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Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 12, No. 9, September 2016
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Bodies, Subjects, and Human Development

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ARTICLES

Editorial Essay: Bodies, Subjects, and Human Development

The "Hatred of Life" — The World System which is Threatening All of Us, by Claudia von Werlhof

Is There a Place for Family Planning Advocacy in Environmental Work?, by Robert Engelman

A World SDG – Global Accounting of Responsibilities for Economic Impacts, by Jessie Lydia Henshaw

Without Art One Does Not Live Well, by Carmine Gorga

An Updated Version of the "Peak Oil" Story, by Gail Tverberg

Unwinding the Human Predicament, by Jack Alpert

Climate Change Activism: A Post-Mortem, by John Michael Greer

Basic Income: The Post Social Democratic Economic Pathway for the 21st Century, by Alexander de Roo

Against Ecocide: Legal Protection for Earth, by Femke Wijdekop

Liberation Ecology, by Leonardo Boff

Human Population Growth Continues to Threaten Biodiversity, by Tim Radford

Sexuality and Gender ~ Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences, by Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh

Patriarchy in the Hierarchy, by Kunda Dixit

Book Summary of The Three D's: Democracy, Divinity and Drama, by Bruce Burton

Book Summary of Redeeming Gender, by Adrian Thatcher

SUPPLEMENTS

Advances in Sustainable Development

Directory of Sustainable Development Resources

Strategies for Solidarity and Sustainability

Best Practices for Solidarity and Sustainability

Fostering Gender Balance in Society

Fostering Gender Balance in Religion

Meditations on Man and Woman, Humanity and Nature



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Bodies, Subjects, and Human Development

"A human population approaching 7 billion can be maintained only by desolating the Earth. If wild habitat is given over to human cultivation and habitation, if rainforests can be turned into green deserts, if genetic engineering enables ever-higher yields to be extorted from the thinning soils—then humans will have created for themselves a new geological era, the Eremozoic, the Era of Solitude, in which little remains on the Earth but themselves and the prosthetic environment that keeps them alive." ~ John Gray

Counting bodies is easy. Keeping in mind that each living human body is actually a body-person, i.e., a personal subject with an inner life and a personal dignity, takes a bit more focusing. The corporal and spiritual dimensions of human life can be distinguished, but cannot be separated. Surely, humans cannot live on bread alone, but they do need bread. Eating is not sufficient for a dignified life, but it is necessary. Same applies with regard to other basic necessities such as water, clothing, and shelter. But there is more, the inner self of each person.

There is much hesitation to discuss the issue of population growth. From the fact that life is sacred, and each human person has a value that transcends any other practical consideration, it is often implicitly inferred that population growth is intrinsically good. It is written: "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it." Well, this was written ca. 1000 BCE. Three thousand years later, the earth is not yet full but subduing it is polluting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. It is also written that, in conjunction with subduing the earth, we are "to work it and take care of it." Human dignity, and the integrity of the human habitat, requires more than just "breeding like rabbits"; it requires "responsible parenthood."

It also requires responsible consumption of natural resources and responsible remediation of any damage done to the planet. The logic of the I = PAT equation is implacable: there are practical limits to how much population and consumption can grow, and how much waste can be dumped on the planet, before human life becomes miserable and, therefore, undignified. Hoaxes such as "clean coal," thermodynamic oxymorons such as the "circular economy," and yet to be invented technical "solutions," do not make possible what is impossible: infinite population, infinite consumption, and infinite waste in a finite planet. And yet:

"To most of us nothing is so invisible as an unpleasant truth. Though it is held before our eyes, pushed under our noses, rammed down our throats – we know it not." ~ Eric Hoffer

The ubiquity of computers, cell phones, virtual reality stimulants, and other distractions such as (mostly useless) information overload, and now "big data," undoubtedly contribute to our inability to see reality, let alone remain focused on reality; but the reality is that human behavior during the Anthropocene, by surrendering to marketing-driven hoarding and extravagant consumption at the expense of the inner person, is inexorably leading us toward the Eremozoic:

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Source: Cryptomundo Cartoons

Technological advances may be useful, and even necessary in some cases, but will never be sufficient to overcome the ecological crisis. There must be a conscious evolution toward people understanding that solidarity is better than hoarding, sustainability is better than extravagance, and human dignity matters at every point in the life of each person, from conception to natural death. Change is the name of the game. A profound cultural evolution of the human species is required, from homo politicus to homo solidarius, from homo economicus to homo ecologicus. A transition from "breeding like rabbits" to "responsible parenthood" is necessary, but not sufficient. The integral human development of each person must be the core of any sustainable development strategy; else, we are breeding and sustaining bodies but not fully human personal subjects.

