On Land and Development
Fri May 18 10:45:47 2007
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nation,
19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe.
Message given on September 15, 2001:
Starvation, war and toxic waste have been the hallmark of the Great Myth of Progress and Development that ruled the last millennium. To us, as caretakers of the heart of Mother Earth, falls the responsibility of turning back the powers of destruction. We have come to a time and place of great urgency. The fate of future generations rests in our hands. We must understand the two ways we are free to follow, as we choose - the positive way or the negative way, the spiritual way or the material way. It's our own choice -- each of ours and all of ours.
Any way of life which consumes and uses the earth, instead of living with earth as part of all creation, is a destructive way of life. The advanced mass consumer societies are overconsumers, who must continuously plunder and destroy earth to sustain their way of life. What is called overpopulation is really a call for extermination of competing consumers. Millions every year are being exterminated, who die because of hunger, pollution, displacement, and other distress, mostly from preventable or curable diseases, because they don't have enough money.
The European way of life, that is our means and patterns of production and consumption, communication and trade, our techniques and technologies, social, economic, judicial and political organization, institutions, sciences and arts, our ethics and values as shown in our actions.
With the mindset of a people who see themselves as superior and entitled to dominate, we colonizers built our societies upon the suffering of other peoples and destruction of their lives. Our societies have been developed under the prerogative to achieve, justify and secure continued domination of other peoples.
An order, built upon and through mass extermination, ruthless exploitation, plunder and theft, spreading impoverishment and organizing scarcities, that is a violent order based on oppression and repression, corruption and fear. Which dispossesses and deprives peoples of the basic means of survival, the land and water. Which pollutes and contaminates the natural elements without any need. Which makes masses of beggars, thieves and prostitutes, people selling their organs and even children, forcing many to accept horrible living and working conditions. Because survival and health have been made dependent upon the ability to get enough money. That is an order which needs to be dissolved.
There is a major misunderstanding even among those, who are honestly committed to fight against colonization, and for self-determination of peoples, that they continue to believe in industrial development and progress. Along with the idea that science and techology are somehow in their essence neutral, and could be used for the betterment of conditions for all.
The foundation of industrialization is the dispossession, subjugation, domination, and extermination of other peoples. And it continues to be inseparable. It was colonization and the transatlantic slave trade which made industrialization possible. It is the world markets, international law and politics, which provide the core instruments and institutions of continued hegemony and theft. The hegemony secured and enforced by intense propaganda and huge military and police forces. Forced assimilation, displacement and extermination are being escalated at this time, while regimes of scarcity management are being developed.
The simple fact is, that industrialization has proven to be the most destructive way of organizing our relations both among and between peoples, and also with most other living things. Regardless of development models and technological stages. It made no difference, if it came in a capitalist or socialist variety, whatever political system or ideology, where or when. All industrialization turned out to have serious destructive consequences.
These consequences of industrialization have been degradation, devastation, extermination and extinction of life in previously unknown extent and depth. In just two centuries of industrialization, we managed to destablize our relations in such a way, that systematic mass extermination through hunger and diseases has been made a prevalent feature of our order.
Absurd patterns of communication were developed to make mass production work. And overwhelmingly, we produce and consume things which we didn't need to begin with, and even the useful things are overly complex. Need and greed for money, and pursuing happiness through mass consumption and entertainment, have become the strongest motivation for a large majority of the atomized particles of mass societies. How pathetic.
The so called advanced (post)modern societies are resource-hungry overconsumers. We could not have walked, and cannot sustain our way, without continued access to numerous resources, which we don't have on/in/under our lands. In order to realize our lifestyles, we need the whole globe to satisfy our needs and desires. This is why we like to think global, because otherwise we would have to face the end of our way of life. Conversely, a strategy of containment, through reconquering lands from the markets and private property, and disturbing and interrupting the lines of communication, will bring us down, hopefully sooner than later.
Capitalism, Technology, and Progress
Yet many still believe, that the problem is not industrialization as such, but capitalism. This view seems purely speculative. Because capitalism is merely a way of organizing production and distribution of goods and services. And it is not the organization, but the physical structures and activities of industrial and mass consumer societies, which are the major sources of pollution and waste, causing devastation and destruction of the earth. The mines, dams, power plants, factories, industrial agriculture and fishery, the shopping centers and malls, (rail and automobile) roads, (air and sea) ports, the traffic of goods and people, the military bases, testing and training grounds, the information networks and related facilities.
And there is still the perception, that associates progress with science and technology. That sees progress as generally beneficial, or at least inevitable. Peoples are being analyzed and categorized by the tools they use, the means of production, and seen as progressing some materialist and technological ladder upwards. New technologies are always presented as solution to problems caused by previous technologies, in many cases to create even bigger problems. To stand in the way of progress is seen as hopeless and foolish at best.
Technology is seen as liberating, although we became more and more dependent upon a multitude of technologies for our very survival. They enable us to do a lot of things we neither needed, nor wanted. They also enable us to do some nice things and may offer conveniences, but create escalating problems of scarcities and destruction. And they are inseparable for a multitude of devastating social and environmental consequences.
Even a serious ecological restructuring of industrial processes, technologies and networks is unlikely to achieve more than borrowing some time. It is already too late to prevent major catastrophes and further massive loss of life. Yet, if we are concerned at all about the future generations, we must pull all emergency breaks, and fundamentally reorganize ourselves to minimize our impact on earth. To let the earth heal itself. There are proven ways of subsistence economies, scalable but limited, adaptable and sustainable, which allow food sovereignty, independence and self-determination of peoples. And the remaining sources of food and water are more than sufficient to provide for many more humans, than there are at this time.
One of the fundamental differences, and source of conflict between European and most other peoples, is the land. For us Europeans, the land is basically a resource, which we take into possession and put under dominion. Combined with private property and the goal of maximizing profit, the land is being mapped, divided, fenced, and developed to generate value and profit expressed in money.
All living we recognize, but which we don't control, is termed 'wild'. Earth without human imprint is called 'wilderness'. Everything not useful to us in terms of measurable benefit and utilitarian rationality, ultimately expressed in monetary terms, is either worthless, or a waste. For every potential source of riches, we develop a related scheme and rules of property and ownership. These rules are necessary to structure the conflict over these riches. In our mind, all there is has value only through us, meaning we define what is valuable and how to measure.
Our civilization developed to progressively separate us from the rest of creation. We select and manipulate life so that it fits our categories and criteria. All and everything becomes just a resource to be used and abused. If this is for fear of life, or just plain self-centered viciousness, the results are the same.
In contrast, most indigenous peoples, for example, had different concepts of entitlement to use land and water, being the main sources of food and medicine. And land is not just livelihood, but also means belonging and identity, it is the very basis of social organisation and religion. Land, water, and air are often seen as sacred elements, for all creation to share. Generally they believed and insisted that land must not be owned. These peoples had developed complex food systems securing their nutritional needs, even in times of severe adverse weather conditions. They were maintaining extensive lines of communication and elaborate patterns of migration. But they didn't build fences and walls all over the land. They had no land and seed markets. Most had learned that the only sustainable way to live is with earth, instead of from earth. The earth is not a resource to be used and abused.
Land doesn't belong to a people, but people belong to a land. For humans, like other species, life means that we have to adjust what we do, to accommodate all relations, and make the best possible decisions and efforts for future generations. Land, water, seeds, shelter, the means of survival should not be commodities to be owned and sold.
Property rights and ownership, particularly of land and water, are a permanent source of distress and despair, causing escalating mass extermination and destruction. There is no acceptable compromise with people, who want to dominate and get rich so badly. Who don't show any sign of retreat from a way of life based on overconsumption and scarcities, abundance and starvation, causing suffering of the majority of humankind, and other living. Spreading poverty and hunger, population control and ruthless exploitation, demanding access to all resources everywhere, under the rules of a Global Totalitarian Order.
