Voilà des décennies que la scientifique et philosophe indienne Vandana Shiva s’insurge et agit contre de puissants leviers globalisés de l’agrochimique et de l’agroalimentaire, en s’opposant également aux fondements du « capitalisme patriarcal ». Cette activiste – qui jouit d’une grande notoriété – s’évertue ainsi à insuffler des alternatives traditionnelles qui soient respectueuses de l’intégrité même de la terre et de ses capacités à se régénérer. Nous avons engagé une conversation avec Vandana Shiva, la sollicitant en sa qualité d’écoféministe à faire part d’une synthèse de quelques-uns de ses travaux qui déconstruisent des schémas socioéconomiques et phallocratiques, dont ceux de l’extrême-droite. Dans le cadre de la Journée internationale des Droits des Femmes en ce 8 mars 2021, et aux antipodes des argumentaires de salon, la récipiendaire en 1993 du prix Nobel alternatif a transmis à la page Forum du Mauricien ses analyses et morceaux choisis à l’intention des citoyennes et citoyens de la République de Maurice.
[Dhiren Moonesamy – pour Forum]
BEYOND COLONIALISM AND COVID :
Seeding an Earth Centric, Women Centred Future Justice and Well Being for all (Part I)
By DR VANDANA SHIVA
An existential crisis with multiple emergencies
The multiple crises and pandemics we face today – the health pandemic, the hunger pandemic, the poverty pandemic, the climate emergency, the extinction emergency, the emergency of injustice, exclusion and inequality, dispossession and disposability of large numbers of humanity – are all rooted in a world view of conquest and mastery over nature, separation from nature, and reduction of other beings, including most human beings, to objects that can be manipulated and exploited for profits and control by a very small minority of men whom I metaphorically refer to as the 1%.
Climate Change is a result of disrupting the ecological and nutrition cycles of life and the biodiversity of species that maintain the living planet and the infrastructure of life.
1 million species are threatened with extinction, with 200 going extinct every day. The present path humanity is on is clearly non sustainable because it is destroying life on Earth.
Non sustainability and multiple emergencies which are destroying the very infrastructure of life are emerging as a threat of extinction to the very survival of the human species. Humans too are a threatened species.
The multiple emergencies are not separate. They are interconnected. And they have the same roots. Their solutions are also interconnected. The emergencies that threaten the very future of our species cannot be addressed by the same mindset that created them.
However, even though the crises are interconnected, each crisis is treated as unrelated to others. There is a focus on symptoms, not the deeper root causes.
As Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” We need a new way of thinking and living so humans and other species can continue to live and thrive. To sow the seeds of our future as a species, we need to turn to those who have been colonised – nature, women and indigenous cultures.
The illusion of mastery over nature
Ecological emergencies are Interconnected: They are rooted in the world view of Some Humans as Separate from nature, as Masters and Owners and Conquerors.
The emergencies we face are interconnected, and are rooted in the denial of the fact that we are part of nature, not separate from her, not her masters, owners and conquerors. The earth is living, her species and ecosystems are alive, have integrity and rights. Violation of ecological limits and ecological integrity is at the root of multiple emergencies humanity faces.
The illusion of mastery over nature was born with colonialism and the conquest of the land of diverse non European Cultures by the European Empires. Diverse cultures and peoples were declared as “inferior” to the colonising powers. The violence of colonialism was justified as the “civilising mission” based on the construct of white superiority. Our wealth was taken, we were reduced to slaves and indentured labour to work on mines and plantations for creating wealth for the Empire. We were RESET by colonialism, for the power and profits of colonising powers.
When the British East India Company began its de facto rule of India in the mid-1700s, it enclosed our land and forests, our food and water, even our salt from the sea. Over the course of 200 years, the British extracted an estimated $45 trillion from India through the colonial enclosures of our agrarian economies, pushing tens of millions of peasants into famine and starvation.
Our freedom movement, from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, was in fact a movement for reclaiming our lives and freedom . When the British established a salt monopoly through the salt laws in 1930, making it illegal for Indians to make salt, Gandhi started the Salt Satyagraha—the civil disobedience movement against the salt laws. He walked to the sea with thousands of people and harvested the salt from the sea, saying: Nature gives it for free; we need it for our survival; we will continue to make salt; we will not obey your laws.
