Killing the Natives: The Ecology of Systematic Extinction

As Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega summarized, it seems the USA was “isolated” — a regular persona non grata — at the Summit of the Americas this week in Columbia.  Nor were our military and Secret Service ‘dicks’ very good sports themselves at the Pley Club there in Cartagena.  It seems they wanted a reduction in the bill for services rendered. But that is not the only country in the Americas where the now globalized and increasingly rapacious tendencies of a dis-integrating Western curriculum are unwelcome.

A single superhighway built from Sao Paulo to Brasilia deprives an entire rain forest of its autonomy; [the beasts] killed or driven off and the natives coerced into compliance. The fact is, there remains little wilderness anywhere that does not have its resources scheduled on somebody’s industrial or real estate agenda… (Roszak, Wasteland, 16)

It was 1972 when Theodore Roszak wrote those words in his scathing critique of modern industrial society, Where the Wasteland Ends. He wrote this for a generation that was charged with overturning the applecart, halting the chaos, stopping the beast in its tracks.  It was my generation; but I never fully understood the call back then.  It is now forty years later and Roszak’s observations and prophetic words continue to ring true, finding validation after ugly validation. Now, for a larger part of humanity it has become a race against the illusion of time, driven by the self-propagating demands of an industrial civilization gone wild, and its underlying logic – the Curriculum of the West.

I do not know if we should call this is a foot race, a tractor-pull, or a Formula One Grand-Prix event.  But what I do know is that this race to the end of the world – the one fixated on profits, progress, and predomination – is coldly, callously, and ravenously taking down every ecological niche, all biodiversity, and every alternative culture in its path.  One of the more recent tragedies of this race is a small indigenous tribe occupying a humble but lush piece of rain forest along the banks of the Tabasara River in Panama – the Ngabe tribe. Glenn Elis, a filmmaker for Al Jazeera news, tells the story of this Central American people trying to save a small parcel of pristine nature, their home, in the face of new dam construction and a hydroelectric project that will serve principally to enrich wealthy Panamanian politicians and industrialists.

Here the Ngabe have carved out a little piece of paradise for themselves, and I saw at once why they are fighting so hard to protect it. There is an open air school where children are taught in the Ngabe language, which is vital if their unique culture is to survive. And I enjoyed a continuous stream of hospitality as we talked into the early hours under a night sky unblemished by light pollution.
The following morning Ricardo[my host] gave us a guided tour of the village, explaining the close bond between his people and nature. I was taken a short distance to the riverbank where a little girl showed us a colony of Tabasara Rain Frogs, one of the rarest species in the world, which are found nowhere else on the planet. If the government has its way, all this will be flooded and the frogs will disappear.
Yet a few miles downstream from Kia, the massive construction site of Barro Blanco [dam and hydroelectric facilities] is an ugly blot on the landscape. As the enormous dam takes shape, armed guards patrol the perimeter to keep the villagers away. When the dam is complete the village of Kia will be lost.
From Kia I travelled northwest to visit Ngabe villagers who had already lost their community. They had been made homeless by another hydroelectric project last year, when the mighty Changuinola River was dammed. Here I met Carolina. Her house had been built on higher ground than those of her neighbours in the village of Guiyaboa, but it was still not high enough. The village now lies deep underwater and all that can be seen is the roof of Carolina’s house, jutting out of the water like some incongruous monument. She told me that she and countless others had received no compensation for loss of their land, crops or housing.
I traveled on through Chiriqui province, the scene of the crackdown, and met and interviewed survivors and the relatives of those who had been killed by the police. I found it hard to understand why they had died. All the Ngabe had been asking for was an opportunity to talk to the government – a concession that the authorities had to make in the end anyway. It is not surprising that, away from the glitzy skyscrapers of the capital, a terrible sense of injustice and resentment is simmering below the surface.
Back in Panama City, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, the country’s powerful minister of government, agreed to meet me and explain the government’s side. He admitted that things could have been handled better at Changuinola, but insisted that during the recent crackdowns the police had behaved very professionally. He was keen to underline the importance of hydroelectric energy for Panama’s booming economy and then stated categorically that nothing would be allowed to stop the Barro Blanco project going ahead.
“There’s one thing that I have to make clear,” he said. “We’re not going to cancel Barro Blanco. The Barro Blanco project is under construction and it will continue.” As I listened I thought of Ricardo and the other villagers whose future was being decided by the minister and his friends.
By now news had got around that a filmmaker from Al Jazeera was in the country and someone discreetly passed me a lengthy document detailing the government’s future hydroelectric plans. It was an eye-opener. The sheer number of the projects is startling; if they all go ahead they will surely produce far more electricity than Panama will ever need, no matter how dynamic or fast growing its economy. Which begs the obvious question: What will they do with all this power?
Alongside each project listed were the names of the company directors involved – a roll call of Panama’s wealthiest families. It was not difficult to put two and two together. Electricity is a commodity like anything else and if there is spare capacity it can be sold to energy-hungry consumers in neighbouring countries. Someone, it seemed, was going to get very rich. Unsurprisingly, that document has never been made public.1

