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Sustainability and Meta-Industrial Labour: Building a Synergistic Politics

Ariel Salleh, March 2004

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Summary :

In a synergistic politics, an adequate environmentalism will equally serve wage workers, women, peasants and indigenous peoples. Likewise, an adequate feminism will serve wage workers, peasants and indigenous peoples, as well as ecological concerns. An adequate socialism too, must recover its multi-dimensional reasoning.

In this paper, Arial Saleh addresses a global vision of sustainability by discussing these separate movements as responses to kinds of material debt. She describes debts to Europe’s environment, to the Global South, to Accession States, and the debt to Women in general. She contrasts high tech modernity with the idea of meta-industrial labour as self sufficient provisioning - and ends up with some proposals for developing a synergistic sustainability strategy. In the words of feminist Nancy Fraser (1998), this politics will mean more than a renewal of distributive justice, parcelling out a fair share of goods and services. It will call for the political recognition of sexed and cultural differences. And beyond this, it will be participatory in a deeper and a wider sense than we have known. It will be participatory on a global scale.