Looking at the panorama of human history since the agricultural revolution, we can discern that the more recent industrial and information revolutions have been not been so revolutionary after all. More of the same, bigger but not necessarily better, and surely more destructive of the natural habitat as human power in "subduing the earth" has been enhanced by fossil fuels. The shift from "subduing the earth" to "caring for the earth" can happen if, and only if, a new synthesis of caring for humanity and caring for the earth emerges from the ashes of the patriarchal era.

Thankfully, the passing of patriarchy as the prevailing human culture is already observable in many families transitioning from sole male (father) headship to joint male-female (father-mother) headship. Even though, due to cultural and religious factors, much resistance remains operative in some regions of the world, this is a sign of hope for the future of humanity and the biosphere. In the "already/not yet" of the new creation, a new era is dawning in human relations: no Jew/Greek (Eastern/Western), slave/owner (labor/capital), male/female (patriarchy/equality), but unity in diversity as originally intended by the Creator and fully restored by the Redeemer.

Patriarchal gender theory (i.e., the sex/gender binary and normative male headship) is no longer credible. In this context, it is noteworthy that Pope Francis is creating a new Vatican dicastery to promote integral human development. This is a laudable initiative, but it is hard to understand how, in a post-patriarchal world, integram humanam progressionem can be fostered by excluding 50% of the Catholic faithful from one of the sacraments, to the detriment of the entire body of Christ. It behooves all human institutions, secular and religious, to let go of ancient misconceptions that no longer serve the human person, body and soul.

An integral sacramental economy would be more conducive to integral human development and an integral ecology, for the glory of God and the good of humanity.



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The "Hatred of Life" —
The World System which is Threatening All of Us


Claudia von Werlhof

This article was originally published in
Global Research, 16 August 2016
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION

In this civilization, true democracy is impossible.

I only have a few minutes to convince you of the usefulness of a new term; a term that will help us understand the dangerous times we are living in as well as the related struggles on a deeper level, that is, from the roots.

The time for lighthearted jokes and uncertainties is over. The “storm” predicted by the Zapatistas is approaching faster than expected. Our confusion needs to end.

The world system that is threatening all of us is based on a strange phenomenon I was only recently able to fully grasp, namely a “hatred of life”. (2) This hatred has indeed become a system, society, global civilization. It is embodied in all of modern civilization’s institutions: in economics as much as in politics, in science as much as in gender relations, and, especially, in modern technology. There no longer exists a place where the hatred of life has not, literally, been poured into concrete as the basic idea and sensation of our existence. The hatred of life is no fleeting emotion or a mere individual or personal experience of a certain situation or moment. It is nothing less than hostility to life itself, which – and this is my thesis – has become the main foundation, driving force, and defining criterion for a patriarchal civilization dating back almost 5000 years.

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After a virtual ban of 30 years, the term “patriarchy” is now re-emerging. It was commonly used by radical feminists whose movement was destined to be destroyed with the arrival of neoliberalism.

The appearance of so-called “gender studies” was a consequence of this. The term “patriarchy” was shunned and the advocates of gender studies soon rallied behind demands for “equality” within the present system. The goal was integration and a share of power – something the Left had been propagating for a long time.

But the challenge lies in moving beyond a system driven by the hatred of life instead of (voluntarily!) turning into an ever more loyal accomplice in the massacres it is responsible for.

It has been repeatedly suggested here that the patriarchal system is a system of death. That is not entirely correct. The patriarchal system is a system of killing, that is, of artificial death: ecocide, matricide, homicide in general, and finally “omnicide”, the killing of “everything”.

