MANDER and VANDANA SHIVA
June 29, 2001
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jerry Mander, Vandana Shiva and Amy Goodman
I was remembering one of the last times I was in this area 25 years
ago - well, I've been here more recently than that - the last long
trip I took in this area 25 years ago with my old friend Dan Bomberry.
I know some of you in the audience knew Dan and probably remember
him as well as I do. He was a Cayuga Salish from the Vancouver area
and he ran a great project called the Youth Project. His life was
dedicated to indigenous sovereignty rights and economic self-sufficiency
and he strongly believed that traditional Native economic and political
forms were far more viable today than what we have now. And that
meant fighting in every way to protect Native lands, Native governance
systems, resources, traditional cultural forms. He published a tremendous,
great newspaper in the '70s and '80s called Native Self-Sufficiency
which had an enormous influence on the Native movement of that
time and on me personally, and on my book, In the Absence of
the Sacred, which actually was dedicated to him. So, I'm very
happy to be here and remember him from the last long trip I had
here and our long, slow ride through the Southwest and stopping
at all the pueblos and the Hopi and Navajo reservation and meeting
so many leaders of that period.
Of course, at that time,
the big battle was against the Peabody coal mine at Black Mesa and the push
for coal, and oil, uranium, and gold on Indian lands throughout the West. And
the push by the military who wanted Native lands for bombing or testing or dumping.
The issues are not really very different today except they play out on a much
larger terrain and are centrally organized by an economic globalization model
that actually codifies its approval of this destruction and supports it with
enforcement powers of various kinds. But really the same kinds of things are
going on: Native people from throughout the forests of the Amazon, the Pacific,
and Latin America, Asia, and in thousands of native communities are still doing
battle. Then and now the goals of the system are to separate people from their
own lands, their own cultures, their traditions, and political forms; to weaken
their opposition to land grabbing and resource exploitation. But they fight
To give you an idea, today
you have the U'wa fighting oil development in the Columbian Amazon, and the
Ogoni people fighting Shell Oil in Nigeria, and the Gwich'in fighting George
Bush's oil scheme in northern Alaska. You have the Dayaks of Sarawak battling
logging and the Cree of northern Quebec battling logging - logging which is
directly in violation of the Cree treaties with the Canadian government which
are now being overcome by NAFTA and the U.S.- Canada Free Trade Agreement. And
you have the Agta Negritos of the Philippines also battling against logging
on their homelands for export timber. You have the Haida of British Columbia
and the Tlingits of Alaska and tribes in Washington state and in India among
other places battling commercial over-fishing off their coasts, like global
fish companies, leaving depleted native fishing grounds in most cases. There
are the Bantoks of the Philippines, the Menominee in the U.S., the Tuareg in
the Sahara, the Digo in Kenya, and many others who are fighting gigantic mining
operations on their lands that are also polluting and destroying rivers. The
Pehuenche in Chile, the Mayans in Guatemala, the Himba of Namibia, the Xingu
of Brazil, and hundreds of others are all fighting gigantic dams and forced
removal. So are many tribal groups in India - fighting the gigantic Namada dam.
Dozens of groups in Panama, Hawaii, Angola, Kenya, and elsewhere, are resisting
tourist invasions and infrastructures, like golf courses, that deprive them
of their traditional rights and lands. The Xavante are fighting a new waterway
canal to serve the soybean exports in Brazil. The Imara in Bolivia and Kuna
in Panama are fighting highways through their lands. The Pygmies are fighting
a pipeline and on and on and on and on, including fights against the military
and the military adventurism in Columbia, the Plan Columbia - chemical spraying
of forests; against air force bases in various places and bombing runs, among
hundreds, if not thousands of examples, everywhere on this planet. I could use
this whole half-hour listing these things and not be done.
Native people are on the
front lines of battles against resource exploitation everywhere, and the governments,
and the corporations, and the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund,
all of whom make this possible. So I wanted to note that as I began.
In each of these cases,
a Native people is seeking to be allowed to retain its own community and rights
and cultures in place against the advancing, global onslaught. It's tragic,
but Native peoples live on the last lands on earth that actually contain great
resource reserves - the resources that might serve the voracious corporate growth
machine for a little while longer, aided by these globalization bureaucracies
which give corporations access to these places over the rights and bodies of
indigenous people. The infuriating irony, of course, is that the reason these
forests and wild lands are still intact is that Native people have not had a
culture or a world- view or technology or desire which promoted the destruction
of these places. Thus they have preserved these places up to the present moment
as the planet's resources are otherwise approaching depletion.
But Mr. Cheney-Bush has
indicated that conservation is for sissies. So now we're going to go in these
rare places and get what's left. In some ways, the whole thrust of economic
globalization can be reduced to the desperate desire of global corporations
to seize the planet's last resources without anybody stopping them and by any
means necessary, including redesigning the entire economic system of the planet
- which is well underway.
This evening we're speaking
about globalization and cultural freedom and I suppose the central question
is whether the two can possibly coexist? Whether cultural freedom or cultural
diversity or biological diversity can possibly exist on the same planet as economic
globalization. The answer, of course, is no. Globalization is the opposite of
diversity, its nemesis. It's designed to bring the death of diversity, the death
of community, the local and the indigenous. We can choose to have cultural and
biological diversity or we can choose globalization, not both. So, how to discuss
this further? Let's start with more on the structures of homogenization and
Advocates of globalization
love to say that it's really just a long-term, evolutionary process, the result
of economic forces that have simply evolved over centuries. They love to describe
globalization like it was some kind of uncontrollable force of nature and that
it's Utopianism to believe any other thing. Of course, if we accepted that description
of the inevitability of it all, as most media, governments, and universities
do, then obviously there would be no resistance possible and no point in talking
about it. That's why they describe it like that. Our only option would be to
lie there, watch T.V., and submit. Obviously, this is not acceptable to a whole
lot of people judging by the evidence of 50,000 people on the streets in Seattle,
hundreds of thousands in various European capitals, more than a million farmers
in India - with Vandana in the lead - tens of thousands in Japan, and various
continuous uprisings in Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, New Zealand, and England.
Lots of people are upset. This is a big movement and it's growing, and without
any central leadership which makes it even more remarkable.
Of course, global trade
activity has existed for centuries in various forms but earlier versions were
different from modern versions in scale, speed, form, impact, and most importantly,
Yes. Oh, [laughs] thank
you Janet. Coffee. Coffee. [laughs]. It's from a small, locally owned café,
I'm sure. [Laughter] Right? [Right]
Of course, global trade
activity has existed for centuries as I've said, but the modern version of globalization
definitely did not simply evolve in nature like some kind of naturally dominant
plant - like an economic kudzu vine. Globalization is no accident of evolution.
It was designed and created by human beings on purpose with a specific goal:
to give primary power to economic, I should say, corporate values above all
other values and to codify and enforce those values globally. Modern globalization
began, had a birthday, a birth date, at the infamous Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
meetings in 1944. That was when the world's leading corporate figures - economists,
politicians, and bankers - got together to figure out how to mitigate the devastation
of that war, of World War II. They decided on a new, centralized, globally codified
economic system to promote global economic development. The confreres at Bretton
Woods saw themselves as do-gooders and they decided the best instrument to keep
the pieces together would be global corporations supported by powerful new bureaucracies
and strict new rules of trade. And so was born the World Bank, the International
Monetary Fund - with other names at that time - and then later, a General Agreement
on Tariffs and Trade which gave birth to the World Trade Organization. Recent
clones of the model include NAFTA, the up-coming Free Trade Area of the Americas
Agreement and quite a few others.
Together these instruments
have been fulfilling their mandate which is to bring the most fundamental redesign
of the planet's social, economic, and political arrangements, at least since
the Industrial Revolution. They're engineering a power shift of stunning proportions.
They're moving real economic and political power away from national, state,
and local governments and communities, toward this new, centralized model that
directly serves global corporations, banks and global bureaucracies. Let's look
at some of the main ingredients of this model. It will help us see what is going
Since the primary purpose
of globalization is to help global corporations expand and grow, the rules try
to encourage expanded, unimpeded, corporate access to new resource supplies
wherever on the planet they still exist. Thus the tremendous pressure to open
the last wilderness places and beat back the Indians and other communities who
are in the way. Secondly, they need new and cheaper labor sources which is why
we're now in love with China and will soon be with Cuba, and possibly Haiti
if it ever stops resisting the World Bank's impositions - which I hope it doesn't.
