Strongly related to the way of lifeof indigenous communities and fundamentally indivisible from the holisticconcept of Mother Earth called Pacha, these cosmo-visions are based on various principles like a non-linearperception of time, the concepts of contradiction and complementarity and thesearch for a global balance.
A powerful indigenous movement wasinitiated by the end of the 20th century, particularly by the creation of strong grassroots organizations andvarious nonviolent actions such as giant protest marches to defend the rightsof indigenous peoples and mother earth. They fought, among others, for theright to land, the free exploitation of natural resources, self-determination,cultural recognition or the establishment of a participatory political system.
These strife happened in a contextdominated by neoliberal policies and the failure of socialism in the 1990s.These instances, by integrating the concept of Buen Vivir as ideological andpolitical basis, have institutionalizedthe rights of the autochthonous populations and the mother earth, wich isgreat progress. Unfortunately, the policies implemented by governments haveonly partially allowed the application of these laws and, while significantlyimproving the condition of the indigenous populations, have not allowed a deepand lasting structural reform.
The expansion of this concept raisesanother problem which is that of the instrumentalization and the loss of valueswhich results from it. Indeed, it is feared that the use of the concept of BuenVivir, emptied of its essence, for political purposes in particular, is afactor hindering the sincere expansion and the preservation of thiscosmo-vision.
A holistic worldconception
Although fundamentally diversebecause of its intimate relation totraditions, histories, territories and specific cultures of each community, the Buen Vivir sharessome conceptual bases that constitute a commonfundament. Buen Vivir conceives the universe as a great whole. This unityof the universe is expressed in particular by the indivisible quality of thisone, by the interconnection whichbinds each of the elements which composes it.
Humans are thusentirely connected with the nature, rivers, mountains, the lamas, to the music,etc. Another philosophical aspect is the non-linearity of time. According to theAndean conception, time is circularand unfolds as a spiral, which means that in the future there is necessarilyalso the past. Everything that comes to be, has already been.
In this context the linear progress and the ideaof unlimiteddevelopment and growth does not exist. In any part of progress there is apart of regression. Taking a step forward is also taking a step backwards.Another element of the conceptual construction of Buen Vivir is its contradictory aspect.All things have its opposite, there is nohappiness without sadness, life without death, etc. Life moves and istransformed by these contradictions. To these contradictions is added theprinciple of complementarity whichmakes it possible to create balance.
Every single thing has a place, arole, a complementary action with other elements within the universe, and it’s this balance,fundamental, universal and harmonious, that must be sought by Humanity. Thehuman being must find its complementary place in the universe.
IsBuen Vivir possible beyond the indigenous communities?
The lifestyles that flow from thesecosmovisions cannot simply be transposed into today’s globalized society, orinto any other society ultimatly. Indeed, being deeply linked to thehistorical, cultural and territorial contexts of Andean indigenous communities,Buen Vivir has been unable to provide concrete or ideological answers tovarious challenges of our "modern" societies, such as the end ofpatriarchy or the definition of the role of the state. Incapable because theyare far removed from these concepts and these contemporary problems.
Making Buen Vivir possible outsideindigenous communities would most likely involve rethinking our relationship tothe world as a whole, rethinking interactions among people and thenature, reconsidering our relationships to "others" through the eyeof the Pacha that unites us all.
These well-beings would happen inour societies, at a global level, by the awareness of our impact in the world around usand the responsibilities incumbent to us, to work to drastically change our national andinternational policies in terms of respect for nature, human beings, cultures,etc. In the end, it is this question of respect that allows us at an individuallevel to aproach the Buen Vivir, this respect that we owe to all that surround us and who ultimately is not foreign to us. Thesearch for harmony can only be achieved with the commitment and respect of each for everyone’s well-being.
I would say that there are as manywell-beings as there are societies. Well-being is also found in our quotidian,it shares and depends on a personal way of our traditions, histories andterritories. The Andean Buen Vivir must be fedby other well-beings, progress and struggles around the world and also fedon other initiatives and conceptions. It is not a question of creating a greatsyncretism and to impose it on a global level, but to complement eachwell-being, each way of life. To protect the cultures, foundations andtraditions and to fill in their gaps and weaknesses by building a globalwell-being context, infinitely multiple and diverse like our Humanity.