Social injustice goes hand in hand with ecological injustice. The dominant mindset, driven by industrial corporations, is that wellbeing arises from the extraction and exploitation of human, non-human and other environmental resources. In turn people are indebted and captive as employees and consumers, sold a lie that they are free to attain the heights of success of their masters, to demonstrate through yet more consumption. A fair society can only really be achieved with radical systemic change. There are two levers for this change. One is to shift culture and media towards a more ecological epistemology (way of knowing). The other is to shift economies towards ‘oikonomies’, or systems of value and exchange more truly rooted in the original meaning of eco- or oikos, as favourable place. The most oikonomic economies are ones that respect and radically reclaim the commons. A final key point to make is that oikonomics and ecological ways of knowing are idealistic grounds for a radical shift. However, in reality we are unlikely to see equality and wellbeing improve because we have breached too many planetary boundaries. We have exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth. The resulting hunger, conflict and climate disasters are already unfairly affecting the poorest first and worst. That is not a reason to abandon a shift in thinking. Quite the opposite. But we need also to shift our expectations.
Bridget McKenzie Director, Flow Associates