Reclaiming the Earth- The Mapuche Dilemma

As the Earth  rapidly approaches the point where  the  trajectory  towards  intense global  warming and  near total species  loss becomes inevitable, we now, more than ever, need the wisdom  of the indigenous peoples’  connection with  nature and acknowledgement of the reality that  the earth is   a living entity;  to  save our planet. It may  already  be too  late- but we need to  try!

Nothing;  despite all  the research  and  incremental  indelible evidence  of  ever-increasing species extinction , has changed our current trajectory  of devastating the planet for a few cheap  baubles. We appear to be locked into  an  insane path of self-destruction which  takes the rest of the planet  with us. Have we reached the ‘tipping-point’? – we will  not know until it is too  late.

That is not to  say  the indigenous peoples like the Mapuche of southern  Chile or Maori  in New Zealand or the other still surviving remnants of indigenous cultures , have  all the answers, or are even  innocent of harming the planet themselves. But they  do have a philosophy  and  wisdom  from  the past which  acknowledges the reality that,  as just  one more species on this planet ,  humans are inextricably linked to  what  we   strangely call “nature’  -ie our fellow living things.  And  that we are also solidly linked to  all the non-sentient elements of this world.

 

Mapuche Shaman’s Drum; Courtesy of the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian http://nmai.si.edu/exhibitions/infinityofnations/patagonia/177322.html

If we are to  survive as a species;  if the planet  is to  survive,  we must  restore this fundamental  core understanding to all humans – without  which we will  most certainly perish- if not within  decades,  then  certainly within  this  new  two centuries.

Our first and immediate step  is to restore power and authority to those cultures who  do in  fact  respect  the earth  and all  its living inhabitants  above  “progress’  and the production of  commodities. The next is to  produce a world wide covenant that  values other species  as equal  to our own and our obligation as a species to  truly become protective guardians of this living planet, given our  unique capacity to  manipulate our environment.

We must let the voice of all  those cultures who  call  us back  to  our roots -to be heard,  respected and  urgently responded to.

The shaman’s drum calls  us back  to  our re-connection with our  world.

 

 

 

 


Links

https://www.rt.com/in-motion/374127-mapuche-demand-release-prisoners/

https://www.google.com/url?hl=en-GB&q=http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Indigenous-Groups-Demand-Freedom-of-Mapuche-Leader-in-Chile-20161212-0024.html&source=gmail&ust=1484889158716000&usg=AFQjCNFxrOXHP7sSOc1tFMtFjA-Ne4bFnQ

http://www.mapuche-nation.org/english/html/news/n-66.htm

Our People Are Unstoppable’: Chile’s Jailed Indigenous Mapuche

 

The Self-destruction of Western Societies?

The recent  ‘terrorist’ bombings in European  cities  may need to be  looked at from  a wider  perspective. Is this increasing wave of violence on urban  communities a signal of a deeper malaise?

The ‘terrorists’  who  have perpetrated these attacks  over the past few years ( ie not just  “ISIS’  inspired  killings);  have inevitably be enacted by  dispossessed angry young men   who  predominantly  have no  clear ideology of much  longstanding.  While they  have often attributed the rationale for their attacks to  some formal ideology  like ISIS, I suspect  that   any ideological  excuse would have sufficed for them. The recent killings by  those who  stated their motivations  were in  the name of Allah  and ISIS, were almost all by young men  who  had lacked any consistent  commitment to  Muslim  practice; ie not regularly attending a mosque, and indulged in drinking, drugs , gambling etc.

This indicates that  the rationale for the killing did not come from  idealogical  sources, but rather from their own anger and hurt about their own life experiences.  Undoubtedly however, the  last few years  of ISIS, Al Qaeda and other similar extremist  groups espousing the glories of  the killing of innocents,  have provided a focus  and a ‘rationale’   for that  anger and blood-lust.

This process might be likened to  the Christian  crusades   to  the “Holy Lands” in mediaeval  times, when  Europeans  from  all  walks of life joined  armies  to  supposedly ‘free”  the Holy Lands from  Saracen tyranny, but in  fact used that  license  to indulge in  vast  amounts of rape, pillage and  terror  of  local  populations,   both on their journeys to  Palestine through  Europe and the Middle East , but also  within  Palestine  itself.

What is different this time around however, is that  this is an internal  self-immolation of societies and almost a global  one: predominantly by  young men  who  were born  within European  societies, but at  the same time alienated from them.

What  we see then, is a political  response to these multiple deaths  which labels them as “terrorists’  attacks rather than  an  epidemic of murder/-suicides by  young angry  and hurting men.

Instead of addressing the root causes of that anger;  alienation from  society,  loneliness, poverty,  drugs and perceived inequalities and injustices;  Western  governments have increasingly focussed on more and more draconian responses to  these murders;  an action which   further legitimizes the  imaginary  ideological  fervour of more and more  young men.

As in  the United States, the  political  response is to further  militarise police forces and restrict  human rights and freedoms, and thereby  increase the likelihood of inappropriate and unjust responses by  the ‘authorities’  to  legitimate  community  conflict  situations. It is plain  that such  actions lead only to  community disintegration.