And third, there must be unimpeded access to markets throughout the world.
The model also requires
maximized global trading activity and the forced conversion of all countries
to export-oriented production. I'll come back to this - it's a very important
issue. Of course, increased trade activity must be free trade, an attractive
term which actually means increased freedom for corporations but direct suppression
of the efforts of communities, states, or countries who try to regulate corporate
behavior with environmental rules, labor rights, investment standards, and so
on. In other words, deregulation to the max, codified and enforced globally.
All of this is accompanied by pressure to commodify every last remaining nook
and cranny of existence and to privatize them so, to increase the opportunity
for corporate profits. This now means areas of the commons that we never thought
could be privatized or commodified - the genetic structures of all life, biotechnology,
and now the planet's remaining fresh water - being heavily pushed toward global
trade conditions. That's extremely important as well. One more thing, possibly
most relevant to today's discussion: everybody has to play the game. All countries
must buy into the system and must integrate and merge their economic activities.
The idea is to create a single, seamless, centralized, super-system that covers
the whole earth.
Now, a few of you in the
audience, I think, are my age, or nearly my age. I think I saw a couple of people
who actually may be older. And you may remember the times traveling to other
places on the earth when they were actually different from each other, different
architects, different languages, lifestyles, dress, values. There once was a
time we could speak of cultural and political diversity. But now countries which
have cultures, economies, and traditions as varied as say, Thailand, Kenya,
Sweden, Canada, Bhutan, Bolivia, Russia, China, are all meant to adopt the same
standards, tastes, values, and lifestyles, allow free entry to the same, few,
giant, global corporations, to eat the same fast food, have the same hotel chains
and clothing chains, to wear the same or similar kinds of jeans and shoes, to
experience similar music, films, and T.V., to live in the same kind of urban
landscapes with the same traffic jams and pollution, engage in the same kind
of industrial agricultural and development schemes, carry the same personal,
cultural, and spiritual values, ones that are compatible with the overall commodified
direction of things.
Monoculture. Global monoculture.
If you have traveled lately, you have surely noticed this, entirely visible
before your eyes. Every place is becoming like every place else. Cultural diversity
is going the way of biodiversity. Soon there may be little reason to go anywhere
at all. That's the essence of globalization. Everybody rows the boat together.
Diversity among nations
or peoples is anathema to the model. It is globalization's enemy. It's far more
efficient for corporate activity if all countries operate by exactly the same
rules, no barriers. Most efficient of all would be if all cultures were identical
in tastes, values, lifestyle, aspirations, etc. That's what helps corporations
operate efficiently on a global plane, duplicating production and marketing
efforts and achieving efficiencies of scale that go with borderlessness and
lack of rules. It's like the old standard-gauge railway of another century and
in today's terms, computer compatibility. Well, so much for cultural diversity
on the national plane in the era of globalization.
Of course, it's the job
of the Bretton Woods instruments - the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO, NAFTA,
the FTAA - to be the enforcer for all this, and to serve as the governing mechanism
of the whole shebang; to create the rules that enable corporations to have unlimited
access to resources wherever they are, and also to have unlimited access to
labor and markets, and so on; to be sure that all nations conform to those goals;
that there are no blockages in the arteries of the process, no impediments within
individual nations that might slow down the freedoms that giant corporations
are being given.
In practice, most of these
impediments to the WTO system are actually laws created by democratic governments
that seek to protect nature, or public health, or local culture and values,
or food safety, or worker rights, or small business, or domestic publishing,
film, and other artistic enterprise, or laws that try to control which foreign
investments can take place on their soil, and what investment rules must be
followed, and who can buy and sell currencies, and at what speed, and under
what conditions, or laws that require some semblance of local representation
on foreign investment. All of these are normal activities of nation states and
they are quickly being subverted by global trade agreements. All of them are
subject to challenge if they can be deemed to inhibit free trade.
The WTO already has an impressive
record for overturning national laws, especially in the environmental realm.
The WTO has forced the U.S. to diminish its protections under the Clean Air
Act governing auto emissions, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, especially its
protection of dolphins, and the Endangered Species Act. We may soon expect challenges
against both state and federal pesticide control laws, raw log export bans,
eco-labeling and eco-certification, among other things. And as for the sovereignty
treaties with Indian Nations, they will fare no better than the sovereignty
of the national governments with whom they negotiate. If these treaties are
deemed to slow down trade, which, for example, might apply to any treaty that
allows natives to sustain any kind of economic preference to protect their fishing
rights or hunting rights or whatever, even if it's enforced by a treaty, the
WTO can turn that to toast. There are already several cases where that's underway.
Of course, not only U.S. laws and values are threatened. Japan was found non-compliant
with WTO for refusing fruit imports that might carry invasive species. The European
Union was warned that it could not ban biotech beef products that contain biotech
growth hormone. India's been under tremendous pressure to conform its rules
on intellectual property rights to comply with WTO rules that give giant food
corporations like Monsanto the right to buy up seeds that have been developed
by local farmers over centuries, patent them, and monopolize them forever. This
has been a gigantic issue in India and maybe Vandana, I suppose, will talk about
that. It's brought millions of farmers onto the streets. And the WTO threatens
the world's multilateral environmental agreements on climate change; also on
depletion and so on. I wont go into that for now.
Anyway, there are hundreds
of examples but you get the point. These trade bodies, like the WTO, exist to
provide global corporations insurance against any efforts of any nation or group
to try and regulate them. That's what they call free trade, but it's really
centrally controlled trade. Instead of controlling corporations, it controls
governments and ensures global conformity and homogenization. But, these global
bureaucracies operate by structures and rules that control the external landscape,
the physical and economic landscape. I'm going to shift gears now and look at
the internal landscape.
In any truly efficient social
design, the job is also to make over the internal landscape, to remake human
beings themselves: our minds, our ideas, our values, behaviors, desires, to
create a monoculture of humans that is compatible with the redesigned external
landscape. The idea is that our minds and values should match the technologies
and systems around us, like that standard-gauge railway. The assignment for
this internal homogenization process goes to the global telecommunication system.
Television and advertising particularly, but we should also include film, much
of radio, music, some education, and maybe the Internet. These are instruments
that can speak directly into the brains of billions of people everywhere on
earth, imprinting them with unified patterns of thought and unified sets of
images and ideas, thus carrying homogenization and commodification directly
inside the minds and feelings of a global population. In the end, what results,
is a homogenized mental landscape that nicely matches the franchises, chain
restaurants, freeways, suburbs, high-rises, clear-cut landscapes, and sped-up
physical life of the external universe. Global television is, if course, the
most efficient instrument for the job, for the cloning of global consciousness
with a homogenized set of values. And I'm going to describe a little bit of
the scale and reach of that instrument right now.
I'm going to start with
some statistics from the United States and then go global. You may have heard
some of these stats before, but none of us have thought about them enough. They
should be repeated daily, like a mantra. In the U.S., 99 _% of all homes have
television sets and 95% of the population watches at least some television every
day. The average home has the TV going for more than 8 hours. The average adult
viewer watches about 4 hours daily. The average child, age 8 - 13, watches about
4 hours. At age 2-4, they're watching nearly 3 hours per day. These are amazing
statistics. It means that roughly half the population is watching more than
4 hours per day. How is it even possible? In the U.S., people watch more television
than they do anything else besides sleep or work or go to school. You have to
say that television is the main thing Americans do. It has replaced community
life, family life, culture. It has replaced the environment. It has become the
environment that people interact with daily. It has become the culture, too,
and I'm not talking so-called popular culture, which sounds somehow democratic.
This is corporate culture and very few corporations at that, as we'll see. Actually,
about 100 corporations control about 85% of American broadcast television, and
a whole lot of public television now, too. That's not a very large number but
the numbers get worse.
To have replaced direct
contact with people and nature with simulated, edited, recreated versions, TV
was the original virtual reality. Here's another set of numbers: the average
viewer in the U.S. ingests about 23,000 commercials per year. That's 23,000
repetitions of exactly the same message. One may say toothpaste, one may say
car, but they're all saying, buy something, do it now, commodities are life,
get with it. Globally, about 80% of the global population now has access to
TV. Most industrial countries report viewing habits about the same as ours:
Canada, Europe, Italy, Russia, Greece, Poland, and lots of countries in South
America, the average person watches 3-4 hours daily, mostly with commercials.
In Japan and Mexico, they watch a lot more than here.
Because of satellite television,
even places on earth where there's still no roads -tiny tropical islands, icy
tundras of the north, mountains of the Himalayas - people are sitting in grass
houses or in log cabins, night after night, watching a bunch of white people
in "Dallas", driving sleek cars, or standing around swimming pools drinking
martinis, while plotting to do each other in. [Laughter] When they're not seeing
reruns of "Dallas", they're seeing "Baywatch", the most popular show in the
world. Life in Texas, California, and New York is made to seem the ultimate
in life's achievements, while local and indigenous culture, even where it's
still extremely vibrant and alive, which is true for a fair amount of the world,
is made to seem backward, unworthy, not good.
The act of watching TV is
quickly replacing other ways of life and other value systems. I've personally
visited places and seen how kids are giving up local games, they're refusing
the local language, they're beginning to hate the old people, and seen the story-telling
process disappear, and so on. People everywhere are beginning to carry the same
images that we do, and are starting to crave the same commodities that we crave,
from cars to hair sprays to Barbie dolls to Palm Pilots. TV is turning everyone
into everyone else. It's cloning cultures to be like us. It's cloning them to
match their landscape. In Brave New World Aldous Huxley envisioned this
commercial cloning process via drugs and genetic engineering. We have those
too. But TV does it just as well because, increasingly, life in this country
and everywhere, offers few decent alternatives.
Now, the next question:
who is sending these images? Is somebody in control? Here's the most shocking
thing you'll hear today, at least from me. Global television transmission, as
well as most of film, radio, publishing, entertainment, and even Internet facilities,
are owned and operated by an unbelievably small number of gigantic global corporations,
all of whom are getting bigger daily, through mergers and acquisitions which
are directly assisted by the rules of global bureaucracies that grease the path
for such investment and takeover. Fewer than 10 global corporations now control
roughly 75% of all global TV as well as publishing, film, radio, etc. I'm talking
about Time-Warner/AOL, Disney, Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, Viacom, and a handful
of others. Here's a partial list of Time-Warner holdings, this is just partial
because it would take a whole page: Time-Warner owns Warner Bros. Films and
Television, CNN, TNT, TBS, Court TV, HBO, Cartoon Network, Cinemax, New Line
Films, Time Magazine, Fortune, People, Sports Illustrated. They own the
Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Braves, the Hanna-Barbera Animation Studio as
well as major shares in movie theater companies, hundreds of TV stations, satellites,
cable systems and so on, in Asia, Europe, Africa and elsewhere. I strongly recommend
a book by Robert McChesney called Rich Media, Poor Democracy. He's kind
of leading the way on these subjects.
These mega-media giants
have been able to grow like this because global rules now make it virtually
impossible to keep out foreign media investment over domestic media, leaving
pathetically little chance for local values and cultures to be there. Amy Goodman
is not broadcast by Time-Warner, I don't think. Say it isn't so. [Laughter]
The net result is that this pathetic handful of media billionaires in New York,
Hollywood, London, and one or two other places, are able to implant the brains
of nearly the entire global population with a fantastically concentrated, non-stop
dose of highly powerful imagery that tell people to hate where they live, to
be ashamed of their own cultures, to worship McDonalds and Coca-Cola, and to
believe that corporations are the answers to their problems.
Is this good for cultural
diversity? I don't think so. So why are we not out on the street in front of
Disney or Time-Warner? Do we love these corporations? What's the explanation?
I'm asking myself that question really. If television represents the instrument
of cloning for the global economy and is itself an example of a staggering degree
of homogenization, the Internet is the nervous system for the whole thing. Now,
I don't have the time today to really make the case about this, unfortunately,
so I'll just assert something about global electronic networks that most of
us love so much and hope I can get away with it.
We love to believe that
the computer revolution, the Internet, and global telecommunications are empowering
us as individuals and as organizers. And let me make perfectly clear they have
been very helpful in building the anti-globalization movement. But, in
ten years time, I think we'll be saying, we're not in control; that these very
systems that we love so much are more centralizing than de-centralizing and
that the people and institutions who are most empowered by them is not you and
me and the IFG but global corporations. Without these global telecommunication
systems it would be literally impossible for these global corporations to operate
at anything like the speed or scale they do now. These instruments are able
to help them keep their multi-armed enterprises in touch with each other 24
hours a day, 365 days, all running in sync. While we're all using our Web pages
and sending our emails, they're able to move billions of dollars from a bank
in London to a bank in Sarawak and a forest gets cut down the next day.
When billions of currency
enters a local economy, and messes up the currency prices, in that market, it
causes all kinds of crises. And they do all that instantaneously, at the touch
of a key, and without any observance by any governing or regulatory power, and
free. The global corporation today could not function without the kind of dominant
power it now displays with these systems - they couldn't function without these
systems. While we're sending our emails and expressing, sharing information,
they're expressing real power with these same instruments. There's a difference.
Here's the homily that I ask you to remember: it's not just who benefits from
a technology, from this technology or any other, it's who benefits most. It's
like President Bush's tax plan. He says everybody benefits. And everybody does.
But who benefits most? You get a $300 rebate, maybe. He and his friends get
millions. And so it is with, I'm beginning to think, with the computer revolution.
It's not the small players that will finally benefit, it's the big players.
I predict that we'll some
day conclude the global computer networks that we've celebrated for their democratic
potential, that we call empowering, are helping facilitate the greatest centralization
of unregulated, unaccountable, global corporate power ever. I think it's crucial
for democracy and for our own effectiveness that we think this through. I'm
not saying to anybody don't use computers. I'm just saying that this is something
we need to address and organize around. But please, in the meanwhile, we should
try not to call them empowering. Okay. Oh my God. [Laughter] I didn't get to
the main subject
Well, it's always like that. [laughs]
I wanted to talk about export-oriented
economies. Maybe Vandana will do that and commodification. Maybe what I'll do
is just take one minute and read one short thing, very short, from In the
Absence of the Sacred because here I have poured out a whole lot of bad
news and I've got a little section in this book called "Against Pessimism".
[Laughter] And I didn't have time
I had upbeat stuff to talk about later but
we'll talk about it later, or else tomorrow.
"I'm going to conclude
with comments about despair. I have begun to hear from people, even some who
have been active campaigners for years that it may be too late to save the
last wildernesses, to protect the oceans, to insure the survival of native
cultures, to make the life-style changes that are required and so on. Worst
of all, I've begun to hear such talk from young people. The situation was
made worse, of course, by the U.S.-Iraq war" (this book came out shortly after
that) "which dealt a metal-fisted blow to everyone's psyche, revealing as
it did such a deadly, out-of-date paradigm for human behavior.
I am personally sensitive
to this issue since I'm sometimes accused of encouraging despair. Some people
say that my television book created such a negative picture that they felt
depressed and disempowered. They believed what I wrote but were disappointed
that I offered no plan for action. Since this book also discusses what's gone
wrong I've been concerned about reactions.
Nonetheless, I was surprised
that people reacted as they did, since I'm personally not pessimistic at all.
My feeling has always been that describing the reality of a problem encourages
activism, not withdrawal. In any case, that's my wish. If I didn't believe
that the present negative trends could be reversed I probably wouldn't have
put so much effort into writing about them.
As my late partner in
the advertising business, Howard Gossage, used to say, however, 'It's not
enough to make people feel bad; you've also got to offer them something to
do.' And that's really important and that's why we also organize. As for being
faced with overwhelming odds, Gossage used to say, 'It maybe that everything
we do will be futile, but we'll do everything anyway.'
