Except for the faithful few, Christmas is now one giant materialist festival all over the world, quite divorced from its Christian origins. On this day then it seems worthwhile to reflect on affect our materialism is really having on the world.
I first heard about the Indian activist Vandana Shiva in the early 90s, when I was living in Madhya Pradesh, through her writing in an early Indian environmentalist magazine.
Since I first knew of her she has been challenging the consensus that has been destroying our planet in a more or less relentless and ever-accelerating way, especially in the East.
In this talk given at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas held in the Sydney Opera House in early December this year, she challenges the idea that Growth = Wealth.
This equation can only be sustained by leaving out the enormous destruction that comes along with growth these days: soil depletion, water depletion, climate instability, destruction of biodiversity, and so on.
The poor, who are supposed to benefit from growth, only ever seem to get chased off their land and into ghettoes in the city, where they are supposed to somehow scrape a living by scavenging and the like.
Vandana very usefully traces the growth of modern economic ideas to their roots in a war economy, which along with other war materials, like poisons, were revamped and turned into the modern and unquestioned world order.
The talk is around 40 minutes and is followed by questions and answers for around 15 minutes.