Inequality in the rich countries is inextricably bound to the continuing impoverishment and polarization in the Third World. Picketty’s focus on conditions within the richer countries deflects attention from the mechanisms that exacerbate the process within the Global South. By not considering the structural and class-based nature of economic processes, his analysis cannot contribute to an understanding of the nature and dynamics of inequality in Mexico or its terrible impacts on society and the environment. The significant mobilizations by indigenous peoples and peasants are ineffective in halting the advance of international capital in its drive to control the economy in alliance with domestic elites.
Building social alternatives is necessary to resist the destructive impacts of the capitalist organization on well-being, social organization, and the planet. This paper offers an analysis of the ways in which peoples are mobilizing to build organizations and to define social movements to move beyond current crises. The lines for constructing an ecologically sound and social-solidarity society require mechanisms for mutual cooperation based on alternative systems of decision making, as well as for doing work and assuring well-being to every member of the community. These depend on forging a process of solidarity among the members of a society as well as building alliances among communities; to assure the satisfaction of basic needs while also attending the most pressing requirements for physical, social and environmental infrastructure and to assure the conservation and rehabilitation of their ecosystems.
Building social alternatives is essential to resist the destructive impacts of the capitalist organization on the quality of life, social organization, and the planet. This paper offers an analysis of the ways in which peoples are mobilizing to build organizations and to define social movements to move beyond current crises. The construction of an ecologically sound and social-solidarity economy requires mechanisms for mutual cooperation based on alternative systems of decision making as well as for doing work and assuring well-being to every member of the community; poverty and unemployment are not compatible with a sustainable bio-social system. These depend on forging a process of solidarity among the members of a society as well as building alliances among communities; to assure the satisfaction of basic needs while also attending the most pressing requirements for physical, social and environmental infrastructure and to assure the conservation and rehabilitation of their ecosystems.
Policymakers face a dilemma in highly diverse societies with many ecosystems: how to implement national policies that allow for serious consideration of these differences. In connection with the attempts to advance towards sustainability in forest systems, Mexico is confronting this problem with difficulty. Although it has committed to implementing policies consistent with REDD+, there are competing pressures for supporting commercial development of plantations on the one hand, and community based management systems that involve multiple objectives in complex proposals on the other. We trace the implications for environmental justice of the choices being made by indigenous communities in the highlands of Oaxaca for promoting sustainable programmes that assure adequate living standards and environmental protection. The analysis shows that this alternative approach offers an interesting set of outcomes that the standard paradigm of the green economy has difficulty achieving.
This paper examines the possibility of understanding and measuring well-being as a result of “progress” on the basis of today’s dominant epistemological framework. Market criteria distort social values by allowing purchasing power to define priorities, likening luxury goods to basic needs; in the process they reinforce patterns of discrimination against disadvantaged social groups and women, introducing fatal distortions into the analysis. Similarly, because there are no appropriate mechanisms to price natural resources adequately, the market overlooks the consequences of the abuse of natural resources, degrading the quality of life, individually and collectively, or—in the framework of Latin American indigenous groups—foreclosing the possibility of “living well”. We critique the common vision of the official development discourse that places its faith on technological innovations to resolve these problems. The analysis points to the need for new models of social and environmental governance to promote progress, approaches like those suggested in the paper that are inconsistent with public policies currently in place. At present, the social groups forging institutions to assure their own well-being and ecological balance are involved in local processes, often in opposition to the proposals of the political leaders in their countries.
In Mexico, political, social and technical analyses clearly show that the bureaucracies charged with the public management of the water sector have not only proved deficient in achieving their assigned goals but, even worse, have heightened the contradictions in society as a result of incorrect technical diagnoses, poorly informed processes for designing and constructing infrastructure and allocating water resources, and corrupt mechanisms for implementing policy. The chapter examines more than a half-century of the activities of the water bureaucracy, from the creation of the Ministry of Water Resources up to the present time with the emergence of the National Water Commission, to show that Mexico’s highly-regarded technical capacity for engineering in the water sector has left a heritage of environmental destruction and administrative incompetence and corruption that has imposed an unacceptable cost on the nation, a nation that should be well-placed to face the multiple challenges of operating a national ecosystem programme to promote social welfare, economic development, and sustainable environmental management in an era when socio-economic crisis and climate change threaten the country’s very foundations. The analysis ends by pointing up the role in today’s society of organizations drawn from civil society.
