Beloved Women, Beloved Earth

When I look around now, in 2015, I do not see the changes I had hoped to see for women in this world or Mother Earth. Our Mother Earth, and all living beings who rely on her, are at risk of extinction.  Men search for other planets – as if  moving there would solve the destruction men are inflicting. Men and their sadomasochism never end.

In Patriarchy,  women are only seen as a resource, a material to exploit. Brave New World and 1984 are upon us. Women scurry about uncertain, but women know: we feel it, we see it, we smell it, we touch it, in our children’s behavior. Women know intuitively that our children’s increasing rates of ADHD, gender dysphoria, autism, porn culture and prostitution; mental illness, violence, and unemployment are all connected. Corporations engineer our food, growing it with pesticides, growing it in nice engineered rows so the chemicals that make it grow can be easily applied.

In Canada and elsewhere colonized Indigenous communities are under siege for their homelands, again. Indigenous ways of life have sustained their cultures for thousands of years. Their cultures are  threatened when their lands are corrupted, maimed, damaged, and forever altered by civilization’s “henchmen-corporations.” This destroys the rights of a land-based culture to survive. The greed of civilization, capitalism and unchecked growth is unceasing and pathological at this point.

image

Chipko Movement

Recorded human history is traditionally seen as a record of humans exceeding Nature’s limitations. Growing numbers of us ask: What about learning to live within our human and ecological limits? I know it sounds simple, but this is actually quite controversial.

In 1969 Rachel Carson [1] stood up to the pesticide industries and started the modern day environmental movement. A courageous women, a scientist, and a lesbian; Carson suggested this culture is insane for using chemicals that would inevitably end up in our food supply, water, wildlife, and our bodies. For unveiling this simple truth Carson was vilified, threatened, and harassed. But time would prove that her research, determination, and courage were right – she woke a whole generation to the hazards of using   technology to control nature. Man-made technological and chemical solutions to man-made problems, such as population and distribution of wealth, make matters worse.

Carson’s research, books, and voice were considered “radical.” Her perspective and call to awareness was fueled by the same energy, passion and resignation that drove Mary Daly to distill, ruminate, write, and reveal her understanding of radical feminism. [2] They were both lesbians in a patriarchical world and women in a decidedly patriarchical institution; academia.

Early radical feminist [3] and radical ecological feminist theory critiqued the human arrogance visible in attempts to master and control nature [4] and advanced various strains of environmental schools of thought: conservation, preservation, animals rights, vegan, vegetarian movements and critiques of capitalism and civilization all emerged out of Carson’s work.

Canadian naturalist John Livingston was my introduction to the vocabulary of anti-capitalism and anti-civilization. Livingston’s [5] critique of the anthropocentric and humanistic mindset driving human relationships with nature was grounded in his observations as a naturalist. Livingston was also a broadcaster, testified at The MacKenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, lectured, supervised, graduate students and wrote a number of books that contributed a valuable Canadian critique of capitalism and civilization.

Livingston argued: “Civilization cripples the mind and cripples the heart by offering a humanistic ideology in place of our evolved naturalness or wildness.” [6]

Or as I came to understand, using “ideas” or “ideology” to connect with our true human nature is not an effective strategy for protecting and preserving life. Those ideologies or ideas were after all simply a form of “prosthetic,” filling in for a lost sensibility that resulted from our alienation from nature.

Livingston believed a natural cooperative instinct was at the root of animal and human behaviour. Humans needed to spend more time being in and with nature, rather than dominating her. He argued that our Judeo-Christian belief systems had humans brainwashed into believing we could somehow rise above our nature.

A key theme was the idea that humans are “domesticated.” Our domestication leads us to a reliance on culture and ideology. Ideology is a straitjacket when changes in human behavior are required. For Livingston, cultural ideologies do far more harm to the Earth than human nature and unless we learn to take the “lens” or glasses off, and de-program ourselves, humans are destined to never understand or accept our dependence on Mother Earth.

Without an understanding of and a connection to nature, humans can expect profound distress and malaise to spread steadily and rapidly – a form of psychosis. Kinda like what is happening today. A cloud of psychosis has seemingly taken over human brains, eyes, and ears, and has us submerged in a sea of shock, irrationality, disbelief, and inaction.

Livingston was convinced that when the lens of ideology was removed we could start to understand, shape an ideology that would stop making our species sick – separate from our true human nature.

