Friday, November 12, 2010

"Time to End War Against The Earth", a speech delivered by Dr. Vandana Shiva on the Occasion of Her Receiving Sydney's Peace Prize, 3 November 2010

image is from here

News of Dr. Vandana Shiva being the recipient of the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize is contained in this post as is an edited version of the speech she delivered there.

It all seems so terribly, terribly obvious, doesn't it? I mean what part of what is excerpted here is incomprehensible. It's not written in language that is elitist and inaccessible, confusingly post-modern, or remotely academic. It's pretty straight-forward, no? So why don't those allegedly intelligent male leaders around the world get this:

Will we obey the market laws of corporate greed or Gaia's laws for maintenance of the earth's ecosystems and the diversity of its beings?
People's need for food and water can be met only if nature's capacity to provide food and water is protected. Dead soils and dead rivers cannot give food and water. -- Dr. Vandana Shiva

There are some women, many, many women across Asia, who President Obama and the G8 leaders need to sit down and listen to, shutting up their own yaps, staying silent, in a posture of listening and receptivity until the rightness and obviousness of what she's saying soaks through their corruption-protecting layers of delusion, denial, or dominance-hunger. Did President Obama make time to meet with any of the women who might offer him a new paradigm, worldview, set of values, to privilege above the ones he's been playing out in policies both domestic and international? Will the G8 leaders meet with women who are fighting for human and environmental rights and responsibilities, for economic and sexual rights and responsibilities?

I wish the male leaders, most of 'em white and wealthy, would sit down, shut up, and listen. More than that, I wish their minds were capable of truly hearing what women activists around the world, who are neither neoLiberal or neoConservative (yes, there are other points of view on everything), are saying about what needs to stop happening, and what needs to start happening ASAP.

The Earth is in a state of emergency that it will recover from, in its own time. But for now the emergency will be experienced by the human and non-human animals, especially the vulnerable. Those human cultures on Earth that have lived here the longest are being threatened with genocide, extinction, mass death. What part of this reality registers in the minds of those shaped most by the Global North, the Global West, the non-Indigenous-post-industrial societies and cultures? How can it be that non-Indigenous people will learn of this, or already know about it, and think only: "Oh, well"? The male supremacist mind--denied as such by those who most embody it--is shaped and supported by habituated and compulsive actions called by those who know best: "sexist" and "misogynistic".

The sexism and misogyny is not only habit and compulsion, however. It is also consciously and strategically planned. I wonder what it will take to break through the layers of inhumane thinking and feeling, systems and institutions, created and controlled by het-identified men. How do we end these men's homosocially supported and politically sponsored actions designed to dominate and control women? How do we oppose and stop their flagrant disregard for half the planet's human population impacted by poverty, the terror of rape, hunger for food, clean water, and compassionate, empathic men? As Andrea Dworkin stated, if women fighting sexism and misogyny didn't believe men were human, the political practice of resistance to patriarchal atrocity would look very different than it has for forty years. There'd be more gunfire and a lot less talking. Those of us who call ourselves feminist and profeminist, in my experience, believe that men can be humane, if they want to be and learn how to be. The question is this: do they?

From, and other places online. Please click on the title to link back to The Age. And read on for more about Dr. Shiva being awarded the 2010 Peace Prize in Sydney.

Time to end war against the earth

Vandana Shiva
November 4, 2010

When we think of wars in our times, our minds turn to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bigger war is the war against the planet. This war has its roots in an economy that fails to respect ecological and ethical limits - limits to inequality, limits to injustice, limits to greed and economic concentration.

A handful of corporations and of powerful countries seeks to control the earth's resources and transform the planet into a supermarket in which everything is for sale. They want to sell our water, genes, cells, organs, knowledge, cultures and future.

The continuing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and onwards are not only about "blood for oil". As they unfold, we will see that they are about blood for food, blood for genes and biodiversity and blood for water.

