After Extractivism · BG°2022 Project
1989 | 2147
Connecting post-1989 worker struggles in Romania’s coal mining region with Captain Power and a group of guerrilla fighters who oppose the machine forces that dominate Earth in the 22nd century following the so-called Metal Wars, artist, author, and curator Stefan Tiron inquires in his contribution to the Berliner Gazette’s video talks series “After Extractivism” into the political potential of science fictional transitioning in the 1990s.
While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered a global shortage of sunflower oil, propelling palm oil to rise again, a critical look at the global history of the palm oil industry reveals both the imperial violence of extractive capitalism as a system of human sacrifice and the challenges for a transition into a just world, social thinker Max Haiven argues in his contribution to the Berliner Gazette’s video talks series “After Extractivism.”
While ecological and economic systems are collapsing, a battle for white supremacy is raging; it is not least a class war for (controlling) access to the shrinking living space on the planet. It is high time to counter this development with a radical politics of earthcare, as feminist researcher, facilitator, and artist Manuela Zechner argues in her contribution to the Berliner Gazette’s video talks series “After Extractivism.”
The suffering caused by extractive capitalism has people looking back to Yugoslavia’s modernization project. While aiming to dominate nature, it also created cooperative platforms for social togetherness, enabling sustainable ways of living and organizing economy. In her lecture for the Berliner Gazette’s video talks series “After Extractivism” researcher Katarina Kušić discusses this as a source of inspiration for current struggles.
European Green Deal
The case of Bulgaria reveals: what is sold as the ultimate way out – namely, the “green” transition – opens new spaces for accumulation. The cost of this is to be borne by society, especially by workers in old industries. Thus, the challenge is to advance post-capitalism, as environmental justice activist Stoyo Tetevenski argues in his contribution to the Berliner Gazette’s video talks series “After Extractivism.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not the first aggression by a major power since the end of World War II, but it is probably the first time that an alliance of major powers has opposed it with an unprecedented, all-encompassing economic war. All of this has serious consequences – not only for Ukraine and Russia, but for practically all globally interconnected economies. The unsettled security of supply (supply chains for energy sources and food are interrupted) also affects international climate protection, because money and coordination efforts in this area are now being poured into supply security. In the course of this, coal and oil are experiencing a comeback, and are being reframed as “future raw materials,” even in countries that had shown commitment to climate goals. What challenges do environmental justice movements face in light of this? What does it mean to act, campaign, or journalistically raise awareness? What does it mean, if necessary, to strategically readjust the environmental justice agenda?
Juan Francisco Donoso, Jade Lindgaard, Nina Pohler, Sotiris Sideris, Lira Ramadani, Stoyo Tetevenski, and Manuela Zechner looked for answers to these questions. The resulting workshop project is accessible here.
Disarming Resource Wars
“Resource wars,” “energy wars,” and “climate wars” on the peripheries of empires are all expressions of the fact that economic and ecological crises are becoming increasingly devastatingly intertwined, fueling each other. Needless to say, diplomacy must be preferred to a “hot” war at any time in the face of this. But this is not enough for a true bottom-up peace movement. As Rosa Luxemburg already knew in 1911, we must be able to do more than urge capitalist states to negotiate the terms of their business deals, because if we focus only on that, we undertake basically nothing more than the defense of capitalism and imperialism – that is, yesterday’s forms against today’s or tomorrow’s. Hence, struggles for an internationalist politics of peace in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and all other forms of imperial military aggression across the globe should also, if not primarily, be conducted by challenging capitalism and imperialism. How can we advance eco-socialist alternatives to the capitalist economy? How can we create commons-based caring economies as a peace strategy that disarms “resource wars” and the like?
Sabrina Apitz, Max Haiven, Julio Linares, Mirko Nikolić, Andrea Vetter, and Gabriele Schliwa looked for answers. The resulting workshop project is accessible here.
Climate and Tech Politics
Whether helping refugees, those threatened by racial violence, the hungry, or those injured in war – mutual support and grassroots coordination on the web are crucial in solidarity initiatives responding to a humanitarian crisis. However, technology is not a panacea, but a tool that must be chosen and used strategically. This also becomes clear when facing the climate catastrophe. Hence, the claim in this context must be two-fold: climate and tech activism. The first has slowly entered public consciousness, but the latter is usually dismissed, as digital technologies are considered “clean.” The high energy consumption of running data centers, manufacturing smartphones, streaming videos, etc. is underestimated and ignored. So, what does it mean to politicize digital technologies in the face of mutually fueling crises without letting their use become part of the problem or even detrimental to its solution? What can we learn from the algorithmic policing of racialized communities who are hit hardest by the climate crisis?
Alistair Alexander, Katharina Höne, Ela Kagel, Claudia Núñez, Jaron Rowan, Alexandra Ștefănescu, and Niloufar Vadiati looked for answers to these questions. The resulting workshop project is accessible here.
Damir Arsenijević about environmental violence as a weapon in wars of capital (EN | DE); Nishat Awan on enviromental destruction and a large-scale displacement of people in Pakistan (EN | DE); Elena Batunova about the specters of extractivism in the Donbas (EN | DE); Mark Cinkevich and Anna Engelhardt about the role of energy in Russia’s colonial expansion (EN | DE); Jovana Dikovic on the pernicious decoupling of “food security” and environmentalism in critiques of capitalism (EN | DE); Fabian Flues and Kevin Rittberger about protecting profits during the climate crisis (EN | DE); Maria Gunko about post-Soviet coal mining cities as platforms for the reordering of power relations (EN | DE); Max Haiven about extractive capitalism as a system of human sacrifice (EN | DE); Ela Kagel about the social implications and challenges of “peak soil” (EN | DE); Tomasz Konicz about how the heat wave reveals the deadly logics of capital (EN | DE); and about the politics of extreme debt and climate change adaptation in the Global South (EN | DE); Aleksandar Matković about why a new form of ecological imperialism is developing in the Balkans (EN | DE); mirko nikolić about extractivist entanglements in Serbia (EN | DE); Florin Poenaru about how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s response to it aggravate environmental havoc (EN | DE); Jaron Rowan on ideologies of extractivist subjectivity (EN | DE); Oxana Timofeeva about Russia’s petro-imperialism and the (in)human geographies of war (EN | DE).