While colonisation began with the land, in our times, enclosures have expanded to cover life forms and biodiversity, our shared knowledge, and even relationships. In our times, our seeds and biodiversity, our information, our health and education, our energy, society and community, and the Earth herself are being reduced to new colonies. With the rise of AI and digital technologies, our bodies and minds are being reduced to raw material for mining data.
“Intellectual property rights”
The chemical industry is enclosing the commons of our seeds and biodiversity through “intellectual property rights.” Led by Monsanto (now Bayer) in the 1980s, our biodiversity was declared “raw material” for the biotechnology industry to create “intellectual property”— to own our seeds through patents, and to collect rents and royalties from the peasants who maintained the seed commons.
Reclaiming the commons of our seeds has been my life’s work since 1987. Inspired by Gandhi, we started the Navdanya movement with a Seed Satyagraha. We declared : “Our seeds, our biodiversity, our indigenous knowledge is our common heritage. We receive our seeds from nature and our ancestors. We have a duty to save and share them, and hand them over to future generations in their richness, integrity, and diversity. Therefore we have a duty to disobey any law that makes it illegal for us to save and share our seeds.”
The health emergency that the corona virus is waking us up to is connected to the emergency of extinction and disappearance of species, and it is connected to the climate emergency. All emergencies are rooted in a mechanistic, militaristic, anthropocentric world view of humans as separate from, and superior to other beings who we can own, manipulate and control. It is also rooted in an economic model based on the illusion of limitless growth and limitless greed which systematically violates planetary boundaries and ecosystem and species integrity.
Covid is a symptom, to go beyond Covid we need to look at root causes.
2020 was the year of Covid and neither the pandemic nor the lockdown is over. Covid is a symptom of an anti life, anti nature world view based on separation, extraction, domination, violence against nature and women, and disrespect for their life, integrity, freedom and sovereignty. The Cartesian world view that has dominated our thinking denies that nature is alive. It divides and separates that which is connected. It is blind to interconnectedness and root causes.
Decolonisation of our minds
A UNEP report has pointed out, the world is treating symptoms, not the Cause of Pandemics.
Over the past 30 years, 300 new pathogens have emerged as we destroy the habitat of species and manipulate them for profits.
Ebola, avian influenza (or bird flu), H1N1 flu virus (or swine flu), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Rift Valley fever, Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), West Nile virus, HIV, the Zika virus – and now, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 – have all been caused by invading into forest ecosystems, violating species and ecosystem integrity.
Prof Delia Grace, lead author of the report by the UNEP has said : “There has been so much response to COVID-19 but much of it has treated it as a medical challenge or an economic shock. But its origins are in the environment, food systems and animal health. It is a lot like having somebody sick and treating only the symptoms, and not treating the underlying cause. Governments must address the destruction of the natural world to prevent future pandemics”. [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/06/coronavirus-world-treating-symptoms-not-cause-pandemics-un-report] and [https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/coronaviruses-are-they-here-stay]
“New diseases are being created because a globalized, industrialised, inefficient food and agriculture model is invading into the ecological habitat of other species and manipulating animals and plants with no respect for their integrity and their health. The illusion of the earth and her beings as raw material to be exploited for profits is creating one world connected through disease.”
As forests are invaded and destroyed, as our farms become industrial monocultures to produce toxic, nutritionally empty commodities, and our diets become degraded through industrial processing with synthetic chemicals and genetic engineering in labs, we are connected through disease.
“We can be linked worldwide through the spread of disease like the corona virus when we invade the homes of other species, manipulate plants and animals for commercial profits and greed, and spread monocultures.
Or we can be connected through health and well being for all by protecting diversity of ecosystems and protecting the biodiversity, integrity, self organization (autopoieisis) of all living beings, including humans.”
To sow the seeds of a post Covid future, beyond sickness and disease, beyond separation and violence, beyond inequality and indifference, towards oneness, interconnectedness, non violence, love and compassion, health and well being for all decolonisation of our minds, our lives, our cultures is an imperative.
Resetting the planet and humanity for new Empires based on the old colonising paradigms of knowledge and economy will deepen and accelerate the crisis.
To be continued