The war mentality underlying military-industrial agriculture is evident from the names of Monsanto's herbicides - ''Round-Up'', ''Machete'', ''Lasso''. American Home Products, which has merged with Monsanto, gives its herbicides similarly aggressive names, including ''Pentagon'' and ''Squadron''.This is the language of war. Sustainability is based on peace with the earth.

The war against the earth begins in the mind. Violent thoughts shape violent actions. Violent categories construct violent tools. And nowhere is this more vivid than in the metaphors and methods on which industrial, agricultural and food production is based. Factories that produced poisons and explosives to kill people during wars were transformed into factories producing agri-chemicals after the wars.

The year 1984 woke me up to the fact that something was terribly wrong with the way food was produced. With the violence in Punjab and the disaster in Bhopal, agriculture looked like war. That is when I wrote The Violence of the Green Revolution and why I started Navdanya as a movement for an agriculture free of poisons and toxics.

Pesticides, which started as war chemicals, have failed to control pests. Genetic engineering was supposed to provide an alternative to toxic chemicals. Instead, it has led to increased use of pesticides and herbicides and unleashed a war against farmers.

The high-cost feeds and high-cost chemicals are trapping farmers in debt - and the debt trap is pushing farmers to suicide. According to official data, more than 200,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997.

Making peace with the earth was always an ethical and ecological imperative. It has now become a survival imperative for our species.

Violence to the soil, to biodiversity, to water, to atmosphere, to farms and farmers produces a warlike food system that is unable to feed people. One billion people are hungry. Two billion suffer food-related diseases - obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cancers.

There are three levels of violence involved in non-sustainable development. The first is the violence against the earth, which is expressed as the ecological crisis. The second is the violence against people, which is expressed as poverty, destitution and displacement. The third is the violence of war and conflict, as the powerful reach for the resources that lie in other communities and countries for their limitless appetites.

When every aspect of life is commercialised, living becomes more costly, and people are poor, even if they earn more than a dollar a day. On the other hand, people can be affluent in material terms, even without the money economy, if they have access to land, their soils are fertile, their rivers flow clean, their cultures are rich and carry traditions of producing beautiful homes and clothing and delicious food, and there is social cohesion, solidarity and spirit of community.

The elevation of the domain of the market, and money as man-made capital, to the position of the highest organising principle for societies and the only measure of our well-being has led to the undermining of the processes that maintain and sustain life in nature and society.

The richer we get, the poorer we become ecologically and culturally. The growth of affluence, measured in money, is leading to a growth in poverty at the material, cultural, ecological and spiritual levels.

The real currency of life is life itself and this view raises questions: how do we look at ourselves in this world? What are humans for? And are we merely a money-making and resource-guzzling machine? Or do we have a higher purpose, a higher end?

I believe that ''earth democracy'' enables us to envision and create living democracies based on the intrinsic worth of all species, all peoples, all cultures - a just and equal sharing of this earth's vital resources, and sharing the decisions about the use of the earth's resources.

Earth democracy protects the ecological processes that maintain life and the fundamental human rights that are the basis of the right to life, including the right to water, food, health, education, jobs and livelihoods.

We have to make a choice. Will we obey the market laws of corporate greed or Gaia's laws for maintenance of the earth's ecosystems and the diversity of its beings?

People's need for food and water can be met only if nature's capacity to provide food and water is protected. Dead soils and dead rivers cannot give food and water.

Defending the rights of Mother Earth is therefore the most important human rights and social justice struggle. It is the broadest peace movement of our times.

Dr Vandana Shiva is an Indian physicist, environmentalist and recipient of the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize. This is an edited version of her speech at the Sydney Opera House last night. 

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Please also see this:

"Time to End War Against The Earth" says one of Gaia's most outspoken advocates for the rights of small farming communities.

"Time To End War Against The Earth" - says Vandana Shiva, winner of 2010 Sydney Peace Prize

What follows next is from *here* at The Gaia Foundation's website.