By far the most important of the so called natural resources are land, water, and air. Peoples have been, and still are being dispossessed of their lands at a rapid pace, thereby often displaced and forced into dependence on markets for their survival. Huge tracts of land are affected by deforestation, desertification, and other forms of degradation, like soir erosion, salinization, declining water tables and groundwater pollution, monoculture with escalating pests and plagues and related chemical poisoning (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers). Rivers are polluted and regulated, industrialized with dams, diversion schemes, water treatment plants with distribution networks.
Industrial mining in particular destroys ever increasing areas of land, and uses enormous quantities of water. For numerous minerals, easily accessible deposits have been depleted, or are no longer sufficient to satisfy demand. In summary, urbanization and industrialization continue to expand the ecological footprint of our societies.
People have always migrated for many reasons. People, as well as peoples, leave their homes temporarily, seasonally or permanently, it may take long journeys and several generations, or just a move to another city or village. At this time, both the scale of forced displacement, and need for migration have increased much, and most likely will accelerate further.
If people migrate, they need food and shelter, and a lot of help. Because they are particularly vulnerable during transition and in unknown places. If people come in good faith and with respect, local people may accept them as guests. Migrating is a normal human necessity at times and bureaucratic or national security restrictions usually cause escalating problems.
Only the earth can provide us with all we need, the water, food, medicine, shelter and clothing. Because we completely depend on the earth, we need to protect and be prepared to defend it. A peoples without a sufficient landbase cannot survive as a peoples. They loose their independence, and with it any meaningful sovereignty and self-determination.
Every territory has a certain capacity to support life, among it humans. Peoples can't just migrate and settle anywhere they wish, because there are constraints and conditions, relations and obligations already. After all, humans are latecomers into worlds which already existed for millions of years.
None of this did not concern the European colonizers, because they were controlled by greed and ignorance, violating all rules of coexistence and reciprocity, using overwhelming violence and deceit to take away whatever they could from the peoples they encountered. If peoples are dispossessed and displaced off their landbase, they are no longer bound to a particular place and community.
People became highly mobile, displaceable or replaceable. Survival is no longer guaranteed by the peoples as part of the land, but becomes a matter of access and ability to get enough money, as defined and controlled by national and world markets. Moreover, with colonized societies and economies come poverty and violence, threatening the lives of many. People try use the enforced mobility to improve their situation. Many look of opportunities where the accumulated stolen wealth is. And those wealthy societies try to keep the immigrants out, because they don't want to share which is theirs by force only.
The US/EU have become increasingly restrictive to allow legal immigration, to issue residence and work visas. And they are increasingly repressive against immigrants within. In the US, millions are living under a status of undocumented or illegal immigrants, permanently threatened by prosecution, arrest and deportation. Every year, more than a million people are arrested as removable immigrants. Since 1997, the US has deported (nowadays called removal) more than 1,500,000 aliens, as they are often called. The EU has been turning itself into a fortress against immigrants, with an outer barrier and network of reception camps for immigrants deep into Africa. Legal immigration has been very restrictive, with people being forced into camps, without work permit, to wait for legal proceedings and deportation. Living conditions in the camps is humiliating and repressive, to push migrants into illegality or 'voluntary' departure.
Those, who want to control population and migration, are the mass exterminators. This is where we see the camps and prisons, the forced transfer of pools of humans, the spreading of hunger and diseases. The management and handling of humans as business. We see that people are being treated as objects to be handled and transfered. We see poor women in particular being targeted with birth control and infertility, forced into prostitution and slavery. And we see scores of mothers dying during childbirth, and mountains of babies and young children not able to survive.
Besides land, what we need as humans is peoples. Because we cannot exist or survive as individuals by and for ourselves. We always need others for many things. There are two fundamentally contradicting ways to organize this need.
On the one side, subsistence communities allow us to live in close relation with others, within the limits set of that part of the earth, where the community belongs, their territory. Individual members are dependent upon, and reciprocally responsible for, each other and the community as a whole. People know each others from close hand experience, and authority is much more personal and accountable. Identity is largely fixed as definded by the community. There is a diversity of peoples and ways of life. Everyone matters and has impact on the whole. The individual has less choices, and more responsibilities.
