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Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace [Paperback]

Vandana Shiva
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1, 2005 089608745X 978-0896087453 1st


A leading voice in the struggle for global justice, Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned environmental activist and physicist. In Earth Democracy, Shiva updates the struggles she helped bring to international attention—against genetic food engineering, culture theft, and natural resource privatization-—uncovering their links to the rising tide of fundamentalism, violence against women, and planetary death.


Starting in the 16th century with the initial enclosure of the British commons, Shiva reveals how the commons continue to shrink as more and more natural resources are patented and privatized.  As our ecological sustainability and cultural diversity erode, so too is human life rendered disposable. Through the forces of neoliberal globalization, economic and social exclusion ignite violence across lines of difference, threatening the lives of millions.


Yet these brutal extinctions are not the only trend shaping human history. Struggles on the streets of Seattle and Cancun and in homes and farms across the world have yielded a set of principles based on inclusion, nonviolence, reclaiming the commons, and freely sharing the earth’s resources. These ideals, which Shiva calls Earth Democracy, serves as an urgent call to peace and as the basis for a just and sustainable future.


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Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace + Making Peace with the Earth + Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply
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Editorial Reviews


'One of the world's most prominent radical scientists.' - The Guardian 'Shiva is a burst of creative energy, an intellectual power.' - The Progressive 'A leading thinker who has eloquently blended her views on the environment, agriculture, spirituality, and women's rights into a powerful philosophy.' - Utne Reader --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

A world-renowned environmental leader and recipient of the 1993 Alternative Nobel Peace Prize (the Right Livelihood Award), Shiva has authored several bestselling books, most recently Earth Democracy. Activist and scientist, Shiva leads, with Ralph Nader and Jeremy Rifkin, the International Forum on Globalization. Before becoming an activist, Shiva was one of India's leading physicists.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: South End Press; 1st edition (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089608745X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896087453
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A world-renowned environmental leader and recipient of the 1993 Alternative Nobel Peace Prize (the Right Livelihood Award), Shiva has authored several bestselling books, most recently Earth Democracy. Activist and scientist, Shiva leads, with Ralph Nader and Jeremy Rifkin, the International Forum on Globalization. Before becoming an activist, Shiva was one of India's leading physicists.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A more peaceful and secure future March 4, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Earth Democracy" by Vandana Shiva offers both a masterful critique of globalization and a hopeful vision for a better world. Ms. Shiva compares and contrasts top-down systems of authoritarianism and exclusion with bottom-up systems of egalitarianism and mutual cooperation to discuss how corporate power is proving to be a grave threat to democracy and the long-term viability of the planet. Ms. Shiva contends that a mutually-supportive network of empowered local communities might be able to create a global society that is based on humanitarian principles of peace, compassion and solidarity.

Ms. Shiva has long been highly regarded as an activist and scholar. She has authored many books and is a frequent media commentator. "Earth Democracy" serves to further Ms. Shiva's stature as a leading intellectual who continues to eloquently voice the concerns of the poor. Her unique ability to blend science, history, politics, economics, gender issues and other fields of study into her text is impressive. The result is a book that rewards its readers with many pages of thought-provoking insight and analysis.

Ms. Shiva points out that two thirds of humanity owes its livelihood to a sustenance economy that finds itself under increasing pressure from capital. She finds similarities in the earlier eras of enclosure and colonialism with today's struggle over intellectual property rights and patents, where the powerful use the law to privatize resources for profit. Arguing that overconsumption by the wealthy is the root cause of environmental destruction and human injustice, Ms. Shiva makes a compelling case for granting local communities more control over resources so that alternative, sustainable economies can be nurtured.