Kat Austen about recoding the green transition in Lusatia (EN | DE); Sanja Bojanic and Marko Luka Zubcic about exhausted dreams of demagogues and investors (EN | DE); Jessica Dempsey and Shiri Pasternak about the green transition and the capitalism-coloniality nexus in Canada (EN | DE); Hamza Hamouchene about green colonialism and green grabbing in North Africa (EN | DE); Tsvetelina Hristova about the transition from Ekoglasnost to the European Green Deal (EN | DE); Özgün Eylül İşcen about post-carbon imaginaries in the Gulf region (EN | DE); Rositsa Kratunkova about how green parties are embracing more war to stop the war (EN | DE); Christoph Marischka about debunking the myth of “the cloud” (EN | DE); Friederike Pank about the failure to turn East Germany’s coal region into a post-extractivist Shangri-La (EN | DE); Shuree Sarantuya about the violence of green extractivism in Mongolia (EN | DE); Paul Schütze about how Artificial Intelligence complements and expands green capitalism (EN | DE); Tatjana Söding about the ideology of right-wing populist resistance against green politics in East Germany (EN | DE); Stoyo Tetevenski about countering the myth of green capitalism in Bulgaria (EN | DE); Irina Velicu about greenwashing necro-industries and climate trauma (EN | DE); Franziska von Verschuer about seed banking as a case of techno-solutionism (EN | DE); Mihajlo Vujasin about resistance to green capitalism in Serbia (EN | DE); Amy Walker about sacrifices for the green transition in the South Wales coalfield (EN | DE); Anna Zalik about greenwashing imperial relations in geostrategic resources (EN | DE).
Bengi Akbulut about the radical politics of degrowth (EN | DE); Carme Arcarazo and Rubén Martínez about countering the exploitation of labor and nature with a new kind of political subject (EN | DE); Shrishtee Bajpai about how indigenous community worldviews inspire alternatives to extractivism (EN | DE); Masha Burina about building “people power” against the sell out of Serbia to mining corporations (EN | DE); Mijin Cha about the political potential of non-reformist reforms (EN | DE); Gal Kirn and Karla Tepež about fighting the privatization of water resources in Slovenia (EN | DE); Katarina Kušić about learning from cooperatives in former Yugoslavia (EN | DE); Julio Linares about debt cancellation and environmental justice in the Global South (EN | DE); Tim Leibert, Lela Rekhviashvili, and Wladimir Sgibnev about (post-)extracivist mobilities (EN | DE); Agata Lisiak about the politics of relationality (EN | DE); Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro about anti-extractivism, socialist states, and the question of centralized organization (EN | DE); Christine Okoth about extractive solidarity and acts of worldmaking (EN | DE); Eliana Otta about about threatened rainforests and ghostly caretakers (EN | DE); Lukas Stolz about how to turn the end(s) of the world into an emancipatory project (EN | DE); Stefan Tiron about science fictional transitioning after 1989 (EN | DE); Henry Veltmeyer about the post-extractivist transition towards equitable and sustainable futures (EN | DE); Andrea Vetter about the transition towards a caring economy (EN | DE); Manuela Zechner about a radical politics of earthcare (EN | DE).
Empire & Ecology
Efforts to label some forms of imperialism ‘good’ or ‘evil’ (or even the ‘lesser evil’) all too often miss the larger point: they share their origins in capitalist drives towards growth and domination, destroying the environment we all must share. If we trace the entanglement of empire and ecology back through its earlier moments of industrialization and colonialism, how can today’s conflicts come into view as opportunities to reimagine political and economic relations towards a horizon of peace, accountability, and responsibility?
Searching for answers, Max Haiven, Julio Linares, and Aleksandar Matković gave talks at the opening panel of the “After Extractivism” conference hosted by Claudia Núñez. Recorded at the Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte, the talks can be listened to by pressing the play-button below.
The space of political imagination and action that has emerged in this era of multiple crises needs to be harnessed towards a better and just world. Indeed, a radical transition is needed: If the common denominator of the multiple crises is extractive capitalism, then the question is how ‘we,’ whoever we are, could reclaim the economy and rebuild everything from within networks of solidarity, cooperation, and, ultimately, care. Mobilizing lessons from past and present, the challenge is to forge truly planetary caring economies.
Responding to this challenge, Katarina Kušić, Andrea Vetter, and Manuela Zechner gave talks on the second evening of the “After Extractivism” conference hosted by Stoyo Tetevenski. Recorded at the Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte, they can be listened to by pressing the play-button below.
The essayistic experimental documentary “Stone of Hell” (dir.: Tekla Aslanishvili, Giorgi Gago Gagoshidze) follows the extraction, processing, and distribution of manganese. Considering this raw material the foundation for different modes of production (binding cultural, extractive, and arms industries together and powering technological advancements), the film exposes how the post-Soviet mining town of Chiatura, in west Georgia, is globally interconnected and how these entanglements are feeding into current conflicts – political, economic, and social ones.
The artist talk – hosted by Magdalena Taube – took place on the closing night of the “After Extractivism” conference. Recorded at the Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte, the proceedings can be listened to by pressing the play-button below.