Land and Labour in Latin America. Essays on the Development of Agrarian Capitalism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centu...Published: 20 June 2011 by Wiley in Journal of Agrarian Change
Résumés Français English Español La gestion de l’eau en milieu urbain reflète l’incapacité des autorités à garantir une qualité adéquate et une qualité de service tout en protégeant les écosystèmes autour duquel ils dépendent. Ce problème est exacerbé par la réticence officielle d’encourager ou de permettre la participation sociale dans la discussion pour la gestion et la supervision des services publics. L’analyse est basée sur le cadre de la Nouvelle culture de l’eau et conclut que les problèmes à identifier sont délibérément créé comme étant une stratégie pour placer l’eau aux services des élites et aux capitaux internationaux en sacrifiant les besoins sociaux de bases. Cette approche soulève les conflits sociaux et les problèmes environnementaux. Urban water management in Mexico reflects the authorities’ inability to guarantee an adequate quantity and quality of service while also protecting the ecosystems on which they depend. This problem is exacerbated by the official reluctance to encourage or even to permit social participation in the discussion of management and supervision of public services. The analysis is based on the framework of the New Culture of Water and concludes that the problems that are identified are deliberately created as part of a strategy to place water at the service of the elites and international capital while sacrificing basic social needs. This management approach is heightening social conflict and environmental problems. La gestión del agua urbana en México refleja la incapacidad de las autoridades para garantizar un servicio adecuado y accesible de agua urbana, así como de proteger los ecosistemas de los cuales se depende. A esto se suma una renuencia oficial para alentar o incluso permitir la participación social en la discusión de la vigilancia y gestión de los servicios públicos. El análisis parte del marco teórico de la Nueva Cultura del Agua y concluye que estos problemas son creados deliberadamente como parte de una estrategia para poner el agua al servicio de las élites y el capital internacional a expensas de las necesidades sociales más apremiantes. Esta dinámica agudiza los conflictos sociales y los problemas ambientales. Haut de page
Principles for Constructing Alternative Socio-economic Organizations: Lessons Learned from Working Outside Institutional...Published: 12 May 2009 by SAGE Publications in Review of Radical Political Economics
Ecological economics offers ethical and methodological principles for building alternative socio-economic organizations that can contribute to the design of strategies for local project implementation. The participatory design process incorporates normative criteria, including an emphasis on self-sufficiency while also guaranteeing a gradual process of diversification to generate surpluses than can be used for further investment and enrichment of productive, social, political, and environmental infrastructures. The projects in which these principles are being applied involve community networks for producing basic staples as well as new products or modifications of traditional goods that can readily find markets at “fair trade” prices or can contribute to building solidarity economies. The individual projects incorporate traditional and state of the art technologies, minimizing the use of non-renewable resources and contributing to improving the quality of the environment. Organizational concerns assure rotating systems for positions of political and social control and power, without encroaching upon traditional systems of authority that often temper modern paradigms with inherited mechanisms for making decisions and regulating change. This analysis suggests an important set of principles for guiding the future evolution of ecological economics; the sustainable management of regional resources requires: autonomy, self-sufficiency, productive diversification, and sustainable resource management.
Book Review: Railroading Economics: The Creation of the Free Market Mythology Michael Perelman; New York: Monthly Review...Published: 11 February 2008 by SAGE Publications in Review of Radical Political Economics
The stereotypes of a backward and stagnant peasantry are challenged by the reality of people constructing their own alternatives of social theory and action. In the face of globalization processes that offer few options for large segments of the population, there are numerous social groups actively working to strengthen their rural communities, to rehabilitate and protect their ecosystems, and to contribute to forging a new type of social pact in which they can enjoy rising living standards while also contributing to an improving quality of life for society as a whole. This alternative vision of rural communities is based on a reexamination of information about these areas, reconsideration of the ways in which the communities govern themselves, react to pressures, and make decisions.
In spite of a long history of institutional reforms, Mexico still cannot assure adequate water services to its population and its aquifers and ecosystems are being degraded. Although decentralization is a principal theme of administrative reform, the National Water Commission (CNA) remains a powerful semi-autonomous organization charged with the oversight and control of local water agencies. Local urban water administrations are under intense pressure to change their management structures to ...
With the inability of international economic integration to create opportunities for important segments of society, many Mexicans are searching for ways to forge their own alternatives. These strategies are the concrete manifestations of the realisation that the ‘mainstream’ path of the search for proletarian employment is no longer viable and that a return to traditional forms of cooperation, organised around mechanisms for ecosystem management, might offer greater security and a better quality of life. People are finding ways to strengthen their communities, to ensure that their families can remain in the rural areas as part of dynamic communities searching for a new relationship to their regions, as well as to the nation of which they wish to continue to be a part. This article illustrates this process with an analysis of a project that focuses on creating a new product—low-fat pork—that can command a premium price in the market, and in the process contribute to strengthening a community, providing new opportunities for women, and improving environmental management.