On the other side, mass societies allow us to live as atomized individuals. Within the bounds set by law and enforcement, we are relatively free from social and community restrictions. As individuals we completely depend upon a myriad of largely anonymous forces and powers, with no reciprocity. Authority is largely impersonal, defined through position and function, in the hierarchies of government, bureaucracy, corporations, organizations and institutions. Our relations are monetarized, where money becomes the ultimate expression of value. Identity is split into an official registration and identification, a number identifying records belonging to us, and personal identities to choose from, or even invent. There is a diversity of individual lifestyles, but only one way of life. We don't matter for the whole, and are easily replacable as parts of the system.
The concept of states with permanent borders and static demarcation helped the Great Powers of Europe at a time when they couldn't stop warring among each other for 30 years. It is a concept to patch disfunction to continue. The spread and imposition of european-type borders was further developed into the current assembly of states, as instituted under the so called United Nations. This type of border is necessary to define what is called legitimate legal authority and violence.
National sovereignty was never meant to, and never did apply to all nations, nor even states. There was a perception of national sovereignty in the so called decolonization period, but there wasn't much substance to it. The newly independent countries were chained by international laws and conventions, most not even willing to destroy the institutions of colonialism. And all together unable to rupture from the dominant order. Never did the colonizers stop meddling with and intruding into the affairs of the colonized, now nominally independent states.
While the european-type borders are arbitrary and violent, peoples need borders which define their territory. A peoples without a territory are a weak and dependent peoples. Self-determination means that peoples decide for themselves, who belongs to them, and how to divide their sources of food and other things among each other. They decide for themselves what is right and wrong, and how to administer justice and organize decision making. Self-determination is indivisible, and can only be one of peoples and within borders.
There is no common good road, or way of life, for all peoples. All and every peoples need to be respected to follow their own way according to their own map. Any effort to manipulate, intimidate, or force others to comply with any 'universals' and 'absolutes' is nothing but aggression. Instead, we need to state clearly and unconditionally, that we refrain from intervening into, or interfering with, the affairs of other peoples. We should simply shut up about others, and mind our own affairs instead. Unless we are asked, and then only with politeness and utmost respect.
Capitalism is an economic and related monetary system. Democracy is the complementary political system, and science the dominant knowledge and belief system. Democracy, science and capitalism are actually different aspects of the same system. There are tensions and shifts within the system, which part takes lead and responsibility for what.
While the different parts of the system are interdependent, in the end power always comes from acceptance and enforcement of authority, through a triage of integration, assimilation and extermination. The main means of control being privilege, corruption, propaganda, and violence. The core of the system therefor seems to be democracy, because in the hegemonial societies it handles the most important issue of authority and control, and secures political stability on the homefront. This is why we call the dominating powers by the term Democratic Totalitarian Societies (DTS - US/EU/Japan/Canada/Australia & Co.).
Moreover, the order we are living under has again become totalitarian, not allowing any serious deviation from the rules being imposed by the Democratic Totalitarian Societies. And the order is out to dominate the whole globe. This is why it is the first Global Totalitarian Order (GTO). It mostly works through international law and world markets, and is secured and enforced by large (para)military and police forces, and also by scores of private security and mercenaries.
The major beneficiaries of the current order, not surprisingly, are the ones who define and command it, the Democratic Totalitarian Societies (DTS). We know, that as societies we depend on continued access to and control of the so called global resources. That whatever privileges we enjoy as part of our societies, is based on the impoverishment and dispossession of others.
Against Social and Humanitarian Globalizers
With the processes multi and transnationalization, there are now many who support further centralization of powers. They want to limit national sovereignty under inter-, multi- and supranational institutions and organizations. Instead of disintegration of global order, separation of concerns, decentralization of information, competence, control and communication, they advocate for global laws, rules and regulations, global judicial institutions and enforcement, global peace and justice, global resources management, some even global markets and global government. This is the most dangerous and vicious political current today, the social and humanitarian globalizers. They promote the worst totalitarian nightmare ever.