“All domesticated animals have this piece missing; all of us are prosthetic beings. The animals depend utterly on us. We depend utterly on ideology. My dogs depend on me and whatever I offer them. I depend on what ideological crutch my culture offers me? Ideology is my master.” [7]

Livingston explains further:

“No one in his right mind denies natural selection. But the fuel of it does not need to be competition. He could have used some other principle. However, he didn’t. And here we are with competition and territoriality and said dominance and all the rest of the rubbish we’re fed by mechanistic biology and the Sunday supplements.  Social dominance in gorillas and whales and wolves and elephants? Come on. I have often wondered how Darwin’s argument would have looked had he invoked cooperation, or compliance.   Even more persuasive I would think.” [8]

What if, Livingston asked, we choose the principle of cooperation instead of competition to view humanity’s relationship to nature?

When I left school I left with the question: Would a “paradigm shift” [9] stop the environmental degradation that humans, patriarchal culture, civilization, and unquestioned growth were inflicting on the Earth? Would replacing the principle of competition with cooperation prevent Earth’s and all living beings’ death? Should civilization be dismantled before every living thing is eradicated?

I have recently come to terms with the idea that a new story will not do the trick. We have had fifty years to act, and there has been only more of the same. The only option left now is: Resistance.

8888

Deep Ecology was coined in 1973 by Arne Naess, a Norwegian who came up  with the concept to address the state of environmental thought and action he was seeing. When naturalists and philosophers looked out at the reality of the 70s and the actions that were taken to address environmental contamination of ecological systems, these remedies usually involved a mechanistic fix. And yet nature, Earth, is not a machine. Human arrogance and shallow thinking around environmental quick and dirty fixes resulted in the emergent blueprint offered by Deep Ecology.

As Naess was struck at how shallow the approaches to the environmental crisis were, he recommended that what humans needed were deep inquiries around humanity’s relationship to nature. Naess saw no hope in the dominant environmentalism’s ability to prevent the collapse of civilization and the death of all living beings. Humanity’s hope lay in implementing Deep Ecology.

The Deep Ecology Platform  [10]

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life forms contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman life requires such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness of the difference between big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.

Explicit in Deep Ecology is an understanding of the need for a radical paradigm shift in human ideology. Rather than humans seeing themselves as overlord dominators, men would have to put their sadomasochist tendencies aside and adopt a relationship with nature based on intrinsic value, not utilitarianism. There would need to be multi-level interventions to effect change. This shift in attitude would have to be legislated at local, national, and global levels to be successful – to stop the destruction of our Mother Earth.

Deep Ecology put cooperation as the central principle. Ecology is a the science of healthy ecosystems: how all the members of a biotic community work together. Once humans accepted the intimate inter-connectedness and intrinsic value of every living being, we would be part of that biotic community once more.

Climate change, in 2015, is our biggest universal indicator that our Earth is exceeding her limits to growth.   For conscious humans, the signs of our inability to change our path, to shift our operating principle from competition to cooperation has never been so fully obvious – men and their greed.  Profit and power are a seductive addiction and destructive of living communities.

After 25 years of looking for a new story, a new narrative that could address some of the hopes I had for future generations, I found it! But it is not a story – we are long past a story change being of any value. Resistance is our only option.

Deep Green Resistance [11]

1.    Deep Green Resistance recognizes that this culture is insane.
2.    Deep Green Resistance embraces the necessity of political struggle.
3.    Deep Green Resistance must be multilevel.
4.    Deep Green Resistance requires repair of the planet.
5.    Deep Green Resistance means repair of human culture.
6.    Deep Green Resistance recognizes the necessity of militant action.

All significant changes in human organization have entailed direct confrontations with power: the American Revolution, French Revolution, Irish Independence Movement, Suffrage Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, Front Liberation du Quebec, the Anti-Vietnam War Movement, Cruise Missile protests, Claquot Sound, Meares Island……

Humans make change to ideological straitjackets because we possess an inbuilt character trait called a “moral imperative.” [12] A moral imperative is like a chemical reaction. Humans are hard-wired to defend ourselves or our Beloved, just like a mother will defend at any cost her child.

This compulsion to act, this moral imperative, is an instinct and a powerful one.  This impulse to defend our Beloved is hard-wired into being human.

Question:   What do you get when you blend the theory and actions of American marine biologist, conservationist and lesbian Dr. Rachel Carson with the ideas of American radical feminist philosopher, theologian, and lesbian Dr. Mary Daly; and the cultural and historical perspectives of nature found in the work of Canadian naturalist, broadcaster, writer and teacher John Livingston?

Answer:   A 21st century Radical Feminist Resistance movement with a clarion call to Rise, Act, and Defend our Beloved Earth:  because to defend our Beloved is human and it is in our nature to do so.

8888

Trish Oliver is a lesbian radical feminist, deep ecologist and Sculptor. Trish is a founding member of Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), a Teacher, has practiced the martial art of Aikido for twenty years, and is a member of Deep Green Resistance. Trish graduated from York University in Toronto in 1989. John Livingston was her Masters supervisor and “thinking” mentor, and his “radical” ideas changed her life path.

