The Resurgence vision

Satish Kumar Lorna Howarth
3 November 2006

Satish Kumar, Why Resurgence?

In 1966 when a group of people came together to launch a new magazine, they came up with the title Resurgence. They felt that the modern world was too obsessed with the idea of the "new", and that its constant pursuit left human wisdom, accumulated over hundreds of generations, to lie dormant. Why not create conditions and a forum where perennial wisdom, ancient wisdom, and the shared wisdom of humanity could resurge? And so a bimonthly magazine called Resurgence was launched.

The vision of the magazine was to inform, inspire and educate people of all races, religions and political persuasions around the world to seek prosperity and happiness for all, within the bounds of sustainability, spirituality and equity.

This year, 2006, Resurgence celebrates its fortieth anniversary (Linda Howarth, the magazine's co-editor, describes below the flavour of our birthday-party). During this time many magazines dedicated to the ideals of environmentalism, peace and social justice have come and gone; but Resurgence is still here, and has flourished as well as survived. It has been a forum where the ideas of deep ecology, Gaian science, small-is-beautiful, organic food, renewable energy, appropriate technology, a culture of compassion and the politics of peace have been explored and expounded.

Satish Kumar is the founder and editor of Resurgence. He also founded The Small School and Schumacher College. Among his books is You Are, Therefore I Am: A Declaration of Dependence
(Green Books, 2002)

The magazine's regular contributors are a diverse array; they have included EF Schumacher, James Lovelock, Anita Roddick, Vandana Shiva, Deepak Chopra, Jonathon Porritt, Caroline Lucas, Sara Parkin, Fiona Reynolds, Geoff Mulgan, Tim Smit and Fritjof Capra.

When Resurgence was established in 1966 there was no Friends of the Earth, no Greenpeace, no Forum for the Future, no Ecologist - and there were no green political parties. So during these forty years the concerns of Resurgence have come to be reflected in many forms and have reached large numbers of people, contributing to the tremendous shift of consciousness that is now occurring in political and economic circles.

When the Stern report on the economic of climate change is widely accepted by leading British government officials as heralding decisive change in their attitudes to global warming; when the opposition Conservative Party changes its logo from a torch to a tree, and appeals to the public to "vote blue to get green"; when a daily newspaper such as the Independent runs frequent cover stories on environmental issues - surely this is a sign of a fundamental change in people's worldview.

At a time when climate change, international terrorism and chronic world poverty are showing the fundamental fragility and unsustainability of the present world order, Resurgence is more relevant than ever in presenting a vision of the future where economics enhances ecology, politics preserves peace and democracy ensures social justice.

The vision embedded in our pages and which inspires us is one where

  • humanity is at ease with itself and is in harmony with the natural world
  • spiritual fulfilment and material wellbeing are in balance, and science is in constant conversation with wisdom
  • political pragmatism is not in conflict with the culture of compassion
  • business success is not an impediment to corporate responsibility
  • social justice and economic equity are the backbones of national and international trade
  • human needs are met within the renewable resources of the earth and human rights are not in contradiction with the rights of nature.

Resurgence's vision is one of wholeness, integrity and coherence of the earth community of which the human community is an integral part.

Even though human civilisation is threatened by grave environmental crises and global warming and many people are scared of impending catastrophe, Resurgence's vision is not driven by doom and gloom; rather it is inspired and motivated by love of nature, respect for the earth, reverence for all life and a fair deal to all people. It is underpinned by the belief that the power of love is greater than the force of fear and despair. Resurgence presents and promotes a positive perspective guided by optimism and hope.

In order to secure the future of a magazine in publication for forty years, the Resurgence Trust has been formed in the conviction that humankind is capable of rising to the challenges of our time by using its potential, its imagination and its creativity. The transforming power of the human spirit can bring about social, political and economic transformation to ensure the wellbeing of future generations.

The Resurgence Trust, in collaboration with likeminded individuals and organisations, is committed to working towards the realisation of such a vision. The need to act urgently to stem the environmental catastrophe that endangers the world is evident, but to be effective and meaningful that action must be embedded in human wisdom which can help us to live joyfully and justly within the carrying capacity of the earth.

Lorna Howarth, Emerging and converging

On 16 September 2006, an event was held to celebrate the fortieth year of Resurgence - quite a feat in the publishing world, where magazines come and go like the seasons. But Resurgence has stood the test of time because it has always been at the cutting-edge of new and radical thinking about the issues that affect our lives.

For example, in Resurgence we vouched for the importance of good school meals long before Jamie Oliver; and at our birthday celebration, the Small School project - founded by Resurgence editor Satish Kumar - provided a delicious, wholesome and locally-sourced meal for the 650 attendees, cooked and served by the students.

The Guardian has called Resurgence "the artistic and spiritual flagship of the green movement". It was heartening indeed for the event to be sponsored by so many important "green" organisations, most of which have come into existence since Resurgence was founded, and all of whom appreciate the magazine for its intellectual and creative sustenance.

Lorna Howarth is co-editor of Resurgence, trustee of the Yarner Trust, and advisor to Artists’ Project Earth

Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Soil Association, the World Wildlife Fund, the Green Party, the Centre for Alternative Technology, Oxfam and many more were represented; Garden Organic even carted in some wheelbarrows of compost - to remind us, during our philosophical pursuits, that we are utterly dependent on the thin layer of soil that connects us all.

The turnout is illustrative of the way that Resurgence galvanised the emerging "spirit of the age" from the mid-1960s, offering a platform for eminent thinkers and writers such as Leopold Kohr, EF Schumacher and Ivan Illich to inspire us to action. With Satish Kumar at the editorial helm for the past thirty-three years, the magazine has become the place where the green movement thinks aloud.

The speakers who addressed the conference all acknowledged that a great deal has been achieved in these four decades. But many critical issues remain to be addressed and solved, and Resurgence needs to be equally as challenging and radical in the next forty years.

In our anniversary issue, we publish the inspiring speech given by Annie Lennox at the birthday event. Jonathon Porritt, another speaker, admitted to having every single issue of Resurgence and acknowledged that the magazine has been an important focus in his life. George Monbiot warned us to look beyond the "greenwash" of the petrochemical corporations who are desperately trying to redefine themselves in the era of climate change.

Deepak Chopra recommended a shift of perspective. "There is no such thing as ‘the environment,'" he said; we need to stop seeing it as something "out there" and see it instead as an intrinsic part of us; that which connects us all. If we call a tree "my lungs" or a river "my circulatory system" or the atmosphere "my breath", then we would be much less likely to destroy them.

This day of celebration was ultimately about "connectivity": old friends connecting, new friendships emerging, ideas and organisations converging. We realised that our sum is stronger than our parts and that if we make alliances, and work together, another world really is possible. The words of Gandhi, who has always been a major influence on Resurgence, rang out from many quarters during the day and are a fitting summation of the magazine's ethos: "We have to be the change we want to see in the world."

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