But surely the best examples,
again, are native peoples. Here we are speaking of tens of millions of people
around the world who, within only the last few centuries - and in some case
the last few years - have seen their successful societies brutally assaulted
by ugly, destructive forces. Some native societies have been obliterated.
Some peoples have suffered separation from the source of their survival, wisdom,
power, and identity: their land. Some have fallen from the pressure, compromised,
moved to urban landscapes, or disappeared. But millions of natives, and tens
of thousands here in the U.S., have gained strength in the face of all that.
Their strength is fed by the knowledge that what they are doing is rooted
in the earth and deserves to succeed. But aside from that, they fight their
battles without really thought of failure. They do it on behalf of their values,
as well as their children and grandchildren. They also do it - though perhaps
I have not given it sufficient emphasis - with a humor and kindliness that
is itself inspiring.
So in that context, I
feel that talk of failure is short-sighted, unwise, indulgent, inaccurate,
and most of all, useless."
And so if I've contributed
to that in any way, I apologize. Anyway, thank you very much.
SHIVA: Thank you to the Lannan Foundation and
the people of Santa Fe for giving me this opportunity to come to
a part of the United States that looks a little different. [Laughter]
I was a bit worried when I got off the flight last night because
the first thing I saw was automobile acres. [Laughter] I don't know
how many of you take the flight into this airport. I didn't realize
you should take the flight into the airport next door. So I came
in this little, little plane and for the first ten minutes it's
just dumped automobiles. And I've never been able to figure out
cultures that have to create so much waste which they don't know
how to deal with. I've grown up in a society which
never had that problem. With the cloning of India into the American
culture we are catching up fast, except that when a billion Indians
start to be like a handful of Americans you can imagine what's going
to happen to us and the planet. [Laughter] And that's why I fight
ferociously because there's too much beauty to defend.
The other day there was
a film screening of a film they made on the basis of my work, on biodiversity
conservation. It's called "The Eternal Seed". And there was, as usual you know,
they have someone to talk about biodiversity and they have someone to talk about
using it for genetic engineering and how we'll all be impoverished and poor
if our seeds are not exploited by the global seed industry. And this genetic
engineer says, that film can't be true because the women look too well dressed.
And you know, you go to Rajasthan every village woman will be wearing a sari
like me, in Barauni , and you go down to the south, and they'll be wearing the
border saris. But the idea that any culture outside the globalized market culture,
and outside the industrial culture, must be impoverished, in the sense of being
destitute and turned into beggars has seeped so deep in that they cannot recognize
autonomy, self-sufficiency, dignity, and beauty, any more.
And I think that blinded
eye started when Europe was going through a desperate phase. You remember that
phase when they were wiping out their women as witches and doing everything
they could to the eco-systems: redefining nature as dead matter, talking about
raping her to be able to get her secrets. And just before that they decided
that they were so poor that they had to find more land. And they started to
issue these patent charters, open letters, to merchant-adventures of that time.
One of them sailed in the wrong direction, thought he'd arrived in India. But
he was empowered to own any part he found as the property of the kings and queens
who owned it on behalf of the Pope who owned it on behalf of God. [Laughter]
And I've never figured out how they could continue that error of calling the
Native Americans Indians, 500 years after that first error. [Laughter] And that's
another reason I'm really happy to be in Santa Fe because one does get an experience
that the dominant culture here is the culture of the original peoples and others
have adapted to come and settle down.
That kind of desperation
that led to owning other people's lands, defining other people as savages, or
into nature, is exactly what is happening today. I see the WTO agreements, the
GATT treaty, the World Bank structural adjustment programs, as really the coming
of Columbus 500 years later - the second coming of Columbus. Except, that when
you have a religion of your own, there's at least the limits of that, no matter
how perverted you've made it. But there are at least some limits there. Now,
when you do this in the name of legal personalities that are totally fictitious:
the corporations, values that are totally constructed: profits, and you decide
to dismantle everything in the name of these new gods and these new religions,
there is literally no limit. And that limitless colonization 500 years after
Columbus is what is doing two new things. One, instead of just colonizing other
people's lands and territories, which were at that point, as I've written in
Biopiracy, called empty lands, and the takeover of native resources during
colonization was justified on the ground that indigenous people did not improve
their land, which means they didn't sell it away, they didn't commodify it,
they didn't destroy its unique niches and its unique biodiversity. They didn't
enclose it, they didn't torture the animals, they left life to free and through
that created cultures that were free. There was something wrong with that in
the eyes of those who had grown so desperate that they had had to enclose their
own commons, displace their people, destroy their biodiversity. I remember when
I wrote one of my early books, rarely read because it's an academic book - it's
published by Sage, it was written for the United Nations - it's called Ecology
and The Politics of Survival and I was looking at the history of forestry
and it was fascinating. The queen had announced the forest of Malabar, down
in Kerala, as hers, even though the British didn't rule Travancore state. Just
the teak was owned by the British because they had destroyed all their oak forests.
They couldn't get large enough timber to make the ships to go out and colonize
other lands. And so the teak of all over India was declared imperial property
long before the country itself was colonized.
I sometimes say when the
dominant culture gets used to that kind of usurpation for too long, calls all
kinds of invasion its discovery, it doesn't take too much to take the next step:
the theft of living resources, of living knowledge, of cultural diversity as
an invention. And that step of mistaking invasion as discovery, and piracy as
invention, is part of what is being attempted - it's been attempted for the
last 10 years, 12 years. In fact I got involved in biodiversity largely as a
result of being at a meeting, organized in the United Nations in Geneva, at
at that point the chemical industry didn't own the seed companies then,
it was largely the pharmaceutical and chemical companies, Sandoz, Ciba-Geigy,
talked about how by the turn of the century there would be five corporations
controlling health and food and what they would need to be among the survivors
because they saw themselves in a race of survival. What they would require to
be one of the survivors would be the control over biotechnology, as a tool to
make people dependent on something they could do for themselves, which is growing
crops in traditional ways. You basically save your seed, you plant it our next
season, you save it again, and that perennial cycle of life embodied in the
seed has been the basis of every culture. It's the only reason we have cultural
distinctiveness because culture is about the crops we grow or the foods we eat,
the clothes we weave and wear, the homes we build. That's what makes us distinctive.
Culture is materially rooted
in our everyday lives. But a very serious element of the culture of biodiversity
is to treat it as a duty to maintain that diversity, to ensure that you're not
stealing from the future by wiping it out. I know we have these sayings in every
part of my country that there is no bigger sin than to allow the seed to disappear.
And way back, two centuries ago, when the Gurkhas had invaded my part of the
country people had died but they had not eaten their seed. I'm sure the Native
Americans save seed in the same way, in squash containers called tombris in
our area. All the tombris were full but people had died of starvation. But you
could not consume your seed. Except that now under the new GATT rules, under
the new intellectual property rights rules, saving seed is a crime, because
seed is now to be defined as intellectual property.
When intellectual property
was about machines and designs of podiums like this it didn't really hurt anyone's
life. That's why nobody really objected that an inventor had worked out a new
design for a table, a chair, a mike, or a new scientist had worked out a new
process. When that next leap took place, the leap of the new colonization and
the new globalization which is the redefining of all of life - our genes, our
cells, in humans, in animals, in plants, in microbes - as the new colonies are
not just taken over, they are actually being created.
There is a very, very famous
case - I've written about it in Stolen Harvest. It's the case of Percy
Schmeiser, a farmer in Saskatchewan who was growing his own canola but farmers
around him were starting to grow Monsanto's genetically engineered canola, the
Round-Up resistant canola. And through pollination and wind, his fields had
started to get invaded by the Round-Up resistant variety. Monsanto sued him
for stealing their intellectual property. He said you have polluted my genetic
resources, my seeds, which I have been growing for 50 years. The case should
really have been Monsanto paying Percy because they had polluted his seed. There
is, in ecology, and it was firmed up in the principles of Rio, the polluter-pays
principle. But through patents and genetic engineering, the polluter-pays principle
has been turned on its head and been rendered the polluter-gets-paid principle.
Because the courts in Canada, the federal court, ruled in March, the end of
March this year, that it didn't matter how the genetically engineered traits
came to be in Percy's field. It could have been carried by the wind. It could
have been carried by bees through pollen. But the fact that this is intellectual
property means that no matter where it exists it is treated as stolen property.
