The Earth is irreversibly changing. We are entering a new climate regime that is much hotter and more threatening. Science and technology arrived late. Only with the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere did the course of the living planet change. The various types of knowledge, from the popular to the most scientific, can only mitigate the harmful effects. But those will come more often and more severe.
If we want to continue on this planet, we have to develop another civilizing paradigm, friendly to life and feeling like brothers and sisters to all other living beings, as Pope Francis postulates in Fratelli tutti(2020). Well, we have the same basic genetic code with them. Within this context, there is an urgent need for another type of democracy: socio-ecological or eco-socialist.
It would represent the culmination of the democratic ideal, exactly at this moment in which we are witnessing a serious decline in democratic ideals in a context of rising authoritarian movements. In addition, the spread of artificial intelligence that combines millions of algorithms and can threaten democracy and distort, for example , the figure of the Pope wearing a thick, rare and very expensive jacket.
Despite all this, we have to discuss the threatened democracy. Underlying it is the original idea of all democracy: verything that interests everyone must be thought about and decieded by everyone.
There is direct democracy in small communities or in a country like Switzerland. When these social groupings are larger, representative democracy is projected. As the powerful generally control it, a participatory democracy was proposed in which those on the floor below could participate in the formulation and monitoring of the country’s policies.
More progress was made and a communitarian democracy was created, experienced by the Andean peoples, in which everyone participates in everything within a great human-nature harmony. It is “bien vivir y convivir”. It was seen that democracy is a universal value (N.Bobbio), lived daily in life, in the family, in associations and in the way of organizing the state. Also an endless democracy (Boaventura de Souza Santos), because it can always be perfected and never ready. Faced with the imminent risk of the disappearance of the human species, everyone, in order to save themselves, would unite around a planetary super-democracy (J.Atalli).
More or less in this line, the various forms of democracy must be thought and lived. The survivors of the great transformation of the Earth, stabilizing its average climate around 38 degrees Celsius or more, learned from these drastic changes. As a means of survival, they will have to incorporate new forms of relationships in harmony with nature and Mother Earth. Hence, this type of socio-ecological democracy was thought. It is social because it involves the whole society.
It is the great proposal of ecosocialism that has nothing to do with the frustrated real socialism that has already disappeared. This socio-ecological or ecosocialist democracy has the ecological as its structuring axis. Not as a technique to guarantee the sustainability of the human way of life, along the lines of the current paradigm of the human being dominus=lord and outside and above nature, but as frater=brother and sister, part of and within nature. , would rather be an art, a new way of tender and fraternal coexistence with nature.
The mode of production and institutions will no longer force nature to adapt to human desires. These will adapt to the rhythms of nature, taking care of it, giving it rest to regenerate. The human being will feel nature itself so that by taking care of it, it will be taking care of itself.
The uniqueness of the human being, and this has been proven by neurologists, geneticists, bioanthropologists and cosmologists, is to appear as a being-knot-of-relationships, of love, cooperation, solidarity and compassion. This was said by James D. Watson in his book “DNA: the secret of life” (2005): love and solidarity belong to the human genetic code
Such singularity appears better when we compare it with the superior simians from which we differ in only 1.6% of genetic load. They also have a corporate life. But they are guided by the logic of domination and hierarchization. But we differ from them by cooperation and commensality.
Today it is accepted that both nature and the Earth are subjects of rights. They are the new citizens with whom we must live amicably. The Earth is a biogeophysical entity, Gaia, which articulates all the elements to stay alive and produce all the biodiversity. In an advanced moment of its evolution and complexification, it began to feel, think, love and care. It was then that the human being, man and woman, who is the thinking and loving Earth, appeared.
If we want to survive together, this democracy must be a biocracy, a sociocracy, a geocracy and a cosmocracy, in short, an ecological-social or eco-socialist democracy. Time is pressing. We must generate a new awareness and prepare ourselves for the changes that will not take long to arrive. Is it a utopia? Yes, but a necessary utopia if we still want to live on this planet.
Leonardo Boff, brazilian Philosopher, Theologian and writer wrote with the german Theologian Jürgen Moltmann, Is there hope for endangered creation? Vozes, Petrópolis/Rio 2014; Caring for the Earth-Protecting Life: How to Avoid the End of the World, Record, Rio 2010.