Household Welfare in Four Rural Mexican Communities: The Economic and Social Dynamics of Surviving National CrisesPublished: 01 August 2003 by University of California Press in Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos
During the past two decades, national economic and political crises have threatened livelihoods and localities in rural Mexico. However, household-level data from agrarian reform communities studied in 1984 and 1996 show substantial improvement in standards of living. Increased remittance flows provided liquidity for investment in local production as well as household consumption. Increased labor force participation by women and community activism also sustained livelihoods and welfare improvements. Despite deepening structural inequalities, rural people invested in a future for local production. Recommendations center on realizing the economic and social potential demonstrated in such communities through increased public investment in rural infrastructures. Durante los úúltimos dos decenios, las crisis econóómicas y polííticas han amenazado a los medios de supervivencia y los pueblos del Mééxico rural. Sin embargo, datos hogareñños en ejidos estudiados en 1984 y 1996 muestran mejoríías sustanciales en los niveles de vida. Aumentos en los flujos de remesas ofrecieron la liquidez para la inversióón en la produccióón local y el consumo. Las mujeres contribuyeron a los ingresos y al bienestar mediante una mayor participacióón laboral y activismo comunitario. A pesar de crecientes desigualdades estructurales, la poblacióón rural invirtióó en la produccióón local para el futuro. Las recomendaciones se centran en aprovechar el potencial social y econóómico demostrado en estas comunidades mediante mayores inversiones en infraestructura rural.
Alleviating Poverty Through Ecotourism: Promises and Reality in the Monarch Butterfly Reserve of MexicoPublished: 01 January 2003 by Springer Nature in Environment, Development and Sustainability
The Monarch butterfly reserve in west-central Mexico attracts more than 250 000 visitors during the four-month annual overwintering period and yet the project has been unable to generate an impetus for local development among the indigenous and peasant communities in the region. This chapter explores the reasons for this failure and evaluates a proposed alternative development strategy. In addition to the usual problems of the paucity of local linkages, the problems involved with property rights and participation in decision-making and management suggest the need to reevaluate the model for successful and sustainable tourist development. An alternative model is presented that might contribute to overcoming the obstacles.
Résumés Français Español English Au Mexique, le maïs s'identifie pour une large part au pays qui l'a vu naître. Il est au cœur de ses traditions, de ses modes de vie, de sa culture populaire. En dépit de cette importance économique, sociale et culturelle, les différents gouvernements ont préféré favoriser l'importation de grain étranger, beaucoup moins cher, qui représente aujourd'hui près du quart de la consommation nationale. Pourtant, malgré des prix de ventes peu attractifs, des millions de paysans persévèrent dans la culture de variétés locales de maïs, ce qui leur permet de maintenir la qualité de leurs aliments, ainsi que les équilibres des écosystèmes dans lesquels il vivent et produisent. Ils ont répondu partiellement à l'abaissement des prix de vente par la diminution des coûts de production, grâce à une extension des surfaces cultivées et une diminution des investissements. Le marché leur donne raison, dans la mesure où le grain ainsi produit est de grande qualité. Il est donc particulièrement recherché par les consommateurs. En México, el maíz se identifica ampliamente con el país que lo vio nacer. Está en el centro de sus tradiciones, modos de vida y cultura popular. A pesar de esta importancia económica, social y cultural, los gobiernos sucesivos han preferido favorecer la importación de grano extranjero, mucho más barato, que representa hoy en día casi la cuarta parte del consumo nacional. Sin embargo, pese a precios de venta poco atractivos, millones de campesinos persisten en el cultivo de variedades locales de maíz, lo que les permite mantener la calidad de su alimentación, así como los equilibrios de los ecosistemas en los cuales viven y producen. Contestaron en parte el descenso de los precios de venta por la disminución de los costos de producción, merced a un ensanchamiento de las superficies cultivadas y una reducción de las inversiones. El mercado les da la razón en la medida en que el grano así producido resulta de gran calidad y suscita una fuerte demanda por parte de los consumidores. In Mexico, maize identifies a large part of the country which witnessed its birth. It is at the heart of its traditions, of its way of life, of its popular culture. In spite of its economic, social and cultural importance, different governments have preferred to favorise the importation of less expensive foreign grain, which today represents nearly a quarter of national consumption. Yet, despite unattractive prices, millions of peasants preserve the culture of local maize varieties, which permits them to maintain the quality of their produce, as well as the equilibrium of the ecosystems in which they live and produce. They have partially responded to falling prices by the diminution of the costs of production thanks to an extension of the cultivation area and a diminution in investments. The market justifies them, to the extent that the grain they produce is of great quality and is therefore particularly sought after by consumers. Haut de page
The Struggle for Ecological Democracy: Environmental Justice Movements in the United States Daniel Faber, editor;New Yor...Published: 01 January 2001 by Elsevier BV in Review of Radical Political Economics