WEAVING ALTERNATIVES #09: A periodical of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives

WEAVING ALTERNATIVES #09: A periodical of the Global Tapestry of Alternatives


Editorial Note

Social Movements and Radical AlternativesAre activities and initiatives, concepts, worldviews, or action proposals by collectives, groups, organizations, communities, or social movements challenging and replacing the dominant system that perpetuates inequality, exploitation, and unsustainabiity. In the GTA we focus primarily on what we call "radical or transformative alternatives", which we define as initiatives that are attempting to break with the dominant system and take paths towards direct and radical forms of political and economic democracy, localised self-reliance, social justice and equity, cultural and knowledge diversity, and ecological resilience. Their locus is neither the State nor the capitalist economy. They are advancing in the process of dismantling most forms of hierarchies, assuming the principles of sufficiency, autonomy, non-violence, justice and equality, solidarity, and the caring of life and the Earth. They do this in an integral way, not limited to a single aspect of life. Although such initiatives may have some kind of link with capitalist markets and the State, they prioritize their autonomy to avoid significant dependency on them and tend to reduce, as much as possible, any relationship with them.

This 9th GTAGlobal Tapestry of Alternatives periodical intends to explore narratives, reflections, debates and ruminations around systemic alternatives in the social movement spaces. We are today living in a world of profound crisis but also a world in profound flux, with major and sometimes dramatic movements erupting all over the world responding to the crises, and sometimes seeming to sweep history aside. With historical factors deeply embedded in these movements and processes across the world, they are trying to challenge the dominant systems of oppression and offer new politics … or even sustain old but still relevant politics in a new context. These movements at some points are linear (emerging through a specific crisis), at others non-linear 1) spontaneous, often ‘local’ or regional but globally situated and impactful, manifested both in form of resistance and constructive alternatives at ground. We understand that social movements are a vast subject, hence we certainly have not been able to cover all the relevant aspects, but we do hope that the contributions in this issue will serve as a starting point to dive deeper.

GTA’s attempt at putting this issue together emerges from our continued engagement in dialogues with other social movements and global mobilisation attempting systemic, fundamental transformations towards justice. In our experience, it is crucial to be in constant dialogue to find crucial paths in the long term, outside of the colonial mindset, towards systemic alternatives. Our theme has a specific focus on alternatives, because for GTA, the role of social movements' is as important in constructing alternatives as in resistance against systems oppression (and we recognise that sometimes, the two are the same!). Rather than offering ‘a theory of change’ to capitalism, anthropocentrism, patriarchy, statism, racism, among others, social movements need to offer a ‘pluriverse’ of alternatives to these crises. This could only be possible if social movements are self-reflecting in their process of emergence, change, internal democracy, and what new (or renewed) forms of politics they can offer by being grounded in everyday struggles. Our contributions from Colombia, Argentina, India, Kurdistan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Timor Leste explore several questions relevant to the above.

Our contributors explore the limitations of theoretical frameworks for protest and social movements to deeply understand the emergent horizontal and prefigurative practices that are emerging from communities organising from below. They bring out the learnings emerging from the grassroots experiences of movements challenging the concentration of state power (or the notion of the state itself), patriarchy, colonialism, and capitalism. They highlight key insights emerging from the movement spaces engaging with state-power such as left governments in Latin America and the need for social movements to strengthen their autonomous capacity to construct grassroots transformative processes. Our contributors explore the role of grounded movements on regionalism and transnationalism from below that can challenge the dominant elite-centered and oligarchic regionalism. By highlighting the issues of old socialist and leftist theories that very often are dogmatic and see only one way while rejecting others, the contributors speak to the idea of being grounded in creating real alternatives. They raise questions like: what could be the process of common envisioning among these radical processes and transitional movements that can transform the systems at local to global level? How do we combine resistances and alternatives in social movements spaces to effectively challenge growing fascism, and move towards emancipatory/radical democracy? What special role are women, youth, indigenous peoples, and other marginalised sections playing in such movements?

