Sunday, July 10, 2011

"War on the Earth": When Men Treat the Earth Like a Woman To Be Dominated and Abused; Like Whites Treat People of Color; Like the non-Indigenous Treat the Indigenous
photo of Vandana Shiva is from here

All that follows was found at Z Communications, *here*. I welcome the day when men at Z Mag and Z Communications, and AlterNet, and all progressive white male supremacist media, identify "patriarchal abuses" and "male supremacy" as forms of war and destruction; I challenge David Barsamian specifically to do so. Consider this understanding of our global problems put forth by him:

There are multiple crises facing the planet. They're fairly obvious, and are interlinked: climate change, food, and the economic/political crisis.

What is the 'gender' of that economic and political crisis? Which gender rules the most powerfully destructive countries on Earth, internationally? Who is in charge of institutional financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank--women or men? In what ways do economic forces resemble the values and practices of male supremacist forces? Why are most of the world's poor female? Why are most of the world's females poor? We see these questions being taken on by Marilyn Waring, in her work such as If Women Counted: A New Feminist Economics, and Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth.

I also hope all pro-feminist and radical anti-racist whites pay attention to the many forces that are killing women around the world, other than patriarchal atrocity and male supremacy as privileged whites experience it. We cannot make sense of the complexities of the world with a single-issue analysis. Nor can we effectively organise against them with a single-issue agenda; this doesn't mean making women less than front and center in the sphere of concern; it does mean listening to women everywhere, not just the most privileged ones, when figuring out how best to resist and rebel. See the work of Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, such as in Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples' Resistance to Globalization

War on the Earth
David Barsamian interviews Vandana Shiva

By David Barsamian

June 2011

Vandana Shiva provides an international voice for sustainable
development and social justice. She's a physicist, scholar, social
activist, and feminist. She is director of the Research Foundation for
Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy in New Delhi and a
recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel Prize.
She is the author of many books, including Water Wars, Earth
Democracy, and Soil Not Oil.

BARSAMIAN: On receiving the Sydney Peace Prize in November 2010, you
said, "When we think of wars in our times, our minds turn to Iraq and
Afghanistan, but the bigger war is the ongoing war against the Earth.
This war has its roots in an economy which fails to respect ecological
and ethical limits." Tell me more about this war.

SHIVA: This war is being fought, for example, in India across the
country, wherever there are minerals, which happens to be where there
are forests, which happens to be where tribals live. And it's fueled
by the very investor-speculators who brought down the world economy.
Huge money is to be made out of iron ore and bauxite mining. And then
to push consumption, to use more and more of these nonrenewable

India until 20 years ago never had landfills. But our laws are now
saying they want us to move from 1 kilogram of aluminum use to 15
kilograms per capita of use. Fifteen kilograms multiplied by a billion
Indians means that every mountain will have to be mined, every forest
will have to be destroyed. This generates war against nature because
it devastates ecosystems. But it's also a war against people, because
every human right must be violated, and a war economy, in a real
sense, has to be created.

You say that the war against the Earth begins in the mind. How does
that happen?

The moment you take an Earth in which systems are mutually supporting,
in which forest systems create the weather systems and create the
water systems, where the soil gives us the food—a reductionist,
mechanistic worldview chops up that interconnected nature. That
chopping up, reductionism, is the beginning of the war in the mind.

And this "eco-imperialism," as you call it, has its roots—are we
talking a couple of hundred years now?

All of this was a synergy between colonialism, a conquest of the
South, and defining the people of the South as if we weren't fully
human. A conquest of nature through redefining nature as dead, inert,
manipulable matter. And it was a conquest over the feminine aspect of
every society. The witch hunts were part of it in America and in
Europe because what was being hunted was not women who were witches,
but holistic knowledge and expertise by women. This triple
colonization is really only a few hundred years old, and it has
reached its limits. But those who gain from it, whether its power or
its money would like to push that limit a little longer by
commodifying every aspect of nature.

There are multiple crises facing the planet. They're fairly obvious,
and are interlinked: climate change, food, and the economic/political

The interconnections have actually just intensified in the last two
years. We see the financial crisis that created the unraveling of the
economy. Ordinary, hard-working people are paying the price, sometimes
with their lives.

The financial crisis, then, is linked to the energy crisis, because a
fossil fuel-driven economy can only carry on its path of growth by
converting the living earth into oil rather than finding an
alternative economy based on nonrenewables, and they would like to
take renewables and turn them into nonrenewables. The biofuel grab is
part of it. And that biofuel grab is leading to the land grab in
Africa. All of this is also creating the climate-induced catastrophes,
which are then feeding back into food insecurity. So 2010 saw forest
fires in Russia, floods in Pakistan, flooding and then cyclones in
Australia—after about six years of an intensive drought.

