselves in the space in-between (Martinez-Alier, 2014, p.43; Mathew, 2005, p.57).
  • Sharing economy  (e.g. car sharing, AirBNB, Uber ride sharing)
  • Voluntary simplicity (Slow Food, downshifting, DeGrowth, tiny house movement, self-sufficiency)
  • Co-operative movement (e.g. day care co-ops, food co-ops, energy co-ops).
  • Gift economy, see http://www.gift-economy.com/theory.html
  • The Transition Movement (www.transition.org) supports local communities in adapting to a changing climate.  It embraces the socio-economic philosophy of “enoughness” or “appropriate technology” that was proposed by E.F. Schumacher, economist and author of Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered (1973). Schumacher was one of the first economists to question the appropriateness of using gross national product to measure human well-being.

Revolutionary change is seldom orderly.  The chaos of a paradigm shift is not experienced as loss or fragmentation, but as a doorway to new possibilities and potentialities of becoming.

See Reference page for details on citations.

18ICON_kokopelliStories  Vandana Shiva and food diversity in the Himalaya
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Link

Decolonize yourself be becoming aware how Canada’s colonial history has oppressed indigenous peoples. Reflect on how you can decolonize yourself.

http://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/courses/csafety/mod1/notes.htm

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