One might therefore  argue that  the actions by  both parties are symptomatic of a global  community in decline; in  a state of self-immolation, as it  unconsciously acknowledges the  multiple absurd paradoxes of our  global consumer society whilst  we inexorably head towards   an unliveable over-heated  and species depleted  planet.

 

 

The Beginning of the End of ‘Progress’ ?

The Baltic Dry  Index,  which  measures the price of shipping  dry  goods globally, has dropped to  its lowest  known point in  the past few days at 402. Other indicators too are pointing to  a rapid downturn in export shipping volumes.

ClipboarBDI12-1-16

On its own,  the BDI low  index may  reflect  nothing more than  an oversupply of shipping ,  but taken  with other data  measures, indications are that international   trade is slowing at a rapid rate globally.

If this is the case, then  we are likely to see a further deterioration in commodity prices, particularly oil prices, as demand slumps, an increase in  unemployment in  the industrial  sectors globally and an increasing shrinkage in  consumer spending.

And naturally, that  decrease i   trade globally is simply because people are buying less! Here’s a neat  little Bloomberg graph  which  shows  the trend for retail  sales in the United States.. People simply seem to be buying less ‘stuff’

Because the human world’s current survival  culture is predicated on  continuous growth  in  production of things, such  a reversal  will have significant implications for poverty, hopelessness and hunger in  the short to medium term.  It will  require no  less than  a massive restructuring of what  it means to be human  on this planet, for us all  to  get  to  a state of sustainable equilibrium, and to  finally recognise our equality with  the other species we co-habit the world with.

On the bright side, the  elimination of ‘growth’ or even a reversal  in growth, will  be a significant bonus to the world’s environment.  marsThe diminishing need to  use more coal  and gas, to  mine more  minerals, to  build more cities, dwellings  and transport networks and  consume more generally, will  mean less of what  is left of our natural  environment will  become despoiled.

As the ‘Geography of Transport Systems ‘ notes succinctly, there are many factors which influence the BDI price; lowering  oil prices for ships ( bunker oil), too  many ships in the market and lastly and likely most significantly, lowering demand for  bulk  goods. OIl process are approximately 40% of the price and there certainly has been  a glut in   bulk tankers, but we also  know bulk  commodity prices  ( iron ore, copper etc etc) have dropped precipitously due to   much  reduced demand from  primarily China. But a drop of this magnitude foretells something much  bigger in  the wind…


 

Postscript

And here’s the BDI at 29th January …

BalticDry29-1-16

And even  Bloomberg might be coming to  a similar consensus as of 29th  January…

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-01-28/shipping-news-says-world-economy-is-toast

 

 

Links

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/07/can-economic-growth-last/

http://www.global-briefing.org/2012/07/the-steady-state-economy-life-after-growth/

http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue57/Trainer57.pdf

http://robertdfeinman.com/society/no_growth.html

http://www.americanshipper.com/Main/News/Drewry_Container_shipping_companies_to_lose_5b_in_62624.aspx?source=MostPopul

http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/more-bad-news-for-ocean-trade-116011300352_1.htmlar

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-11/nothing-moving-baltic-dry-crashes-insiders-warn-commerce-has-come-halt

http://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/baltic-sea-index-hits-all-time-low-as-shipping-crisis-deepens/

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article53707.html

The Whimper…

T.S. Eliot’s famous poem, The Hollow Men, ends with the following lines…

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

A recent study,  led by   applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and using   new statistical modelling methods, predicts that this  current civilization will likely collapse in  another twenty to  fifty years. The study   draws analogies with past human  civilizations;  the Assyrian, Roman, Mayan, Minoan,  the various  Chinese empires…. We can assume that  like us;  the populations of those civilizations had every reason to believe their civilization was unique and would last  forever. While civilisational  collapse is quite rare, characterised by  entire ways of life, systems of thought, cultural values and worldviews disappearing,  political  collapse occurs frequently ( eg empires and kingdoms disintegrating).  What  appears likely to  happen in our modern context,  given  the confluence of a number of catastrophic events, is civilisational  collapse.

While this particular study  has been  sharply critiqued by  journalists and  scientists  alike for its simplicity and generalisations ; the  broad conclusion that,  as Paul Simon aptly put it ,”everything put together falls apart” , is  a healthy  reminder of human hubris.

The single most important  story   unfolding in  not-so-slow-motion  on this planet  is the  ongoing  destruction of the natural  world  in  the name of “progress”  and “growth” (ie  consuming ever more “stuff”) by  humans;  ,  which  will  in the near  future,  significantly negatively impact  on this species. Despite our insistence to the contrary, humans are entirely reliant on other species for our survival.  It is a  given that is blindly ignored by  politicians, businesspeople and businesses  and all  those with  a current stake in  the way  our “civilization’  currently works ( ie all of us).

