Maria Mies, The Need for a New Vision: the Subsistence Perspective, 1993

The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (UNCED, June 1992) again made clear that solutions to the present worldwide ecological, economic and social problems cannot be expected from the ruling elites of the North or the South. As Vandana Shiva points out in this book, a new vision – a new life for present and future generations, and for our fellow creatures on earth – in which praxis and theory are respected and preserved can be found only in the survival struggles of grassroots movements. The men and women who actively participate in such movements radically reject the industrialized countries’ prevailing model of capitalist-patriarchal development. They do not want to be developed according to this blueprint, but rather want to preserve their subsistence base intact, under their own control.

This quest for a new vision, however, is to be found not only among people in the South, who cannot ever expect to reap the fruits of ‘development’; the search for an ecologically sound, non-exploitative, just, non-patriarchal, self-sustaining society can also be found among some groups in the North. Here, too, this search for a new perspective involves not only middle-class people, disenchanted and despairing about the end-result of the modernization process, but even by some at the bottom of the social pyramid.

We have called this new vision the subsistence perspective.

This concept was first developed to analyse the hidden, unpaid or poorly paid work of housewives, subsistence peasants and small producers in the so-called informal sector, particularly in the South, as the underpinning and foundation of capitalist patriarchy’s model of unlimited growth of goods and money. Subsistence work as life-producing and life-preserving work in all these production relations was and is a necessary precondition for survival; and the bulk of this work is done by women [1].

With increasing ecological destruction in recent decades, however, it becomes obvious that this subsistence – or life production – was and is not only a kind of hidden underground of the capitalist market economy, it can also show the way out of the many impasses of this destructive system called industrial society, market economy or capitalist patriarchy This has become particularly clear since the alternative to capitalist industrialism, which the socialist version of catching-up development had provided, collapsed in Eastern Europe and what was the USSR. The socialist alternative had been a guiding star for many countries in the South. But it is now evident that the path of development pursued in these ex-socialist countries can no longer be seen as a blueprint for a better society. In their efforts to emulate the capitalist model of industrial society these systems caused greater environmental destruction than have their capitalist counterparts; their relationship to nature was based on the same exploitative principles as in the West. Furthermore, they were based on the same economic model of alienated, generalized commodity production first developed by capitalism which, as we have shown elsewhere [Mies & al, 1988], is based on the colonization of women, nature and other peoples. It is due to this inherent colonialism that this model of commodity-producing society is neither sustainable nor generalizable worldwide.

Before trying to delineate the contours of a subsistence perspective as an alternative to generalized commodity production it may be useful to look again at the contradictions of this strange economic system which is now propagated as the only possible way of satisfying human needs.

The schizophrenia of commodity-producing societies

The logic of commodity-producing systems consists in the principle of surplus value production and the impetus for permanent growth. This logic is / was the same in both capitalist and ‘Actually Existing Socialism’-states, differing only in so far as in capitalist societies the surplus is accumulated privately and in the ‘Actually Existing Socialism’ countries it was accumulated by the state. In both systems people are in principle subjects, both as producers and as consumers. As producers they exchange their labour power for a wage (money); as consumers they exchange this money for commodities to satisfy their needs. In both systems there is a fundamental contradiction between production and consumption, because the sphere of production of commodities is principally separated from that of consumption by the sphere of circulation or the market.

But also the individuals, the economic subjects, are dichotomized into producers and consumers with contradictory interests. As producer the commodity-subject or exchange subject is not interested in the use-value of his products, irrespective of whether he is “worker” or “capitalist”, capitalist manager or production-director in a “real” socialist unit. They do not produce for their own consumption but for an anonymous market. The objective of the whole enterprise is not the sensuous, direct satisfaction of needs but the transformation of work into money (wages, profit).

For the producer his own products are de-sensualized, have become abstract ‘work-amalgams’ [gallerts] because they are nothing but potential money. It makes no difference to them whether they produce Sachertortes or neutron bombs. But as consumer, the same person has a quite opposite interest in the sensuous, concrete use-value of the things bought as individuals who eat, drink, need a house, wear clothes, people have to be sensuous.

It is this contradiction between production and consumption, between exchange and use-values, which is ultimately responsible for the destruction of nature in industrial, commodity-producing society. The exclusive concern of people as producers is maximizing the money output of their production and they will therefore continue to produce poisonous substances, nuclear power, weapons, more and more cars. But as consumers they want clean air, unpolluted food, and a safe place for their waste, far away from their home.

As long as production and consumption are structured in this contradictory way, inherent in generalized commodity production, no solution of the various economic, ecological and political/ethical/spiritual crises can be expected.

Some people think that the solution lies in substituting environmentally noxious substances, technologies and commodities with nature-friendly, life-preserving ones. They propose harnessing commodity production and market forces to the service of sustainable development, replacing the production and marketing of destructive goods by ‘eco-marketing’. They want to mobilize funds from the corporate sector, even from those firms known for ruthless environmental pollution, to sponsor the activities of environmental organizations. But industry uses this eco-sponsoring more to improve its image than as a move to change their overall policy. The latest development in this Greening of Capitalism strategy is the initiative taken by Stephan Schmidtheiny, Swiss industrialist and billionaire, who founded and leads the Business Council for Sustainable Development – a group of 48 leading international industrialists – and who was advisor to Maurice Strong, the secretary of the 1992 UNCED in Rio. Schmidtheiny and this Business Council developed a strategy showing how industry should, in future, combine growth with ecologically sound production [2]. But the fundamentally contradictory relationships inherent in commodity production and consumption are not criticized. Nor is there a critique of the basic principles of capitalist production: individual self-interest, generalized competition and the system’s need for permanent growth. On the contrary, eco-marketing and eco-sponsoring are seen as a new area of investment, a new opportunity to extend commodity production and marketing. Green capitalism will serve only to transform ever more parts of nature into private property and commodities.

A way out of this destructive and irrational system of commodity production cannot be found in catching-up development and technological fixes, even if technological alternatives could be quickly found to end and to repair some of the environmental damage caused by industrialism. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in East Germany, whose citizens had hoped to catch-up with West Germany when the Deutschemark (DM) was introduced and they became equal citizens in a unified Germany. Now even West German industry realizes it would take at least 20 years for the living standard of East Germany to equal that of West Germany.

But, as we argued in chapter 4 catching-up development is not even desirable. Nevertheless, this Utopia of the modern industrial society is not fundamentally criticized even in those countries where it has already collapsed and a de-industrialization process has begun. This is the case in, for example, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and many other countries of the South which tried to catch-up with the North through credit-based industrialization. These countries are now caught in the debt trap, victims of the structural adjustment policy of the World Bank and the IMF.

But this de-industrialization process has also begun in Eastern Europe, in the erstwhile Soviet Union and i n Cuba whose economy and modernization policy was totally dependent on imports from and exports to the Soviet Union. Since the collapse of the USSR these imports, particularly of oil and machinery, stopped. Cuba now faces the dilemma either of becoming a neo-colony of the USA or of trying to survive economically and politically as an independent entity by reviving subsistence technologies and production.

To make up for the lack of oil, Fidel Castro imported 100.000 bicycles from China and replaced the tractors in agriculture by 100.000 oxen as draught animals. Some years ago, such ‘going back’ to pre-industrial methods of production would have been derided as impossible, particularly by so-called progressives. The survival of Cuba as an independent society will depend on whether the people can see this compulsory return to subsistence production as a chance rather than a defeat. But this would entail the people’s acceptance of a different concept of socialism or of a ‘good society’, based on regional self-sufficiency, ecological sustainability and social equality.

While Cuba can still expect some international solidarity, this will hardly come forward for all those new nation states proclaiming their independence from the erstwhile Soviet Union: the Baltic States, the Ukraine, Georgia and others. Some of these, with the collapse of the socialist system of commodity production and distribution, are also forced to re-introduce self-provisioning, subsistence production and technology in agriculture, like using horses instead of tractors, producing for their own community instead of for an anonymous market.

Such survival strategies are also the only way out of the de-industrialization crisis in Africa. But unlike the post-socialist societies in Eastern Europe most sub-Saharan African societies cannot assume that de-industrialization and enforced de-modernization is only a temporary affair and that the ‘world community’ – 20 per cent of the world’s rich nations – will come to their rescue. Countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique are already facing mass starvation. Some African leaders have apparently understood that they can no longer expect anything from the catching-up development strategy, particularly after the East-West detente. They see that money will now flow towards the East rather than to starving Africa.

At a conference at the University of Dar es Salaam in December 1989, representatives of the academic community, churches, trade unions, women’s organizations, NGOs , students and government officials across the African continent discussed alternative development strategies, particularly after the new East-West detente which leads to an ‘involuntary de-linking’ of Africa from the aid and trade flows of the world-market. At the end of the conference the participants adopted the Dar es Salaam Declaration: Alternative Development Strategies for Africa.

After condemning the IMF and World Bank strategy of enforcing harsh conditionalities on African debtor countries in pursuance of Structural Adjustment Programmes and after calling for the cancellation of all debts, the Conference stressed that African governments should adopt Alternative Development Strategies, based on:

“People-centred development, popular democracy and social justice on the basis of effective African integration at sub-regional and regional levels as well as South-South Cooperation. This reorientation of African development should focus on planned disengagement from international capitalism, regional food self-sufficiency, satisfaction of basic needs for all, development from below through the termination of anti-rural bias as well as concentration on relevant small and medium scale enterprises.” [3]

Conference participants were able, it seems, to transform the ‘involuntary delinking from the capitalist world market’ into a voluntary new social, economic and political/cultural strategy in which self-reliance, self-provisioning, food self-sufficiency, regionally, the need for re-ruralization, participatory democracy, inter-regional co-operation are the key concepts.

This Declaration contains many of the structural elements which I would consider necessary for a subsistence perspective. Conference participants understood that for Africa, catching-up development or industrialization according to the World Bank model is neither possible nor desirable. Conversely, a subsistence perspective, which would not be based on the colonization of women, nature and other peoples, can show a way forward for Africa and other countries of the South, as well as for the North.

As mentioned earlier, the new vision of a non-exploitative, non-colonial, non-patriarchal society which respects, not destroys nature, did not emanate from research institutes, UN-organizations or governments, but from grassroots movements, in both the South and the North, who fought and fight for survival. And in these movements it is women who more than men understand that a subsistence perspective is the only guarantee of the survival of all, even of the poorest, and not integration into and continuation of the industrial growth system.

Many recent studies on the impact of ecological deterioration on women, particularly the poorest women in the South, have highlighted not only the fact that women and children are the main victims of this war against nature but also that women are the most active, most creative, and most concerned and committed i n movements for conservation and protection of nature and for healing the damage done to her [4]. While women’s role as ‘saviours of the environment’ may be welcomed by many, including those who want to combine sustainability of eco-systems with permanent economic growth, few voices emphasize that these grassroots women’s movements also implicitly and explicitly criticize the prevailing capitalist, profit and growth-oriented, patriarchal development paradigm and that they advocate a new alternative; a subsistence alternative.

This perspective was most clearly spelt out by the women of the Chipko Movement, who in Vandana Shiva’s interview with some of its leaders in Garwhal (chapter 16) clearly said that they expect nothing from ‘development’ or from the money economy. They want only to preserve their autonomous control over their subsistence base, their common property resources: the land, water, forests, hills. From history and their own experience they know that their survival (their bread) as well as their freedom and dignity – all essentials for survival – can be maintained only as long as they have control over these resources. They do not need the money offered by the government or the industrialists to survive. Their concept of freedom and the good life differs from that offered by the global supermarket of the capitalist patriarchal industrial system. Remarkably, even their sons are not fascinated by this supermarket model unlike many young men in the South who are the first to be lured by the promises of the market and money economy. Few men today are ready to say: my mother’s dignity cannot be bought with money.

