Global Working Group: Beyond Development
About the Global Working Group
The Global Working Group Beyond Development is hosted by the Brussels Office of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung since 2016. It includes around thirty engaged researchers, activists and popular educators from all five continents which bring together knowledge and experience around the different relations of domination which we confront in actual times – class, race, gender, caste, coloniality and depredatory relations with Nature – and also from processes of alternative transformations towards greater equity, sustainability and justice around the world.
"Stopping the Machines of socio-ecological destruction and building alternative worlds" (2019)
The present text is the result of a collective process of analysis, dialogue, and editing based on the second meeting of the Global Working Group Beyond Development in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, and in Nabón County, in Azuay province, in May 2017. It represents an effort to understand the historical moment our world is living through, its patterns of domination and the tendencies, prospects, and challenges of a multidimensional transformation. Our discussions have been deeply rooted in our localized experiences of struggle and alternatives, with their particular histories, strategies, advances, and challenges, and in the search for global connections, translations, and lessons between our experiences.
The perspective of the Global Working Group Beyond Development is the idea of multidimensional social transformation. Its point of departure is that a multidimensional crisis calls for multidimensional responses. Social transformation today should address simultaneously the complex relations between class, race, coloniality, gender, and Nature, as it is precisely their historical entanglements and interdependencies that configure the civilizational bases of the system we face. Although the debates presented here have much in common with a socio-ecological perspective, we believe that it is necessary to highlight gender, race, and coloniality as necessary dimensions of social transformation that are no less significant than relations between classes or society and Nature. Although the term “socio-ecological” does not necessarily exclude these dimensions, it does not explicitly include them either.
"Alternatives in a World of Crisis: Seeking alternatives beyond development" (2018)
Our world is facing a multidimensional crisis arising from the very civilizational foundations that capitalist modernity is built on: economic growth, instrumental and destructive societal relations with Nature, a blind belief in science and technology and a rational, profit-maximizing, and individualistic understanding of humanity. These bases have not only produced a specific set of problems, including an unprecedented level of ecological destruction. They also shape the possible solutions that are envisioned and often only aggravate the status quo. Since World War II, the narrative of development has been a very effective instrument in expanding capitalist social and economic relations into the postcolonial world. In the name of development and modernization, a broad variety of other modes of being in the world and understanding it have been labeled as poor, backward, and obsolete. Seeking alternatives beyond development therefore means seeking alternatives beyond this civilization that has led us into this crisis.
This book, which is the result of a group effort, intends to contribute to the urgently needed collective inquiries taking into view new theoretical and political paradigms of social transformation. In six case studies from all over the world and one concluding chapter, it seeks to address simultaneously the complex relations between class, race, coloniality, gender, and Nature, as it is precisely their historical entanglements and interdependencies that configure the civilizational bases of the system we face.
"Beyond Development. Overcoming an imperative and fostering alternatives" (2016)
Under the header “Beyond the development imperative”, political activists and critical scholars met in January 2016 for three days (with Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh, India, and Ulrich Brand, Vienna University, Austria, as initiators) in order to start a dialogue among possibilities to overcome the so powerful and in many respects exclusive capitalist development imperative – an imperative that is at the same time productive and destructive that creates material well-being for many people but at enormous socio-economic, political and ecological costs and by excluding many others and destroying their livelihoods. “Development” and “economic growth” go still hand in hand and their common denominator is that capitalist dynamics are assumed to solve most problems like a “magic bullet”, and in light of the ecological crisis as supposedly “green” development and growth.
The Global Working Group Beyond Development heavily questions these assumptions and related practices. It started in January with 23 people from 16 countries and with a strong presence of the international offices of the Foundation. It intends to prepare the ground for a solid transnational cooperation, i.e. to share experiences, to reflect own practices in light of others in order to strengthen own forces. The group explicitly did not want to start with the elaboration of common strategies but focused in its first meeting more on creating mutual understanding, trust and the desire to cooperate for some years together – a necessary and inspiring process.
"Radical Urban Transformations" (2018)
The Global working group Beyond Development realized its third meeting in May 2018 in Barcelona to discuss the challenges and opportunities for the defense, expansion, articulation and building of urban alternatives in the contemporary world. In our meeting in 2017 in Quito, Ecuador we established a common political and analytical framework to guide our collective work, and also identified crucial strategic issues and challenges that needed to be engaged (Lang 2018). We chose Barcelona as the place to take on the discussion on radical urban transformation, to allow dialogues with activists, intellectuals, politicians and experiences of resistance and alternative building in one of the most progressive cities in the world, which currently is governed by the Barcelona en Comú political movement with clear roots in popular struggles.
The Global working group seeks to analyze and critique the global political-economy and its social, political and environmental consequences, from the diagnostic that the world is facing a civilizational crisis caused by the notions of unlimited growth that guide are societies. In this context the group constitutes a space for learning and interchange among activist-organizers and activist-researchers (and the multiple combinations of these identities) from different parts of the world on the possibility of building alternatives to capitalist-colonial-patriarchal status quo. The group seeks to visibilize existing alternatives, and create strategic thinking to multiply, expand, connect and deepen them.