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Title: Regenerative Culture and the Potential of Social Defence
Contributor(s): Kennedy, Karen (author); Ware, Helen  (supervisor); Glavac, Sonya  (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2022-09-07
Copyright Date: 2021-10-31
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In 2014 Associate Professor Brian Martin asked, Whatever happened to Social Defence? This research is my response to that question. Social defence, as speculative concept, had been proposed as an alternative to the military in the peace movements of the 1980s and early 1990s.

The proposition of this research was that social defence is philosophically and practically well developed within agroecology and anarchic\grass roots politics. Following this, the research aimed to learn something about the concept of social defence from people within agroecology and anarchism/grass roots. Working with post ideological commitments and ecological theory that is cognisant of the Anthropocene, Regenerative Culture provided the broader rubric of this research because all of the movements I explored are committed to regenerating degraded ecology, politics, economies and societies. Relationally, they aim to do this by regenerating indigenous knowledge and ecological ways of being. Regenerative Culture also includes reclaiming matriarchal feminisms and updating them for the contexts of the 21st century.

This research engaged directly and indirectly with the Navdanya Movement, Rojava, Extinction Rebellion and Rainbow Family as a way to understand the speculative concept of social defence, as well as to think about if and, how the concept has fallen off the agendas of activists and others working for peace.

I used the experimental methodology of post qualitative inquiry following Elizabeth St Clair, Raewyn Connell and others working from post theory(s). I also used the theory and practice of prefigurative politics and the method of autoethnography" following the premise that research of this nature is best conducted by people who are directly involved. In my case, I am in the 'field' of agroecology every day and have many years of experience within anarcho pacifist praxis. I joined Extinction Rebellion when it launched in Australia in July of 2018. The research did not aim to prove anything or generalise its findings.

This research put food first because food is our most vital human system and the root source of justifications for war.

The research is therefore limited by this focus and does not address alternative forms of transport and communication which would also be necessary if the concept of social defence were to attract more interest.

Based on extensive reading and interpretation of Martin's texts on the topic and relevant extant literature, this research concluded that social defence has been recuperated and sold back to people as a good idea if they use it somewhere else. But there is nowhere else, hence the proposition has been emptied of its revolutionary potential and the lacuna that only some people fight wars is exposed.

That is, if states are making the agenda, social defence has no revolutionary potential. If on the other hand, the agenda is being collectively formed and experimented with in grassroots anarchic initiatives, then social defence does have significant revolutionary potential. The nascent concept of legal anarchism has been proposed as a possible legal basis for social defence.

Using my own direct experience of regenerative farming as well as exploration and analysis of the existing Imperial food system and its collective alternatives, this research suggests that social defence should put food first. By doing this the concept would come into the realms of peasant movements defending life by challenging patriarchy and capitalism" movements that are at the same time creating alternative forms of production and consumption that is clean, healthy and inclusive.

The concept of social defence is under researched and it is an incredibly unpopular topic. In the context of life and death nonviolence is a privilege and this is under or simply not acknowledged in broader nonviolence literature. There is a massive movement for climate change but no corresponding movement for military change. Hence many movements have not joined the dots, in turn this helps explain why the concept fell off the agendas of some movements. My exploration of social defence, as speculative concept, suggests that Navdanya and the experiments of Rojava are more explicit in their rejection of the military system than broader global justice movements are.

Whatever social defence is becoming it is not there yet.

Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 440402 Humanitarian disasters, conflict and peacebuilding
440805 Environmental politics
440810 Peace studies
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 829899 Environmentally Sustainable Plant Production not elsewhere classified
829999 Plant Production and Plant Primary Products not elsewhere classified
960301 Climate Change Adaptation Measures
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
Description: Please contact if you require access to this thesis for the purpose of research or study.
Appears in Collections:School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Thesis Doctoral

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