And the case is even more
fascinating because the material was collected through private detectives entering
Percy's farm. And the judges have said, yes, yes, this is about encroachment
and property and evidence collected through bad means - it's usually not good
evidence in courts - but because it's about a lower form of property, you know
land is a lower form of property than the higher form, intellectual property.
It reminds me so much of Descartes. [Laughter] The reason, the constructed knowledge,
is secure. It is because somehow it has spiritual connection to the other spheres.
And when we actually know the smell of food, its flavor, those are all unreliable
knowledges, just the dimension and the weight that can be measured with that
deep connection, upstairs somewhere. Intellectual property rights seem to have
a similar kind of spiritual endowment, but the spiritual endowment now comes
purely from capital, not from any notion of the creator because part of what
the new colonization requires is dispensing with creation and the creator.
Monsanto is the creator.
It has created new seed and all seed traits found anywhere in the world, no
matter how, are their property, and whoever has it is liable. What does that
mean in terms of very ordinary steps of farming? It basically means that every
farmer who performs their duty and practices their cultural freedom to save
seed and exchange seed is basically participating in criminal behavior. Percy
has been sued about $150,000. He is, of course, appealing.
The reason I started the
movement to save seeds after that meeting at which the corporations said that
patents and genetic engineering were going to be the tools through which they
would be able to run ahead of other firms and other companies and be among the
5 who survive. For me there was nothing more dictatorial than a future image
of that kind. Of course, in these 13 years since 1987, that future image is
real. Sandoz merged with Ciba-Geigy, became Novartis, which then merged with
Astra and Zeneca and AstraZeneca became Syngenta. And Monsanto's been merging
and merging. Monsanto, in the last 2 years, has bought up every one of India's
private seed firms. But that's not just in India. You go to Africa, you go to
Brazil, you go to Argentina, Monsanto is the seed provider.
But when Monsanto starts
to become the seed provider it doesn't want farmers to do farming in ways that
don't require buying new seed every year, that don't require buying chemicals,
because they also sell chemicals. And in areas where Monsanto and the new seed
companies have entered, we are seeing a new phenomena of Indian farmers - among
the most resilient of peasants anywhere in the world, where they can go through
a flood one year and a drought next year and still come back and farm their
fields - they've started to commit suicide. And our studies show that in two
states alone the suicides are up to 20,000 in the three years since the new
seeds started to come in. The rate of pesticide use in two districts where the
suicides are highest are 2,000% increase over the last decade, since the new
globalization policies started to change our regulatory systems and the possibilities
of government to intervene between the farmers and commercial entities.
I have watched these companies
sell their seeds and their chemicals using every one of our diverse gods - and
I don't know how many of you know we have 300 million of them, because every
plant, every rock, every river, every mountain is divine. There are a few embodiments
and Guru Nanak in Punjab, the founder of the Sikh religion, is the salesman
for Monsanto's Round-Up. In Orissa Juggernatan of the Temple of Puri from where
the term the juggernaut comes - it comes from the temple Juggernatan because
they take out a cart - well, Lord Juggernatan is selling seeds for them in Orissa,
and the god Hanuman is selling their hybrid cotton seeds down in Andhra - I
actually have a collection of these advertisements.
So not only does it start
to distort the cultural freedom of diverse cultures - to be ethical, be ecological,
to be sustainable - it pushes every culture into a monoculture. All these regions
are ultimately growing the same hybrid cotton for export. I've just done a public
hearing on hunger. We've driven away famines, after Independence. The last big
famine we had was 1943 when 2 million to 3 million people died. It was a free
trade, globalization-driven famine - our rice was feeding the armies during
the big wars - as was the famine in 1887.
Each of these famines took
place when there was a peak in exports. We've had exports shoot up. This year
there's going to be 10 million tons of wheat and rice from India exported. And
the newspaper will say it's all because there's huge abundance and huge surpluses
because of new technologies. No, we do have surpluses but these are pseudo-surpluses.
We have surpluses because part of what globalization did was twist the government's
arm to prevent any support to farmers on the one hand and consumers on the other.
The withdrawal of support to farmers meant that farmers are paying the entire
cost of pesticides, and the hybrid seeds need more and more pesticide. It has
also meant there is no low-cost credit so the farmers are borrowing from the
same companies, and their agents, that sell the seeds and the chemicals. And
in one or two years they're getting into debts of 100,000, 200,000 rupees which
no peasant in India could ever imagine paying in a lifetime. And every one of
these debts have been created by advertising that talks about a peasant becoming
a millionaire overnight, nothing less than a millionaire. One of the big programs
that's become a hit, Jerry, in India, is "How to Become a Millionaire". (Title
in Hindi) is the way it's named. They've found that even that kids were getting
excited so they've started a junior (Title in Hindi) race. [Laughter] And that
race is what
is the images that gods are supposed to be selling. You can just
imagine in the mind of a very, very devout peasant who really believes in the
Ramayana, when Hanuman comes to say you're going to become a (words in Hindi)
tomorrow. And they buy those seeds but they don't have the money and so they'll
take credit and then they're in debt. They're selling their children, they're
selling their wives, they're selling their kidneys, and when nothing else works,
they're using the same pesticides to commit suicide.
But it's not just the farmers
who are being pushed into suicides. For the first time we are starting to have
reports of starvation deaths. 2,000 children in one district of Maharashtra
died of starvation. In our public hearing we had family after family come up.
Why is this happening? Because the low-cost food that was available is now being
priced at international market prices. The people in India still earn their
salaries and wages in rupees but we are supposed to buy in a dollar economy.
Meantime, of course, the rupee is of course getting devalued further and further
What this has done is increase
the price of food four-fold and remove the entire food subsidy in the name of
saving government expenditure. But the government expenditure on our food system
has shot up in the decade from 20 billion rupees to 130 billion rupees, just
to make people starve. Because managing such a convoluted system is a very costly
affair. They used to count three - I always have to translate the crores - 30
crores will be 300 million. 300 million Indians used to be counted as very poor.
Out of the blue, the World Bank did a new study and said there's only 50 million
who are really poor, and only they should be targeted. Now, when out of 300
million you start to search for the really, really, really poor, you can't find
them. And all that means is lots of government people are getting lots of jobs
and more and more multi-colored booklets are being created between the poor
and not so poor and the really poor. That's why our government expenditure has
actually increased as a result of this while people aren't getting food. People
aren't able to buy; the food stocks are rising. The godowns are bursting. We've
go 60 million tons rotting. The government's been talking of dumping it into
the ocean because we are not allowed to get it to the people according to the
new rules of globalization.
We are allowed to dump it
but even more interestingly the same public expenditure that can't get food
to the poor is being allowed to be used to finance Cargill. Cargill is buying
at half the price that the poor in India are buying and that subsidy is coming
from our government, from our taxes. I'll just give you the figure: 1330 billion
dollars, rupees, in just this one year. And every corporation that wants to
export is getting our tax money to build the ports for them, to build the highways
for them, to build cold storage chains for them, to do processing plants, to
get absolutely zero taxation. The entire land resource, water resource, and
biodiversity resource is being handed over to the corporations. And you can
only watch this if you live in the society on a daily basis and see how concoction
of figures of poverty, concoction of fiscal deficit, cooking up of every detail
under the sun is used, so that our financial resources and our natural resources
can be put at the service of a handful or corporations -five corporations who
will sell us all the same food, bad food at that, that we don't want.
They even use famine-relief
money. The entire World Food Aid money, the entire U.S. Aid money, is being
used today to finance Cargill and Monsanto shipping genetically engineered soya
and genetically engineered corn in every area of disaster, whether it's the
Orissa cyclone, whether it's Hurricane Mitch in the Honduras. And that is yet
another way where you use a crisis to create another monoculture. You use the
crisis to wipe out the crops and diets and food systems of local communities.
Which is why, when we started to find out that the food aid in Orissa after
the big super-cyclone was genetically engineered corn and soya, we rushed in
to bring seeds of rice, of native rice that farmers could grow out and at least
get back their farming system.