The conflict between a subsistence and survival, and a market and money perspective is frequently a source of conflict between men and women, even in some of the Chipko struggles. Whereas the women participated in hugging the trees and wanted to preserve their subsistence base, their men wanted modernization and waged work. They also objected to their women having become leaders i n this movement. Gopal Joshi reports about one Chipko struggle in Dungari Paitoali, where the women opposed a development project to establish a potato seed farm that would entail felling 50 ha of the village’s common forest. The leading men of the village, however, favoured the project and the money it would bring. They spread ill-natured rumours about the women activists, and were particularly angry that the women challenged their role as village leaders. But the women claimed their right to leadership because of their responsibility for daily survival. They said:

“As the men do not collect fuel or fodder they are not concerned about the maintenance of the forests. They are more interested to earn money, even if they have to cut trees for that. But the forests are the women’s wealth.” [5]

Elsewhere in the world too, women are more concerned about a survival subsistence perspective than are men, most of whom continue to believe that more growth, technology, science and ‘progress’ will simultaneously solve the ecological and economic crises; they place money and power above life. At a conference on women and ecology i n Sweden in February 1992 a Samo woman, reporting on tribal people’s efforts to create global networks and groups, said that at such global gatherings the men were mainly interested in competing for political power in the organization, whereas the women’s concern centred on preserving their cultural and survival base, independent of governmental or NGO development programmes. Vandana Shiva also observed this women/men opposition at the conference: ‘What it Means to be Green in South Africa’ (September 1992), organized by the ANC. While the male leaders and speakers seemed to expect South Africa’s economic and ecological problems to be solved through full integration into the growth-oriented world economy, the women, who had so far borne the burden of modernization and development, were much more sceptical. One 60-year-old woman said that:

“The (government’s) betterment scheme has been the best strategy to push us into the depth of poverty. It accelerated the migratory system.”

The men were forced to migrate to the cities in search of jobs, whereas the women, together with the old and the children, had to try to survive in the rural areas. Meanwhile, the white government destroyed all assets and possessions by which the women tried to maintain their subsistence:

“We were dispossessed of our goats, donkeys and other animals. They were taken away by force and we got only 20 cents as compensation per head.”

This woman had experienced the contradictory impact of ‘betterment’ or development as the government understood it. She knew that some must always pay the price for this development and that usually its victims are the women. Therefore she was not enthusiastic about further integration of the new non-racist, democratic South Africa into the world market. Rather she demanded land and the security of independent subsistence. (Source: Vandana Shiva.)

One reason w h y women are becoming increasingly critical of modern development and integration into the world market is the recognition that this has led to more and more violence against women, particularly i n areas where it was successful. For example, in India’s Green Revolution areas, like the Punjab, women’s deaths due to dowry-killings increased together with the new affluence; female foeticide after amniocentesis also increases with the new wealth in these regions [6].

In the industrialized North too, many women’s projects and initiatives implicitly or explicitly seek to develop an alternative to the destructive patriarchal and capitalist system. These groups sprang up in the course of the women’s, peace, and ecology movements, which found campaigns and protests not enough but wanted to put their beliefs into practice. We have already mentioned the Seikatsu Club in Japan, started by housewives after the Minamata disaster. There are many such producer-consumer cooperatives in the North, started or led by women. Several feminist groups have gone to the countryside and sought to build up a self-sufficient subsistence base as gardeners, sheep farmers, or handicraft workers. A group of unemployed women in Cologne initiated a scheme to exchange things with each other rather than to buy new ones. Feminist architects and city planners are devising plans to make cities livable again for women and children, and that means bringing nature back into the cities. They experiment with permaculture and food production, while others are thinking of reclaiming the commons, also in the cities, not only for recreation but for food production for the poor. There are also more comprehensive and globed initiatives actively opposed to the growth and profit oriented system. For example, the efforts of Hazel Henderson [7] to establish an alternative economy, Marilyn Waring’s [8] critique of the concept of work, prevalent in capitalist industrial society, or Margrit Kennedy’s [9] proposal, following Gsell, to strip money of its ‘productive’ capacity to produce ever more money, namely through interest.

To subsume all these practical and theoretical efforts to find an alternative to the existing destructive system under the rubic ‘subsistence perspective’ would be incorrect; many differences exist, in detail and perhaps also in perspective. But there is a commonality i n these initiatives: the need for a qualitative, not simply a quantitative change i n what we are accustomed to call the economy. Men, increasingly, also begin to understand that an ecologically sound, just, women-and-children friendly, peaceful society cannot be built up by a continuation of the growth oriented industrial society.

Rather than developing an abstract model (some of whose main principles and features I have spelt out earlier [Mies, 1989]. I shall present two accounts of how people have tried to put this subsistence perspective into practice. One, in the South, is the case of a people’s movement towards water preservation and subsistence in India. The other is an account of a commune in Germany which tries to solve the ecological problem of waste disposal within the framework of a subsistence perspective. These are particular cases, but they encapsulate the main elements of a society which is no longer based on industrialism and generalized commodity production for profit, permanent growth and consumerism.

Peoples’ dams: the Baliraja Dam, India.

Projects for the construction of mega-dams in many Southern countries is one strategy designed to harness nature’s resources i n the service of modern industrial development. These projects have been opposed almost everywhere by strong, peoples’ movements, particularly of peasants, tribals and others whose ancestral lands and livelihood bases will be flooded or submerged by these dams. Ecologically concerned people also oppose the construction of these dams because, in most cases, primeval forests, ancient temples, ecologically and culturally unique areas will be destroyed forever by these ‘temples of modernity’ as Nehru called the big dams. One of the better-known resistance movements is that against the Narmada Valley Project (NVP) in India, a mega-project financed by the World Bank. It is the biggest of its kind in the world, with two very large and 28 major dams to be constructed on the river Narmada. The benefits projected are: the irrigation of more than 2.2 million ha of land; the production of electric power, particularly for Gujarat’s industrial cities; and the supply of drinking water. All the benefits would accrue to people and interest groups outside the flood area, but the costs would be borne by the environment and the 200.000 tribal people who will be displaced by the flooding of their ancestral land. The campaign against the NVP, the Narmada Bachao Andolan, stresses that these victims of the NVP cannot expect any adequate compensation or resettlement and will only increase the masses of migrants and beggars who eventually end up in the slums of the big cities. Moreover, damage to the forests, wildlife, species diversity and risks due to water logging, siltation and salination cannot be calculated even now [10].

This movement against the NVP is supported by middle-class social activists like Medha Patkar and Baba Amte and many urban-based concerned people. Apart from such movements there have for several years been initiatives seeking an alternative solution to the water and energy problems of drought-prone areas in India, solutions which would restore both the ecological and social balance without sacrificing the future for short-term present gains.

The Peoples’ Dams movement in Khanapur in Sangli district in Maharashtra is an outcome of this search for alternative water management, stemming from an alternative concept of development; this movement started during the prolonged textile workers’ strike in Bombay Many who returned to their villages in search of support for the strike, found that for several years the people of Khanapur had been suffering from severe drought, crop failures and water shortage. Before the strike these workers had tried to help their villages by sending money home to build or repair temples. But, as Bharat Patankar points out, they showed scant solidarity with the poor peasants, the class from which they originated. The simultaneous strike and drought situation changed this. In order to survive, returned textile workers tried to get work on the government’s Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS). Trade unions in India, as in other countries of the South, have no big strike funds to support workers during long strikes. Nevertheless, the Bombay textile workers continued their strike against the introduction of technology to replace labour for more than a year.

An organization of the workers and poor, landless peasants – the Mukti Sangarsh – was formed which successfully agitated for proper wages and against corruption on the EGS schemes. Whereas other trade unions and political parties demanded that EGS workers be given the same status as other regular permanent workers, they argued that drought had become almost a regular feature in their area and that EGS-work should be seen as regular work. The Mukti Sangarsh and the people, in the belief that droughts should be eradicated, then began to study the reasons for their recurrence. They asked older people what had been the situation in their time and found that the three rivers through Khanapur Taluka had flowed perennially until the 1970s; there were also sufficient wells and enough water. Today these rivers, particularly the biggest, are dry sand-beds with occasional flows during the monsoon. What had happened? Since the 1980s private contractors had excavated sand from the dried-up river-beds and sold it to construction firms in the cities. Consequently, water percolation was further reduced and the wells dried up.

Moreover, since the mid-1970s this area had been transformed from more or less subsistence-oriented agriculture to Green Revolution capitalist farming. Old subsistence crops like bajra and jowar (millets) were replaced by commercial crops like sugar-cane, which not only need chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but also vast quantities of water. In this process the old farming methods disappeared. The peasants became dependent on seed, fertilizer and chemical companies, on banks and market fluctuations. Due to the compulsions to produce for the market, small peasants became increasingly indebted and many had to migrate to the city in search of work. The big farmers survived and used up most of the water. This agro-industrial development was supported by the Maharashtra government because it had a stable vote base in the area.

The Mukti Sangarsh and the Peoples’ Science Organization of Maharashtra organized science fairs and discussions in the villages during which people studied water management from an historical perspective. The old cropping methods, the geological conditions and the vegetation of the area were also examined and viable schemes for an alternative agriculture were proposed.

It was decided that the people would refuse to do the stone-breaking, road-building and such like tasks the government’s Food for Work progammes provided in times of drought, which also provided cheap labour for road extensions and other similar infrastructural projects. The EGS workers insisted that their labour be used productively towards eradicating drought in their area.

After a conference on drought organized in 1985 peasants of two villages produced a plan to build a peoples’ dam, the Baliraja dam. They also demonstrated at Kolhapur University, demanding that scientists and students should help the drought-affected peasants. As a result a Drought Eradication Committee was formed, and professors and students helped with surveys.

Controlling their own resources

To finance construction of the dam the people decided that they themselves would sell a small quantity of sand from the Yerala river bed; according to law, the sand in the rivers belongs to the government. They also wanted to stop all commercial sand excavation by outside contractors. In November 1986, the construction of the dam began. College students made a 40 days’ camp and offered their voluntary labour together with the free labour of the peasant. Sympathizers in Bombay and Pune collected about Rs 100.000 as interest-free loans.

The government opposed construction of the dam, arguing that the peoples’ estimate of Rs 700,000 was insufficient to cover the costs and that at least Rs 2,800,000 would be needed; moreover, their water estimates were incorrect. The people, however, persisted, emphasizing the ecological advantages of a small dam like theirs; the need for water preservation; the prevention of wells drying up, and so on. They demanded no help from the government, except its permission to build the dam and stop commercial excavation of their sand.

They received the government sanction in 1988 and in 1990 the dam was completed. The Baliraja Dam is an example of how people can use their own resources and at the same time conserve the ecological balance. They take from nature but they also give back to nature.

A new water distribution system

In discussing their water problems the people had identified that one reason for recurring droughts was the unequal water distribution system that prevailed so far: those who possessed most land also got most water to irrigate their commercial crops. Water collected in the Baliraja Dam, however was, from the beginning, to be distributed equitably, based on the following principles:

  • Water as a resource belongs to everybody and must be distributed on a per capita basis, not on a land-holding basis.
  • Every person, including landless people and women, to receive the same share.
  • Landless people can either lease land on a share-cropping basis and use their water share or lease it out or sell it.
  • Each water share costs Rs 10, or is equivalent to one day’s shramdan (free labour) on the dam site.

Consequently, no sugar-cane may be grown on the fields irrigated by the Baliraja Dam water, because it needs too much [11].

Thus, the people not only wanted to regain control over their own resources and restore the ecological balance in their area, they also began to change the unequal social relationships between the classes and genders. For the first time women received a share in a resource which actually belongs to everyone and to nature.

A new cropping system – and an alternative agriculture

The Mukti Sangarsh Movement also wanted to change the socially and ecologically disastrous capitalist farming system. A new cropping system was proposed in which the various resources – land, water, different species – should be used to facilitate an ecologically, socially and economically sustainable system. The crops, the land and the water should be divided in an alternative way: a family of five would possess an average of three acres of land (which is the average in Maharashtra).

K.J. Joy, one of the Mukti Sangarsh activists explained this new cropping pattern, particularly the cultivation of bio-mass:

“It is now a well-established fact that if bio-mass production is integrated with subsistence crop production and with judicious use of water, the productivity of the marginal farmers could be increased substantially, sustainable over a period of time, could give security in meeting subsistence needs and can also reduce cash inputs needed for agriculture. Surpluses of fuelwood, timber and fodder could be created over and above the production and consumption needs, thus bringing in some non-agricultural income. Nearly 20-40 per cent of the bio-mass (leaf, brushwood etc) has an important role to play as input in the agro-subsystem. It serves as fodder and/or fertilizer … produce from the agro-subsystem and tree crops would (also) serve as a base for decentralized and agro-based industrial development.” [12]

In the course of the movement for people’s dams, people not only re-evaluated their old subsistence knowledge and skills, but also began to question the role of science and technology in the ‘development’ of apparently backward areas, and when the people are treated as passive and ignorant. In this movement the people participated fully in developing an alternative technology, and scientists and engineers who supported the movement were able to use the peoples’ knowledge creatively as well as combine it with modern science. The project of a new, decentralized agro-based industry (see quote above) is inspired by the new insights for an ecological use of biomass, not only as fertilizer or pesticide or in new agricultural methods like those of Fukuoka, Jean Pain or Bill Mollison, but also as raw material for manufacturing items for which so far non-renewable energy sources and raw material have been used. Thus, for example, bio-mass, fly-ash and small timber could be used to create a concrete substitute, called geocrete. Another new category of synthetic materials is biomass-based filter-fabrics called geofabrics, which can be used for drainage and seepage control.

The development of new biomass-based materials and technologies is intended not only to provide substitutes for imported, energy intensive and non-renewable resources but also to facilitate the integration of social organization, of people’s active participation in the development of knowledge and community work, and in the re-creation of an ecologically and economically sustainable livelihood. Even engineers who supported the Peoples’ Dams movement clearly saw the need for such an integrated approach [13]. 20

The Baliraja Dam in Khanapur is evidence of the fruitfulness of such a subsistence-oriented, integrated, synergic approach in which the key elements are:

  • social organization of the people;
  • recovery of their subsistence knowledge and skills;
  • active participation in the development process;
  • a serious attempt to change structures of social inequality and exploitation, including sexual inequality and exploitation;
  • a critique of mainstream science and technology and the development of locally based, ecologically sustainable alternatives;
  • an effort to end further privatization of the commons, and instead, a move to recreate community control over common resources like water, sand, and so on.

These component parts of an integrative strategy are all centred around the main goal of this approach: to regain self-reliance and subsistence security, that is, to become ecologically, socially and economically more independent from external market forces.

From garbage to subsistence

Phase 1: From students’ movement to squatter movement:

The Sozialistische Selbsthilfe Köln (SSK) is one of the oldest self-help initiatives in Cologne (Germany); its beginning dates back to the Students Movement in the early 1970s. Inspired by Herbert Marcuse’s argument that the ‘revolution’, the alternative to capitalist, industrial society, could no longer be expected from the working class in industrialized, affluent societies, but rather from drop-outs, marginalized groups and the colonized i n the Third World, a group of students in Cologne initiated a scheme whose objective was to give shelter to youngsters who had run away from authoritarian homes, remand homes or even prisons. They claimed that they could offer a better education and better prospects for life to these young people than could the establishment institutions. Their initiative was originally called Sozialpädagogische Sondermassnahme Köln (Special Social-Pedagogical Measures, Cologne) and they laid down a set of principles according to which anybody would be accepted in their commune. Initially, the project was supported by the Social Welfare Department of the Municipality of Cologne, who not only gave a house to the SSK but also agreed to pay the same amount for a boy or a girl, which they would have paid to a remand home. Eventually however, it became evident that this project was too expensive for the municipality. Moreover, neighbours began to protest against the SSK, which accepted everybody, including alcoholics and drug addicts.

When, in 1974, the Social Welfare Department decided to close down the SSK, the group, which then consisted of about 100 people, found temporary political asylum in the Fachhochschule Köln in the Department of Social Pedagogy and Social Work.

The question then arose of whether the SSK could survive without the municipality’s financial support. About 30 people decided to continue the SSK and to depend only on their own work and the help of friends and sympathizers. They henceforth changed the name to: Sozialistische Selbsthilfe Köln (Socialist Self-Help, Cologne, SSK) and laid down a series of strict rules for all who wished to become members. The most important of these were:

  • No money is accepted from the state, not even social welfare money. Self-reliance is the main principle.
  • Everybody, men and women must work for the livelihood of all. Every morning this work is distributed by the whole commune.
  • All income is pooled and distributed equally.
  • No violence (beating, harassing etc.) is allowed within the SSK.
  • No drugs and alcohol are allowed.
  • Everybody must participate in political work and actions.
  • The SSK has no leadership. All problems are discussed in plenary sessions and decisions are taken according to the consensus principle.

The SSK-commune saw these rules and principles not only as necessary for their own survival but also as the beginning of a truly socialist society in which both the capitalist and the centralist and bureaucratic socialist models of society, then prevailing in Eastern Europe, were to be transcended. They saw their own commune as a model of such a society.

For their livelihood the SSK did various odd jobs, such as: transporting coal; collecting and re-selling old furniture, clothes or household equipment; repair jobs; cleaning houses; gardening, and so on. They virtually lived off the garbage of our rich society.

The SSK’s political activities centred around the problems created by the modernization strategy of the commercial community and the city planners, which penalized mainly the poor, the elderly, and foreign workers. Due to this policy of transforming the city centre of Cologne into a complex of banks, insurance and business centers, older and cheaper housing areas were destroyed and their inhabitants pushed to the (more expensive) city periphery. For many years the SSK-commune was in the forefront of the squatter movement in Cologne, which fought against the destruction of old, cheap neighborhoods.

Another important political struggle centred around the inhuman conditions which prevailed in many state-run psychiatry clinics. By publicly exposing these conditions and offering shelter in their commune to patients who had run away from these institutions, they initiated a wide critical debate on Germany’s psychiatric system, forced the authorities to close one of the more notorious clinics and start reforming the others.

In these and many other political struggles the SSK’s strength lay in its potential for quick, direct, non-bureaucratic action, innovative publicity by means of wall-newspapers, a direct link between action and reflection, and their commitment to live by their own strength and be open to all the downtrodden, the social ‘garbage’ of our industrial society Over the years the SSK became well-known and through its struggles gained considerable power. The bureaucrats in Cologne Town Hall feared SSK exposures and often gave in to their demands. Five new SSK centres, which followed the same principles, were eventually created in the region around Cologne.

Phase 2: From Chernobyl to the ecology question and the discovery of subsistence

About 1986, after the meltdown at Chernobyl, the SSK-commune became aware of the ecology problem. They began to question their model of socialism and asked themselves what was its use in an environment poisoned and polluted by radioactivity and other toxic wastes of industrial society. They held many discussions on how to change the SSK in order to contribute to a more ecologically sound society. But they failed to arrive at a consensus, and the organization faced a grave crisis, while several members left the commune.

Around this time my friend Claudia v. Werlhof and I organized a conference at the Evangelische Akademie, Bad Boll – The Subsistence Perspective – a Path into the Open (Die Subsistenzperspektive, ein Weg ins Freie). The conference’s objective was to bring together activists and theoreticians from the women’s movement, the alternative and ecology movements and the Third World in order to clarify our ideas about a possible common strategy or perspective: the Subsistence Perspective. Three members of the SSK were also invited because I felt that they had practised this perspective for years. This conference later proved to have indeed opened a ‘path into the open’ for the SSK, because not only did the three activists discover the global interconnections between their own work and ideals and such diverse movements as a peasants’ movement in Venezuela, the peoples’ struggles against modernization and industrialization in Ladakh, the Chipko movement in India, but they also discovered the richness encapsulated in the concept subsistence. They realized that it encompassed what they had been aspiring to during all those years. In an SSK brochure called ‘Land in Sight’ Lothar Gothe (one of SSK’s founders) and Maggie Lucke defined the concept as follows:

“The word (subsistence) is derived from the Latin word subsistere, which has several meanings: « to stand still, to make a halt, to persist, to resist, to stay back, to remain backward. »

Today the word means: « to be able to live on (by) the basic (minimum) necessities of life » or: « to exist and sustain oneself by one’s own strength ». Today we include all these meanings and connotations when we talk of the Subsistence Perspective as the way out, the emergency exit out of our blockaded, overgrown, industrial society.

“To live according to the guiding star of subsistence means no longer to live off the exploitation of the environment or of foreign peoples. For human life it means a new balance between talking and giving, between each one of us and other people, our people and other peoples, our species and the other species in nature…” [14]

Phase 3: From garbage to compost

The Subsistence Conference at Bad Boll not only meant the discovery of a new guiding concept but also the beginning of a new process i n which their old Utopia could be re-created within a new ecological framework. Through a friend present at this conference, the three SSK activists came into contact with a biologist, Peter van Dohlen who had developed a method to make compost out of organic kitchen waste in closed containers. He had tried in vain to persuade the Green Party of Cologne to propagate this compost-technology, which was particularly appropriate for cities. When the three activists met Peter it was a meeting of people who, left to themselves, had begun to despair and saw no way out of their crisis. But by coming together and exchanging ideas a new and creative process started which is still on-going. To make a long story short: the technology developed by Peter provided the SSK with a new type of meaningful, self-sustaining ecological work, while for him, here at last were people who grasped the significance of his compost-making technology and, as a collective, were ready to work to make it function. Having adapted an old oil container for compost-making, the SSK people collected kitchen garbage from their neighbourhood in Gummersbach and experimented with it. The result was excellent: within three weeks kitchen garbage could be transformed into compost. In addition they also learned Jean Pain’s method, whereby biomass from tree branches, shrubs and hedges is used not only to generate heat in a bio-generator but can also be used to restore soil fertility.

At the same time, in accordance with their principles of combining practical, manual subsistence work with political work, the SSK approached the municipal authorities in cities and towns where they had branches, and demanded contracts for SSK groups to make compost out of household organic waste. They demanded to be paid a sum equal to that paid by citizens for the dumping of their household garbage – at present this is almost 300DM per ton. The struggle for contracts lasted several years, but the SSK had already begun work and their compost project gained more and more support from the people.

The political significance of this project is that a new, cheap, people-controlled ecological technology was developed to return the bio-mass (kitchen garbage) back to the soil as compost, instead of simply dumping or burning it, and thus further polluting the environment. From the beginning, Lothar Gothe clearly saw the strategic importance of the waste problem to which industrial society has no solution. What consumerist society calls waste to be rid of as soon as possible, is raw material for a newly emerging waste disposal industry; the more waste produced the better for this industry. The main waste-disposal industrialist in the area who holds a monopoly of this industry, Edelhoff, had contracts with all the municipalities to collect all household waste, including organic waste. The SSK, by claiming this waste which constitutes about 40 per cent of the household garbage, effectively resisted the privatization and the destruction of valuable biomass, a common resource, for the sake of profit-making.

Today the SSK has composting contracts in Cologne and four other towns and municipalities. It is noteworthy that the municipal council of Gummersbach has agreed to change its contract with Edelhoff and to extend the SSK’s contract to 400 more households. The municipal authorities have apparently begun to understand that the industrial disposal of waste and kitchen garbage cannot be a solution. Despite their initial resistance they are now in favour of such groups as the SSK.

Phase 4: From compost to subsistence agriculture

From the beginning the SSK had stressed the interconnections between the various problems with which they dealt: joblessness; the ecology problem; the inanity of most work; a sense of futility; loneliness; health problems; lack of dignity and recognition; overconsumption and addictions, and so on. Therefore also in their practical, political work similar also synergetic solutions should be sought. A logical continuation of the composting process was that some SSK-groups began to look around for land, for compost belongs to the land, as Lothar Gothe said. A t first the SSK sold the compost in Green shops, to gardeners and others, but it became clear that not enough city- or townspeople needed or wanted it. What then to do with the compost?

A piece of waste land in a valley called ‘Duster Grundchen’ was therefore acquired – privately purchased but used communely. For the first time some SSK members who, so far, knew only an urban existence began to work on the land; cleaning; laying out an experimental plot; looking after the bio-generator and so on. For the first time these urbanités began to experience the joy of doing hard, manual but ecologically meaningful work on the land, in co-operation with nature. Some of the SSK Gummersbachs younger members were so enthusiastic that they would walk 15 km from Gummersbach to work i n this valley.

For Lothar Gothe the question was, could this ecological subsistence work be accepted not only by the SSK members but eventually provide a solution for society at large? Because only if people began to understand the significance and the need for this work on the land and to enjoy doing it could this approach have a future. The combination of work as a burden and work as pleasure is a necessary precondition for healing both the earth and society.

Work in the Duster Grundchen, the logical continuation of the strategy of consumption critique, the use of organic garbage for compost-making, began to reveal the interconnected character of the holistic social and ecological approach we called “subsistence perspective”.

It not only sparked off a new sense of enthusiasm, enjoyment, meaningfulness, political and personal purpose in SSK members and others, particularly some younger people, but also a new wave of reflection, theorizing and political creativity. In a paper produced in this process of action and reflection sent to the chairman of the local authority (Regierungspräsident), Lothar Gothe pointed out that neither the government nor any official party had succeeded in solving so many interrelated problems in one single project, namely: combining ecological with social problem-solving; healing the earth as well as people and communities by creating meaningful work, giving a new sense of purpose to socially marginalized women and men; developing a new, appropriate technology out of discarded, obsolete objects; recultivating wasteland; re-establishing a new community-sense among people who are concerned and feel responsible for the future of life on this planet; and finally, creating new hope not only for those directly involved in the project but for many who have lost a sense of orientation.

It is this project’s synergic character which was not planned but which developed out of necessity and which guarantees its survival. H a d it been developed as a monocultural one-issue project, planned by experts, it could not have survived.

Guided by the subsistence perspective and the need to get enough hay for the animals, the next step was to buy an old farmhouse and repair the old equipment for subsistence production. At the same time the group secured a contract for composting the kitchen garbage for a series of villages. This compost is used as fertilizer in the new fields and gardens where experimental organic farming is carried out to produce vegetables for the SSK workers on the farm. Chickens, pigs, ducks, goats, sheep and a horse which pulls a cart to collect garbage, are kept on the farm. At present about six to eight people can live by this subsistence work.


In summarizing the main features of the subsistence perspective which has informed and inspired the initiatives described above, as well as many ecological and feminist grassroots movements referred to in this book, we can see that these struggles for survival are a practical critique not only of an aggressive, exploitative, ecologically destructive technology, but of commodity-producing, growth-oriented capitalist, or socialist industrial systems. Although none of these movements, initiatives, communities have spelt out a full-fledged explicit new Utopia for an ecologically sound, feminist, non-colonial, non-exploitative society there is enough evidence i n their practice and theory to show that their concept of a ‘good society’ differs from the classical Marxian Utopia. While Marx and his followers saw capitalism as the ‘midwife’ of the ‘material base’ upon which a socialist society could be built, these movements and initiatives demonstrate their rejection of the universal supermarket as a model of a better society, even if it was equally accessible to all. Neither do they accept Engel’s statement that what is good for the ruling class should be good for everybody [15]. These women’s and men’s concept of what constitutes a ‘good life’, of ‘freedom’ is different, as is their concept of economics, politics and culture. Their Utopia may not yet be spelt out explicitly, but its components are already being tested i n everyday practice, it is a potentially concrete Utopia. What are the main characteristics of this subsistence perspective?

1. The aim of economic activity is not to produce an ever-growing mountain of commodities and money (wages or profit) for an anonymous market but the creation and re-creation of life, that means, the satisfaction of fundamental human needs mainly by the production of use-values not by the purchase of commodities. Self-provisioning, self-sufficiency, particularly in food and other basic needs; regionality; and decentralization from a state bureaucracy are the main economic principles. The local and regional resources are used but not exploited; the market plays a subordinate role.

2. These economic activities are based on new relationships:
a) to nature: nature is respected in her richness and diversity, both for her own sake and as a precondition for the survival of all creatures on this planet. Hence, nature is not exploited for the sake of profit, instead, wherever possible, the damage done to nature by capitalism is being healed. Human interaction with nature is based on respect, co-operation and reciprocity. Man’s domination over nature – the principle that has guided Northern society since the Renaissance – is replaced by the recognition that humans are part of nature, that nature has her own subjectivity.
b) Among people. As man’s domination over nature is related to man’s domination over women and other human beings [16] a different, non-exploitative relationship to nature cannot be established without a change in human relationships, particularly between women and men. This means not only a change in the various divisions of labour (sexual division; manual / mental and urban/rural labour, and so on) but mainly the substitution of money or commodity relationships by such principles as reciprocity, mutuality, solidarity, reliability, sharing and caring, respect for the individual and responsibility for the ‘whole’. The need for subsistence security is satisfied not by trust in one’s bank account or a social welfare state, but by trust in the reliability of one’s community. A subsistence perspective can be realized only within such a network of reliable, stable human relations, it cannot be based on the atomized, self-centred individuality of the market economy.

3. A subsistence perspective is based on and promotes participatory or grassroots’ democracy – not only in so far as political decisions per se are concerned, but also with regard to all eco­nomic, social and technological decisions. Divisions between politics and economics, or public and private spheres are largely abolished. The personal is the political. Not only the parliament but also everyday life and life-style are battlefields of politics. Political responsibility and action is no longer expected solely from elected representatives but assumed by all in a communal and practical way.

4. A subsistence perspective necessarily requires a multidimensional or synergic problem-solving approach. It is based on the recognition that not only the different dominance systems and problems are interconnected, but also that they cannot be solved in isolation or by a mere technological fix. Thus social problems (patriarchal relations, inequality, alienation, poverty) must be solved together with ecological problems. This interconnectedness of all life on earth, of problems and solutions is one of the main insights of ecofeminism [17].

5. A subsistence perspective demands a new paradigm of science, technology and knowledge. Instead of the prevailing instrumentalist, reductionist science and technology – based on dualistic dichotomies which have constituted and maintain man’s domination over nature, women and other people – ecologically sound, feminist, subsistence science and technology will be developed in participatory action with the people. Such a grass-roots, women and people-based knowledge and science will lead to a re-evaluation of older survival wisdom and traditions and also utilize modern knowledge in such a way that people maintain control over their technology and survival base. Social relations are not external to technology but rather incorporated in the artefacts as such. Such science and technology will therefore not reinforce unequal social relationships but will be such as to make possible greater social justice.

6. A subsistence perspective leads to a reintegration of culture and work, of work as both burden and pleasure. It does not promise bread without sweat nor imply a life of toil and tears. On the contrary, the main aim is happiness and a fulfilled life. Culture is wider than specialized activity exclusive to a professional elite – it imbues everyday life.
This also necessitates a reintegration of spirit and matter, a rejection of both mechanical materialism and of airy spirituality. This perspective cannot be realized within a dualistic worldview.

7. A subsistence perspective resists all efforts to further privatize, and/or commercialize the commons: water, air, waste, soil, resources. Instead it fosters common responsibility for these gifts of nature and demands their preservation and regeneration.

8. Most of the characteristics in the foregoing would also be appropriate to the conception of an ecofeminist society. In particular, the practical and theoretical insistence on the interconnectedness of all life, on a concept of politics that puts everyday practice and experiential ethics, the consistency of means and ends, in the forefront. And yet, the two examples previously documented are not feminist projects in the narrow sense in which this term is often understood, namely, all-women initiatives in which men have no role to play. In fact, the initiators of these projects were men. In the ecofeminist movement there are many examples of women-only projects and initiatives. But the question is: can we conceive of a perspective for a better future society by concentrating only on women, or by building all-women islands within a capitalist-patriarchal ocean? As ecofeminists emphasize overcoming established dualisms and false dichotomies, as they want to put the interdependence of all life at the centre of a new ethic and politics [18], it would be quite inconsistent to exclude men from this network of responsibility for the creation and continuation of life. Ecofeminism does not mean, as some argue, that women will clean up the ecological mess which capitalist-patriarchal men have caused; women will not eternally be the Trümmerfrauen (the women who clear up the ruins after the patriarchal wars). Therefore, a subsistence perspective necessarily means men begin to share, in practice, the responsibility for the creation and preservation of life on this planet. Therefore, men must start a movement to redefine their identity. They must give up their involvement in destructive commodity production for the sake of accumulation and begin to share women’s work for the preservation of life. In practical terms this means they have to share unpaid subsistence work: in the household, with children, with the old and sick, in ecological work to heal the earth, in new forms of subsistence production.
In this respect it is essential that the old sexist division of labour criticized by the feminists in the 1970s – that is, men become the theoreticians of the subsistence perspective while women do the practical work – is abolished. This division between mental and manual labour is contrary to the principles of a subsistence perspective. The two examples documented above are significant in this respect, in so far as they demonstrate that men have begun to see the importance of the need to overcome this dichotomy.

9. Moreover, if the dichotomy between life-producing and preserving and commodity-producing activities is abolished, if men acquire caring and nurturing qualities which have so far been considered women’s domain, and if, in an economy based on self-reliance, mutuality, self-provisioning, not women alone but men too are involved in subsistence production they will have neither time nor the inclination to pursue their destructive war games. A subsistence perspective will be the most significant contribution to the de-militarization of men and society. Only a society based on a subsistence perspective can afford to live in peace with nature, and uphold peace between nations, generations and men and women, because it does not base its concept of a good life on the exploitation and domination of nature and other people.

Finally, it must be pointed out that we are not the first to spell out a subsistence perspective as a vision for a better society. Wherever women and men have envisaged a society i n which all – women and men, old and young, all races and cultures – could share the ‘good life’, where social justice, equality, human dignity, beauty and joy in life were not just Utopian dreams never to be realized (except for a small elite or postponed to an after-life), there has been close to what we call a subsistence perspective.

Kamla Bhasin, an Indian feminist who tried to spell out what ‘sustainable development’ could mean for all women in the world lists a number of principles of sustainability similar to the features of a subsistence perspective [19]. It is clear to her, as it is to many women and men who are not blind to the reality that we live in a limited world, that sustainability is not compatible with the existing profit- and growth-oriented development paradigm.

And this means that the standard of living of the North’s affluent societies cannot be generalized. This was already clear to Mahatma Gandhi 60 years ago, who, when asked by a British journalist whether he would like India to have the same standard of living as Britain, replied:

“To have its standard of living a tiny country like Britain had to exploit half the globe. H o w many globes will India need to exploit to have the same standard of living?” [20]

From an ecological and feminist perspective, moreover, even if there were more globes to be exploited, it is not even desirable that this development paradigm and standard of living was generalized, because it has failed to fulfill its promises of happiness, freedom, dignity and peace, even for those who have profited from it.

Maria Mies.


This is the chapter 20 of
Maria Mies & Vandana Shiva,
Zed Books, 1993.


[1] Maria Mies & al, Women: the Last Colony, Zed Books, London, 1988; Maria Mies, Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour, Zed Books, London, 1991.

[2] Stephan Schmidtheiny, Changing Course – A Global Perspective on Development and Environment, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1992.

[3] Dar es Salaam Declaration: Alternative Development Strategies for Africa. Institute for African Alternatives (IFAA), London, 1989.

[4] I. Dankelman and J. Davidson, Women and Environment in the Third World. Alliance for the Future, Earthscan Publications, London, 1988. Women’s Feature Service (ed), The Power to Change: Women in the Third World Redefine their Environment, Kali for Women, New Delhi, 1992; Zed Books, London, 1993.

[5] Gopal Joshi, (1988) “Alltag im Himalya”, in: Tüting, Ludmilla (ed), Menschen, Bäume, Erosionen, Kahlschlag im Himalya; Wege aus der Zerstörung, Der Grüne Zweig, Lohrbach, pp. 38-41.

[6] Chhaya Datar reported the increase of violence against women in areas where development had led to more affluence among some sections of the rural people, at a seminar ‘Challenges before Agriculture’, University of Pune, 1-2 August, 1992.

[7] Hazel Henderson, Creating Alternative Futures. Pedigree Books, New York, 1978.

[8] Marilyn Waring, Women Counted. Macmillan, London, 1989. See also: Mary Mellor, Breaking the Boundaries: Towards a Feminist Green Socialism. Virago Press, London, 1992.

[9] Margrit Kennedy, Geld ohne Zinsen. Goldmann, München, 1992.

[10] Paul Ekins, A New World Order: Grassroots Movements for Global Change. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1992.

[11] K. J. Joy, Baliraja Smruthi Dharan: The People’s Dam. An Alternative Path to Development/ Unpublished paper, October, 1990. Bharat Patankar, Alternative Water Management: The Case of Baliraja Dam, in: Our Indivisible Environment. A Report of Perspectives, Bangalore 1-7 October, 1990, pp. 51-52. Personal communication, from K.R. Datye, Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar.

[12] Joy, op. cit. p.7.

[13] K.R. Datye, Opportunities for Sustainable Livelihoods in Semi-Arid Environment, Paper presented at Expert Meeting on Vulnerability Generated by Water Scarcity in Semi-Arid Regions, Vadstena, Sweden, February, 1989.

[14] Lothar Gothe and Meggie Lucke, Land in Sight, Cologne, 1990.

[15] Friedrich Engels, Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State in: Marx/Engels Selected Works, Vol 3, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1976.

[16] Murray Bookchin, Toward an Ecological Society. Black Rose Books, Montreal, Buffalo, 1986. Mies, 1991, op. cit. Martha Ackelsberg and Irene Diamond, ‘Is Ecofeminism a New Phase of Anarchism?’ Paper presented at Eighth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Douglass College, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 8-10 June, 1990.

[17] Ackelsberg and Diamond, op. cit.

[18] Irene Diamond and Gloria Feman-Orenstein, Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1990.

[19] Kamla Bhasin, ‘Environment, Daily Life and Health: Women’s Strategies for Our Common Future.’ Speech at Fifth International Congress on Women’s Health. Copenhagen, 25 August 1992.

[20] Quoted by Kamla Bhasin, op. cit. p. 11.


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