From the soil to the soul: Fragments of a theory of economic conflicts

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Abstract

This chapter intends to strengthen the institutional and psychological dimensions of the Barcelona School’s analysis of environmental conflicts. It does so by embedding environmental conflicts into other kinds of struggles over the economy, defined as the various ways by which humans organize their sustenance. It asks: What are the key triggers behind economic conflicts? What kinds of radical ideologies emerge from them? How are they able (or not) to sustain their radical projects? I suggest that the main conflicting points of today’s neoliberal capitalism are related to its metabolism (ecological), its debts (institutional), and to the widespread alienation it is creating (psychological). I argue that these particular points of contention are giving rise to a new blend of radical ideas around ‘degrowth’ and related movements. On one hand, this is so because degrowth confronts growthism and its unparalleled levels of ecological destruction and debt. On the other hand, degrowth seeks to address the problem of alienation by reconnecting economies to the conditions for flourishing. Collective flourishing requires, among other things, to work on one’s awareness. Such ‘inner work’ is necessary in any social movement, but it has received much less attention than the ‘outer work’ of changing the immediate or the structural triggers behind conflicts. I suggest that this disregard contributes to explaining why radical movements have so rarely been successful. I conclude that subjectivity and alienation are important frontiers of research for the Barcelona School.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Barcelona School of Ecological Economics and Political Ecology
Subtitle of host publicationA Companion in Honour of Joan Martinez-Alier
EditorsSergio Villamayor-Tomas, Roldan Muradian
Chapter21
Number of pages10
Edition1
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-22566-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

Publication series

SeriesStudies in Ecological Economics (SEEC)
Volume8
ISSN1389-6954

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Author(s)

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