Orissa, for those of you
who don't know, is the home of rice diversity. 'Til the green revolution and
the monoculture culture wiped out our diversity, Orissa gave us more than 200,000
rice varieties. Our small organization has managed to save about 2,000 rice
varieties and we have every color under the sun. But we didn't have yellow rice.
They were going to give us that with genetic engineering of Vitamin A into rice,
forgetting that the huge sources of Vitamin A in the biodiversity that we have:
our greens in our fields, some planted, some voluntary, every one of our fruit
trees, every one of our vegetables, rich in Vitamin A. And it is the wiping
out of those sources of Vitamin A by the green revolution that created the deficiency.
And now, instead of the 14,000 micrograms you can get out of the greens, they
want to give us genetically engineered rice which produces 30 micrograms per
100 grams. But just because they don't compare, they say, my God, rice never
had Vitamin A, so this is a lot. [Laughter] I sometimes say this is like comparing
me to a
. saying I am very fat, but not comparing me to a sumo wrestler. You
know. I turn out very slim. [Laughter]
The point is what is more
with respect to? And those very basic issues are part of what the blinded eye,
the position of the creator, never lets you know, because the creator must pretend
that they have created for the first time something that never existed before.
And every application, whether it's blue jeans - that was the big talk in the
biotechnology industry - natural blue jeans through genetic engineering, forgetting
that there is blue cotton, that is naturally blue, that there's a natural color
called indigo, that there is organic cotton without genetically engineering
beating into the cotton.
To me, the real threat about
cultural freedom linked to biodiversity, is not just how our cultural richness
is getting destroyed. To me it is even more seriously, what I call the Taliban
response to defense of cultural freedom. Because when cultures are that eroded,
when every thing that identifies you positively, has been taken away from you,
when every source of livelihood and security is gone, when you do not know where
your food will come tomorrow, you become absolute, easy prey for what I call
a negative defense of cultural identity. And that is why cultures that have
existed intimately in their diversity - the Muslims and Hindus, the Sikhs and
Hindus, in Sri Lanka the Tamil and the Sinhala - everywhere that richness of
culture and cultural diversity is at internal war with itself, an internal war
generated by the homogenization and the emptying out of culture by globalization.
It's not an accident that the Taliban had to shoot at those Buddhas in Bamiyan.
They are so desperate to defend their identity that even the silent images were
a threat to them.
When I was organizing with
the farmers, and I've been doing this for the last 13 years, and we decided
we are never ever going to obey laws that force us to violate every responsibility
to our earth, force us to stop saving seed, force us to basically treat our
neighbors as enemies by treating seed exchange as a crime and a theft. We are
not going to accept that degradation of our lives. And we call this the seed
(Hindi). Every year we take a pledge on Gandhi's birthday. Every year we manage
to roll back the implementation of tricks. For 10 years they've tried, they've
tried every bullying partner under the sun. There's been disputes in the WTO,
there's been threats of trade sanctions by the United States, but for a decade
we have managed to get our parliament to not allow the implementation of laws
that would allow patents on seeds, on plants, on human genes, on human sex.
And it's because wherever
an ordinary response is available for people, people want to have their cultural
freedom, at peace with other cultures, not at war with other cultures. And the
war of globalization against all cultures forces all cultures to be at war with
each other. That is the inevitable, vicious, unending cycle of violence that
we have to stop before it is too late. That is why we have to celebrate our
diversities, our peace. And I took a commitment 13 years ago that no matter
what it takes, every seed I come across we are going to save, every freedom
that is ours we are going to fight for.
And later this year, partly
because I am so fed up of the impoverished language of globalization, as if
the only way we could feel one is in the global market place of Barbie dolls
- actually I had a debate where they told me that if I wanted to defend our
food systems I was preventing Indian kids from playing with Barbie dolls. [Laughter]
And to me there are better ways that Indian kids can grow up playing with. Well,
the idea that there is only Barbie dolls, there's only McDonalds, and we are
one only if we can identify ourselves in the genetic reductionism of the human
genome, that otherwise we cannot feel one, we are starting at the end of this
year, starting again with Gandhi's birthday, a new school, called a seed school.
We call it (Hindi). It's for education for our citizenship. It is about celebrating
our diverse cultures and celebrating our earth family, putting the market in
its secondary position where it belongs.
I hope some of you will
be able to visit us. I really enjoyed visiting you. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: A few weeks
ago on Democracy Now! we had a 15 year old boy on from Stonington High School
in Connecticut. His name was Tristan Kading. Some of you may remember. He was
a sophomore in high school and one day the whole school was told to go in for
a mandatory assembly into the auditorium. So they all headed in and there was
a McDonald's representative on the stage. That was the assembly. She was recruiting
for McDonalds. She wanted to do some role-play and she asked if there were any
volunteers and Tristan raised his hand. [Laughter] So, he went up onto the stage
and she said, why would you like to have a job at McDonalds? [Laughter] And
Tristan said, I wouldn't. [Laughter] And then she said she had a few more questions,
but he said he had a question. And that question was why they go on saying that
their French fries are vegetarian when in fact they are cooked with beef flavoring
and that that is a problem for vegetarians and for Hindus. In fact there is
a major lawsuit in this country, a Seattle Hindu attorney is suing on behalf
of Hindus in this country, McDonalds. Anyway, at the end of the mandatory assembly,
Tristan was called down to the principal's office, and he was forced to apologize
over the intercom system for what he had done and to say that he was a bad student.
[Audience reaction] The end of our conversation, I asked Tristan what he wanted
to be when he grew up and he said he wants to be an activist. Well, he's clearly
well on his way [laughter] but I wanted to ask you each not what you want to
be when you grow up [laughter] but to look back for us, and to talk about where
you have each come from. And what has led you on this path to fight against
corporate globalization. Let's begin with Dr. Vandana Shiva.
VANDANA SHIVA: I was in
a very peaceful path of working with elementary particles and doing quantum
theory, [Laughter] and that is my chosen career. And just before I was leaving
for my PhD. I wanted to go to swim in my favorite stream in Himalaya and I found
that it had dried up. I found out that the oak forests had been cleared for
apple orchards financed by the World Bank. I continued to do my PhD., continued
to teach for a while, but started to look at the root causes of ecological destruction,
became an ecological activist along the way. Found out 13% of the area around
where I went to teach after my PhD was going under eucalyptus. It was the World
Bank. Taught me about the Bretton Woods Institution.
For 10 years, all I did
was track World Bank. I didn't track World Bank. Everywhere I found ecological
destruction, I found the World Bank, and everywhere behind World Bank money,
I found corporations benefiting. And the green revolution forced me
was forced on me because of the fact that the most prosperous state of India
you know the green revolution was supposed to have been an alternative to the
red revolution. It was supposed to have brought peace to the countryside. It
was supposed to have been an alternative to Communism and yet here was an area
going into civil war. Every day you might read, you know, Prime Minister Indira
Gandhi was assassinated but before that there'd been hundreds of thousands of
deaths. And I wanted to answer: why is an area of prosperity not an area of
peace? Why has it become an area of violence?
And I studied the green
revolution. Wrote a book on it, The Violence of the Green Revolution which
drew me into the biotech changes and that fateful meeting of 1987, where the
corporations talked about their future agenda. I, at that point, said the next
ten years all I'll do is watch what they do, and create alternatives of seed
saving. It overflowed by three years, I must say, but I think, in these thirteen
years, we've had a global movement on these issues.
GOODMAN: What were you doing
when you were fifteen?
SHIVA: When I was fifteen,
playing a lot. I loved games. I was our school's top athlete. Doing studies
on the side, and doing very well, but dreaming of being a physicist. Since I
was seven, I wanted to be Einstein. [Laughter] Now all I want to be is a plant.
[Laughter and applause]
GOODMAN: Gerry Mander, you
grew up in Yonkers?
JERRY MANDER: Yeah. Yonkers,
New York. And I played golf most of my childhood, actually. [Laughter] So there
was real significance to my mentioning golf today, actually. I was a golf star
throughout my youth and that was what I wanted to be, a professional golfer
when I was very young. But then I moved to California and kind of gave up golf
when I got out here. Everything seemed really different. Got out here, I should
say, the West. And I was in commercial advertising during the '60s and we were
approached by David Brower who was then the president of the Sierra Club to
he wanted to run a campaign to try to keep dams out of Grand Canyon.
