Published in  
May 26, 2015

Hacking sustainable development

Sustainable development is not our way of embracing our entanglement in the web of life.

It has nothing to do with revitalizing our inescapable tethering with ‘nature’ or recognizing that we are materially constituted by agencies and actions outside our control. It is our way of sustaining the primacy of economic advancement and cultural homogenization. If you are in any doubt about how skewed the paradigm of sustainable development really is, look at its indicators. They are all entirely economic.

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In other words, the way we know we are in a healthy relationship with nature is by looking through the lenses of economic development; in other words, our alliance with nature is directly proportional to how estranged we are from her. Nature in this conception is the network of raw materials awaiting redemption in our Calvinistic universes, and awaiting meaning and direction in our Cartesian coordinates. One gets the sense that sustainable development is like conquering a village, enslaving its children and killing off a dozen every week – only to recognize that doing so doesn’t make economic sense – and then announcing to your captives that you have given much thought to their predicament and misfortune, and that in your magnanimity you have now decided to kill only 6 of their children every week. Making ‘nature’ an ‘other’ is the singular motif that keeps emerging in every new approach to addressing our crises today.