community: literature review: Staying Alive


Vandana Shiva’s Staying Alive examines the effects of humanity falling away from what she calls the “Feminine Principle” meaning the principals of an integrated, sustainable lifestyle and ecology. She argues that patriarchal and capitalist world-views has forcibly imposed poverty on the feminine, nature-based world in the name of “development.”

You can buy the book here.

Shiva argues the value of and the vital need for a traditional, nature-based life-style. She points out how patriarchal, capitalist, industrialized societies measure success by modern science developments. She points out that this method of assessment has nothing to do with conserving and reproducing life. In reality, these “developmental” modes of living that idolize progress are based on excessive waste and the destruction of ecosystems and natural resources.


To give an example of how she illustrates this, Shiva describes the use of a U.S./European cow versus an Indian cow. A cow in the United States will eat 6 pounds of food for every 1 pound of meat it produces (food waste!). In addition to eating a lot, this American almost never helps plow fields or transport goods. In contrast, the Indian cow is respected, is fed the inedible waste of a crop, fertilizes that same crop with its manure, and provides labor, milk, and meat to a household. Patriarchal, capitalist systems forget that the earth provides for us and does not integrate nature into their food production process. Instead, food industries like the American food industry have found ways to violently rob the earth of what she would have given us willingly and abundantly. For this reason, Shiva argues, we embrace the Feminine Principal of ecology.

Essentially, Shiva makes a very moving argument for us to return to a way of living that values the creation and diversity of life over destruction for profit. She argues for life that flows in circles. Life that gives back and regenerates.


Buy the book here.


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