Sunday, June 14, 2009


"We kill nothing, we live on the land, we never rob nature. Yet governments always want more. We are warning the world that our people will die."
John Vidal writes here about the economic and environmental war being waged against indigenous peoples, a war scarcely visible in the catalogue of contemporary global conflicts. He quotes Victor Menotti, director of the California-based International Forum on Globalisation, as saying,
"This is a paradigm war taking place from the arctic to tropical forests. Wherever you find indigenous peoples you will find resource conflicts. It is a battle between the industrial and indigenous world views."
This description is tinged with the ecological romanticism of the Green activist, though the plight of indigenous people is only too real. In fact, there is nothing unique about their position. It is the same as that of the many others who have faced dispossession throughout history, whether Native Americans or Scottish Highlanders. Their problem is that they happen to own what others, far more powerful than them, want and intend to acquire, regardless of the devastation caused.

The way in which indigenous people view the natural resources under threat is indeed different to the governments and corporations desperately seeking to exploit new resources. However, the difference in perceptions is down to more than a different way of seeing the world, rather it is a product of the utility of the environment to their survival. It is about the ownership and control of their own resources. In this sense we are not witnessing a "paradigm war". This is a war for the collective and cultural survival of those deemed expendable.

And it is for a model of progress that does not include genocide.

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