Meantime, that same financial gambling game is speculating on food as
a commodity, driving up food prices, which is a big issue in Indian
politics. Recently, nine opposition parties came together to fight the
price rise. We are tied up in these interconnections of a vicious
cycle, where each crisis feeds the other crisis. And bio-imperialists,
who want to use the planet's resources for their own gain and
extension of their power, now use the crisis they have created to say,
"Okay, let's grab Africa. Let's grab the farmlands of India. Let's
grab the last mineral. Let's commodify every bit of food and grain on
this planet," never answering the question, "What happens to 80
percent of humanity?"

The UN's Food and Agricultural Organization said food prices in 2010
were the highest in history.

In 2008 there was a spike in food prices and 2010 has gone beyond that
because 2010 has been a combination of real scarcity due to climate
catastrophes, along with the artificial scarcity created by
speculation. And when you have two forces driving prices upwards, and
they are structural, that is why any government who says, "Oh, next
month the weather will be fine" or "the harvest will come," is not
realizing two things. One, industrial globalized agriculture as well
as other fossil-fuel-driven systems have given us climate chaos. It's
not a future issue, it's not a future debate of what will happen in
100 years. People are dying today. The second thing they don't realize
is politicians still try and respond to these crises as if they're
living in isolated nation states, when they themselves have signed a
WTO agreement interlinking the global food system, which means a
problem in one part of the world gets transmitted to the rest of the
world—whether it be a speculation or climate damage.

You mentioned Australia—drought, floods, cyclones. Is extreme weather
an anomaly or is it part of a pattern we're going to see more of?

Climate chaos, as I call it, is a pattern. That's why I am reluctant
to use the words "global warming," in which case you get one snowstorm
and the climate skeptics say, "Oh, this is global cooling? Didn't we
tell you?" As if all the time the temperature will be rising
everywhere rather than what the climate scientists say, average
temperatures across the planet are rising. The second is, when you
talk "climate change," you get other climate skeptics saying, "Oh, we
just adapt to it. And Swedish beaches will become like the tropics, so
isn't that wonderful?" Or "England will get warmer and will now grow
grapes and will become wine country." That kind of stupidity does not
take into account that the same England also gets a snowstorm and gets
stalled for two weeks because they are not a heavy snow country and
have none of the equipment to clean up Heathrow airport.

A large number of Americans seriously doubt there is such a thing as
global warming and climate change. You've studied the issue, you're a
scientist. Is the science solid?

There are reasons why we have to take climate science seriously. It's
not just one or two scientists or single discipline. The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, is a
multidisciplinary group of 2,500 scientists. Never in the history of
humanity have 2,500 scientists, trained in different aspects of the
environment, resources, the planet, the climate, the atmosphere, put
together their collective expertise from 1988 onwards.

Every ecosystem with an additional burden will have a different
behavior. A river with too much pollution becomes a dead river. An
atmosphere with too much pollution will start having different
patterns, too much snow where there should be no snow, and no rain
where there should be rain. All of this unpredictability needs to be
seen as a phenomenon that people are living through.

Mining issues are key in India. There is the Niyamgiri Mountain issue
in Orissa in eastern India. You've been there. Talk about that and why
it is significant and the push-back and resistance from the people.

They talk of something called the India story. And the India story is
a high-growth story built on the outsourcing of software, creating
Silicon Valleys in Bangalore. But the untold part of the India story
is the outsourcing of pollution and resource extraction. So while most
aluminum and steel manufacturing has shut down in Europe, the U.S.,
and Japan, the consumption of all of these items is being pushed even
further with everything that makes this global economy run. Aluminum
is vital to it. Bauxite is the raw material for aluminum.

Vedanta, a UK-based company owned by an Indian, wanted to mine a
mountain called Niyamgiri, which means the mountain that upholds the
sacred law. Niyam means the law of the universe and giri means
mountain. The most ancient tribes of the Dongria Kondh have been
living on this mountain since the beginning of their own memory.
They've resisted the bauxite mining. In spite of it, Vedanta managed
to set up a refining plant and a smelter in the valley and further
downstream. Because of the protests, they were never able to get to
the bauxite, even though the courts and the Ministry of Environment
were manipulated.

The interesting thing is there is another plant in Orissa which is
called Posco. It is a Korean steel plant, but our research shows it's
actually owned by Wall Street. The majority of shares are owned by
Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase. The World Bank forced the privatization
of this plant in the Southeast Asia financial crisis. They want 4,000
acres of the coast with a captive port and parkland. Then, of course,
they want mines. Most of the iron ore they mine will go straight out
to Korea and China. Some will be processed in an export zone, also for

Tell me how rivers can be sold.

Both aluminum and steel making are highly energy-intensive and
resource-intensive processes. They are extremely water-intensive
processes. Entire rivers are being rerouted for steel and aluminum
making. The River Shivnath in Chhattisgarh is flowing through tribal
areas. We use our rivers to go down and wash our clothes, to bathe.
Our buffalos and our cows go to the river. The river recharges all of
the groundwater around it. The River Shivnath, 22 kilometers of it was
privatized, to bring water to Jindal's steel plant. In order to
privatize it, people could not access the river water, they could not
access the groundwater in their own fields and wells.