Omnicide is already appearing on the horizon in the form of so-called “geoengineering”. Geoengineering has begun with the destruction of the planet itself, of Mother Earth and of her living order. Geoengineering intends to turn planet Earth into a gigantic weapon of war. (3) It uses new, “post-nuclear”, technologies of mass destruction intended to take control of the planet and its energies to employ “weather warfare” and “plasma weapons” among others.

The military geoengineering we are facing is an “art of war against the earth” that has been developed during 70 years of experimentation with the planet. It cloaks itself in “civil” and “scientific” clothing and claims to protect us from “climate change” and “global warming”. However, climate change and global warming are the results of the named experimentation and not of greenhouse gas emissions, as we are falsely led to believe in order to hide the crimes of the military. (4)

In this context, I would like to announce the publication of Planeta Tierra – la Nueva Guerra, the Spanish edition of Dr. Rosalie Bertell’s book Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War, which will be released by La casa del mago, based in Guadalajara. (5)

We always knew that the military was no institution expressing a love of life. But until recently we didn’t know that our civilian institutions were poisoned by the same perverse, illogical, and, in the words of Ivan Illich, “counterproductive” hatred of life.

How can you hate life when you are a part of it? How can you hate yourself? And why?

It is this scandalous secret that needs to be revealed. It is self-evident that the hatred of life cannot be acknowledged or openly named, supported, or propagated. It is never mentioned. Practically no one would want to partake in a project driven by a hatred of life. The love of life is still ours; it is deeply human. It is still with us from the times of non-patriarchal civilization, so-called “matriarchy”. Matriarchal civilization is based on a love of life. It is a civilization that cooperates with life, that celebrates life, and that cherishes the “good life” of communities, without the state and hierarchies, without the police and banks. (6)

The sinister motive of hating life needs to be hidden. The unspeakable crimes that all patriarchies have committed against life itself, against children, women, and all human beings, against the earth, animals, and plants must not be revealed. The hatred of life is the reason and the rational justification for the violence against it; a violence that intends to prevent any rebellion or uprising of those not believing in the system it protects; a system that many would see as a grave assault on their dignity if they only recognized it.

We are told that this violence is necessary for development, progress, and a better life for all of us. It is usually only understood and recognized by those who are directly affected by it. Even then, the promise of a better life is supposed to be a consolation, although any chance for a better life has, in fact, been sacrificed!

Why do we so seldom recognize how flawed this logic is? Why do we so seldom recognize the blatant contradiction of sacrificing life in order to improve it?

The reason is patriarchy’s utopian project. This was already laid out in ancient texts, during the times of the early patriarchies. The project’s purpose is to turn the natural order upside down and to establish an unnatural, and anti-natural, order instead. (7)

The origins of this can be found in the wars of conquest against the world’s matriarchal civilizations. Establishing control over those conquered required a system able to administer control: the state. It began to control life itself: humans, nature, and matriarchal culture. (8) The system based on a hatred of life was developed in order to prevent any challenge to patriarchal rule. It culminated in the desire to replace the natural order with an artificial one to dispose of the “problem of life” once and for all. All dependency on nature, women, mothers, and the earth was to be overcome. A male, patriarchal system of creation was invented that had no room for nature’s cycles, webs, and motions. The Goddess was replaced by “God the Creator” and, finally, by today’s “worldly gods”, the managers of an artificial life supposedly “post-human” and “trans-human”, a life of cyborgs, robots, artificial uteri, test tubes, and global industries of reproduction. (9)

The project of replacing life with non-life could only be realized with the help of modern patriarchal-capitalist civilization and its machine technology. All of the earlier “alchemist” attempts to produce better, higher, and more divine forms of life had failed. Only modern technology allowed for the monstrous manifestation of the patriarchal project we are witnessing today. This is why I call modern patriarchy: “the Monster”!

The Monster is not only characterized by exploitation, extraction, and appropriation. It is, first and foremost, characterized by transforming its possessions into their opposites, that is, into everything we call “capital”: value, money, machines, and hierarchical structures (following Marx).

