Ed. note: Originally published in Spanish in La Jornada, September 8, 2020 | Victor M. Toledo*
Translated by Jane K. Brundage
The world has reached its limit. Humanity no longer resists. Who dares to defend this order full of injustice, shame, catastrophes, depredation? In the name of whom or what? What –ism can you defend today? It only remains to delve into natural history and human history in search of the essence of the species. To try to overcome it by tracing the paths of degradation that led to this present situation. The civilizing process sought to do away with two attributes that today are the cause of the terminal crisis being suffered: by the negation of the spirit and the destruction of nature. Both phenomena lie at the bottom of the malaise of modernity.
The destruction of nature, the disenchantment of the world, rests in the hands of science, the new way of knowing reality through reason, materialism, analysis and technique. The mastery of nature was glorified by the scientist Francis Bacon in the name of God. Science denied the existence of Madre Tierra | Mother Earth, revered and respected, and instead introduced the idea of an inanimate mechanical system, the vision of a machine (eco-system) to be scrutinized, controlled, dominated, and ultimately exploited. Converted into a factory, nature — a natural resource or natural capital — today is permanently violated or abused by actions guided by capitalist logic. A patriarchal act that according to J. M. Naredo is executed by work, the masculine category of neoclassical economics. Today, the situation is the greatest social inequality in history and the largest known ecological breakdown on a global scale (the climate crisis). The two central tasks of every conscious individual are the rescue of spirituality and (re)connecting with respect for nature. Three sectors are playing a strategic role in this: environmentalists, women, and indigenous peoples. In them are found the sources of inspiration and subversion needed to construct a different civilization.
Teaser photo credit: Caption: Milpa | Corn Field on the Purhépecha Meseta | Highlands, in Michoacán México. Credit: Reed Brundage