Friday, 30 April 2010

...a word on ecology

. The boldest governmental statements on the world’s ecological crisis are coming from Cuba, Bolivia, and other anti-imperialist governments in Latin America.[26] The influence of Indigenous struggles is felt here. Bolivian President Evo Morales points to the leading role of Indigenous peoples, “called upon by history to convert ourselves into the vanguard of the struggle to defend nature and life.”[27]

This claim rests on an approach by many Indigenous movements to ecology that is inherently revolutionary. Most First-World ecological discussion focuses on technical and market devices, such as carbon trading, taxation, and offsets, that aim to preserve as much as possible of a capitalist economic system that is inherently destructive to the natural world. Indigenous movements, by contrast, begin with the demand for a new relationship of humankind to our natural environment, sometimes expressed in the slogan, “Liberate Mother Earth.”[28]

These movements often express their demand using an unfamiliar terminology of ancestral spiritual wisdom — but behind those words lies a worldview that can be viewed as a form of materialism.

In pre-conquest Andean society, says Peruvian Indigenous leader Rosalía Paiva, “Each was a part of all, and all were of the soil. The soil could never belong to us because we are its sons and daughters, and we belong to the soil.”[29]

Bolivian Indigenous writer Marcelo Saavedra Vargas holds that “It is capitalist society that rejects materialism. It makes war on the material world and destroys it. We, on the other hand, embrace the material world, consider ourselves part of it, and care for it.”[30]

This approach is reminiscent of Marx’s thinking, as presented by John Bellamy Foster in Marx’s Ecology. It is entirely appropriate to interpret “Liberate Mother Earth” as equivalent to “close the metabolic rift.”[31]

Hugo Chávez says that in Venezuela, 21st Century Socialism will be based not only on Marxism but also on Bolivarianism, Indigenous socialism, and Christian revolutionary traditions.[32] Latin American Marxism’s capacity to link up in this way with what Shanin calls vernacular revolutionary traditions is a sign of its vitality and promise.

I will conclude with a story told by the Peruvian Marxist and Indigenous leader Hugo Blanco. A member of his community, he tells us, conducted some Swedish tourists to a Quechua village near Cuzco. Impressed by the collectivist spirit of the Indigenous community, one of the tourists commented, “This is like communism.”

“No,” responded their guide, “Communism is like this.”[33]

Taken from

No comments: