With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and of the socialism that was its counterpoint (independently of its grave internal problems), capitalism ended up occupying all the space in the economy and politics. With Margaret Thatcher’s assumption of power in Great Britain and that of Ronald Reagan in the United States, the capitalist logic acquired free rein: the complete liberalization of the markets with a breakdown of all controls, the introduction of the minimalist state, of privatization and boundless competition.
The so-called, “happy globalization” was not so happy.
Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz, could write in 2011: «just 1% of the very rich cause the economy and all the planetary functions to benefit their interests» (“Of the 1% by 1%”, Vanity Fair, May 2011). For this reason, one of the biggest multimillionaires, the speculator Warren Buffet boasted: «yes, class struggle exists, but my class, the class of the rich, is the one leading the struggle and we are winning» (CNN 2005 interview).
It so happens that all the rich types failed to include in their calculations the ecological factor, considering the limits of the natural goods and services as worthless externalities. This also occurs in the economic debates in Brazil, which is behind on this issue, with the exception of a few, such as Ladislau Dowbor.
Alongside the global hegemony of the capitalist system, silent revolutions grew everywhere. They are the base groups, scientists and others with an ecological sense who are teaching alternatives to this way of inhabiting planet Earth. If it continues pitilessly stressing the Earth, she could change and provoke an imbalance capable of destroying a great part of our civilization.
In such a dramatic context arose, “The Coexistence” movement, of groups now including more than 3,200 people all over the world (see http://www.lesconvivialistes.org). They seek to live together (hence, coexistence), caring for one another and for nature, not denying conflicts, but making of them factors of dynamism and creativity. Is the politics of the gain-gain.
Four principles sustain this project: the principle of common humanity. With all our differences, we form one humanity, to be maintained in unity.
The principle of common sociality: the human being is social and lives in several types of societies, whose differences must be respected.
The principle of individuation: even though social, each one has the right to affirm his/her individuality and uniqueness, without harming the other.
The principle of ordained and creative opposition: those who differ can legitimately oppose, but always being careful not to making the difference into inequality.
These principles imply ethical, political, economic and ecological consequences that will not be detailed here.
What is important is to start: to begin from below, with bio-regionalism, with small units of organic production, with generating energy from waste, with a sense of self limitation and just measure, living a frugal consumption and sharing among all. The silent revolutions are gathering energy to be able, in a determinate moment of history, to make the great transformation.
It is important today to accentuate conviviality because presently there are many who no longer want to live together.
Conviviality as a concept was put in circulation by Ivan Illich (1926-2002) in his book Tools for Conviviality, 1973, (La convivialidad, 1975). Illich was one of the great prophetic thinkers of the XX century. An Austrian, he lived great part of his life in the two Americas. Conviviality to him consisted of the capacity to make coexist the dimensions of production and of caring; of efficiency and compassion; of mass producing products and creativity; of liberty and fantasy; of multidimensional equilibrium and of social complexity: all to reinforce the sense of universal belonging.
Conviviality also claims to be an adequate response to the ecological crisis. Conviviality can avoid a real planetary crash.
There will be a new pact or nature with the Earth, and of the social between the people. The first paragraph of the new pact will be the sacred principle of self limitation and just measure; after, the essential caring of all that exists and lives, gentleness with humans and respect for Mother Earth.
It is possible to organize a good society, an Earth of the good-hope (Sachs and Dowbor) where people prefer cooperation and sharing instead of competition and limitless accumulation.
Leonardo Boff is Philosopher and Theologian