It's very much like the privatization of water in Bolivia where, when
Bechtel faced resistance, they said, "You can't have this water on
your roof, you can't take water in your well." And the Bolivian people
said, "So you now own the rain and you own the groundwater?" That's
what the people of Chhattisgarh said. That project had to be
cancelled. This was a direct legal transfer of a river to a private

De facto privatization is happening everywhere. When you look at
Vedanta, their aluminum factory has totally rerouted the Indravati
River that flows southward, moved it northward, had it dropped into a
river called Hati Tel River to then service this huge aluminum
smelter. The Tatas, when they expanded their Jamshedpur factory, put
dams on two tributaries of Suvernarekha River, and that was 100
percent water for Jamshedpur. We fought the privatization of Delhi
water, which was going to bring water up into the Himalaya from the
Tehri Dam, and Suez was going to then sell it at 10 times the normal
price that we pay for water. So whether it's for a city or a steel
plant, an aluminum plant, they're such thirsty projects that they have
to steal water from people and from nature.

But this other story of the emerging economy, the giant with 9 percent
growth, is a joint construction of the Indian elite and the global
elite. The global elite, of course, spun the globalization story. The
global elite need the success of the model of globalization, of free
trade, of corporate-driven economies. They have to constantly sell

They first tried to sell it through the Southeast Asian countries. You
remember there was a period when the East Asian tigers and the dragons
were the poster children of globalization. In 1997 that collapsed. The
West was its own poster child. After 2008 that collapsed. So if that
fake story of globalization and corporate control has to continue,
they've got to have some poster child. And they're hanging desperately
to the India of today, with its rising billionaires, but constantly
more and more impoverished people. We have some of the richest people
in the world today: the Ambani brothers, the Mittals, and Anil Agarwal
sitting in England. They are using the India story as a subcomponent
of the globalization story.

But nobody tells the story that this has pushed half of Indian
children to severe malnutrition, that every fourth Indian is today
hungry. That the land wars are being fought between the poor, who want
to defend their quarter-acre land, against the richest of these
people, who are engaged in a big land grab.

You also talk about agriculture and militarized language.

The Copenhagen Treaty agreement on climate change should have brought
us to the next level of legally binding agreements to bring down
emissions because the Kyoto Protocol period was running out, climate
catastrophes were getting worse, and something needed to be done.
Instead, President Obama came, bullied four other countries—the so-
called rising powers of China, India, South Africa, Brazil—and signed
this Copenhagen Accord, which is a non-accord in terms of legally
binding commitments.

The world is waiting for another paradigm, another worldview, another
way of centering our lives. The West needs it because their economies
are collapsing. The South needs it to prevent their economies from
being totally wiped out, because I believe it's cultures that define
their rights through the Earth that have the strongest struggle even
for their own rights. I've seen it with every land movement.

Is there a connection between capitalism and environmental

There is a very intimate connection with the rise of capitalism and
the plunder of nature, because capitalism located wealth in capital,
which is just a construct. It's in human imagination. And it gave
power to those who owned capital to then start owning the resources of
the Earth. The privatization of rivers, the privatization and
patenting of seeds (the basis of my work in Navdanya) the
privatization of the atmosphere for emissions trading, all of these
privatizations are defending the rights of capital and allowing
capital to expand its control, because capital is an abstract.

Given the urgency, it seems to me individuals are limited in what they
can do and that collective action is required.

Individuals acting consciously as members of society and collectives
is what we need. The two things we need that everyone can do are,
first, a shift in the mind. If these wars are wars in the mind, then
the place to make peace is in the mind, peace with nature and peace
with each other. Creating living economies, a movement we've tried to
build through Navdanya here, local living economies, but a movement
that's very strong in the U.S., is something people can start engaging
in today. If they don't, they will have nowhere to turn to. Our
calculations show that even though global corporations have the power
to reach the last resource, they only have the power to generate
employment for 3 percent of humanity. You can't have a system where
100 percent of resources are owned by probably 15 to 20 corporations,
and 3 percent are hired for them to do the stealing of the planetary
wealth. So you need to have other ways for people to look after

You cannot do that individually. You can begin the shift in your mind,
but framing other economies and framing other ways of structuring
society has to be a collective enterprise, because what was killed by
the privatization of the economy was a very collective identity, the
identity that we are interconnected. And Margaret Thatcher saying,
"There is no society, there is only individuals," is part of that
market individualism of atomizing us, making us lonely, isolating, and
telling us we have nowhere to turn.

Just like Evo Morales removed the censorship on the rights of Mother
Earth, India is a civilization based on the recognition of the Earth
as a living system, as our living support, and peace with the Earth as
our duty.

This ancient prayer has always been my inspiration. It is from the
Bhoomi Sutra of the Athara Veda. And it says:

May there be peace with space and the skies,

Peace with the atmosphere,

Peace with the waters.

May there be peace with the earth.

May there be peace with the herbs, the plants, the trees.

May all the divine beings pervade peace.

May the peace that pervades all creation

Be with you.