Such stories are not new, but they seem to surface now with far greater frequency, as indigenous tribes or villages that have already been pushed to their limits desperately struggle for survival. Certainly, there have been centuries, even millennia of invasion, exploitation, and destruction of indigenous lands and peoples throughout the world.  From Australia and New Guinea to Siberia, Africa, and the Americas, the heedless and blood-filled march of this warped civilization (even in its pre-industrial phase) has picked up its pace as essential natural resources continue to be depleted or poisoned. Yet, it is not only indigenous human communities that have suffered at the hands of colonizers, contractors, capitalists, and captains of industry alike; it is the sensitive ecosystems and biodiversity of the planet that suffers as well, impacting all life on earth. The bioregions which are home to native Americans, Australian aborigines, New Guinea Highlanders, and tribal peoples  around the globe have experienced the heavy hand of our civilized and civilizing armies, our rapacious entrepreneurial businessmen, as well as other merchants of death, including our own imperialist settlers. Yet, we dare to call those indigenous populations the barbarians.

Look at the Khanty people of the northern Siberian taiga located in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District of the Russian Federation. Originally persecuted under Stalin’s regime during the nineteen-thirties, this nomadic people’s very survival was again threatened in the earlier part of this century by large Russian corporations like LukOil, backed-up by federal legislative mandates. Oil exploitation on Khanty land subsequently polluted their forests and lakes, killed the reindeer herds and scared off other local game. The Khanty were forced to relocate to ‘National Villages,’ away from their sacred ancestral hunting grounds, becoming dependent upon the Federal administration and the very companies that exploited them. Not unlike the forced dislocations of Stalin’s regime. Yet, in fact, we have to look no further than what our settlers, governments, and armies did to the American Indian populations over the course of five hundred years.

Stories like these are repeated from the Ecuadorian rain forests to the Niger Delta, from tribal villages in West Papua, New Guinea, to the Dongria Kondh of Eastern India, and the Yanomami of Brazil.

This is happening in Russia, Canada, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mongolia, Nigeria, the Amazon, all over Latin America, Papua New Guinea and Africa. It is global… A battle is taking place for natural resources everywhere. Much of the world’s natural capital – oil, gas, timber, minerals – lies on or beneath lands occupied by indigenous people,” says Tauli-Corpus. 2

It is an all-out war for resources, and in large measure, nations and oligarchs are taking aim at lands still occupied by indigenous tribes that have already been pushed to the margins. This is exemplified, closer to home, in the Koch (brothers) Industries’ theft of oil on Native American lands in the 1980’s and 90’s, where we may see the uglier complexion of this rapacious beast. And such activities are only accelerating globally.  We understand, of course, that such acceleration is a direct response to the rapid depletion of essential resources (e.g., oil, water, land) brought on by this culture’s unrelenting march of destruction, consumption and exploitation – a march only supercharged by industrialization and capitalism, the shining stars of the Western Curriculum.

The saddest part of this forced extinction event is that these very peoples — tribes whose ancestors survived over so many centuries and millennia — would still stand the greatest chance of survival after our civilization collapses, if we only allowed them the breathing space to live now.  But, our political and business leaders are seeing to it that nothing living survives the unfolding holocaust as they themselves flail about recklessly in a rapidly vanishing environment — and most especially, not the natives.

62 Responses to Killing the Natives: The Ecology of Systematic Extinction

  1. xraymike79 says:

    So sad. We, the ‘the civilized’ and ‘modern’, live in such a fake and empty world. We chase dollars to buy ipods and digital entertainment and spend most of our time in cubicles without windows to the natural world. How much time do we spend cut off from the outside world? According to this E.P.A report, Americans spend 87% of their time in enclosed buildings and 6% in enclosed vehicles
    How is that for being disconnected from reality? This self-entombment is born out by the neoclassical economic blind-spot of not acknowledging the fact that our economy is embedded in the environment. As goes the environment, so goes us. We are creating our own death chambers.

    • kulturcritic says:

      God, do I hate social scientific reports; but I do so love the conclusions you draw from it, Xray. We are self-entombed; and it is a death chamber. While the civilization deserves to die; the earth and its uncivilized inhabitants don’t; there may also be some regenerates (Calvinist language) who deserve to live as well. sandy

      • relentless says:

        “Regenerates.” 🙂 Yes, reductionist-statistical science. Here’s the way i view such science: Those scientists, so-called (far, far removed from the natural [sic] sciences), take a beautiful flower, they then dismember it, pulling the petals off, then all the remains are torn apart, placed under a microscope, or in solution, or broken down into nano-parts…why? To, yes, understand. But what have they understood for they cannot put that amazing flower back together again. They will never stop meddling (what was that line from that poet so distrusted by the reductionists…about our meddling intellects…damn, it escapes me?) until the meddling eliminates us all. There’s another clue to yet another ‘solution.’ The clues are all around. Try walking barefoot and naked again, metaphorically besides physically. The flowers need us.

  2. mikesosebee says:

    Thank-you Sandy for posting that. I sometimes wonder if the people who drive the machine understand that it will eventually kill their children as well.

    • kulturcritic says:

      mikesosebee – you are welcome. I think they believe that a technological solution to all problems is achievable; and they do not care if the environment is increasingly artificial. That is only a suspicion of mine. what do you think? sandy

      • xraymike79 says:

        “Increasingly artificial”… like projecting dead Pop Culture figures on stage for continued worship and consumption by the masses.

        “We’re beginning to live in a world where it’s extremely difficult for people to determine what is real from what is not real,” Ryan Calo, the director for privacy and robotics at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, observes in an interview with Yahoo!.
        …On the flip-side, maybe reality becomes irrelevant. In Japan, one of the biggest pop stars is computer-generated.

  3. marlena13 says:

    Sandy, I feel that the destroyers really do not consider that their actions will also destroy them. They think that, like the NICE in C.S. Lewis’s “That Hideous Strength” that the natural world itself is the pollution, and they will not stop until its all artificial. We certainly see that they don’t care…fracking. mountain top removal, dams, entrie ecopsystems, Frankenfoods… And one’s ethnic group won’t save you either. For decades in the West “white” people have been pushed off the land that their familys have had for centuries, just so some souless corporation can wring a few more pennies of profit from the land.
    I recall seeing the lines for the latest Itoy rollout, and the reporter asked one giddy child why she had been it the line for days…even though she had several “older” Itoys. “Cause I just gotta be first, y’know” When asked why herface went blank and she said ” Cause I just gotta!!”
    Teh uber rich sociopaths squat on mountains of cash and use it to destroy. A good case for a 90% top tax rate, at least the governments will DO something with that cash…sighs

    • relentless says:

      Yes, marlena, they do see (though they are blind) the World itself as the pollution, but they require assistance from all of us to survive, to destroy. Cease purchasing their destructions and they will perish as a viable force of evisceration. That requires all of us, all of the so-called feel greenies, all of us. There are solutions. i’ll add to this shortly. Thank you.

      • relentless says:

        Sandy: Thank YOU! Major kudos. Truth in corresponding: i was extremely upset with the drift of some of the posters last blog, those “seeking [further] understanding” and basically taking the fatalist ‘there are no solutions available’ position. i actually handwrote 6+ pages in response, especially when one or another took umbrage with your one small offered solution at the end of your post. i too have offered a few tidbits re: solutions (i.e., living and doing between the scripted frames of the destroyers), and there ARE solutions ye of little faith, they reside in your minds. Why oh why keep seeking ever further understandings when YOUR Earth and mine are being eviscerated before your eyes? For while you delay via the excuse of seeking some kind of infinite understanding this beautiful planet is dying. Go forth, yon fatalists, create magnificent, exquisite beauty as a counter to the madness in whatever creative fashions your hearts and minds can offer. Find YOUR understanding and solutions there, for they are one and the same. There, that’s another way, creative overload! There are infinite means to overcome this insanity, and they exist at your mind’s disposal. Don’t allow this most amazing World to be overtaken with one specie’s hubris. Love you all, r (Amo, ergo sum)

        • kulturcritic says:

          Relentless – The solutions are, admittedly small and local; there is no BIG FIX that can now work to overcome the momentum of the beast and its many tentacles. But, certainly, those small, creative fixes are possible. The question that remains is how quickly will this super nova of civilization burn itself out, and how much of the planet and life there on will remain for those who still live. I, too, exist because I love! sandy

          • relentless says:

            Perhaps another small (?) means of soluting instead of saluting them: Create that new, wondrous language, rearrange their lies and confusions, that contamination of them instead of allowing them to further contaminate us. Is it us vs. them? Hmm…on some level, yes, but damn, it’s deeper than that, and so much simpler. “Read between their lies.” J. L. Hudson or maybe, Live and Thrive between their lies, or…

        • Brutus says:

          Well, relentless, since you’re calling me out (without naming me), I’ll respond. You’re undoubtedly right to be extremely upset with me, so don’t take this response as argument that “I’m right and you’re wrong.” It’s more likely that I’m trapped and you’re not. So I’m really only adding to the discussion, not trying to win an argument.

          Sandy’s extremely upsetting post reminds us that stories of the machinations of industrial civilization tell again and again how the natural world is being ground up and served back to us, leading to the eventual, inevitable, Malthusian point of no return. Two interesting perspectives on this come to mind: Dave Pollard on Giving Up On Environmentalism and Derrick Jensen on being Beyond Hope. Both writers point, like Sandy does, to the futility of struggling against the tide, and for that matter, even the sense of despair at its slow, erosive work. You challenge me to take action, but I wonder what can be the point? It should be obvious that I do, in fact, live between the scripted frames and am creative in my heart and mind while simultaneously recognizing and witnessing the destruction of our planet. If I haven’t leapt into the abyss, it’s only because I chosen life in defiance of my existential angst (as recommended by so many philosophers of that stripe). However, my personal integrity pretty much requires a fatalist perspective.

          I’ve often longed for things foreclosed to me: faith, hope, the bliss of ignorance, power, and perhaps foremost, Orwellian doublethink. I’d sleep better and have more enjoyment. However, I’m unable to change very much about my relationship with the reality we’ve fashioned for ourselves, and living with myself has meant accepting my frailties and powerlessness, not striving to overcome this insanity, which behavior is part of the power complex that habitually and mindlessly destroys. Rather, what creativity I possess flows toward beauty, however fleeting, and the tiny trickle of love flowing from my otherwise dry heart.

          • kulturcritic says:

            Come on, Brutus, your heart is not dry, and the love that flows out is alot more than a trickle. Stop kidding yourself. And we are all in the same existential condition you presently inhabit. We all are stuck to some degree with the world they have fashioned for us; and yet, we live as best we can “between the frames” (Wow!! what a great expression we have fallen upon!!). Each of us, in our own way has fashioned a solution to the personal challenge of civilization and our discontent (Freud not withstanding.) Anyway, I am glad relentless did call you out… after all, it forced a reply; and I (like others here) so much enjoy the sound of your voice. Just keep on, keeping on, my friend. In love, sandy

    • kulturcritic says:

      The little girl’s reply seems classic in the American environment. And, it is the marketing and the hype that puts this silly craving there. And it cannot be quelled. And the system we have created has no respect for nature, as you pointed out. But, I fear the legislator(s) are no less to blame than the corporations, along with the churches and those who supply the steady stream of propaganda. It is frustrating, and they will keep doing until the doing is done.

  4. To put it simply, human beings just aren’t mature enough to handle their own power. As a species we have given permission to the worst of the worst to take the reigns of society and blaze a warpath with that chariot of hell…

    Some say we need some kind of ‘revolution’ to bring about awareness of our connection with the pre-existing world, the natural world – as well as our responsibility to each other.

    But I beg to differ. I do not think a revolution can or will be successful because the foundations for our understanding why we got into our predicament aren’t there. After all, when was the last time a structurally deficient building was not first demolished before it was built again with better plans?

    The fundamental problem we have as a species is fear of ‘authority’ – which is generally backed up by threats of violence. Maybe its because we are hard wired to fear threats –a reptilian survival mechanism – that we have let the violent criminals boss us around since the dawn of Mafia Man (civilized man), but its going to take a giant middle finger for us to throw them off – by walking away and saying ‘never again.’ I believe after we have a civilization breakdown, that then we have a chance for a breakthrough, or at least something sane.

    I just hope the nuclear holocaust that may result from the unattended nuclear plants we have all around the world doesn’t doom our progeny for millennia…

    • kulturcritic says:

      VL – There was a myth propagated by the legislators and historians at the dawn of civilization stating that “all men were created equally evil and needed to be controlled less they spoil it for everyone else.” This myth arose out of a soupy concoction of religion, scientism, and legalism, a mixture born with urbanization — the complement to big agriculture and animal domestication. In other words, it was a matter of expanding control without limits — first the land, than the beasts of burden and then they came for us… humans. So, we don’t fear authority now; as a matter of fact, Homo civis is most afraid of the lack of authority… we cling to it like a babe to its mother’s tit. sandy

  5. javacat says:

    Sandy, I am grateful for the truth of your writing even as the stories sadden me beyond words. We are in a unique position of knowing: through technology, we are able to see the places and people threatened. Through history and experience, we know what the most likely outcome will be. Despite protests by native peoples, despite international outcry–even though digital–the dam in Panama will be built. More forest will be cut. More people displaced, languages, cultures and understanding lost.

    The phrase “we are self-entombed” resonates deeply. Having spent the last few days in the various containers of trains, buses and subways, I find that sense of entombment is palpable, especially as one emerges above-ground and once again into daylight. In complete contrast is my experience in the rainforests of Ecuador–where there, too, native peoples have fought to have the multinational companies held accountable for the destruction, contamination of their rivers, and ruin of their forests. Never was I in a place more unfamiliar yet more intimate and alive. Never before had I been with people who moved with total awareness and connection–that reciprocity of which Abram speaks so well.

    With the disconnect that EPA report that X-ray Mike shared comes the belief, the perspective of Nature as other. With this remove from the outdoors, we become avoidant. The outdoors is uncomfortable, unfamiliar, frightening–again the other that we must keep at a distance, avoid, control, destroy. More and more, we have forgotten how to enter into that place of quiet stillness that allows us to listen and to understand.

    I’m curious that you chose the word ecology as part of this week’s title. The relationships of system destruction? As you know, ecology comes from the Greek ‘oikos’ for house. As a student studying ecology, I never took this to mean a structure, but rather the place where we live. Whatever one thinks of science–it has done much damage and much good–I think the intent of the early ecologists–naturalists–was to return to the understanding we had lost or forgotten along the way. They recognized the delicate complexity of interconnectedness and that changes, interruptions echo through entire systems.

    We have become a system of acquisition and accomplishment–both of which bank on an unknown future for security and renown. Both the seeker and the sought become fixed and essentially die because there is no life energy. As Berger writes: “We live within a spectacle of empty clothes and unworn masks…And the system’s mythology requires only the not-yet-real, the virtual, the next purchase. This produces in the spectator, not, as claimed, a sense of freedom (the so-called freedom of choice) but a profound isolation.” (The Shape of a Pocket, p. 12).

    Somehow, from this sense of profound isolation–self-created or culturally created as it is–stems so many of our strivings, our fears, and our destruction.

    • kulturcritic says:

      And you are so right, JC; fear of the other, and fear for lack of authority to control the other (human or non-human nature);this fear is wrought by the anonymity, alienation and isolation born of urban life and institutional hierarchy.

      • jseidling says:

        If we stop living in nature is it not inevitable that we will stop caring about it? I certainly agree that the “othering” of nature facilitates the path of relentless destruction we’ve embarked on, however that notion embodies us with a certain agency which I think many have given up. So few people actually know nature, instead they know ‘nature’ (I think this can be attributed to problems of urban life and institutional hierarchy which you note). Beyond the idea of ‘othering’ there is a prevailing ignorance of nature, willful or otherwise. If you’ve never been overwhelmed / awed / inspired by nature it becomes much easier to rape for the minerals to your iPad, immediately a positive feedback loop is created. Destroy the environment so that you can furnish a lifestyle that drives you even further from nature. Before long we’ve become technological somnambulists (Langdon Winner), marching in corporate order to an unsuspecting demise.

        • javacat says:

          I agree with your point about knowing ‘nature’–a defined, bounded, outside-over-there, separate part of the world that is away from ‘us’ as humans. That notion creates an ‘objective viewing’ if you will, that ensures that we always remain outside of ‘nature’ rather than participate as a being in nature. We do need direct contact, and sometimes overwhelming experiences to let us yield to the connection that is already there.

        • relentless says:

          js: ‘Nature’ (with or without the ‘ ‘s) is, for me (and Shepard and others) another human construct, for to even think nature is to not be a part of it. It isn’t ‘out there,’ it’s you, me, everything, no separation. Maybe to “actually know nature” is to confirm that we don’t. i’m trying to not think about it, with dreams of just accepting its magic, and yes, power, and breathe it all in, but then, ‘it’ wouldn’t be what it actually is, would it? [OK, cart me off to the asylum…though i’ve been living in the actual one for 64 years, this insane culture. Would the asylum within the asylum be closer to reality’s ‘nature’?] But words just continue to get in my way. Time to plant ancient turnips and spinach.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Could not agree more, jseidling!! sandy

      • javacat says:

        And perhaps, too, a fear of accepting ourselves as we are–an encultured anchor, for sure. Along with the fear–or perhaps because of it–we’ve lost the the capacity for deep respect and gratitude. To live in fear–at whatever level we feel threatened–takes tremendous energy to support and maintain. We limit the powerful generative force we contain as living beings, and live bounded. Paraphrasing here: we create each moment we breathe. A side thought: Our own perceived acts of risk, rebellion, of breaking the rules matters less for its direct external effect (which may be none) than for its inner liberation.

        • Rade says:

          The lack of respect and gratitude, I would even say reverence, for the world around us (including other humans) is one of the sources (or symptoms?) of the problem. Reductionism has reduced us from members (in the full sense of parts of a whole) of our natural human communities, clans, and families, into atomized “individuals”, beholden to no one and with no limits to their desires and appetites save what they can get their hands on to consume. It is a deep paradox, that an industrial civilization, which treats the resources of the earth as essentially limitless, should create a culture where individuals compete amongst themselves as if there was only so much to go around. Instead of gratitude, there is only dissatisfaction. Instead of respect there is only the cold appraisal of the auctioneer. Instead of reverence there is only the tyranny of the scientific desire to know everything, so that everything can be controlled.

          • kulturcritic says:

            Rade, Wonderful articulation of some profound insights.

            • xraymike79 says:

              I love what Rade said, especially:

              It is a deep paradox, that an industrial civilization, which treats the resources of the earth as essentially limitless, should create a culture where individuals compete amongst themselves as if there was only so much to go around.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Ourselves as other… self-estranged, lost.

  6. ziran says:

    If I can maybe point to a little pinprick silver lining, at least some of the ‘civilized’ are getting with the program:

    Daniel Suelo lives in caves in the canyonlands of Utah. He survives by harvesting wild foods and eating roadkill.

    He has no job, no bank account and does not accept government welfare. In fact, Suelo has no money at all.

    Suelo may have shunned all the trappings of modern American life, but he is not an isolationist.

    Since abandoning money in 2000, the former cook from Moab, Utah has remained an active member of his community and avid blogger.
    Video c/o BBC
    Suelo’s Website

  7. cpopblog says:

    Ziran, deeply inspiring story. Though, I concur with the many existential concerns commented here of anthropic destruction, I am reminded by the philosophy and work of James Lovelock. If the Earth is a self-regulating organism, and humans evolved within this organism, changing it and being changed by it (as has occurred over our short existence) then a profound insight is upon us: whatever we do to the planet, the planet is doing to itself. It may really suck to be present for the Earth’s latest growing pains but I find it refreshing to sit back in wonder, realizing that we never have and never will have the capacity beyond that which is allowed to us by creation. I do not believe in God, but I do believe in Gaia. The most important illusion we must overcome perhaps is the sense that we are separate, that we are a custodial or exploitative “other” when in fact we are simply “one.” Suelo proves this illusion can be cast away immediately. Equilibrium is innate to human consciousness, however distracted and confused that consciousness seems at present. Equilibrium will no doubt be difficult, as we may have to watch the entire forest burn before new seedlings can sprout. While we are losing much and we mourn these losses, a new and emergent indigenous culture is also upon us. “Make these ashes to nourish and blossom” ~ Walt Whitman

    • relentless says:

      “I find it refeshing to sit back in wonder, realizing that we never have and never will have the capacity beyond that which is allowed to us by creation…I do believe in Gaia.” Yes, how can being a small part of something understand the Whole? Such as m fana’s outrageous thought: “Genius legitimizes civilization’s insanity.” So how does my buddy Beethoven fit into this one? Don’t know, i’m too small, though i love Lovelock’s theory…works for my passions.

      • relentless says:

        Sandy: i just have to thank you for all the effort and your passions for keeping your blog afloat amid the turmoil of modernity. This particular post condenses perfectly those who see the World as their own personal ownership and slave. And, since we ARE part of this Whole World, it’s only ‘obvious’ to them that we too are to be owned and enslaved. This is how such sick minds apparently work, or, actually don’t. To me they are not evolution, nor even devolution. Isn’t it far simpler than that? They don’t belong here at all. Where do they belong? Or don’t they belong anywhere? Like vanaspatis (Lords of the Forest), they exist every moment of every second fabricating this strange reality outside the authentic as Lords of Everything, but they are, ultimately nothing even though they are completely out of equilibrium (thanks for the word cpop) with the Whole, their disequilibrium will be their undoing. Hey, one can still dream.

        • kulturcritic says:

          It is the case that civilization is in disequilibrium, a hierarchically stratified set of institutions; while most all pre-civilized, kinship based, egalitarian tribes were equilibrium societies.

          • relentless says:

            Certainly. And just who did begin the disequilibrium, was/were such disconnected soul(s) even vaguely aware of what they were embarking upon? Did one human construct its beginning or was it more than one, and which of the human others accepted his/her hubris. Could it all have ended there, the heirarchy, by simply saying “No way brother!” Seed germination must begin somewhere. Yes, i’ve read much of the theories, unfortunately i wasn’t there to say: “i do not need your permission to exist bro’! i recognize no human master(s).” So, why weren’t WE there to wield the mightly righteous club? 😉 Just…imagining, with a bit of fantasizing tossed into the frenzy of all that has now become so out-of-kilter due to that first disequalibriized (?) being. Best to ya, r

    • Frank Kling says:

      Are you serious that, “Whatever we do to the planet, the planet is doing to itself?” No, are you familiar with malignant tumors? We are the tumor destroying the living organism, Earth.

