Different alternatives in different places
Oxford dictionary defines capitalism as an ‘’economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state’’. As far as we know, developing a country is not an easy thing to do. But if there is something that we are aware of, it is that development includes many dimensions such as social, economic, political and environmental ones. The possibility of achieving a development within a holistic perspective is to keep all these concepts on balance. However, capitalism has only seen economic growth as the only transversal axis of development and what is worse, is the economic growth seen as an unlimited idea. This system has brought us up to think of this view as the unique possible and operative engine to face global challenges: famine, poverty, insecurity, inequality, etc.
Figure 1: Retrieved from Foundation for Economic Education
The developed economic societies have grown up making a profit at the expense of other societies. Due to the low production costs and investment in Africa, South America, Asia or the Middle East. The North industries have been able to take advantage and to strengthen their own interests from excluding ethics, morals, ecological and human principles. So, it is possible to think with all the dimensions if we keep focusing on capitalism as the only route to take? Where does social welfare fit in this scheme?
According to Alfonso Dubois Migoya: ‘‘wondering what is social welfare is a key issue in the definition of an economic and a social model that we want to purpose. The objectives that are defined as welfare priorities, not only determine the designed policies but also, they become the reference for the evaluation of their functioning’’. The definition of welfare in capitalist societies is associated with wealth and material growth as a consequence of the accumulation or investment of capital. The environmental impact caused by humans and technology has led to the depletion of natural resources and the irreversible damage to nature and beings that live in it. Therefore, such consequences have opened discussions about capitalism and all that it represents. Hence, they have emerged new economic, social and political development alternatives, which do not have a focus on progressive ideology. Now, let us explore some interesting initiatives centered on different worldviews.
Degrowth is a political purpose which promotes productivity, accumulation and consumption reduction in order to improve de quality of life and to seek welfare and happiness. The goal of decrease system is not completely blocking the growth but to achieve sustainability and equality through increasing welfare, decreasing levels of production and reducing consumption of the globalized society. With the capitalist boom, some regions of Europe tried to implement initiatives to get a change in the system and look into a decreasing future but to carry out something that wants to modify the current system is not an easy task. However, there are some examples: in 2000, France reduced the working week from 40 to 35 hours in order to generate employment. It took a strong impact on society but it generates debate out of establishing a scheme.
Figure 2: Elaborating visions, exploring possibilities. Retrieved from
Good living in South America
The good living is an indigenous concept emerged in South America which reveals mutual respect between the human being and the environment that surrounds individuals. This approach includes three main branches: socialist branch, indigenous branch and ecologist branch. However, apart from the differences branches, people who support this model think about community-centric, ecologically-balanced and culturally-sensitive spaces. It truly advocates for the rights of the natural environment, in favor of implementing legal and politic laws that defend the environment. For example, Ecuador followed this point of view and in 2008, with the enactment of its Constitution became the first country in the world to codify the Rights of Nature and to inform a more clarified content to those rights.
Figure 3: Nature & Buen Vivir en Ecuador. Retrieved from
Unlike the good living and degrowth system, Ubuntu is a philosophy that recognized individuals rooted in the community, with their relationships with others. Humans are together sharing the same goal: to learn from each other and be a real human family. Therefore, the individualism brought by capitalism does not fit with the values of Ubuntu such as mutual respect and help, community, trust, disinterest, etc. It focuses on giving space to the community dialogue because in that way we will have simple access to social change. This philosophy has been widespread in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially in rural areas where is clearer to find out the community sense and practice traditional rituals.
Figure 4: The spirit of Ubuntu. Retrieved from
The ecological Swaraj or Real Ecological Democracy is an alternative vision emerged through communities and civil society in India. This concept is founded on be respectful with the limits of the planet and to the rights of other species, persecuting injustice and inequality. With its democratic and equality impulse, Ecological Swaraj tries to empower individuals in order to be included in decision-making. Its holistic vision of earth aspires to create human welfare that covers the physical, material, social, cultural, intellectual and spiritual dimensions. This perspective puts emphasis on collectives and communities as the center of governance and economy, rather than corporations and businesses. So, these practices have a strong belief in ecological sustainability, social justice, direct political democracy, economic democracy and cultural and knowledge plurality.
Figure 5: The art of sustainability. Retrieved from
As we can see, in different parts of the world, new theories about development models have been promoted. Thus, it is interesting to see how they expand and which are their visions, having a contrasting approach to capitalism. Even though we do not live in these kinds of models, knowing these perspectives let us think about other development systems. It is time to reflect about what is the best future for us and for our environment; it is time to think about how we want to live and which is the world that we want to leave.
Cañas, G. (19th September 2016). La Francia oficial se aferra a la ley de las 35 horas. El periódico. Retrieved from
Degrowth in Bewegung(en). Retrieved from
Hegoa. (2014). Marco teórico y metodológico del Desarrollo Humano Local. Retrieved from
Ministerio de Educación. ¿Qué es el buen vivir?. Retrieved from
Templeton Prize. [Templeton Prize]. (3th April 2013). Who we are: Human uniqueness and the African spirit of Ubuntu. Desmond Tutu, Templeton Prize 2013. [Video]. Retrieved from