How can we build our future on the legacies and claims of those who, yesterday as today, have been plunged into existential hardship by the ecological-economic complex? And how can we make such struggles a source of inspiration for a common cause?
The Berliner Gazette (BG) 2022 project AFTER EXTRACTIVISM launches its intervention at a critical juncture: Economic and ecological crises are increasingly devastatingly intertwined and fuel each other – an ecological-economic complex (or rather: vicious circle) that produces pandemics, extreme weather events, the slow violence of climate catastrophe, and outright wars.
When governments (and companies) officially recognize that the realms of ecology and economy intertwine in increasingly disastrous ways, they promote ostensibly “sustainable” measures, but in fact advance mostly variants of the dominant capitalist mode as solutions to these problems.
However, isn’t said economic mode key to the problem? Does deploying it as part of the supposed solution not only reinforce and sustain disastrous tendencies? Thus, shouldn’t organizing transitions into a better world be inseparable from fundamentally questioning the dominant economic modeorganized around the pursuit of endless growth, energy-hungry profit coercion, and, last but not least, resource-devouring extractivism?
Wishing to explore these questions, the BG 2022 project proposes we learn from the last big transition – the post-Cold War transition from “communism” to capitalism – and raise the question of transition justice. This means tackling what is usually denied in official accounts of post-1989 transitions: class struggles and the immense, long-lasting political, social, and, ultimately, environmental costs of transitions.
The detailed outline of the BG 2022 project – conceived and published before Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine – is available in German and English. Written by Magdalena Taube and Krystian Woznicki, the organizers of the project, this text is indebted to the collective findings from previous BG projects, including “More World” (2019), “Silent Works” (2020), and “Black Box East” (2021). It serves as an introduction to the text series that BG is developing in this context in cooperation with activists, researchers, and cultural workers. Read more about it in the column on the right.
The BG 2022 project deploys the term transition justice as a conceptual evolution of the just transition framework. Developed in recent years by the trade union movement, the just transitionframework puts forward claims for social justice in the context of climate catastrophe adaptations, calling for interventions required to secure workers’ rights and livelihoods, e.g., in coal-dependent developing regions, where economies are shifting from fossil fuels to supposedly “green” energy sources. Here, the idea of transition justice suggests going a step further, namely also taking claims of environmental justice movements into account: ethical, legal, and political issues of accountability and responsibility for the consequences of ecological havoc caused since the so-called “European expansion” in the course of colonization and industrialization.
In short, the BG 2022 project proposes combining just transitionclaims with claims for environmental justice. Conceived thus, transition justice last but not least echoes indigenous concerns and makes room for the interests of laborers not (yet) represented by unions, e.g., migrant workers or social reproduction workers. Consequently, raising the question of transition justice in the face of man-made natural disasters (such as pandemics or the climate catastrophe) and greenwashed neoliberal responses to it means calling for accountability and responsibility for ecological destruction, as well as demanding that transition measures must not reproduce existing power structures (which have caused the endangering and outright destruction of lifeworlds in the first place), but rather forge new paths into a just world.
Undoing the power structures in question when, e.g., working towards an energy transition and other climate catastrophe adaptation measures requires decolonizing climate production and removing it from capitalism’s grip. Such a multi-layered endeavor can crucially contribute to transition justice for our planetary inter-species community. The BG project 2022 challenges activists, scholars, and cultural workers to research, think, and imagine how we might go about this in solidarity: How can we wager our future on the legacies and claims of those who – yesterday as today – have been plunged into existential hardship by the ecological-economic complex? And how can we make such struggles a source of inspiration for a common cause?
TEXT SERIES + MILESTONES
The BG has created a space for the project within its online newspaper. Here, around 50 essays, reports, and interviews will be published in the course of 2022. While the texts are appearing in German in the BG, English (and other language) versions are being published in cooperation with the BG’s international media partners, including Athens Live, LeftEast, Mediapart.fr, and NON. If you would like to contribute a text (1,500 words) and/or subscribe to our newsletter, mail us at info(at)berlinergazette(.)de
The text series is tentatively partitioned into three sections (as detailed in the project outline written before Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine): I. The Ecological-Economic Complex; II. Green Capitalism; and III. Transition Justice.
Bengi Akbulut, Raia Apostolova, Damir Arsenijević, Kat Austen, Nishat Awan, Manca Bajec, Shrishtee Bajpai, Elena Batunova, Leigh Claire La Berge, Renata Blumberg, Sanja Bojanic, June Brawner, Masha Burina, Kerry Bystrom, Ana Esther Ceceña, Luiza Cerioli, Mijin Cha, Cathy Lee Crane, Abiol Lual Deng, Jovana Dikovic, Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro, Anna Engelhardt, Dana Domsodi, Asel Doolotkeldieva, Zoltán Ginelli, Julia Grillmayr, Maria Gunko, Hamza Hamouchene, Tom Holert, Adriana Homolova, Katharina Hoppe, Tsvetelina Hristova, Hvale, Özgün Eylül İşcen, Ela Kagel, Katrin Kämpf, Stefan Kausch, Nino Khelaia, Gal Kirn, Katarina Kušić, Joan Kuyek, Rositsa Kratunkova, Jürgen Link, Agata Lisiak, Marko Luka, Siti Maimunah, Christoph Marischka, Edna Martínez, Rubén Martínez, Aleksandar Matković, Katrin Metzger, Regina de Miguel, Andrea Milat, Diana Mincyte, Shintaro Miyazaki, Ramona Mosse, Tina Munroe, Mirko Nikolić, Christine Okoth, Eliana Otta, Friederike Pank, Shiri Pasternak, Marta Peirano, Ana Teixeira Pinto, Florin Poenaru, Camila Ponce Lara, Vijay Prashad, Ivan Rajković, Lira Ramadani, Lela Rekhviashvili, Kevin Rittberger, Jaron Rowan, Shuree Sarantuya, Wladimir Sgibnev, Irina Shirobokova, Sotiris Sideris, Dima Srouji, Felix Stalder, Lukas Stolz, Jesse Swann-Quinn, Pelin Tan, Stoyo Tetevenski, Stefan Tiron, Jelena Vasiljevic, Irina Velicu, Andrea Vetter, Henry Veltmeyer, Mihajlo Vujasin, Amy Walker, Jutta Weber, The Winter Office, and Anna Zalik.
In addition to the text series, published in BG and its international media partners, the project will encompass a multimedia website, partner events, and a three-day conference in Berlin on October 13, 14, and 15, 2022.