      • cpopblog says:

        Absolutely, though I know it seems far off the mark. You cannot deny that a malignant tumor, however harmful, originates from natural processes. So it may be that the sixth extinction was brought on by such a homo malignant tumorous, but all things break down in entropy whether it be cells or planets. Though we exercise the power to destroy, making little cancer spots (we call cities) across the biome, we also harbor a unique consciousness, which I argue is also the consciousness of Gaia and is often used in its defense (hence this humble reply).

        • Frank Kling says:

          I prefer this explanation from The Matrix: Agent Smith: “I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.”

          • kulturcritic says:

            And, perhaps, like all cancers, it results from the inordinate growth of some specific “cells” of the organism… so the question is: what were those “cells” that grew beyond what was necessary, overtaking the entire organism and its environment? and in what did that mutation consist?

  8. javacat says:

    Again, Berger, speaking of the Zapatistas in 1994:

    “Neoliberalism, this doctrine that makes it possible for stupidity and cynicism to govern in diverse parts of the earth, does not allow for inclusion other than that of the subjection to genocide. ‘Die as a social group, as a culture, and above all, as a resistance. Then you can be a part of modernity,’ say the great capitalists, from the seats of government, to the indigenous campesinos.These indigenous people irritate the modernising logic of neomercantalism…The anachronism of their existence within a project of globalisation, an economic and political project that will decide that the poor people, all the people in opposition, which is to say, the majority of the population, are obstacles.”

  9. kulturcritic says:

    In answer to my question in the second paragraph of the post, I guess this is indeed a Formula One, Grand Prix…

  10. Frank Kling says:

    I spend a great deal of time in Colombia and can personally testify that it’s all about making as much money as possible as quickly as possible before what’s left of the wilderness is gone forever. The palm oil companies are buying up Amazonia and the mining companies are saturating the El Choco department. These final frontiers will be history in 10 years or less. Be damned the magnificent flora and fauna. If they can’t make it into a zoo or botanical garden too damn bad.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Frank – I am certain your reflections on the goings on in Colombia are accurate from all that I have seen and read. The forests are being trashed and the rivers killed in order to provide the elite of the world more wealth.

  11. Martin says:

    Not to ‘dumb-down’ a highly philosophical discussion, but a metaphor (of sorts), if you will:

    “We are the Borg. Resistance is Futile. You will be assimilated. We are the Borg…”

  12. troglodyte says:

    Human beings lived peacefully on this planet for a million years in small forager bands. The defining characteristic of these cultures included egalitarian social relationships, minimal role differentiation, and individual autonomy in the context of a communal setting. The structure of culture hinged on cooperation not competition.
    These peoples did not work in our sense of the word. In fact, the concept of work remained foreign to them. They lived in a world of abundance beyond our imagination. In modern terms, making a living, probably required only 2 to 4 hours a day.
    They dined on a rich, varied, and nutritious larder. They enjoyed a general level of fitness and health beyond our present standard. No cancer, no heart diease, no diabetes, no diseases of obesity, no stress related disorders blighted their lives.
    The effectively treated the infectious diseases that occured (mostly prevalent in us as a consequence of crowding) with botanicals and energy work. Most people lived very long very healthy lives, chose the time of their passing, and transitioned in ways that brought them out of the world as easily as they came in.
    The acuity of their highly differentiated sensoriums and their powerful memories (short and long term) gave their lives a richness of texture and depth mostly unknown among us. They lived in a luminous present nested in the cycles of nature. When your experience of self includes a living memory of a 50,000 year ancestory (some current indigenous people) the eternal becomes intimate.
    These people did not own the land the land owned them. They did not possess things or each other. Use value did not dominate their consiousness. Violence (assults and rapes) and theft rarely if ever occured. Without a concept of land ownership or personal possession few of our pretexts for strife and dissension existed.
    They did not war against their animal neighbors, rather they felt awe and reverence for a world replete with living kin. They made superb adaptations to local environments. They lived on the planet as if it provided their home.
    They tolerated and enjoyed individual differences. Their sexual relations embraced celibacy, monogamy, serial mongogamy and polyamory. They did not consider homosexual behavior a moral failing or a spiritual defect. The end of a pair bond did not provoke soul wrenching trauma or harm the children. They universally acknowledged good humor, generosity, and supportiveness as traits of mature individuals.
    Imagine being welcomed into the world by a self sufficent group of emotionally robust people who greeted your arrival with celebration and joy, people with the means and intent to support your full developement as a person, over what ever time period that required, including your physical needs, security needs, and needs for belonging. Imagine people who supported the natural evolution of individuals from centered in self infants to rooted in group, world, and cosmos adults. These cultures inhabited the world of the spirit as they inhabited the physical world without the division that cripples our own stingy purview.
    They embraced their own lives telling jokes, telling storys, chatting, laughing, dancing, singing, making music, feasting, gambling for fun, playing games, enjoying sex, lounging about, sleeping beholding to none. They lived intimately, viscerally, and passionately.
    Their cultures became their monuments. A testimony to the truth of the human. They left one profound and simple message, repeated over and over for millennia. The earth wasn’t made for the humans. The humans were made for the earth.
    The conditions for human life on earth include the ability to evolve cultures that respect the gifts and limitations bequeathed upon us by our biological evolution as a species. Our intrinsic nature persists, social and cooperative. We thrive in small groups. Our grasping hands, upright posture, bipedal locomotion, desire for novelty (curiosity), and convoluted cerebral cortex make us superb generalists and highly adaptable. What we require for the optimum does not cause alarm or engender shame.