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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perhaps the world's finest eco-warrior December 4, 2006
Shiva is a kind of Mama Kali, defending her village farmers and their environments with cool resolve or fact-spitting outrage. Coming off a series of victories over corporate bio-pirates, she shares the state of struggle for the local nature-workers of India to manage their future. Here are a few of her lines:

"What has been called the tragedy of the commons is, in fact, the tragedy of privatization." (p. 55)

"The enclosure of biodiversity and knowledge is the latest step in a series of enclosures that began with the rise of colonialism. Land and forests were the first resources to be enclosed and converted from commons to commodities. Later, water resources were enclosed through dams, groundwater mining, and privatization schemes. Now it is the turn of biodiversity and knowledge to be "enclosed" through intellectual property rights (IPRs)." (p. 39)

[In the Navdanya movement] "More than 200,000 farmers are working to enrich the earth, create properity for rural producers, and provide quality food to consumers. ... [Their work] reintroduces biodiverse farming to both replace chemicals as fertilizers and pesticides and to increase the productivity and nutritional value of crops. ... Navdanya farmers are able to reduce their expenses by the 90 percent that was used to buy chemicals and create corporate profits. ... The incomes of Navdanya farmers are three times higher than the incomes of chemical farmers..." (pp. 67-68)

"Ecological security is our most basic security; ecological identities are our most fundamental identity. We ARE the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe. And reclaiming democratic control over our food and water and our ecological survival is the necessary project for our freedom." (p. 5)

--author of The Gardens of Their Dreams: Desertification and Culture in World History
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Volume Is LOUD May 5, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The irrepressible Vandana Shiva is a very energetic person who see's beyond the hype around WTO and GMO and knows what dangers these type of initiatives are to the earth and all life on it. If you have not read or know of Vandada Shiva before then I recommend you actually start with videos on you tube to hear her message. She is also in many movies such as the eclectic Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? and Flow How did a handful of corporations steal our water.

I would NOT recommend starting to learn about her views with this book. Right from the start the author's tone is very sharp in pointing out what's wrong with globalization versus the commons. It's a continuous boxing match and the author keeps laying in punch after punch. What is missing from this book is a set of preliminary concepts and contrasts of what is globalization and what is the commons and Earth Democracy. Without any kind of building of these themes the reader is put into a somewhat stressful situation. Most of what is then followed in the book is bad this and that. The ways to respond to globalization are not clearly enumerated and how YOU should act after hearing this material is not immediately evident. The reader is not drawn into the situation in a deep way and full explanations of the concepts is not attempted before getting into the thick of things. So it really is like having the volume turned up listening to these things like a news broadcast rather than an engaging read.

So while I highly value and appreciate what Vandana Shiva is doing on the world stage, her ability to communicate a message that can sink in through the written word is not a strong suit at least in this specific book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The most thoughtful that I've read
This is is a very thoughtful analysis of the tragedy of the commons through consideration of
corporate takings and historical enclosures. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Gderf
4.0 out of 5 stars How it feels to be at the receiving end of 'free trade'
This book was an eye opener and describes the unintended consequences of globalization and free trade by transnational corporations that are beholden to no country and follow and... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Catoh
4.0 out of 5 stars A review
We are in a time where giant corporations wield great power over our nations, our politics, our culture and even the food we eat. Read more
Published on September 15, 2009 by Rakesh Gade
5.0 out of 5 stars how to save our planet
Vandana Shiva is a superstar twice over. To start with she has a vision so broad and deep it sometimes takes your breath away. Read more
Published on August 10, 2009 by Paul Siemering
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep Thinking Upsets Conventional Assumptions
Vandana Shiva believes that peasants should be able to make a living based on access to land, rivers, forests and oceans and that governments must protect the health of these... Read more
Published on September 21, 2008 by Amanda Kovattana
1.0 out of 5 stars Academically dishonest book that would actively hurt the left if made...
This book is full of flawed logic, false data, endnotes (not footnotes) that reference her own work and the work of like-minded contemporaries, but rarely an opponent (unless to... Read more
Published on June 28, 2007 by Daniel Abrams
5.0 out of 5 stars Organic food is a human right!
In "Earth Democracy", Indian ecofeminist Vandana Shiva powerfully defends the rights of Third World farmers against agribusiness monopolies, biotechnology and international... Read more
Published on October 18, 2006 by wildflowerboy
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent primer
A well-written discussion of some of the most important issues facing humanity in the 21st Century. The book does, however, jump from topic-to-topic with relatively little deep... Read more
Published on February 23, 2006 by N. Perz
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