Post-Capitalist Dialogues in the Kali Yuga - Alnoor Ladha (Brave Earth)

17th Jun 2024 Gemini 1.5 Pro

Alnoor's Background and Approach to Social Change

Alnoor Ladha is a deep and provocative thinker with roots in Sufi tradition and a passion for social and environmental justice. He describes his work as a response to the pressing issues of our time, including ecological collapse, economic inequality, and the spiritual crisis of modernity. Drawing on his upbringing in the heart of the environmental movement, his Sufi practice, and his experiences witnessing the Seattle WTO protests, he developed a keen interest in the intersection of capitalism, social movements, and ecological collapse.

A central theme in Ladha's work is the importance of moving beyond mere critique and engaging in the active creation of alternative systems. His involvement with the activist collective "The Rules" exemplifies this approach. This group operated as an economic alternatives think tank, researching and promoting alternative economic models informed by the struggles of social movements worldwide. Ladha emphasizes that real change requires both "resistance and renewal," meaning we must actively dismantle the harmful systems of capitalism while simultaneously building and living the alternatives.

"We need to remove the noose of capitalism from the neck of 99% of humanity and all other species, but we also need to live the alternatives."

The Rules’ intentional closure after eight years reflects Ladha's belief in the importance of embracing endings and resisting the urge to perpetuate institutions indefinitely. This approach allows for a creative dynamism and a focus on genuine impact rather than self-preservation.

Abdicating Income and the Nature of Money

One of Ladha's more radical experiments involved abstaining from personal income for 17 months. This period of trust in "divine emergence," as he calls it, served as a profound initiation into the nature of money and its hold on our identities.

"And I see the money practice of not having savings and being in trust of divine emergence as part of my spiritual practice. If I'm doing what I know is in service to this moment and to the broader community of life, I'll be provided for."

This experience brought him face-to-face with the ways in which our sense of self is often intertwined with our financial status and our ability to contribute materially. It also highlighted the liberating potential of detaching from financial dependence, allowing for a greater alignment with one's values and purpose.

Capitalism, Post-Capitalism, and the Illusion of Historical Amnesia

Ladha defines capitalism succinctly as having a single "prime directive": the growth of capital by any means necessary. He emphasizes the historical amnesia inherent in many contemporary discussions of economic systems, arguing that current inequalities are not merely unfortunate remnants of the past but rather the inevitable outcomes of a system built on colonialism, extraction, and the concentration of wealth.

He challenges the notion that we can simply "move on" from historical injustices, pointing out that the very structure of capitalism is founded upon them. The legacy of colonialism, slavery, and systemic oppression continues to shape the world today, and acknowledging this historical debt is crucial to understanding the current distribution of power and resources.

"There's no such thing as historical colonialism or historical imperialism or historical capitalism. We are in the ongoing coloniality, right? The colonial capitalism of 15th century Europe is still alive and with us today."

Post-capitalism, for Ladha, is not a future utopia but rather a set of values and practices that can be embodied in the present. He emphasizes the need to move beyond the limitations of a system that prioritizes short-term profits over long-term well-being. Instead, he points to the wisdom of indigenous cultures and social movements that prioritize values such as generosity, reciprocity, and solidarity with all life. These "new ancient emerging cultures," as he calls them, offer a glimpse into what a post-capitalist world might look like.

The Potential and Pitfalls of Cryptocurrency

Ladha acknowledges the potential of blockchain technology and decentralized currencies to disrupt the existing financial system. He sees the possibility for creating systems that are not controlled by centralized institutions like central banks.

"If we could use blockchain technology, which is a highly sophisticated distributed cryptography, it's a technology that could be really useful with an ontology of animism, of interbeing, of relationality, the possibility of what that could do is very powerful."

However, he cautions against replicating the same extractive logic of capitalism within the crypto space. He argues that if the primary motivation behind crypto remains speculation and personal gain, then it will ultimately perpetuate the same systems of inequality and environmental destruction. The key, for Ladha, lies in aligning the development and implementation of these technologies with a more holistic and regenerative worldview. This would involve prioritizing values such as redistribution of wealth, environmental sustainability, and a degrowth-oriented economic model.

The Kali Yuga and the Importance of Contextual Relevance

Ladha uses the Vedic concept of the Kali Yuga, a period of spiritual darkness and decline, as a framework for understanding the current moment. While acknowledging the dangers of apocalyptic thinking, he sees value in recognizing the unprecedented challenges we face: climate change, ecological collapse, and widespread social unrest.

"If you do not have a critique of capitalist modernity, you are contextually irrelevant. If all you have is a critique, you are spiritually and creatively impoverished."

This recognition, he argues, is essential for developing "contextually relevant" solutions. He criticizes both those who fail to grasp the gravity of the situation and those who become mired in despair and cynicism.

For Ladha, true hope lies in embracing the unknown and relinquishing our attachment to certainty. He calls for a shift in consciousness that embraces complexity, interconnectedness, and a renewed relationship with the living world. This requires both a deep understanding of the systemic forces at play and a willingness to imagine and create radically different ways of being in the world.