In this civilization, true democracy is impossible. We are up against a totalitarian system that does not care for its subjects, that can not (or no longer) be stopped, and that is constantly becoming faster and more efficient in its attempt to end life on this planet – while turning even this very process into a tool for further accumulation of profit and power…

Supposedly, everything that exists today derives from so-called fathers; each origin is patriarchal and no longer maternal, deriving from a mother, from Mother Earth, matri-archal. Patriarchy is a new “technological formation” that produces and transforms everything that exists violently. It will not stop before everything has been annihilated.

Capitalism is the modern form of materializing this utopian project of total transformation. When “pure” patriarchy arrives and even the tiniest matriarchal remnants have disappeared, we will all be dead.

I hope that the men among you who before had difficulties with the term “patriarchy” can now see that it concerns you, too. I hope that you will decide to switch sides and join nature and women. Women are (still) closer to life, since life emerges from them. They are always the first victims of the hatred of life, but they are also closer to the truth of life.

When women rise up, they rise up in the defense of life. It has always been like that. Today, women are rising up again against violence and for life, massively and all over the world. Everyone ought to follow them, embrace them, and love them for it. It is not them who are the threat, it is the Monster, the patriarchal “hydra”, an all-encompassing combination of capitalism, neoliberalism, colonialism, globalization, and militarism.

Patriarchy is a historical project that has reached its peak with capitalism. Because of its hatred of life it inevitably will collapse. It cannot replace the life it continuously destroys. Capital cannot return anything to life. The process of “patriarchization” is irreversible. It is a religion. And the patriarchs cannot stop believing in it, because they would otherwise be forced to return to matriarchy…

What a great idea that would be! What joy it would bring! We could leave the patriarchal deception behind us and revive human dignity by rejecting this monstrous system. Without our participation and cooperation it cannot be maintained.

Mother Earth or death! This is the alternative we are confronted with today. (10) From a common house to a common cause: liberating ourselves from the ludicrous hatred of life, a collective disease buried in our collective unconscious.

Life is not here to be killed; it is here to be loved and defended!

Translation from German: Gabriel Kuhn

Notes:

  1. Claudia von Werlhof: El „odio a la vida“ como característica central del patriarcado, Mex. Nov 20, 2015a
  2. _____: El secreto inefable de la civilización moderna, man. Mex. 2015b
  3. Cf. Rosalie Bertell: Planet Earth: The latest weapon of war. London 2000, Women’s Press
  4. Cf. Planetare Bewegung für Mutter Erde, www.pbme-online.org; Claudia von Werlhof: La destrucción de la Madre Tierra como último y máximo crimen de la civilización patriarcal, Mex. 2015c, in: DEP, no. 30, Venice, Feb 2016
  5. Rosalie Betell: Planeta Tierra – la Nueva Guerra, Guadalajara 2016, La casa del mago
  6. Heide Göttner-Abendroth: Das Matriarchat, several volumes, Stuttgart, from 1988, Kohlhammer
  7. Cf. BUMERANG – Zeitschrift für Patriarchatskritik, no. 0, 2015, www.fipaz.at
  8. Cf., for example, Doris Wolf: Was war vor den Pharaonen?, Zurich 1994, Kreuz
  9. Cf. Claudia von Werlhof: Der unerkannte Kern der Krise. Die Moderne als Er-Schöpfung der Welt, Arun 2012, Uhlstädt-Kirchhasel; BUMERANG, no. 1: Mutterschaft im Patriarchat, 2015, www.fipaz.at
  10. Claudia von Werlhof: Madre Tierra o Muerte! Reflexiones para una Teoría Crítica del Patriarcado, Oaxaca 2015d, El Rebozo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claudia von Werlhof was born in 1943 in Berlin; 1988 Professor of Political Science/Women's Studies, University Innsbruck (Austria); Latin American Studies, University Bielefeld (Germany); PhD 1974, Habilitation 1984. Empirical research: Central and South America; Theoretical contributions: Critical Theory of Patriarchy. She founded, with many others, the Planetary Movement for Mother Earth and, more recently, the BOOMERANG Journal for the Critique of Patriarchy.


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