ENDNOTES

  1. Carson, Rachel. (1962) Silent Spring
  2. Daly, Mary. (2015) https://philosophynow.org/issues/3 “There are several definitions but I’ll give you the core of it. First of all the word ‘radical’ means ‘going to the roots’. It is derived from the Latin radix, meaning root. Radical Feminism goes to the root of oppression and the way out. And I define it as ‘way of being characterised by (a) an Awesome and Ecstatic sense of Otherness from patriarchal norms and values (b) conscious awareness of the sadosociety’s sanctions against Radical Feminists (c) moral outrage on behalf of women as women (d) commitment to the cause of women that persists, even against the current, when feminism is no longer ‘popular;’ in other words, constancy.”
  3. Daly, Mary. (2015)  https://philosophynow.org/issues/3 “The definition as I wrote it is still the one I would maintain, but in the current crisis of life on earth and the danger to all animals, plants, rocks, minerals, as well as women from the phallocrats who are destroying the planet, I now say ‘radical ecological feminism.’ There is a desperate commitment in my writing to ecology and feminism.” https://philosophynow.org/issues/3
  4. Evernden, Neil., (1992), The Social Construction of Nature.
  5. Livingston, John. (1973), One Cosmic Instant (1981), The Fallacy of Wildlife Conservation (1988), 8 Lectures on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8Y7PZ_DVes (1992), Rogue Primate: An Exploration of Human Domestication
  6. Jensen, Derrick., (1995), Listening to the Land, Interview with John Livingston
  7. Jensen, Derrick., (1995), Listening to the Land, Interview with John Livingston
  8. Jensen, Derrick), (1995), Listening to the Land, Interview with John Livingston.
  9. Kuhn, Thomas., (1962), The Structure of Scientific Revolution.
  10. Naess, Arne and George Sessions.,(1984) The Deep Ecology Platform http://www.deepecology.org/platform.htm
  11. Keith, Lierre, McBay, Aric and Derrick Jensen., (2011). Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet
  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_imperative

REFERENCES

Carson, Rachel. (1962) Silent Spring

Daly, Mary (1990)

Gyn/Ecology Aug/Sept  (2015) https://philosophynow.org/issues/33/Mary_Daly

Evernden, Neil. (1983) The Natural Alien (1992) The Social Construction of Nature

Fertile Ground Institute (2014) Earth at Risk 2014 Social Justice and Sustainability

Firestone, Shulamith. (1970) The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution

Hedges, Chris. (2010) Death of the Liberal Class

Jensen, Derrick. (1995) Listening to the Land, (2000) Language Older than Words, (2002) Culture of Make Believe, (2006) Endgame 1 & 2, (2008) What We Leave Behind

Jensen, Derrick & L. Keith. (2013) Earth at Risk : Building a Resistance Movement to Save the Planet

Keith, Lierre. (2009)  The Vegetarian Myth

Keith, L., McBay, A. &   Derrick Jensen. (2011) Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet

Kuhn, Thomas. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolution

Livingston, John. (1973) One Cosmic Instant: A Natural History of human Arrogance, (1981) The Fallacy of Wildlife Conservation (1995) Rogue Primate:  An Exploration of Human Domestication, (1988)  YouTube. John Livingston Lectures on Cultural and Historical Perspectives of Nature.

The Wyrd Sisters: Farewell to Clayoquot Sound

Back To Home Page

Advertisements

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Jill Gertrude.

    Like

  2. Feminism XX says:

    Featured and Linked on Feminism XX http://feminismxx.blogspot.com

    Great work everybody!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great article. Thanks for sharing.
    ““No one in his right mind denies natural selection. But the fuel of it does not need to be competition. He could have used some other principle. However, he didn’t. And here we are with competition and territoriality and said dominance and all the rest of the rubbish we’re fed by mechanistic biology and the Sunday supplements. Social dominance in gorillas and whales and wolves and elephants? Come on. I have often wondered how Darwin’s argument would have looked had he invoked cooperation, or compliance. Even more persuasive I would think.” [8]”
    This part specially reminded me of Kropotkin’s “Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution”, where he argued that Darwin started with a base assumption that had no back-up: he treated animals with his strictly human concepts such as competivity, as so, he couldn’t see that animals actually weren’t competitively working (at least that’s not all that there was), but also worked in communities cooperatively.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The histories of western civilization are founded on Great Men stories…Patriarchy Darwin was a British naturalist. An imperialist and yes, at the same time as Darwin was observing “competition”in the Galapagos Islands; in Russia, Kropotkin was observing the exact opposite. Begs the question were the social and political energies of the time fueling the social construction of reality? Did “competition” simply become the dominant operating principle, not because it was “objective science” but because it justified the colonization of other cultures, people and nations?

      Like

  4. Great job Trish!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: