The Philosophical and Material Underpinnings of a Sustainable Alternative: A Contribution to Ecological Economics

16 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2006

See all articles by David Barkin

David Barkin

Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana

Date Written: November 2006


Numerous social groups are explicitly rejecting their integration into the proletarian organization of production as part of the process of capitalist accumulation. In its place they are proposing and implementing self-directed social and political systems with their own productive and ecosystem management programs that allow them to determine the terms of their interchanges with the world (and regional) market economies. By framing the analysis within the paradigm of ecological economics, this paper contributes to a better understanding of the interactions of social and natural systems in order to ameliorate "the human condition" while building a firmer foundation for environmental sustainability and rehabilitation. Using the author's proposal for an analytical apparatus to evaluate the philosophical underpinnings of actual practice by social groupings (usually alliances among communities and/or within indigenous groups), the analysis applies four fundamental principles - autonomy, self-sufficiency, productive diversification, and sustainable ecosystem management - to evaluate progress made in regions attempting to implement their own alternatives to capitalist organization. The article analyzes results from two specific projects in which the author is involved as well as incorporating the lessons learned that are being applied in other settings, including a number of projects being implemented by social actors in other geographic, ethnic and institutional settings. The study concludes that the organization of societies to build viable and attractive alternatives to capitalist models offers great scope for improving human welfare and promoting sustainable environmental management that also offers significant benefits to other segments of society living in the urban-industrial context.

Keywords: New Rurality, solidarity, ecological economics, autonomy, local development

JEL Classification: B52, 013, 017, Q57

Suggested Citation

Barkin, David, The Philosophical and Material Underpinnings of a Sustainable Alternative: A Contribution to Ecological Economics (November 2006). Available at SSRN: or

David Barkin (Contact Author)

Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana ( email )

Calzada del Hueso 1100
Mexico, 04960


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics