If we knew the White man’s dreams…
The economic-financial crisis that afflicts much of world economy has made it possible for the very rich to become even richer, more than ever before in the history of capitalism, and, logically, at the expense of disgracing entire countries such as Greece, Spain and others, and in general terms, the whole Euro zone, perhaps with one minor exception, Germany. Ladislau Dowbor (http://dowbor.org), economics professor of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica, (PUC-SP), Sao Paulo, Brazil, reviewed a study by the famous Instituto Federal Suizo de Investigacion Tecnologica (ETH) which competes in credibility with research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT), of Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. In this study Dowbor explains the workings of the world corporate power network, comprised of 737 principal actors that control the main financial functions of the world, mainly through great banks and other immense multinational corporations. To them, the present crisis is an incomparable opportunity to realize the biggest capitalist dream: ever greater and more concentrated accumulation.
Capitalism has now realized its dream, possibly the last in its already long history. It has reached the top. And after the top? No one knows. But we can imagine that the answer will not come from other models of production and consumption, but from Mother Earth, Gaia, herself, who, being finite, cannot support an infinite project. She is giving clear warning signals that, according to the Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Christian de Duve (see the book, Vital Dust: life as a cosmic imperative, (Polvo Vital: la vida como imperativo cosmico, 1997), are like those that preceded the great devastations that have occurred in Earth’s already long history, (3.8 billion years). We must be on guard because the extreme events we are already experiencing point to eventual socio-ecological catastrophes, perhaps even during our lifetimes.
Worst of all is the fact that politicians, much of the scientific community, and of the population, are not taking note of that dangerous reality. It is distorted or concealed, because it is too contrary to the system. It would force us to change, something that few desire. Antonio Donato Nobre put it well is a very recent study (2014) on The Climatic Future of the Amazon, (El futuro climatico de la Amazonia): «If conscientious farmers knew what the scientific community knows (the great droughts to come), they would be in the streets with banners demanding that the government protect the jungles and plant trees on their lands».
We need a big dream that galvanizes people to protect life on the Planet and guarantee the future of the human species. Ideologies die. Philosophies get old. But the great dreams remain. They guide us through new visions and encourage us to create new social relationships, with nature and with Mother Earth.
Now we understand the relevance of the words of Duwamish Main Elder Seattle to Governor Stevens of Washington State, in 1856, when the Governor forced the sale of Native lands to the European colonizers. Main Elder Seattle could not understand why they would want to buy the earth. Could one buy or sell the breeze, the green of the plants, the cleanliness of the crystalline water or the splendor of the sceneries? To Main Elder Seattle the Earth was all that, not just soil, as a means of production.
In this context, note that the Native people of our continent could understand the reasons for the civilization of the Whites, «if they knew what hopes they transmit to their sons and daughters in the long winter nights, and what visions of the future they offer for tomorrow».
What is the dominant dream of our civilization’s paradigm, that makes market and merchandise the structural axis of all social life? It is possession of the most material goods, the greatest possible financial accumulation, and the most intense enjoyment we can obtain from all that nature and culture can offer us, to the point of satiation. It is the triumph of refined materialism, reaching even the spiritual, turning it into merchandise, with doubtful self-help literature full of thousands of formulas for happiness, built from bits of psychology, new cosmology, oriental religion, Christian messages and the esoteric. It is a pure swindle, designed to create the illusion of an easy happiness.
Even so, groups are appearing everywhere that bring a new reverence for the Earth, inaugurating alternative behaviors, elaborating new dreams of an agreement of friendship with nature, and a belief that the present chaos is not just chaotic, but is the genesis of a new paradigm of civilization that I would call the civilization of re-linking, synchronized with the most fundamental laws of life and the universe, that is pan-relational, synergetic and complementary.
Then we would have made the great journey towards the truly human, friends of life and open to the Mystery of all things. It is the path to follow.
Free translation from the Spanish by
Servicios Koinonia, http://www.servicioskoinonia.org.
Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.