EDITORIAL: ON THE WAY TO ECOLOGICAL CIVILIZATION
The global environmental crisis has brought into focus the critical state of our planet and of humanity. Environmental problems are integrally related to, while at the same time aggravating, economic, social and political problems, demonstrating the fragility of the existing world order. As a result of the globalization of the market under the banner of neoliberalism, local problems now have global impacts. These problems did not arise overnight, but unfolded gradually and recently have now acquired a particularly dramatic character.
Attempts to solve a global environmental crisis in conjunction with economic, social and political issues go back to the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment, which embraced the idea of sustainable development, strongly endorsed by the Report of the World Commission on Environmental Development: Our Common Future, also known as The Brundland Report, published in 1987.However, it was the UN Conference on the Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, that marked full international recognition of the need for a transition of the world community to a new path for development. The representatives of 178 states supported the main ideas of the concept of sustainable development, which formed the basis for the “Agenda for the XXI century” document, according to which, national developmental strategies should ensure the coordination of environmental, social and economic plans. The social orientation of the development of the economy, and the preservation of the planet’s resource base in the interests of future generations have been recognized as the general goal of sustainable development.
However, today, after more than 30 years from the time when the concept of sustainable development began to be implemented, its results have been disappointing. There are doubts about the possibility of achieving its goals. In fact, there are a number of reasons for this, one of which is an ambiguous definition of this model and the conditions for its implementation.
The efforts to overcome the current systemic crisis of civilization will be ineffective as long as humanity is captured by the anthropocentric picture of the world and the prevailing system of interstate and economic relations that are characteristic of industrial civilization, namely the culture of a modern globalized market. To overcome the crisis affecting the environment, economy and the social sphere, the world community is required to create an ecological civilization based on a different stance toward the world, involving different thinking about and perception of the meaning and the principle of existence, the relations of people with each other and with the world of nature.
The ideas of ecological civilization are in the air and are currently formalized in a holistic program that could affect the fate of humanity and nature in their unity with each other. The civilization of the exploitation of nature and the human community, of unbridled and destructive consumption, needs to be replaced by a new mode of existence based on ecological thinking, redefining the relationships between human beings and nature and among humans themselves.
The ideas of American environmentalism, Russian Cosmism, and more recently, ideas associated with the Gaia hypothesis, each recognizing the reality and significance of the biosphere and the noosphere, can be regarded as components of the idea of ecological civilization, which at present has been most fully embraced in China. An ethical-aesthetic approach to the protection of nature, formed at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century by such scientists as V.I. Taliev, A.P. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, D.N. Anuchin, D.N. Kaygorodov, I.P. Borodin, as well as the ideas of “universal evolutionism” and the “theory of self-organization of the universe” formulated by N.N. Moiseyev, V.I. Vernadsky and A.A. Bogdanov, should be mentioned in this connection, too. These thinkers had a strong influence on the development of ecology in Russia and on the environmental movement of the 1920’s.
Currently, the design of the model of ecological civilization is facilitated by new ideas in ecology, including human ecology, process thought and ecophilosophy, while drawing on Asian traditions of thought, all contributing to a new eco-human approach to understanding the world and humanity. All this has helped to create an ideological platform for ecological civilization. The constructiveness of using the concept of ecological civilization is determined mainly by systemic environmental thinking. “Ecology” is a radical system-forming concept necessary to rethink the entire cultural practice of humankind. It will help to realize new opportunities to solve the problems of preserving humanity and the planet. The latest achievements in the field of ecology have an increasing impact on the entire complex of sciences, creating the basis for overcoming the restrictions of previous ways of thinking and forming a different vision of the future, with ethical and political philosophies that are radically different from those that have dominated the era of industrial civilization.
Representatives of different countries are increasingly cooperating to determine the essence of ecological civilization and the ways to build it. One confirmation of this is the number of articles presented in this issue of our journal, the authors of which are specialists from Australia, China and the United States of America. These articles are a reflection of attempts at interdisciplinary understanding of ecological civilization from the positions of ecology, philosophy, anthropology, political science and other sciences. The topic of ecological civilization was previously touched upon in the previous issue of our journal through the publication of an interview with John Cobb and a report on the 16th International Forum on Ecological Civilization and the 5th International Youth Forum on Ecological Civilization.
In the article “Rethinking Political Philosophy through Ecology and Ecopoiesis,” Associate Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies (Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia), Arran Gare, provides a critical analysis of the root causes of the planet’s contemporary environmental problems in their close connection with the crisis of culture and systems of scientific knowledge from the perspective of political philosophy. This analysis has allowed him to discover the flawed foundations of the global power structures that operate in the current world order. He draws particular attention to the dualism of science, manifested in the opposition between the natural and human sciences and the marginalization of human values. To overcome this dualism and defend communitarian political philosophies, making them a real force in confrontation with dominant thinking and power structures, Gare considers it necessary to turn to ecology as a factor in the reorganization of science and politics and the creation of an effective counter-hegemonic culture that could unite people to form a multipolar world order of ecological civilization.
In the article “Setting the coordinates for an ecological civilization,” the founder of the global online community, the Deep Transformation Network, which explores the paths of cultural transformation and the movement of humanity towards a more life-affirming future, Jeremy Lent (Berkeley, California, USA) shares his vision of ecological civilization as a potential future of humanity. Its creation will require a fundamental transformation of the current economy, politics and culture, as well as the value foundations of the current industrial civilization.
In a joint article by the Director of the Institute for Postmodern Development of China, Co-Director of the China Project, Center for Process, Zhihe Wang and colleagues, Meijun Fan and Junfeng Wang, describe their vision of Chinese prospects for creating ecological civilization. Recognizing not only the significant economic achievements of modern China, but also the seriousness of its environmental problems, the authors believe that the creation of an ecological civilization is the most hopeful scenario for coping with the environmental crisis. They emphasize the great value of the traditional philosophical systems of Chinese culture (Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism), which make it possible to use them for the development of so-called organic process thinking as being the most consistent with the concept of ecological civilization.
This issue of the journal also includes a joint article byLeonardo Lavanderos, Faculty of Engineering UPLA Chile, Professor of Management and Leadership at the Business School of Tec de Monterrey (Santiago, Chile), and Alejandro Malpartida, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, and Faculty of Medicine, University of Buenos Aires. Their article, “Ecopoiesis. Life as a Relational Unit," covers relational cybernetics or third-order cybernetics, biology, ecology, systems theory, neurobiology, relational epistemology, and is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of the phenomenon of life. They draw on the concept of ecopoiesis and other new ecological concepts to justify their definition of natural and cultural ecology, supporting the transition of scientific knowledge from an object-based orientation to a relational one, from reductionism to a complex perception of life.
In her essay “Squawk. Contemplations on animal presence in art therapy,” Beverley A'Court, a registered art therapist based at the Findhorn Foundation (UK), describes her experience of therapeutic interactions with animals. Her essay continues the series of publications begun in the previous issue of the journal, dedicated to the interdisciplinary understanding of the experience of relationships between humans and animals.
This issue also touches on our relationship with the world of plants and fungi. "the Poetic Anthology of Eco-Human experience; Poems About plants and Fungi" published in this issue, presents a selection of poems dedicated to plants and mushrooms, written by poets of the 20th and early 21st centuries. These poems express different facets of the relationships between people, plants and fungi, allowing us to see the existential, ecopoietic and visionary dimensions of these relationships> The selection includes poems by Robert Frost, Marina Tsvetaeva, Denise Levertov, Vladimir Soloukhin, Robert Hass, Dorianne Laux, Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath.
The value of poetic means of rendering the experience of human communication with the natural world is also revealed in the section, “In Resonance with the Earth,” in this issue. The section features a selection of poems by Beverly A'Court. A long-time practitioner of holistic art therapy, she advocates for the recognition of the importance of poetic language, the body, ecology and world cultural traditions in therapy. This would allow us to feel connected to that stance in the world which is characteristic of artists, healers and visionaries.