Draft Discussion Note (prepared by Jai Sen, January 21 2010; subject to re-interpretation and modification)
We are not yet 100% sure of what the future is going to look like, but a definite possibility – because of inter-governmental inability to make the necessary policy decisions and to implement them – is the onset of cataclysmic changes within the next few decades. As a consequence of this, we, as a species, are perhaps going to be faced with what in some ways may be almost totally new forms, or manifestations, of war and violence, forms that make irrelevant all known forms of social organisation and government. As waters rise and other resources such as land are depleted, we may move into a historically totally new stage of unpredictable non-linear system collapse, in turn unleashing forces in combinations that we as yet know nothing about and therefore today, as yet, have no ways of addressing; for the so-far somewhat linear, predictable systems and processes of ‘national’ social organisation, planning, government, and decision-making that we so far know and depend on are likely to be completely inadequate.
Equally, the emerging situation may require our rethinking our understanding even of what constitutes ‘war’ and ‘violence’.
This workshop aims to be an exploratory space where participants at the WRI Conference in Ahmedabad can draw on their wide range of experience in different parts of the world and critically explore this subject, not hoping to ‘answer’ such profound questions but to develop some perspective on them.
The workshop will also be participatory, where we plan to ask participants to help articulate the key questions that need to be answered – at the workshop, and after.
To stimulate thinking from ahead of time, the workshop organisers propose the following questions as a starter :
One : How should we conceive of war on a planet, and how can we resist this, fight this ?
Two, as the serial impacts of climate change begin to be experienced, we are perhaps going to see human migration at a scale that has not been known in history. As resources deplete and competition rises, wars – serial wars – are likely to break out between peoples, between communities, and between nations; and also, in a new development, between movements representing different constituencies – a situation that will pose entirely new challenges. What do we think of this possible scenario, and how should we look at these possibilities ?
Three, the forces that are primarily responsible for the climate change and crisis that Planet Earth is today facing are primarily corporate in nature, driven by profit and greed; but as the situation worsens, we are also going to see opening up a situation both of struggle between corporate forces that finally declare their autonomy of social-governmental control to defend the profit and rape that they believe is their right; and where in doing so, they will also take up arms against the rest of society that now begins to openly struggle for the same scarce resources. How can we address this ?
Four, we are today already in a situation where large numbers of ordinary human beings have also become accomplice to the violence being inflicted by corporate greed – by virtue of our lifestyles and individual consumption habits. We must therefore look not only at corporations but also at ourselves and our complicity; and how to break these chains, in terms of production, consumption, and the handling of the waste we all produce. How do we begin to do so ? What are the alternatives ?