This week, 33 years ago, Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso, was assassinated in a French-backed coup. He aspired to an egalitarian, feminist society, and an economy built on self-sufficiency, ecological regeneration, and independence from Western powers.
As debt crises mount across Africa, his ideas are more vital now than ever. I wrote about Sankara's legacy in these two pages from The Divide:
Today, Sankara's legacy is inspiring a new generation of revolutionary thinkers and activists across the continent and beyond. As Sankara himself put it, with uncanny prescience, “You can assassinate revolutionaries, but you cannot kill ideas”.
Sankara knew his assassination was coming. Speaking to African leaders at the OAU, he said "I would like this conference to clearly declare that we will not repay the debt; we must do it together, to avoid being assassinated individually..."
"...If Burkina Faso is the only one to refuse, I will not be here at the next conference."
"Let's create a united front against the debt. And let's stop competing with each other. Our lands are rich. We have plenty of manpower, and a large market. Let the African market belong to Africans. Let's manufacture in Africa and consume in Africa..."
"...Let's produce what we need and consume what we produce, instead of importing goods. I, along with my delegation, we are dressed by our weavers, with cotton from our farmers. Not a single thread comes from Europe or America. This is how you live with freedom and dignity."

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More from @jasonhickel

15 Oct
This is the most powerful, captivating text I have read in some time. Don't miss it. "The white man knows too little for the power that he wields, and the damage that he causes."…
"My name is Nemonte Nenquimo. I am a Waorani woman, a mother, and a leader of my people. We are fighting to protect what we love – our way of life, our rivers, the animals, our forests, life on Earth – and it’s time that you listened to us."
"You are probably not used to an Indigenous woman calling you ignorant. But it is clear: the less you know about something, the less value it has to you, and the easier it is to destroy. And this is exactly what you are doing to our planet."
Read 9 tweets
10 Oct
The term "degrowth" is an asset, not a liability. "Trying to avoid provocation, or trying to be agnostic about growth, creates a milieu where problematic assumptions remain unidentified and unexamined in favour of polite conversation and agreement." ...
... "This is not an effective way to advance knowledge, especially when the stakes are so high." I make this argument here:…
It's easy to agree that we need to reduce resource use and bring the economy back into balance with the living world. The next step is to grapple with the fact that the underlying problem is the structural growth imperative of capitalism.
Read 5 tweets
8 Oct
Something big happened this morning. David Attenborough, speaking on BBC radio, pointed to capitalism as the main driver of ecological breakdown. The debate is beginning to shift.…
"The excesses the capitalist system has brought us, have got to be curbed somehow." "We are going to have to live more economically than we do. And we can do that more happily, not less happily."
Crucially, he recognizes that inequality is at the core of the ecological crisis. Our planet will begin to recover, he says, when "those that have a great deal, perhaps, have a little less." We need to rebuild "a working ecosystem in which everybody has a share".
Read 5 tweets
1 Oct
This is exciting. New research by @JKSteinberger's team, hot off the press, finds that we could scale down global energy consumption by 60% and still provide good living standards for 10 billion people by 2050, with universal healthcare and education.…
This would make it much easier for us to achieve a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy, meeting our climate goals in a matter of years, not decades. In fact, we already produce half of the renewable energy that this scenario would require.
Continuing to grow total energy use while trying at the same time to transition to renewables is a strategy that is guaranteed to continue failing. We need to be smarter than that.
Read 4 tweets
21 Sep
A Job Guarantee is one of the single most powerful climate policies a government could implement. Why? Because once the question of employment is off the table, we can have an open conversation about scaling down destructive industries.
Let's clear up a few things about the JG:

1. The JG is about public use-value (not private profit), organized around actual community needs, and is paid a living wage.
2. It is the *opposite* of bullshit jobs. There is a tremendous amount of actually important work to do: care work, local food, essential services, energy transition, and ecological regeneration.
Read 5 tweets
15 Sep
I want to take a minute to clarify something important about the degrowth position on climate change and emissions reductions. Here's a short thread that I hope will be helpful:
1. Degrowth *does not* argue that we cannot decouple GDP from emissions. We know this is possible to achieve, and some nations are already doing it to some extent. You can have rising GDP with declining emissions, simply by switching to renewable energy.
2. But that's not the question. The question is much more specific: can high-income nations reduce emissions to zero fast enough to stay in line with the carbon budget for 1.5C or 2C, while pursuing GDP growth at the same time?
Read 8 tweets

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