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Nature, capitalism and predatory development

Nature, capitalism and predatory development


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By Andrés Mora Ramírez

In the challenge of thinking and proposing an alternative development, or better yet, "alternatives to development", we must necessarily aim at the construction of a new society and culture, based on principles and social agreements that overcome the intrinsic predatory character of the Capitalism and modern utopias: those that saw in the domination and submission of nature to the will of Western man, the hunting trophy of human superiority on the planet.


Daniel Janzen, an American scientist living in our country for almost half a century, issued a severe warning about the wrong direction of public policies and environmental conservation strategies. In an interview published by the newspaper La Nación, the ecologist stated that "in the last decade, Costa Rica has lost much of its initiative and energy for conservation, which was very evident between 1970-2000". According to Janzen, “the decomposition of the Costa Rican will is a tragedy almost invisible to its society, largely blind to what nature is, blind to what the country had and still has (…). The nature of Costa Rica is, as we say in Gringolandia, dying from thousands of small wounds instead of a single bomb ”. In his opinion, one of the causes that explain the deterioration of wild conservation areas is that they do not receive, for their maintenance and protection, "the fair proportion of the profits they generate for the country in goods and services" (La Nación, 15 -05-2012).

Although he does not say so openly, nor did the journalist ask in her interview, a double criticism is deduced from the scientist's words: one, the one that is directed against a model of (bad) development that impacts the environment, takes advantage of resources natural resources and that, by its own accumulation logic, unequally distributes the wealth generated - mainly through tourism - concentrating it in the most powerful sectors and groups of the national economy. The other criticism is the one that points to the cultural dimension of this model of (bad) development, that is, how the values ​​that sustain it and are reproduced from the educational system, the media and the world of work, to name three decisive spaces of the cultural field, transform the collective mentality, individual aspirations and modify the dynamics of the relations between nature and society, to the point of causing the decomposition of the will of a nation.

Of course, this is not a problem that affects only Costa Rica, a country that prides itself on being a green paradise without artificial ingredients, but it is a global phenomenon. The results of the 2012 Living Planet report, published recently by the World Wide Fund for Nature, demonstrate the predatory nature of modern-capitalist development, as a specific form of organization of the factors of production, and as the dominant ideological expression and aspiration in the processes of social, economic and cultural change that we have experienced in recent decades.


According to this report, "the world's biodiversity has been reduced by 30% on average from 1970 to 2008 and the greatest impact has been suffered in the tropics, where the loss of biodiversity reached 60%." In addition, when relating the impact of national economic activity on the environment and the resources used in imported products, the study authors determined that “rich countries have an average of five times more impact than less developed countries, but the greatest decline in biodiversity is suffered by the poorest countries, which subsidize the lifestyle of the rich countries ”(BBC Mundo, 05-15-2012).

Analyzed from Latin America, these data and realities should lead us to consider two things: the first, that the history of "progress" and "development" in this part of the world from the sixteenth century, with all its burden of human exploitation and genocide, and permanent depredation and environmental degradation, is also the history of some territories and peoples that, as the Panamanian environmental historian Guillermo Castro [1] explains, were soon incorporated into the needs of the development of North Atlantic capitalism, which provoked severe modifications of the natural landscape, product of the economic demands of the world system, and introduced new cultural meanings that oriented the nature-society relations precisely in function of those demands.

This being the case, and given that the imprint of that history is still in force today, the second question to consider is that in the challenge of thinking and proposing an alternative development, or better yet, alternatives to development, we must necessarily look for points and paths of breaking with the negative, pernicious burden of that past that marks us, and at the same time, aiming at the construction of a new society and culture, based on principles and social agreements that overcome the intrinsic predatory character of capitalism and modern utopias: those that saw in the domination and submission of nature to the will of Western man, the hunting trophy of human superiority on the planet.

Otherwise, if we deepen the current course of development, understood as a process of endless accumulation, further exacerbated by the impulse to consume (today we know that, on average, human beings use more than 50% of the resources that the Earth can generate and regenerate in a natural and sustainable way), we will get closer and closer to the image with which Franz Hinkelammert illustrated, a few years ago, the dramatic situation of the human species: that of competitors who “are each sitting on the branch of a tree, cutting it down. The most efficient will be the one that manages to cut the branch on which it is sitting the fastest ”[2].

We face a time of decisions that places us in a momentous dilemma: opting for a civilizational change to guarantee the continuity of human life on the planet or digging the grave of our self-destruction.

Andres Mora Ramirez / AUNA-Costa Rica - With Our America –http: //connuestraamerica.blogspot.com.ar

Notes:

[1] In this regard, see: Castro Herrera, Guillermo (1994). The adjustment and combat works. Nature and society in the history of Latin America. Bogotá: Colombian Institute of Culture - House of the Americas (Cuba).

[2] Hinkelammert, Franz (2003). The subject and the law. The return of the opressed subject. Heredia, C.R:


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