I got the job of writing those ads, and I got very turned on to
it was the 60s
after all. There were all kinds of things happening. There was free speech movement
in Berkeley, and there was a growing anti-war movement, and the environmental
movement was really getting very big and noisy, and David Brower was there in
the office, talking about the environment all the time.
Through that process I decided
that advertising was really the problem not the solution. Trying to tell people
to go out and buy more stuff was really not the answer and that that technique
could be used very well for the good guys, for the good causes. And we did.
That campaign succeeded. It was very successful. It kept the dams out of Grand
Canyon. Then we did a bunch of ads also on environmental issues for the Sierra
Club and we saw that start really, the environmental
a much more activist environmental
movement in the 60s. So then I quit commercial advertising and formed a nonprofit
advertising company, the first one called, at that time was called Public Interest
Communications, but now it's Public Media Center. I was really bitten and got
very involved beyond the environmental movement, in the anti-war movement, and
all that activity.
GOODMAN: In The Absence
of the Sacred, you write about how your own community in Yonkers went from
being a really rural area to being suburban.
MANDER: Well, it wasn't
rural. Well, it was almost rural where I lived. That's true.
GOODMAN: And also how television
affected you, and talked about the issue of the neutrality or the lack of neutrality
MANDER: Right. People assume
that technology is
the only problems with technology is who controls it and
to what use they put it. While that is a major problem, there are quite a few
technologies that are going to cause harm no matter who controls it. If the
three of us were given the nuclear power franchise for the United States, chances
are we wouldn't handle the problems of nuclear power much better than the people
who are doing it now. It's intrinsic to the form. The difference between nuclear
power and solar power, they'll both light up your house and put a refrigerator
in it and enable you to have electricity, but there are intrinsic aspects to
those technologies which cause either better outcomes or worse outcomes. I felt
it was very, very important to start speaking about technology in systemic terms
so that people could begin to see that some technologies have problems and that
we could get
In our society there's basically
no discussion about technology. There's no real consideration about whether
we should go forward with any kind of technological areas, so technologies get
they get way ahead of us before we can start to do anything about them.
Biotech was way down the road before anybody had anything to say about it whereas
there should be a process for taking up all of the effects of it long before
it's completely upon us. There ought to be a democratic process whereby we can
say no to some technologies if they look bad. So my talk about the Internet
today was just to say that it's good, I think, on balance, but I'm not so sure
it's all good, and that people have got to start being aware of that too.
GOODMAN: I have followed
your forums, the International Forum on Globalization that you've had all over
the world, for many years, as I bet many in the audience have. I remember going
to the one in Washington, D.C., going to the one in New York in particular,
in 1995, at the historic Riverside church, because it was in November, and it
was when I first heard announced that Ken Saro-Wiwa had been executed in Nigeria.
It was at the IFG forum of more than 1,000 people. Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni
activist who was fighting corporate power - Shell, joined with the military
state of Nigeria, bringing together the military, the corporations. It is something
that you have both been preaching about now for many years. The culmination
of these forums was in Seattle, at the Benaroya auditorium, it was the symphony
space there, where thousands gathered before the shutdown of the World Trade
Organization - you refer to as the World Tyranny Organization. But what was
that like for you, that culmination? And where do you see it now? What was the
significance of Seattle?
SHIVA: Well, I don't see
that as the culmination. I think there's lots more to do. Yes, that is the beginning.
I think what was exciting about it was that we had made plans, we'd worked towards
it, but I think we didn't imagine the response would be as much as it was and
that the trigger effect, the catalytic effect, was so high. I think the highest
issue was the resonance. What we were talking about
and we must thank Jerry,
because we as a group of people from around the world, who got together the
International Forum on Globalization, really managed to get together because
of the initiative Jerry keeps taking. I can tell you, if that hadn't happened,
we would have had the divide and rule already dissipate this movement. I remember
I returned from Seattle and all my friends in the trade union movement said,
But that was all Clinton's boys on the streets. I said, No, I was with a hell
of a lot of boys and girls who weren't Clinton's. [Laughter] I started to talk
to them about what was happening in other countries. I did workshops with the
trade unions. We did a solidarity convention to bring northern activists, the
IFG team in, and that is what prevented the third world trade union movement
imagining that the anti-globalization movement from the north was purely the
movement for the defense of privilege and not a movement for solidarity, for
cultural freedom, for democracy.
So I think the fact that
we've hung together has helped us communicate. I think that some of the stuff
I bring into the IFG on export-oriented agriculture
we're going to have a big
thing on that because they lost in Seattle. Now what they're offering is the
bait that the reason we need more globalization and another round of WTO is
so that the third world can export a few more vegetables and fruits and saris,
maybe you'll wear them. [Laughter] We've seen exactly what that export-oriented
agricultural and textile policy does to us. Our farmers are committing suicide
but our weavers are committing suicide. Because once you lose your domestic
economy, your local culture, your local supports systems, you basically are
destitute. You have a few Levi jeans factories, you have a few farms for exporting
cotton, but the rest are redundant. It is a system for making 90% of humanity
redundant. And I think that's our next leg of work, to continue to be able to
articulate - in spite of all the spin that will be given - to be able to articulate
the concerns of people across cultural diversity, in spite of the telecommunications
and the TV which manages to get a false message out so instantaneously. I think
that's our real challenge.
GOODMAN: You were beaten
up in Davos.
SHIVA: I was beaten up in
Davos and I cried because the man who beat me up was a twenty-year old policeman,
just one year older than my son. Kids were being arrested, if they were nineteen
and twenty, they were being arrested if they were coming for a peaceful protest.
GOODMAN: This was at the
world economic summit.
SHIVA: This was the world
economic forum and I went there partly to tell these guys straight, looking
into their eyes, what they were doing. They had literally turned Switzerland,
which is supposed to be a region of peace, into the worst military zone that
you can imagine. Young kids were being arrested just for the way they looked.
If you had long hair or if you had an earring, I mean boys, you were off the
train, you were jailed. The young policemen were coming onto the streets to
beat the rest of us up who were walking with the fifty young people who had
managed to break the barriers. That's the day I realized that we had entered
such a culture of violence, technologies of violence in every sphere of life,
but social organization-based violence. And the more this goes on, we're going
to see more of the phenomenon of Sweden, again a peace-loving country, the police
are having to shoot kids dead - another twenty-year old. The more they shut
people out the more the young generation will be forced to find ways to be heard
because you're shutting out all democratic avenues, and the violence will escalate
from both sides. That's where I really feel networks and alliances like IFG
have a major role to play - to create a culture of peace in a really significant
way, to call the bluff on the militarization of our economy and our societies.
MANDER: Can I get a word
about Seattle because actually I think Vandana put it right. It was the beginning,
but it was also was the culmination, as you put it, because we had been working
for five years in an area that nobody kind of understood yet. We had to sort
of articulate what was wrong with globalization and there wasn't a lot of interest
in it at first. The media definitely was not interested in it. Then, all of
a sudden, about two weeks before Seattle, we started getting these media calls
from CNN and ABC and the New York Times. They would say to me, Say, we
hear there's going to be 50,000 people in Seattle protesting the World Trade
Organization. What's the World Trade Organization? [Laughter] Why is everybody
mad at it, you know? So we suddenly had an opportunity to start telling that
story. Then, at the event, kind of build a very large audience for the issue.
But I do think that that started something new.
That's what's really
what I was telling you backstage too I think, which was that I feel that there's
been a big change. Seattle obviously made a big change because suddenly there
was a gigantic movement and it's a very gigantic movement. It's a spontaneous
movement still. It's not really engineered by anybody, it's a very, very spontaneous
movement and it's operating on a kind of a similar wavelength. People are fighting
corporations in agreement with each other; there's many, many issues that people
are agreeing about. I think since Seattle, we haven't felt ourselves on the
back burner any more. We have felt ourselves in play. Every time there's a big
corporate event, we're able to be there. The media still doesn't handle it right.
