In 1493 the most corrupt (and orgy-throwing) pope of all time gave the nod of approval for wealth-seeking Europeans to trample the rest of the world. As seafaring colonizers divvied up the world and justified their actions using the Doctrine of Discovery, the era of land-grabbing imperialism led to outrageous exploitation of Indigenous peoples and ecosystems. Learn why the main ingredients in the recipe for souffle in Noumea are colonization, extraction, and globalization. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.

Transcript

Jason Bradford

I’m Jason Bradford.

Asher Miller

I’m Asher Miller.

Rob Dietz

And I’m Rob Dietz. Welcome to Crazy Town where you get a colony, you get a colony, everyone gets a colony!

Melody Travers

This is producer Melody Travers. In this season of Crazy Town, Jason, Asher, and Rob are exploring the watershed moments in history that have led humanity into the cascading crises we face in the 21st century. Today’s episode exposes how religious and political leaders rationalize colonization and exacted a terrible toll on Indigenous peoples. The watershed moment took place in the year 1493. At the time, the estimated carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was 282 parts per million, and the global human population was 371 million.

Asher Miller

Rob, Jason we’re pretty good friends, right?

Rob Dietz

Mostly. . .

Asher Miller

I’d say you know quite a bit about me, don’t you?

Jason Bradford

Yeah.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Yeah. In fact, that’s what people say: “You know Asher better than anybody.”

Asher Miller

Right, okay.

Jason Bradford

I thought I knew him better than anybody.

Asher Miller

Well, so.

Rob Dietz

Okay. Yes. We’re pretty good friends. We’ve established that.

Asher Miller

I’m gonna test that. Did you know that I am an amateur papal historian.

Jason Bradford

Wow.

Rob Dietz

Papal as in like, of paper?

Asher Miller

The Vatican – the Catholic Church.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, I didn’t know that. That’s great.

Rob Dietz

I did not know this. But I still feel like I’m a friend of yours.

Asher Miller

Right.

Rob Dietz

Like I knew from our last episode, before that, I knew you wanted to be named Steve. Steve, the papal authority.

Asher Miller

Right, exactly. Well, it’s actually something that all Jews have to do. They’re forced to study the history of the Vatican.

Rob Dietz

I don’t think you’re correct on that.

Asher Miller

Okay. It’s not actually true. But we’re going to be talking quite a bit about the Catholic Church today. In fact, I want to introduce a new character to our show. Okay, Crazy Town, his name is Pope Alexander the VI. I guess there were five Alexanders before him. I don’t know many after?

Rob Dietz

Could popes have a negative number? Like, could you be Pope Alexander the negative third?

Asher Miller

If you could, this guy would definitely be in the negative camp and here’s why, okay? He’s arguably the most corrupt and depraved of all of the popes ever.

Rob Dietz

Really? What a title! He holds the belt like a UFC fighter.

Asher Miller

It’s actually part of his title.

Rob Dietz

Most depraved.

Jason Bradford

Well, so what did he do?

Asher Miller

Well, first of all, he’s infamous for throwing lots of orgies. Which of course, that’s like a standard thing –

Jason Bradford

Well, Asher, the Catholic orgy movement traces back to this guy. But I mean, he’s revered among the members of the Catholic orgy movement.

Rob Dietz

Right, right. Didn’t they refer to him as Pope Orgasmus the 69th?

Jason Bradford

I mean, the paintings you could find of like the red robe spread throughout the Sistine Chapel and the nubile bodies everywhere. It’s just –

Asher Miller

You know, if we have any devout Catholic listeners, I think we’ve probably lost them all.

Rob Dietz

Well, I have a lot of respect for people I know who are Catholic. I don’t necessarily have respect for an ancient depraved pope. So, he had orgies, but what else did this guy do?

Asher Miller

Well, yeah, and the reason I’m bringing him up is not so much the orgies, although it seems like you got a glint in your eye there, Jason. I’ll just tell you a little story. In order to be named the pope, the papacy, he went on this campaign of bribery, blackmail, threats to the other Cardinals. That way he managed to secure the votes of the majority of them. 17 of the 22. So like, set out on this campaign. By the way, his uncle before him was pope.

Jason Bradford

This is all the da Vinci codes.

Asher Miller

If you say so. But I think, a little bit more relevant than this sort of backstory is the fact that he and his uncle were the only two popes that ever came from Spain. Right? And there’s a strong connection to Spain. And keep that in mind as I bring up why we’re even talking about that. Okay? We’re not here to bash the Catholic Church. We want to actually talk about something that this specific pope did. Which was, draft the papal bull known as the Inter Caetera. I’m probably butchering that.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, I’m looking at the way it’s written. . . if you want to go Latin on that, you want to say “Kai-Terra,” but if we Englishify that (if that’s a word) it would be “Cetera” or something like that.

Asher Miller

And we’ll get to why this papal bull is important, but let me give a context for why it matters. It was in response to a request that the pope received from the Spanish crown, right? Remember his ties to Spain? And that was after Columbus. Remember that dude?

Rob Dietz

Yeah. If you’re a US citizen, you ought to know something about Christopher Columbus.

Asher Miller

So Columbus sent a letter to the royal family, King and Queen of Spain, in early 1493, February. Writing of, and I’m quoting here, “islands with marvelously temperate breezes and marvelous meadows and fields and comparable to those of Castile. And the same could be said of the rivers of great and good waters, most of which are gold bearing.” Ding ding ding ding ding.

Rob Dietz

How come when everybody wrote back then they couldn’t just say it’s a great river? It had to be great and good. That doesn’t make any sense.

Asher Miller

But what he’s saying here is gold-bearing. Yeah, he wrote of gold and spices and pepper and cotton, and innumerable slaves.

Rob Dietz

Oh, yeah. They were just just sitting there waiting. Just asking to be enslaved.

Asher Miller

And 1000 other things, quote -unquote, of importance yet to be found. Right? So he’s writing them of this discovery. The dude was trying to find China, he found this instead.

Rob Dietz

Wait, I thought he was trying to find India?

Asher Miller

Oh, yeah. India, excuse me. My bad. And then he sent this letter to them basically saying, “Hey, we got all this stuff here. We got to go and discover and conquer.” And so they immediately requested, they wrote a letter to the pope, and they requested that he sanction their claim to this newly discovered link.

Jason Bradford

Okay, he wants to stamp of the pope to say, “This is ours.”

Asher Miller

Right. And it was in response to that, just a short while later on. We’re talking about a matter of months here which is like lightning speed –

Jason Bradford

Yeah. Back then.

Asher Miller

– that Pope Alexander drafted the Inter Caetera.

Rob Dietz

Okay. Yeah. I mean, when you talk about trying to get something drafted, Person A had to shout the Person B, who was what? Like 100 yards away? And then they had to shout at Person C. Before we go further here, when we started talking about this, I didn’t know what a papal bull was. And I think that’s a pretty obscure term. So I looked it up –

Asher Miller

We’re not talking about livestock.

Jason Bradford

Right, it’s not Spanish –

Rob Dietz

No bullfighting, right. So let’s define it a little bit. So a papal bull was kind of a really important document that would be issued by the pope. It was usually some kind of dogmatic pronouncement. Some sort of theological statement. And the word itself, the bull comes from the –

Asher Miller

Bullshit?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, I know. Right. A lot of papal bullshit. No, it comes from bulla, which was a lead seal. So it’s like this little medallion that would have the name of the pope and maybe some saints on it to sort of lend more air of importance and weight to this document. The whole thing is kind of weird. I think, you know, when you started talking and you used the word papal. . . Like that’s kind of a weird adjective. I’m a word guy. So I like to figure out how to use these things like a spelling bee contestant. So I made up a sentence. Inter Caetera is a load of papal bull. There, I used it in a sentence.

Jason Bradford

Okay, well, at this time – This is  before the Protestant Reformation. So the Catholic Church kind of had a monopoly on Christianity at the time in Western Europe here. And so, the geographers and historians really highlight the importance of the Catholic Church for these permission granting, right? Providing sort of an aura of religious –

Asher Miller

In some ways you think of it as like international court?

Jason Bradford

Yeah. The highest court is –

Asher Miller

Yeah, dealing with jurisdictional issues or disagreements between different Catholic nations, right? You’ve got a kingdom, but how do you resolve issues between them or make determinations about who owns what or whatever, right? In terms of the church.

Rob Dietz

I was thinking it was more like the church was mom and dad. You’ve got to go ask their permission to sleep over at Billy’s house tonight.

Asher Miller

Kind of both, right.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, you’ve got to go take lands from people. For an example, there’s an Australian geographer, Oskar Spate and in his book, “The Spanish Lake,” he kind of explained this with this quote: “By immemorial prescription only the papacy could authorize admissions to heathen lands and naturally such authority was normally accorded to specific rulers or religious orders.” So it’s kind of their divvying it up. You know, specific countries and the rulers and specific religious orders within the church sort of had them the authority to go do this colonizing.

Asher Miller

Now, of course, we’re just talking about how corrupt pope Alexander VI was. It wasn’t just a one way dynamic. It wasn’t just mom and dad in the case of like, these kingdoms needing to ask for permission from the Vatican for things. There’s a lot of reciprocity happening here, scratching of backs, and in his case there’s speculation that the he was seeking favor from the Spanish court for money, or permissions for things that he wanted for his own family and his own personal wealth. So that dynamic is obviously complex there, right? And I think what’s important to recognize here in talking about this particular papal bull is that it was actually one of a series of papal bulls, and actually a treaty that was passed between Portugal and Spain, that sort of created together what people call now the Doctrines of Christian Discovery.

Rob Dietz

So you’re saying the Inter Caetera papal bull, plus some other papal bull that came later – I refrained from adding to the phrase “papal bull” – that that forms this doctrine of discovery that then does what?

Asher Miller

Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about – why this is such a watershed moment. But just to put it into context, and there was actually a previous one . . . In our last episode, we talked about the African slave trade and the creation of racism. There was a papal bull, that decree in 1452 that gave Portugal permission, and I’m quoting here, to reduce any Saracens, which was their word for Muslims and pagans, and any other unbelievers to perpetual slavery. So there’s this kind of continuation of ones that were passed that gave more and more sort of specific authorization for how the world, this new territory,  first Africa, and then after Christopher Columbus sailed and went to the Caribbean, the Western Hemisphere, right? And it’s those together that kind of create what’s now called this Doctrine of Discovery.

Rob Dietz

Okay, so I do want to point out, as we often do, in this show, there’s always nuance, there’s always complexity. It’s never this just obviously cut and dried. Even though we’re presenting this as a watershed moment in history there was debate and differences of opinion at the time. So there’s a theologian in Spain by the name of Francisco de Vitoria, who actually had a different view on how you should treat Indigenous people in the new world. And not just allow Spanish colonists to go in and take what they want.

Jason Bradford

And I want to say, he was a contemporary of all this stuff going on. So he a member of the Catholic Church is, you know, he was . . .

Asher Miller

Yeah, he wrote a few decades later. I think it was in response to the Spanish court looking for more clarification. We don’t really know what the debate was, in terms of, yeah it’s all for your taking, it doesn’t really matter, or if there are some rights of Indigenous peoples. The result is essentially the same.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, and it it’s hard to know what survived in the history books. But he seemed to be a voice of sanity. He’s saying that we’ve got to put limits on this justifying of warfare, and the pope really doesn’t have the right to give European rulers this dominion or power over non-Christians.

Jason Bradford

But you can imagine any big complex institution like the Catholic church at the time, they probably had all these sort of tensions within it and there were definitely people with heterodox views that were upset by what they saw, and weren’t so corrupt and maybe really believed in the sanctity of all life, etc, etc. So this may be one of these voices from history that was sort of trying to slow stuff down right…

Asher Miller

Right. In a sense we’re saying there isn’t a full excuse for saying – You know some time people exuse and say, “Well, that was the belief system that everyone in that time. . . Anyway, so pointing up the fact that there was actually a debate, even if there might have been a small debate, just in my mind takes away any sort of excuse making in a sense. But let’s be honest, whether he was a lone voice, or there was a minority voice out there, this was not the dominant decision.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, the papal bulls and what followed is, “Hey, we got Dominion. The new world is ours for the taking.

Jason Bradford

I’d  like to step back and look what’s happening broadly. Because a lot of times, of course, why we say we’re doing things does not necessarily explain why we’re doing things. So, what leads up to it? So, what is the drive behind these papal bulls? You know, you say, Columbus has is gotten back from the new world. What led him there, for example? What’s going on more broadly?

Rob Dietz

Well, you can always look at the economics. You had this economic drive for, hey, we got to get more gold. We got to get, whatever, more spices, other riches. So, they’re on the hunt for it. I was think of it like the Columbus’s, and all these guys are like dudes with metal detectors on the beach. And they’re just like, frantically searching the world for whatever they can find.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, I mean, gold is fascinating because it was the currency back then. And if you could amass gold, you could then buy things and trade. So that’s an important thing. I think connecting that to what’s going on in the climate and ecologically in Europe is interesting. There was a medieval warming period, which allowed for improved crop production in Europe and population growth, and sort of a cultural flourishing coming out of the dark ages. And –

Rob Dietz

Sounds so cozy. A medieval warming.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, well, that had turned the corner and by the 1300’s, and of course, then into the 1400’s with what we’re talking about, things were kind of a mess in Europe. There was a lot of starvation, disease, a lot of different wars going on. A lot of scapegoating. Politically, you know, witch trials, and these kinds of things. Making up stuff about who the bad people are because people are hungry and scared. So this is in the background  when these exploration and seeking other lands is going on.

Asher Miller

Yeah, there’s obviously the resource driver and the dynamics of population, all that stuff. There’s also great conflict that’s been going on for centuries between the Catholic Church, Catholics, and Islam. And that spread into southern Europe. And the beginning of colonization in Africa was really a struggle against Muslim control of North Africa. And in a lot of this, I think the Catholic Church was sort of justifying this expansion and providing cover by basically saying, you’re there to convert these pagans and these heathens to save them. Even if the true motivation was we want some resources.

Jason Bradford

Yeah. Or, you know, if you’re a politician, one of the greatest things you can do to distract your population who is hungry, is, you know, “the heathens out there need to be fought, need to be colonized. We need to take their resources and we’ll become wealthy.” So classic. It’s astonishing to think though, what happened to the new world in particular, or what they call the New World at the time which we now know as North, South America, Central America. Prior to Columbus’s explorations in 1492, the estimates, it’s hard to know for sure, but on the order of 100 million deaths occurred just following that. So prior to that, there were probably over 100 million people living there in North and South America. 90% or so died off.

Rob Dietz

And that’s the smallpox and other diseases?

Jason Bradford

Yes, influenza and smallpox, etc, etc.

Asher Miller

And violence.

Jason Bradford

And violence, yeah.

Asher Miller

To a smaller degree, but, yeah,

Jason Bradford

and so but then, you know, there’s a feedback loop, of course, where 90% of your population dies, what happens to your ability to grow food and have political stability and your religions getting destroyed at the same time?

Rob Dietz

So imagine the religions that are born from that too. Yeah, talking about upheaval.

Jason Bradford

Total upheaval. So that  is considered to be maybe unprecedented in human history. That level of of die off.

Asher Miller

It has to be it. I also think it’s important to think in context, you know, when we think of like, U.S. history, right, early colonial era, coming here. . .The idea that there was this vast empty space, unpopulated space, is in part because it had been depopulated. And the size of that population is kind of, even for me, it’s inconceivable. Because we’re probably talking about a greater order or equivalent to Europe and in communities, very diverse with diverse languages, hundreds and hundreds, if not 1000’s of different cultures in the America. Entire population centers and very complex. Yeah, all of that gone.

Jason Bradford

All that gone. There’s actually you know, reports of the same people the same, you know, Spaniards, showing up somewhere and then going back 10 years later, and basically, all these villages they had shown up to are gone. Like they can’t find people anymore. So the die off was incredibly swift, and so, so swift that it’s now looked at by climatologists as perhaps something that positively fed into what’s called the Little Ice Age. So I mentioned earlier that the medieval warming period had waned, and it was a cooling trend in Europe. And it looks this may have accelerated it. So you have 90% of the population die off, forests come back like crazy.

Rob Dietz

You’re talking in North America?

Jason Bradford

Yeah, and possibly parts of South America. And it pulls so much CO2 out of the air that from ice cores we can tell that the parts per million of CO2 dropped by 7 to 10 parts per million. And so you you had a normal cooling pattern going on through other cycles. But this then accelerated that, accentuated that. So of course, it gets even colder in Europe. It gets worse. Like the crop failures get worse.

Rob Dietz

This harkens back to that episode we did last season on positive feedback loops.

Jason Bradford

Completely right. And so they’re even… Amplifying loops. Amplifying. So Europe is now even more motivated to do this colonialism because they are struggling even more.

Rob Dietz

Right. That’s wild.

Asher Miller

Yeah. And I think it’s important to talk about. . . You know, we’re talking about the early history of this with the Catholic Church and Spain and Portugal. There are other European powers who essentially adopted this Doctrine of Discovery, and apply the same logic, even though they were not part of the Catholic Church. You know, they didn’t necessarily look to the Catholic Church for approval authorization.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, this is into the Reformation period. You fast forward 100 years and they’re still making these calls, right?

Asher Miller

Yeah. Hundreds of years. Right? So I mean, that same mindset. And I think this is why we’re wanting to talk about this as a watershed moment. This idea that lands that are new to you, right? We call this the Age of Discovery which is bullshit. But a discovery for Europeans. To walk into into a situation like that to say, “This is ours for the taking.” That mindset, even though it was no longer about converting heathens, there was no religious justification for it any longer, still permeated.

Jason Bradford

And it had become sort of this like political sphere that had now it fully adopted it, I guess, in a sense.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. I mean, that notion of colonization, I’m not as worldly as the two of you. So I always got to come back to the U.S. But that attitude is all over the place in early U.S. history and dealing with Indigenous people right here. I mean, talk about pushing people off of land, making bogus treaties that you were never going to honor, direct fighting, where you go in with well-armed soldiers and white people, ongoing genocide, intentionally spreading disease. . . I mean, it’s a horrible history that is utterly defined by that mindset of what you said, Asher: “This is ours.” Even though, you were already there.

Asher Miller

And of course, there are ongoing justifications that people . . . I mean, you brought this up, Jason. And we’ve talked about this quite a bit where a belief system is sort of invented after the fact. To justify behaviors, right? So initially, you might have the Catholic Church giving approval for something under the guise of conversion. Saving souls, right. And you feel like in the U.S. history, you see a sort of similar dynamic around like, we’re actually going to educate and modernize these native populations, right? We’re going to take over, and we’re going to make them like us for their good. You know, sticking with the U.S., I just want to point out that the Doctrine of Discovery, that this watershed moment that we bring back to the 15th century actually made it into U.S. law. Which is absolutely bananas.

Jason Bradford

Shocking, right? Like going back to this . . . right.

Rob Dietz

I don’t know, is it? People always talk about the Magna Carta, and about, you know. . . I mean, this stuff just somehow survives.

Asher Miller

But we’re talking centuries later.

Jason Bradford

Centuries later.

Asher Miller

So in 1823, in a Supreme Court case, the Doctrine of Discovery was actually used by the Supreme Court, as part of U.S. federal law. And used to dispossess native peoples from their land in a unanimous decision. The Chief Justice at the time, John Marshall, wrote that “the principle of discovery gave European nations an absolute right to New World lands and native peoples just certain rates of occupancy.”

Rob Dietz

I use that at Jason’s house. I came here. It is now mine. And I let him use it in certain ways.

Jason Bradford

It’s nice. I mean, it’s a nice place. I mean, I’m happy to have you around.

Asher Miller

And it’s not just in law, which is, like I said, bananas. But you know, you look at the Monroe Doctrine. You look at Manifest Destiny, which we are taught in school. I don’t know if they’re still teaching Manifest Destiny as much in school, but it’s just like to present it is such a profound part of the story of progress in the United States. Go west, my son.

Rob Dietz

I think we’re still on it because the earth is a globe and you can keep going west until you get back to the East Coast.

Asher Miller

You’re wrong. It’s flat, and you fall off.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, but I do want to point out, it’s easy to bash on the U.S. And we know enough about it to do that, and we’re from here so I feel comfortable doing that. But also, like you said, I’m way more worldly than you are, Rob. You’re more southern than I am, though, so . . . But when I travel around the world, it was –

Rob Dietz

Oh, “Mr. World Traveler.”

Jason Bradford

– I saw this dynamic play out everywhere. Australia and the Pacific. Obviously, you know, the prison colony, Australia.

Rob Dietz

Wait, wait. Georgia has some claim to being a prison colony as well.

Jason Bradford

Right, right. One of my favorite places to visit was New Caledonia. And I’ve been there six times. An island in the South Pacific. And I kept going back there because my family of plants that I was –

Asher Miller

You’ve got a book over there.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, actually I can cite it. The New Caledonia, my plant family. Anyhow, very exciting place. But you show up to New Caledonia, and the capital city there is called Nouméa, and it’s like a little French city. It’s all French colonial architecture. But in the South Pacific. French cuisine, boutiques.

Rob Dietz

Lots of souffles!

Jason Bradford

Yeah. Wonderful. Yeah, it’s fantastic. So it is a shock, you know, to go to these places and realize. And what you see though, is the mining interests. Like that place is a mineral wealth haven. And so you realize why it was colonized, and why they still have it as an overseas territory. It’s similar to like, you know, having a U.S. state in other words.

Rob Dietz

More of those little dudes with metal detectors fanning out over New Caledonia. Stripping out the riches.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, so it is, like the Australian geographer I mentioned earlier, it was used to colonize the globe, in many ways.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Well, look, I may not be as worldly as you are, but I can still read. Okay? So back when I was doing research for my book, “Enough is Enough,” I came across this famous conference that took place. And I think it’s really illustrative of the mindset, this colonizer mindset we’re talking about. And maybe you guys have heard of it. It’s the Scramble for Africa. Okay. So go back to 1884. So, you know –

Asher Miller

That wasn’t actually the name of the conference, was it?

Rob Dietz

Well, yeah, I’m sure they were a little more politically savvy, but that’s kind of what it’s come to be known as.

Asher Miller

Got it. Okay, sorry. 1884 . . .

Rob Dietz

The head of Germany was Otto von Bismarck. And he was getting really worried that Great Britain and Portugal were going to come into Africa and mess with his plans for controlling the Congo Basin. And so he was trying to figure out how to maintain Germany’s control there. So he thought, well, maybe instead of getting involved in a big European war, because you know, a few decades later, you’d see how damaging something like that could be. He thought international diplomacy was the way to protect those interests.

Jason Bradford

That sounds good.  Sounds nice.

Asher Miller

This is like the first UN? It must be, right?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, exactly like that. Except that is was . . . Well, actually, I was gonna say it was very exclusive. In some ways it was. But the list of countries that attended this thing surprised me. So here he is, he’s got a conference. He invites Great Britain, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain. Okay, that you sort of get. But then he invites the United States, Austria, Hungary, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Turkey and Russia.

Asher Miller

Didin’t you just say this was a conference about Africa?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, exactly. That’s what I said. Okay, so here’s the agenda, three part agenda at the conference. One is freedom of trade in the Congo Basin you know.

Rob Dietz

Freedom of our trade.

Rob Dietz

Yes, our trade. European trade. Two is freedom of navigation on the on the Congo and Asia rivers. And three, this is the best part in my opinion, rules to follow when taking possession of new territory. It’s like they’re playing a game of Risk or something.

Jason Bradford

It like there’s a  territory registry somewhere lin Europe that you have to call saying like, “this is mine. I drew this one.”

Rob Dietz

“No, I called it. I said shotgun first. Oh, wait, Belgium called it” So this conference, amazing. You know, usually you think, okay, a three day conference. No, this conference started on November 15, 1884 and ran ’til February 26, 1885.

Asher Miller

That’s because they spent a lot of time trying to get the input of African nations.

Jason Bradford

Gosh. That’s about 100 days.

Rob Dietz

That, Asher, is incorrect. So yeah, I mean, this is kind of now viewed as a land grab that was done obviously without consent. And you had colonial cultures and external economic institutions that got superimposed on people who had real history and a culture of their own.

Asher Miller

Yeah, and it’d be nice to think, God that was so long ago. Ancient history. That’s not friggin’ long ago. 1884-1885. No, not that long ago. I want to step it further back just for a second because we’ve we’ve talked a lot – well, we could talk a lot more – but we’ve talked about the human impacts of all of this. I think there’s another part of this that we shouldn’t ignore which does go all the way back to the papal bulls and what was communicated there. Which was granting rights over peoples and land. And I don’t think we should ignore the impact and attitude views towards the land itself in nature as a whole. Because this wasn’t just about exploiting peoples and taking over for resources. You know, this was about our relationship with how we viewed land that we didn’t inhabit. You know, quote – unquote, “we.”  By “we” mean Europeans here, right? And how that’s also been really deeply embedded.

Rob Dietz

Well, and that’s, again, like just expanding the expansionist mindset, or the exploitative mindset. You see it going on all over the place today. If we go back to the scramble for Africa, you’ve sort of got a new flavor of that happening now, and has been happening over the last decade or so. Where, you’ve got all these foreign corporations coming in and buying up as much land as they can for the express purpose of growing crops and basically agricultural goods to ship back home.

Jason Bradford

Yes, and of course, the mineral wealth of Africa is still under a huge amount of pressure. Also related to things like batteries and copper wires, and all this stuff we talk about for renewable energy infrastructure.

Rob Dietz

And it’s not just Africa, either. I mean, that’s happening all over.

Asher Miller

Yeah. And look, corporations have been using Doctrine of Discovery precedent and application of law to justify all kinds of dispossession of peoples from from native lands. Not just for, you know, we’re talking about kind of the very, very modern examples of that. Maybe rare earth minerals and other things, but look at oil and gas companies and the extraction of – as soon as a resource is discovered, there’s a justification for basically going to exploit it.

Rob Dietz

Look, we have an economic system that explicitly rewards that kind of action and behavior. If you can exploit something, be it labor, be it resources, you earn mega profits. You’re doing what you’re supposed to do according to the rules of engagement.

Jason Bradford

And there’s still work to just keep this going and accelerate it. It’s very large, very long time horizons. I’m thinking of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, which is a comprehensive plan to better integrate all of Eurasia and Africa in trade networks with ports, railroads, super highways, etc, etc. And an amazing number of – Most nations of the world are like, “Yay, thumbs up.” Because they’re all still at this mindset of, you know, the neoliberal paradigm of globalization and trade. So it’s fascinating. Like you’re saying, it could go all the way back to the papal bulls, and all the way to the present, and it really hasn’t changed much.

Asher Miller

And I would say that sickness manifests itself, not only everywhere you look, but kind of on this planet. But when we think about even beyond, right? I mean, the idea of discovery, right? There’s a concept of Terra Nullius, this idea of empty land that’s connected to the Doctrine of Discovery. You know, what are our new edges? The new frontier, right? We get the friggin’ Metaverse. But you look at Jeff Bezos who’s wanting to go harvest the moon so we can colonize space. Or Elon Musk saying, “Tet’s go to Mars!” And it’s that same exact mindset. Interestingly, I would even challenge us to recognize or at least contend with the possibility that even the way that we think about the climate crisis and solving the climate crisis is an extension of that sort of disease of the mind. And that we tend to think of the atmosphere, we think of the climate as ours. Like we’re so concerned about the human impacts of climate change and trying to solve it for humanity. And not ever, or very rarely, part of the conversations about the impacts to nature and other species beyond ourselves. Which is again, that same mindset of, it’s all for us however we divvy it up.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. I don’t want to take us down the pathway of conspiracy theories, but we’re talking about all this papal bull stuff, and then you bring up Elon Musk. Is the papal related to PayPal in some way?

Jason Bradford

Oh, it is all connected.

Jason Bradford

Franchised.

Rob Dietz

We’ve got to write a novel. I do appreciate, Asher, this insight of how far maybe – we’ve got like a sickness. And part of that that strikes me is how much it has this self replicating thing going on. Like colonization breeds this homogenization, Well, there’s another big fancy word. But the idea that, you know, you come up with a way to set up your fields, and a way to set up your animals, and a way to set up your cities. . . It’s almost like a video game like Sim City or –

Rob Dietz

Yeah, like you drop it down on some other landscape, and start running things the same way. And it’s like the end game, of course, is that everywhere around the globe has got this exploitative sickness and is all run the same way. And we’re getting farther and farther down that road, and you can just see, that’s the Crazy Town moment. That’s why we’re in this overshoot situation, right?

Asher Miller

There are some scholars and thinkers who, at least this has been sort of new territory for me to discover it, but you know, have developed this concept of decolonial ecology and some argue that this idea of the Anthropocene, right, which is sort of this new term that has been developed to express a new geological period where humanity has now fundamentally changed the geology of the planet. And they’ve sort of disputed that and say, it’s not the Anthropocene. I mean, humans have been interacting with nature eons, and eons and eons

Rob Dietz

Since even before the papal bullss

Asher Miller

Since before the papl bulls, right. And there are ways of doing that, of human interaction with the environment, that are much more sustainable. That maybe don’t leave a geological marker on the planet. Instead, they argue that sort of this new era of colonization is really that moment. You know, they coined this term the Plantationocene which gets to what you’re just talking about, Rob. Which is like, turning everything in a sense into a plantation.

Jason Bradford

Right, right.

Rob Dietz

Can we just agree to call it the Plantationiocene? Just for fanciness?

Asher Miller

You could do that.

Jason Bradford

Well, what’s interesting about – You know, if I go back to the cultural materialism mindset, a lot of this colonization becomes almost a management problem. Where you are looking for the trade goods. You’re looking for the commodities. You’re looking for the things thatyou can bring back into the center and financialize. And that always is going to require sort of a simplification of what you’re doing. It’s much easier to have a plantation that is all one thing for example. So this imposition or this looking at nature  and these lands, and not really valuing the diversity. . . Well, that’s hard if you’re in this kind of commodification mindset and globalization mindset. So that is fascinating.

Rob Dietz

Well, that’s a really nice insight, Jason, but since I now own this place, I’m gonna go look for some commodities that I can stick in my belly. I’ve got a refrigerator down in the kitchen and getting kind of hungry. I’ll cook some sourdough for you or something. .Whatever. You occupy the place. As long as you don’t get in my way, we’re good

Jason Bradford

Okay

Rob Dietz

Okay, you guys, we’ve been doing reviews for a while and all these great five star reviews.

Asher Miller

They’re all fake, right?

Rob Dietz

Oh, well, I don’t know. You be the judge. I’m gonna do a real one here. One star: “Arrogant and one sided” is the subject line? I listened to your podcast for a month trying to discover why you are supported by the Post Carbon Institute. I stopped after I found your attitudes to be close to bullying and dismissive. I got to agree. You guys are so bullying and dismissive. I never get to say anything in the podcast.

Jason Bradford

I’m so confused by this. A whole month. Thank you.

Jason Bradford

That’s good. That might be a record.

Asher Miller

How many episodes has this person listened to? And secondly, I guess they are not aware that . . .

Jason Bradford

I’m the board president.

Asher Miller

That we all work at Post Carbon Institute.

Rob Dietz

See, you guys are doing it again. You’re being bullying and dismissive right now.

Jason Bradford

I’m just trying to be explanatory, I’m sorry if we came across as heavy handed or sarcastic.

Rob Dietz

It’s not for everybody, but we do appreciate the review anyways. So please, if you are listening to the show, get out there and give us a review. Thanks

George  Costanza

Every decision I’ve ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be.

Jerry Seinfeld

If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

Jason Bradford

Well, if we’re going to do the opposite, what are we going to do? Let’s think big picture first. You know, what are the crises we worry about? We’re worried about the loss of biodiversity. We’re worried about the ability for ecosystems to persist and clean water and air and sequester carbon. These are critical foundations for life on this planet. And what’s fascinating is that the most intact biodiverse ecosystems still remaining are managed by Indigenous people around the world.

Rob Dietz

And well, in the U.S., it’s a military basis, actually. But. . .

Jason Bradford

Globally. I’m giving a global perspective.

Asher Miller

By a huge amount.

Jason Bradford

Yes. And I think those are under threat in many cases as well. There’s incursion, right? There’s illegal incursion. There’s legal incursion with roads being put through these areas still for for trade purposes, etc, etc.

Jason Bradford

For extraction.

Jason Bradford

And for extraction. Exactly. So fight for the rights of these people to maintain these lands. I think it’s really important. And there’s an organization that does that. It’s called. Nia Tero. So that’s one of the things we can do.

Rob Dietz

Can you spell that for our listeners.

Jason Bradford

N-i-a T-e-r-o

Asher Miller

Yeah. I mean, I would say that there’s actually quite a movement afoot of a collection of organizations that are working on rights of nature and various forms of protection of both Indigenous rights and land rights. Which is super important, obviously. I think it – just to bring it back to sort of the mindset thing we talked so much about. What you talked about is like an argument, Jason, even if from a selfish perspective, it would be important for us, right? And by “us,” I’m defining “us” in western advanced nations. If you want to call it that.

Rob Dietz

Advanced? I’m not sure I’d go there.

Asher Miller

Quote-unquote, advanced. Yeah, I should have . . . just like we would say quote-unquote, developed.

Rob Dietz

How about high consuming nations?

Jason Bradford

Advanced disease.

Rob Dietz

Here in western disease . . .

Asher Miller

Advanced deterioration. Anyways, even if you’re doing this out of like selfish motivation, the idea that it is in our interest to protect these remaining lands of biodiversity and lands maintained by Indigenous peoples. Which gets to me in a sense, this shifting of our mindset. It’s like, our relationship with nature and with one another. And I would just start by talking about our relationship with each other. It’s like, seeing that the exploitation of other people is ruining us all means shifting our relationships with one another, focusing on kind of going from exploitation to reciprocity in a sense. Like detransactionalizing relationships. Thinking more about, not what am I getting from this person, but what am I giving? How do we do mutual support?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, like don’t accept a an extra amount of power for yourself if that means you’ve got to exploit a bunch of other people to get it?

Asher Miller

Right.

Jason Bradford

And I think about this in relation to the land as somebody who lives on a farm. Sort of thinking about property rights. We own this land. In a legal sense, that’s true, but also when I think about it practically, this land isn’t something that belongs to us, but it’s something that we belong to. So having that mind shift of like you’re saying, reciprocity. If I belong to the land, I’m going to want to give back to that land because that land is giving back to me. And it becomes more of that circular kind of relationship. So looking out for and caring and being thankful for the land as opposed to then just exploiting based upon an ownership thought.

Rob Dietz

And a legacy, too I mean, you’re gonna die someday and that land would still be there with the ability to have someone else in relationship with it.

Jason Bradford

Unless my consciousness is uploaded to somewhere.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, well, you’ll be colonizing the metaverse.

Asher Miller

Or you’ll go to Mars.

Jason Bradford

Yeah.

Rob Dietz

Well, you keep talking about the colonial mindset and the phrase that usually comes up to do the opposite is decolonizing the mind? And I’ve often struggled with, what the hell does that mean? Like I don’t want to have a colonizer mind or colonial eyes mind. Even though we know I do from all the pop culture references. But, you know, you guys have just brought up two of the things that would be how to decolonize your mind. It’s to change how you think about you’re in a relationship with people, change how you think about how you’re in relationship with the land, and behave accordingly. And I think another one that kind of ties back to the economics work I’ve done in the past is instead of trying to get as much as you can all the time, instead of trying to expand your domain, try to find that point of what is enough. And that can apply to the economy of a nation. sort of enoughness. That’s the idea of the steady state economy, rather than a perpetual growth economy. But you can bring this down to your household and interior self as well. I mean, you know, most people are playing that game, whoever has the most wealth and the most toys wins. But we know that isn’t true. I think it’s whoever has these virtuous relationships with each other and with the land and gets that happiness, that satisfaction that comes with that. So, really, to me, that’s one of the ways I think that I can try to decolonize my mind. It’s figure out what is enough.

Jason Bradford

Okay, Rob. Well, I’ve had enough of listening to you. So why don’t we go get enough beer?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, yeah. Let’s colonize some beers.

Melody Travers

Thanks for listening. We just gave you a whole bunch of do the opposite ideas so you can take action in your life and community. If that’s too much at this time in your life, do something real simple. Give us a five star rating on Spotify or any other podcast app and hit the share button to let your friends know about Crazy Town.

Jason Bradford

Hey, guys, great show today. I learned a lot about the history of the Catholic Church and the relationship between religion and society and how religions often are a reflection of what’s going on in the broader culture and what the needs are of the place and the time. And, I mean, this just fits right in perfectly to today’s sponsor, Apostles of the Sacred Sperm. Let me explain what they’re about. No, this is a serious, serious issue guys.

Rob Dietz

Sorry.

Jason Bradford

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Asher Miller

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Asher Miller

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Jason Bradford

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Okay, awesome. Great.

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