As key  resources become more expensive to  extract,  the world economy (which is apparently now the full extent of this ‘civilization’) begins to contract  and distort .  And as the gap  between rich and poor widens,  the “have-nots” increasingly demand in  more and more violent ways,  their right to  a slice of the pie. As the oceans and  atmospheric temperatures rise,  so  do the pressures on  our artificial nation-states. As we progressively and rapidly eliminate species after species to produce more things,  to make “progress”;  our chances of long term survival  as a species are being rapidly reduced.   Our civilization demands that  we assume that  we have an infinite volume  of resources to  consume for  the infinite future in  a closed planetary  system –  a small  contradiction in  terms!   We are indeed heading for the perfect  storm.

Study  after academic  study shows that the more we  gain from  a civilization’s  prosperity,  the more we are blind to its failings and contradictions and its  inevitable fall. This  tunnel vision says , that ‘if I am  doing well out of this catastrophe then it cant be a catastrophe at all!’

Homo  sapiens  pride themselves on their remarkable intelligence; their capacity to manipulate their environment for their own ends. They appear unable to grasp  that  that  self-definition process of  appropriating everything  good, intelligent and wonderful  to  human attributes,  is simply  the result of their blinded vision.  If by  definition, species that manipulate their environment  are determined to be superior to all other species;  then lo-and-behold!- homo sapiens are superior beings! Because homo sapiens are above all other traits,  social  beings,  all of us have an intensely strong need to  “fit in”,  to belong to the group. Agreeing with other people on ‘our’ group’s   thought processes and paradigms is an essential part of this togetherness. However, agreement does not  it make it truth.

Thus, it does not matter that the capacity to manipulate the environment for the benefit of our species and at  the expense of all other species on  this planet might not be quite such an intelligent thing to do, given that  the environmental devastation and species  destruction is largely for homo sapiens’ short term  pleasures, power  and baubles.

Were we to  say  that  a species that can  sustain itself  easily and efficiently without damaging its environment in  the process, were  more ‘worthy’ beings than other species ;  then homo sapiens would not be registering on  the short-list!

Over the millenia, homo sapiens have  been able to convince themselves  that  people of other cultures, or colour,  or background are inferior to one’s own culture because of this self-defining process.  Using the same intellectual process,  the more different another species is from ourselves, the  less worthy , less  intelligent, more expendable and worthy of our  exploitation and destruction that species becomes.   The more differentiated from our species the “other” is,  the easier it is to  dismiss its inherent traits and qualities and its right to life. However on our ever smaller blue planet,  we no  longer have the luxury to differentiate between  “them’  and ‘us”.

How much easier then is it  to dismiss the equality of other species with ourselves when their characteristics, strengths and skills are so different from homo sapiens, and when it  is so  much to our benefit to be able to kill  and exploit other species without moral qualms.

As Henry  Gee also points out succinctly in his Guardian  article , each  species’ particular traits or “strengths” are  based purely on, firstly, what  biological  mechanisms of sense are available to  them ,and secondly, how they use those senses to  that  species’ best  advantage. Homo sapiens  may not value our sense of smell  because its not a particularly efficient sensing mechanism in  homo sapiens, but you can bet  a dog does!

The capacity for self-delusion in our  species is immense. Witness the largely American  driven  anti- climate -change camp. Of course we cannot be  destroying our planet with C02 through  industrialization, because capitalism and owning the means of production   is the reason  for our being!  – after all, aren’t we, the US consumer, the greatest people on  earth because our nation is   the epitome of capitalism?

As another example of  collective self-deception, Seth Klarman, the manager of the $27billion hedge fund, the Baupost Group, recently  remarked on the similarities of the world’s banking system to the ‘Truman Show’, the late nineties Hollywood film, where the lead character  “lives a seemingly charmed world, snuggled comfortably into an American suburbia of white picket fences and crisply cut lawns. But gradually Truman starts to notice something is not quite right. He is actually trapped inside a film set controlled by hidden directors, and discovers to his horror that he is the unknowing star of the world’s most popular reality TV show.”  In one of the more blatant  nuances of reality shifting homo  sapiens have acquiesced to,  our  financial  system  is in  essence simply one of “smoke and mirrors” -the manipulation of facts and figures designed  to  obscure reason and reality;  a fragile house of cards.

The dreaded "black swan"!
                                  The dreaded “black swan”!

One key point of difference with previous human civilizations  around the world  is that  our current  civilization is a global one; each  of the parts are inextricably connected.  Apart from  a few small tribes in   isolated areas, every one of us has bought in to  this unique  method of environmental  destruction. Thus  when this civilization collapses -(and it is a “when” and not an “if” ), that collapse will be both  more  rapid and more global; there will not be another model of homo sapien civilization around for the  survivors to pin their hopes on. The other significant difference with other previous human civilizations is this current one’s geographical  reach.  Vast  areas of the planet have now  been laid waste in  the name of human progress.

So, while the modelling conducted by  Safa Motesharrei  may be flawed, it does provide an opportunity for  serious debate about the direction this global  civilisation of ours is taking us..

 


 

Links

Did Nasa fund ‘civilisation collapse’ study, or not?

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)

About that Popular Guardian Story on the Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Plotting the Downfall  of Society-Peter Turchin Book Review

A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation

Crisis of Civilisation 

So, after the IPCC report, which bit of the world are you prepared to lose? | GeorgeMonbiot