UNMAKING: a research programme on the disruption of capitalism in societal transformation to sustainability


Jacob Smessaert presented at the Deep Commons 2022 Conference

Jacob Smessaert presented at the Deep Commons 2022 Conference.

Jacob presented work on eco-anarchism in the panel session ‘Towards Radical Ecological Democracy’.

Presentation abstract:

This paper assesses recent literature on ecological democracy (ED) through an analytical framework comprising the following dimensions: actors, praxis and processes, and institutions. We find that the main limitations of current debates in ED lie in (i) their excessive focus on deliberation as the quintessential democratic praxis, and (ii) their difficulties in envisageing emancipatory collective futures that are not organised around nation-states and (state-like) international institutions. In order to decenter debates in ED from the hegemonies of both deliberation and statism, we use theoretical and practical insights from various strands of eco-anarchism, including social ecology, bioregionalism, insurrectionary (eco)anarchism and anarcho-primitivism. These theories help us to appreciate a greater diversity of legitimate political actors, strategies and existing practices, and allow us to look differently at classical questions of ED that revolve around representation, inclusion, and justice.


First, with regards to the deliberation paradigm, eco-anarchism advances a more oppositional political praxis and recognises the political work of entangled human-nonhuman actors. Second, with regards to the state and existing institutions, it builds on a long tradition of dual power and counterinstitutions that acknowledges and exacerbates conflictual relationships with state institutions and capitalism. Building on these perspectives, our paper sketches transformation possibilities from within the capitalist nation-state towards post-statist, diverse and autonomous ecological democracies.