Vandana Shiva has been recognised for her work on the empowerment of women in developing countries, her advocacy of the human rights of small farming communities, and her scientific analysis of environmental sustainability. She was presented with the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize on 4th November.

Vandana is a long-term Gaia Associate, founder of the Navdanya movement and the Bija Vidyapeeth learning centre in India.

Sydney Peace Foundation director, Professor Stuart Rees, said Dr Shiva was an inspiring recipient of the award. "Many communities are threatened by the consequences of global warming, yet in Australia the movement to address this issue has gone to sleep," he said. "Vandana's presence in Sydney in November should wake them up."

Other distinguished recipients of Australia's only international prize for peace have included previous Nobel recipients Professor Muhammad Yunus, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Aboriginal leader Patrick Dodson.

Mary Kostakidis, chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation, said governments around the world sought Dr Shiva's counsel on issues of sustainable development. "Vandana Shiva's work highlights the fundamental connection between human rights and the protection of the environment," Ms Kostakidis said. "She offers solutions to some of the most critical problems posed by the effects of globalisation and climate change on the poorest and most populous nations."

Click here for "Time to End War Against The Earth", the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture delivered by Vandana Shiva at the Sydney Opera House, 3rd November 2010.

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Amna said...

Three questions on your intro:

What is "homosocially"? I am not sure if you have provided the meaning in your glossary.

Which Andrea Dworkin speech do you refer to, do you have a quote in regards to the movement not looking violent?

What is the difference between feminist and pro-feminist? Again, you may have explained that in your glossary, so you can just direct me to that.

Julian Real said...

Hi Amna,

1. Homosocial. In this case, it's not a term I made up! Here's a link with a definition.

It is used among my feminist friends to refer to "male bonding that isn't gay". Het male bonding rituals, such as team sports, going to sporting events, shooting animals, drinking beer, watching sports on TV, talking about cars, talking in vile and disgustingly pornographic ways about women they've been sexual with or hope to be sexual with, etc.

2. The Andrea Dworkin speech is online and is called "I Want A 24 Truce During Which There is No Rape" and the passage is here:

"You can't have equality or tenderness or intimacy as long as there is rape, because rape means terror. It means that part of the population lives in a state of terror and pretends--to please and pacify you--that it doesn't. So there is no honesty. How can there be? Can you imagine what it is like to live as a woman day in and day out with the threat of rape? Or what it is like to live with the reality? I want to see you use those legendary bodies and that legendary strength and that legendary courage and the tenderness that you say you have in behalf of women; and that means against the rapists, against the pimps, and against the pornographers. It means something more than a personal renunciation. It means a systematic, political, active, public attack. And there has been very little of that.

I came here today because I don't believe that rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is."

3. The difference on this blog between feminist and profeminist is this: feminists are women; profeminists are men.

There's no sure rule about it. Some men call themselves feminist. Some women prefer men call themselves profeminist. So, as I'm not female or a woman, I choose to respect the women who prefer that non-women call themselves profeminist.

If you have questions or thoughts about that, I welcome you to post them to an earlier blog post's comments section. Here is the link:

Amna said...

I was using the word homoerotic to explain these social behaviours, especially because I find that there is something different about the amount of bounding that human males have. Other mammalian males fight each other and expend their violence towards each other... not the female.
Of course, I'm talking about HET behaviour.
Gang rape seems like something very unique to humans. It is predatorial, although men have forgotten the instinct of hunting for food.
Discussing sex, instead of competing with each other for sex, is homoerotic bonding (for lack of a better term, it is something covert and not homosexual in that the men are looking after each other's sexuality rather than acutally loving each other's bodies or persons in a romantic way.) This can be actual bisexual behaviour especially in instances of war, where men have historically slept with each other for their common goal of war and pillaging.

Julian Real said...

Hi Amna,

I'm going to make this into a separate post, as it falls outside the posted discussion.

But I'm glad you're raising these issues.

So, please feel free to comment more in the new 18 or 19 Dec 2010 post about this issue of homosocial/homoerotic behavior and bonding.