We are thankful to all our contributors, who have shared their wisdom, embedded in grounded experiences, through these essays.

This periodical also features updates from our weavers in India (Vikalp Sangam) and Mexico (Crianza Mutua), Colombia (Crianzas Mutuas), and South-East Asia (MASSAMovement for Alternatives and Solidarity in Southeast Asia (South East Asia)) along with updates from endorsing networks.

This periodical is put together with the collaborative efforts of Shrishtee Bajpai, Martin Aplaneta, Franco Augusto and Urvi Shah. We invite you to engage, reflect and dialogue on these ideas. We see it as a start to a long-term process of knowing each others' work, engaging with ideas, facilitating collaborations and initiating co-writing, co-learning and dialogical processes, all of this helping, in a humble way, in the mobilisation needed to transform our societies.

Updates from GTA

GTA Webinars:

The aim of GTA webinars is to collaborate and bring out new ideas from within the network to anchor discussions on radical transformative practices. Recently, “Cosmopolitical Learning: Some reflections on Praxis” brought together friends affiliated with the Enlivened Cooperative who have been engaging in what we have been referring to as cosmopolitical learning. This refers to the practice of learning with, in between, across and beyond distinct ontologies, especially alongside indigenous teachers and in/from place. Cosmopolitics brings into focus how non-human actors, such as mountains, forests, rivers and others are also subjects and political beings who ought to be included into the constitutional arrangements of how we order our world. In this seminar were shared experiences from Mexico, Peru, Hawai’i, New Zealand and the US that engage with these practices. The recording to this session can be found here.

GTA Assembly:

The GTA Assembly is held every 3 months to introduce new members, follow up on updates and discuss upcoming plans. The 5th GTA Assembly took place on 3rd October 2022. The recording and report can be found here.

GTA Mapping:

GTA Mapping is a process to chart out all endorsers and weavers in a digital web space according to their geographical locations, while also making the process participatory. Next in action is to get endorsers on board to use the web space for updates and information management. You can access the Beta version of the mapping platform in this link.


PeDAGoG (Post-Development Academic-Activist Global Group) is a global network of academics and academic activists interested in post-development, radical alternatives, and related themes. This group, along with This webinar series is co-organised by Ecoversities, Educere Alliance, Global Tapestry of Alternatives, PeDAGoG, Radical Ecological Democracy, The Alternatives Project and Wellbeing Economy Alliance.

A webinar by Mauricio, Arturo, Wendy and Juan on Unitierra’s processes was conducted on the 8th of July. Find the recording here.

More recently the same group organized a session entitled “Cosmopolitical learning: some reflections on praxis”, conducted by members of the Enlivened Cooperative. The details and recording can be found in this webpage.

Updates from our Weavers

The Global TapestryThe weaving of networks of Alternatives of Alternatives is a “network of networks”. Each of those networks acts in different parts of the planet by identifying and connecting Alternatives. They are the Weavers. The following are the networks that currently weaves the Global Tapestry of Alternatives. In the following section, our Weavers from India, Colombia and Mexico shares updates from their recent activities and actions.

Keep reading ->

Updates from our Endorsers

Deep Commons Conference: Update and reflection by Anitra Nelson

A Deep Commons conference took place wholly online on 27–29 October. The key theme was Cultivating Ecologies of Solidarity and Care beyond Capitalism, Patriarchy, Racism and the State. The conference was hosted by the Department of Government and Politics, University College Cork, Ireland, and La Terre Institute for Community and Ecology, Mississippi, US.

Keep reading ->

POST Growth Institute

By Natalie Holmes

In a recent article by Post Growth Fellow, Zoljargal Mendbayar, about impact investing in Native communities; based on her research, Zoljargal explains how Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) can contribute to Indigenous goals of sovereignty and self-determination, despite operating within a settler colonial system.

Keep reading ->

Social Movements and Radical Alternatives

The New Colombian Government and the Planetary Challenges

by Lina Alvarez and Arturo Escobar

The election of Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez as president and vice-president of Colombia on June 18 of this year, and sworn into office on August 7, constituted a watershed in Colombian history in multiple ways. In a country mired in the intense, decades-long social conflict caused by staggering inequality and political violence, that erupted in massive protests in 2019 and 2021, bringing the country to a standstill; the new government represents an unprecedented hope for many in several vital ways.

Keep reading ->

Can digital movements really move the status quo?

by Yash Marwah

“Tweet” “Tweet” “Tweet” BOOM. The world changes.

More often than not, some people want to believe this is how ‘digital movements’ work: That an idea brews in some minds, they tweet about it, and the world comes rallying behind.

While it sounds safe to believe, that is just not how it works.

There are 2 kinds of digital movements that I have been a part of. Those that were born digitally, and others that project whatever is happening offline onto the virtual world. Yes, there are spurts of serendipity when just a hashtag can shake the world but most successful “digital” movements have had months of on-ground work to make them impactful. Right from thinking, planning, strategising, organising, to executing, everything is mostly in the physical world. Hence, ‘digital’ is just a medium. I will try and talk about this aspect of digital activism.

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Prefigurative Societies in Movement

by Marina Sitrin

Something new is happening – something new in content, depth, breadth and global consistency. Societies around the world are in movement. Since the early 1990s millions of people have been organizing similarly, and in ways that defy definitions and former ways of understanding social movements, protest and resistance. There is a growing global movement of refusal – and simultaneously, in that refusal is a creative movement. Millions are shouting No!, as they manifest alternatives in its wake.

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Grassroots democracy and peoples' alternative practices in Southeast Asia

by Dr. Eduardo C. Tadem

Discourses on practices of grassroots democracy often focus on modes of popular participation centered on institutional avenues such as elections and local governance issues dealing with decentralization, devolution, and local autonomy (Mohanty 2007, 15–32). At the local level, consequent interests are on “restraining arbitrary and corrupt official behavior and enhancing the accountability of grassroots authorities” (Perry and Goldman 2007, 1).

In the political arena where countervailing forces operate, grassroots democracy is often related to social movements and peoples’ organizations intervening in the political process through advocacies and campaigns on regime and systems change and/or devising strategies and practices that engage with the state. For instance, farmers and rural poor in Northeast Thailand “assert their rights and demand state compensations” and engage in “direct actions towards the state (and) press their demands for corrective action” (Prasartset 2004, 140).

Keep reading ->

North East Syria: an example of a revolution

By Civil Diplomacy Center – North and East Syria

On the 19th of July 2012, a revolution took place in North and East Syria. A revolution based on real democracy, inclusion of people of all ethnicities and religions, ecology and the freedom of women. With all its shortcomings, this revolution shows that an alternative beyond the state and patriarchy is possible. Stating this does not mean that patriarchy, capitalism and the state have been overcome 100 percent. However, attempts are being made to build structures which make it possible for people to organise their lives and find strength to struggle on a daily basis against the mentality of state, capitalism and patriarchy.

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Some characteristics of peoples/societies in movement

By Raúl Zibechi

During the last months of 2019, social outbursts and uprisings took place in several countries, including Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Haiti, Bolivia and Nicaragua. In Brazil and Argentina there had already been huge mobilisations, in 2013 in the former and in 2017 in the latter. In all cases, neoliberal extractive policies have been in the crosshairs of collective action, whether under right-wing or left-wing, conservative or progressive governments.

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Book summary: "Life After Progress: Technology, Community and the New Economy"

Essays by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Alex Jensen and more

In The Economic Journal in 1960, professor of economics J.L. Sadie explained that, for the development of traditional societies, “Unhappiness and discontentment in the sense of wanting more than is obtainable at any moment is to be generated. The suffering and dislocation that may be caused in the process may be objectionable, but it appears to be the price that has to be paid for economic development; the condition of economic progress.”

Keep reading ->

Jai Sen in his book ‘The Movements of Movements’ explores this quite magnificently:https://radicalecologicaldemocracy.org/the-movements-of-movements/