    Most of us can hardly imagine our loss. The obscenity we call by the name civiliztion inverts the natural order for healthy humans. History is a recent invention and an instrument of oppression, doomed by internal contradictions. Our culture is Uruboros and will not last. Our children will inherit a wasteland. We consider the mind wrenching perversity of our present condition and call it progress. We barter our desperate lives for a surcease of truth. We hear our own screams echoing back. We call these screams mental illness, criminality, war, poverty.
    Diagnosis other.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Trog… I find little to disagree with in your excellent dissertation, above. And you are correct we are the Uruboros consuming our own tail. Soon we will complete the meal… and leave that wasteland, as you suggest. But, Roszak’s question remains; will we find anything…”where the wasteland ends?”

    • cpopblog says:

      Troglodyte, excellent evocation, you put Thomas Moore to shame, I wish I had just been given your meaty statement to chew on in undergrad instead. Perhaps a little too idyllic? Was it not living “peacefully on this planet for a million years in small forager bands” that we developed our ubiquitous illusions of duality and fear, from staring into darkness where predators howled the preterite fear into us where it remains today? Why did we ever leave this place? Is it so we can go back, perhaps this time replacing fear with wisdom? Though, for us “the civilized” there is no going back, perhaps we are given the penultimate chapter of human history, to ‘carry the fire’. A wasteland? “…make rituals of the air, and breathe upon them..” -The Road

  13. Kenuck says:

    I have lived it…your verge..accept it.

  14. This is an eye-opening post, and part of me agrees with your pessimism. I didn’t know about the indigenous peoples of Panama, or Siberia. I did hear Arundhati Roy speak about the jungle dwellers of India being wiped out for the mineral deposits under their land. My only knowledge of those people came from the Walt Disney cartoon, the Jungle Book, with the song that is my personal ballad of life “The Bare Necessities”.
    But some of us are fighting back. We may lose, but I refuse to simply cede the planet to the biosphere-murdering psychopathic corporate monsters. And, as the beginning of this movie ( points out, they want us to think that we are alone. And we’re not.
    Quixotic though it may be, I’m running for Congress on a Save The Planet platform. That is how I am fighting back.

  15. I don’t consider it an act of complicity. I consider it an act of rebellion, of throwing my body against the machine that is grinding our biosphere into commodities, with Congressional help. As I pointed out in my statement, it is great to support local co-ops, local organic farmers, and workers cooperative ventures, but, in the meantime, the Monsantos and Cargills and Bechtels are being fed billions of dollars to survive and destroy. I do support local initiatives, but someone has to stop the monsters, in order for the small beings to survive. I’ve linked to your post on my Facebook page. Information must be shared for any change to come.

  16. kulturcritic says:

    I just want everyone to see how fucking stupid this capitalist world has become, at even the lowest economic level.

    • javacat says:

      Sandy, the scale and level of destruction is astounding. I’d never heard of this method of mining before; even by my knowledge, this method seems incredible wasteful, harmful, and inefficient for their goal of lots of gold. Mercury will persist in the soils, settle to the bottoms of the stream, bioaccumulate as it makes its way up the food chain. The oils, the hydrocabons will persist. My foolish question is how is this permitted? Have we created an ongoing “No Exit” for so many people?

      • kulturcritic says:

        JC – It is incredible that such practices would be engaged in or allowed. Yet, we – our lifestyle – has created a mindset that sees one thing only, money. Without it, there is no individual survival. We have effectively raised the value of wealth above every other concern. sandy

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