Not our civilization is fundamentally wrong, they say, just certain aspects of it. Like the unfair terms of trade, and distribution of wealth, need to be corrected. Throw in all kinds of rights (human, civil, social, worker, women, lgbt), add access to health care and education, some ecological measures, make it participatory and democratic. Their effort is to prolong the agony of the demise of European domination, and the dissolution of our way of life.
Behind the recent offensive of the Democratic Totalitarian Societies (DTS) is the powerful ideology of european cultural and intellectual superiority. The power of that ideology comes from people believing in it, despite all contradicting experience, and obvious limitations and flaws.
Global Order needs to be Dissolved
We still try to escape being responsible, and held accountable, for ongoing centuries of crime and destruction committed by our societies. We will not volunteer to give up privilege and power. We don't want to fundamentally decolonize our way of life. We still think we have the answers, instead of being the root of most problems.
Our way of life is violent, because it depends on maintaining oppressive and exploitive relations. It depends upon the colonization and domination of other peoples and earth, on mass extermination and destruction. We can not expect European civilization to recover from itself, for we have walked the wrong paths for too long, leading us into a one-way-street with no escape, with the roots rotten and the core stinking.
The practice of mass extinction, extermination and destruction of life has reached proportions that make fundamental change urgent. It is time to give up on the loop of proclaimed intentions and good talk, accompanied or followed by different action with usually devastating consequences, for which we largely deny responsibility. To never loose sight of who the Europeans (Whites) are, in the light of what they have done and continue to do for too many centuries already.
Time is Now
Globalization, which began in the times of Christopher Columbus, needs to end, in order to allow the earth to recover, and to limit the extent of mass extermination. Only then will peoples be able to move on to create better worlds for themselves. It needs to end to allow for food-sovereignty and self-determination of peoples in dignity and with respect for life.
Further, it is most important to understand, that those, who are responsible for the situation we are in, cannot be the ones to lead us out of it. This is people and organizations of the Democratic Totalitarian Societies (DTS). As Europeans, our job is to turn against our own societies, to do our best to refuse compliance and complicity, to begin a process of decolonization of our colonizer minds.
Most likely, the disintegration and finally dissolution of the Global Totalitarian Order (GTO) it is going to be an extremely violent process. The reason is simply, that the DTS seem determined to defend and expand their hegemony and privileges, no matter what. Colonization and mass extermination continue to be escalated at this time.
Empires have been falling apart before and didn't even leave much behind. The GTO should be no exception. But only prophecy can possibly know about future. We don't know what is going to happen. But what we know is, that we can't let things continue as they have been for far too long already. And we know that European hegemony - White Supremacy - is the roadblock for all other ways of life.
It is from this understanding that we realize that at this time there are only two sides and no neutrality. Can we end colonialism with this cycle of anti-colonial struggles? It will be most important to decolonize all aspects of life. Not just the political and economic. And it can't be about taking power over, but taking back control of our own lives. The decolonization of our minds, and protection of our children from the European mindset and the greed for money, is crucial to move beyond the vicious cycles of death and destruction.
The only road to self-determination is radical decentralization of information, competence, communication and control, to disconnect peoples and regions, and to return to subsistence of communities as the primary basis for food sovereignty. The age of colonization and industrialization, these days often termed globalization, is going to come to a close.
The less our personal and community well-being is dependent upon the continued functioning of the current order, the less interests we have to comply with the demands of that order. Because loyalty is the condition to receive benefits and privileges. We need to detach ourselves from the order, emotionally, mentally, physically. For example, think about retirement, or education of our children. These are indicators of commitment. Because if you don't really believe in fundamental change, you will be much restrained from risking too much. Instead, there will be much incentive to play it safe. To comply far beyond what is required in order to survive.
It is most important to realize that we are both our worst enemy, but also our lone opportunity. Our lifetime is all we got. Struggle is not just about politics. Struggle is for ourselves primarily. About realizing goals and about meaning and responsibilities. About who is going to define the goals, control the means, make the laws, and enforce the rules. It is also about being confident and secure for and with ourselves, as well as in relation with others, and as part of all creation. It is on us to struggle for every inch of space and time, for self-determination and dignity with respect for all creation.