Capitalist Patriarchy is based on the
assumption that nature is dead matter
– Beyond Colonialism and Covid, Beyond the path of extinction : Recognising that we are part of nature, Nature is Alive, Living Economies are based on the Art of Living, not the Art of Money Making
A Post Covid World needs a paradigm shift from the world view that has created Covid and the multiple, interconnected emergencies which are threatening our very survival. The mindset of separation, superiority and greed has created a threat to the very survival of our species.
This worldview of separation also engenders hierarchies and the illusion of superiority – of humans as superior to other species, men as superior to women, whites as superior to blacks and coloured people, one faith as superior to the diversity of belief systems which have nourished cultural diversity. Separation and Superiority create structures of violence – violence against nature, violence against women, violence against every “other » defined as lesser beings with the objective of colonisation.
Maria Mies and I have referred to this anti-nature, anti-women, anti-life ideology of colonising commerce as “Capitalist Patriarchy”. Women and Nature are made colonies in the dominant economic paradigm of capitalist patriarchy based convergence of two forms of violence – the power of patriarchy, and the rule of money. Capitalist Patriarchy is based on the assumption that nature is dead matter, and women are passive objects with no creativity, intelligence, autonomy, agency and subjecthood. Capitalist Patriarchy as a world view and a system of knowledge as well as organising trade and commerce has been instituted over the last few centuries, through colonialism, fossil fuel industrialism, and the rule of violence, greed, and destruction of nature and cultures. Its foundation is the mechanical mind and mechanistic world view which fuels an economy of limitless greed and extractivism.
The mechanistic reductionist world view of dead nature was constructed by Descartes and Bacon to define nature as inert matter and separate the Earth from human beings in the minds of the powerful. Bacon, who is called the Father of Modern Science, called this shift “The Masculine Birth of Time” with a deeply patriarchal concept of the project of reductionist mechanistic science. Descartes made life and sentient beings disappear. Locke justified the violent enclosures of the commons and the creation of private property as “improvement” of nature … [Vandana Shiva, Staying Alive, Penguin Random House, and Kali for Women, 1988; https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/537607/staying-alive-by-vandana-shiva / Vandana Shiva, Biopiracy, Penguin Random House;https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/539065/biopiracy-by-vandana-shiva/]
If nature is dead, there are no ecological limits and limits to extraction. Carolyn Merchant wrote in the Death of Nature, “As a conceptual framework, the mechanical order had associated with it a framework of values based on power, fully compatible with the directions taken by commercial capitalism”. [Carolyn Merchant, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution, 1980] Selfishness and greed are celebrated as natural to being human, and are universalised instead of being recognized as values cultivated and rewarded among a few privileged men by Capitalist Patriarchy.
Adam Smith’s 1776 book, « An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.” (Wealth of Nations) written soon after the East India Company established its rule over India put self interest and competition as the basis of wealth creation. Greed was made the organising principle of society and presented it as a law of nature, our very essence. [https://www.ibiblio.org/ml/libri/s/SmithA_WealthNations_p.pdf] For Smith, competition is the ‘desire that comes with us from the womb, and never leaves us, until we go into the grave.’ [JSTOR. « Does « Bettering Our Condition » Really Make Us Better Off? Adam Smith on Progress and Happiness. »] What comes from the womb is the gift of unconditional giving and care, of love and life as Genevieve Vaughn has written in “Women and the Gift Economy”, Innanna Publications and Education Enc, Toronto, Canada, 2007.
As Ronnie Lessem and Alexander Schieffer indicate, “if the fathers of capitalist theory had chosen a mother rather than a single bourgeois male as the smallest economic unit for their theoretical constructions, they would not have been able to formulate the axiom of the selfish nature of human beings in the way they did” (Ronnie Lessem/Alexander Schieffer, Integral Economies, Ashgate/Gower, Farnham, U.K, 2010).
The mechanistic reductionism fragmented nature and atomised society, with each atom competing with everyone else. While writing “Origin of Species”, Charles Darwin was influenced by Adam Smith. He reinforced Smith’s assumption of Competition and Survival of the Fittest and made it the principles of Biology and Evolution, even though humans and other species survive through cooperation and mutuality. The fragmented, atomistic view of society was imposed on complex, interconnected living organisms and ecosystems. Each individual life form was assumed to be evolving in isolation competing with all others for scarce and shrinking resources. The mechanistic view of separation and atomisation was blind to the fact that the earth and her resources are living, and humans as part of the earth have the potential to regenerate resources, create wealth cooperatively and share it equitably. The mechanistic world view ignored the interconnectedness and widespread cooperation among species for mutual support. It was blind to the capacity of human beings and communities to take care of nature, regenerate her resources and create shared abundance.
Scientists are now finding out that cooperation shapes evolution, not competition. From the molecules in a cell, to organisms, ecosystems and the planet as a whole, cooperation and mutuality are the organising principle of life.
For a Post Covid Future for all, we need a shift from the world view of Capitalist Patriarchy which celebrates greed and violence against the Earth and women to Earth Centred, Women Centred, ways of thinking and living that respect and nourish all life in its rich diversity.
Ecofeminism is a world view that recognises that humans are part of Nature, not separate from the Earth. That nature is alive, all her beings are interdependent and mutually supportive. In their interconnectedness through life, Nature and Women are Alive and Autonomous, not dead passive objects to be exploited and violated by masculine power. Powerful men are not our masters and owners. We are all part of one interconnected Earth Family. The Earth is our Mother. All beings are our relatives. All beings are sentient. All beings are sovereign while being interconnected. Oneness defines us, not separation. [Vandana Shiva, Staying Alive, Kali for Women, 1988];
[Maria Mies, Patriarchy and Capital Accumulation on a World Scale, Zed Books]; [Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, Ecofeminism, Zed Books, London, 1993; (Oneness vs 1%, Vandana Shiva and Kartikey Shiva, Chelsea Green, 2020]; [https://www.chelseagreen.com/product/oneness-vs-the-1/; https://www.navdanya.org/site/earth-university/universal-declaration-of-the-rights-of-mother-earth); https://msmagazine.com/2020/08/05/patriarchal-capitalism-and-the-systemic-violence-of-commercial-agriculture/]
To be continued