[Laughter]. They're pathetic in terms of the way they report these things. But
that's okay because we're communicating with each other very well and there's
a lot of activity comes out of it.
But I do feel that things
are about to change. This period of steady state where we're able to show up
and do things at their events. What I think is going to start happening in the
next two years is we're going to start taking the initiative in many ways and
proposing our own solutions. A very significant thing was the Porto Alegre meeting
last year. I think that was extremely significant. That was a meeting in Brazil
of 25,000 activists, which was put together in a very kind of haphazard way
to talk about alternatives to globalization. The IFG has always had a process
for - we've been working on it for quite a while, for over a year, almost two
years - on developing a report on alternatives to globalization which will come
out soon. But the next Porto Alegre meeting, next February, I think we'll have
200,000 people at it.
GOODMAN: It was also where
Jose Bovay and more than a thousand landless peasants took over a Monsanto farm.
Is that right?
MANDER: Exactly. And I think
that we're now going to see new initiatives. So it's not going to be just us
trying to throw paint onto their events. It's going to be us doing initiatives
that will demand attention and we'll really be able to articulate alternative
visions that will stick, I think. So I'm looking for a very
I think the next
couple of years are going to see something completely different.
GOODMAN: Vandana, can you
describe the neem tree - it's significance, and how it and basmati rice typify
what is happening in the world today?
SHIVA: The neem is this
amazing tree whose scientific name is Azadirachta Indica and while working on
the piracy of this particular tree which is used for pesticides and fungicide
- it's the village toothbrush. You get up in the morning - it's in everyone's
back yard across the country - you get a little twig, chew the end, you brush
your teeth. There's even a dental patent. There's about 85 patents on various
uses of this tree. It's called the tree of the thousand uses and the name Azadirachta
is derived from the Persian name which means azad diracht which means the free
tree. I found this out when I started the campaign against the pesticides after
the Bhopal disaster. Remember the Bhopal disaster of Union Carbide pesticide
plant? Killed 3,000 people in Bhopal. Bhopal literally means the good earth.
And that good earth was poisoned. I rushed down and worked. And I said, this
doesn't have to happen, and I did a little bit of campaigning, and we started
a campaign: No more Bhopals. Plant a tree. We called it the free tree and for
us it was a real symbol of ecological freedom and cultural freedom. In 1994,
I find in a biotech journal, the first ever use of this tree for pesticide,
invented by Grace - which contaminated all the ground water outside Boston.
GOODMAN: W.R. Grace.
W.R. Grace, the
famous company, the chemical company. We took this on. We screened through the
patents. We picked the one jointly held by the US Department of Agriculture
and Grace. Talk about states stepping back. When it comes to biotech, when it
comes to patent, the states work like that (Shiva links her hands) with corporations.
This patent was a very good example of it. We went
in '94 we started a campaign
at home, got 100,000 signatures, took it to the European Patent Office, worked
with the Greens in Europe, challenged it the 10th of May last year, a very auspicious
day for us because it was the anniversary of our first movement for independence,
1857, the movement that threw the East India Company out. And that day we got
the decision of the revocation of that patent. Of course, the USDA and Grace
are trying to challenge it again.
Basmati is this amazing
rice that comes from my valley. We've had protests against that in India, out
here. They are now
even though initially they insisted they had made an invention
of aromatic rice and long-grained rice, they've had to withdraw 17 of the 20
claims. After I left home, I had a fax chasing me, 7:00 am, a knock on my door.
Tamarind, this wonderful tree we use for sari. But it's not just for sari. If
you live in a hot, tropical climate, and you want your food to stay, without
a refrigerator, the only way you do it is to put tamarind in your food. That's
why this, you know, as you move to the south of India you get lots of tamarind
use in the sambal and in the rasam. They are now saying that they are patenting
it and interestingly, it's always defended in the name of creating new economic
growth. What they never see is, if a company has a monopoly on neem, what will
happen to everyone's use of neem as a free resource in their back yard? If a
company has a monopoly on tamarind, what's going to happen to every home? What's
going to happen to the price of these things? On the neem case we actually tracked
it. Grace was making millions exporting it. The women who were collecting the
seed from which the oil comes were getting paid the same amount but when they
were going home and buying the oil, they were paying six times more within a
Now that is the economy
of creation of poverty through monopolies. That is intrinsic to patents. We've
done calculations that the third world debt will go up tenfold if these patents,
on our plants, their uses, and the knowledge related to them, continue. Which
means absolute, irreversible, deep impoverishment. If everything you maintain
your life with, and generate your livelihood from, is taken away, and it's someone
else's property and you have to pay royalties, what is it left with you that
you can sell to be able to buy what was yours and for free? It's your kidneys,
it's your genes, it's your wives, it's your daughters, it's your babies. That
is why this commodifications ultimate result is trading in life itself. So patents
on life begin a trend in which the only thing the poor will have will be selling
themselves and their bodies. And how long can that go on? What happens after
that? But they don't think about it.
GOODMAN: What about that?
Patenting life, patenting populations like the Panamanian group of people or
people from - what was it? - Papua New Guinea?
SHIVA: Well, people like
John Moore, right in this country. John Moore who had cancer of the spleen,
patented by his doctor, and when he challenged the patent - that my proteins
can't belong to Dr. Gold, interestingly - [laughter] the regents of the University
of California won the case, sued him, and they won the case on the argument
that his right to the integrity of his body interfered in the expansion of commerce.
[Laughter] So it's not exotic tribes far away. It's here.
If you look at the human
genome race - what was it, about
it was the first time I've seen two Premiers,
President Clinton and Tony Blair, announced the reading of the book of life.
They got it wrong by 70,000 genes. You remember? They said 100,000 then it got
down to 30,000. But they went and announced how we now knew the book of life.
And they're mapping the genome. To me, mapping the genome is exactly like the
maps that were used to colonize the world -the way Africa was charted out. [Applause]
It's just now the map is in the interior spaces of life. But it's still a map
that says, we have it on paper; you don't have the paper. To me the genome race,
including the genome mapping
Syngenta, this big company and Monsanto both, are
saying they have completed the genome map of rice which means they will now
patent rice. They don't know how to breed it. They have never sown a plant.
There was, though, a Financial Times article which had Monsanto with
a tie, planting a research paper [Laughter] and women in the third world planting
paddy. And somehow they imagine, out of these patent claims, rice will grow.
Out of the patent claims monopolies will grow. [Laughter]
GOODMAN: Jerry, what about
changing economies to be export oriented?
MANDER: Well, that's a basic
part of the free trade ideology which is that all economies should shift from
what became quite popular for a while, the import substitution model, that is
to say the model where small countries decided they didn't want any longer to
be dependent upon large colonial powers, and they wanted to establish self-sufficiency
in food and necessities, and not have to buy necessities on the open market,
where everything, variable prices, and so on
Some countries were doing very
well by that but the World Bank came along, especially under the leadership
of Robert McNamara, who did, by the way, more harm at the World Bank, I think,
than he did in Vietnam, and said all countries have to shift to export production
and we no longer can have the self-sufficient models. And that is simply because
profits, global corporate profits can only really be made
profit in self-sufficiency. If people are producing food and eating it and sharing
it with their communities there's no opportunity for profit. So what they really
wanted to do was open access to these big corporations to come in, create giant
monocultures, drive people off their land who were self-sufficient farmers and
other kinds of self-sufficient artisanal producers, turn everything into an
export orientation - small industry plus agriculture - ship everything back
and forth across the oceans and in that shipping was where there was the greatest
opportunity for corporate profit. Because of that, that's brought on one of
the greatest environmental crises. Just that shift has created an environmental
crisis of staggering proportions because the increase in shipping since the
shift to export oriented economics, since the Bretton Woods, since the mid 1900's
has brought with it tremendous - you can't increase transport activity without
also increasing infrastructure everywhere in the world enormously -new pipelines,
new roads, new dams, new seaports, new airports. All that list of things that
I did at the beginning, half or 70% of those battles that are going on with
native peoples are about transport infrastructure construction, causing tremendous
environmental havoc, tremendous social havoc.
Aside from just the increase
in fossil fuel, the increase in ocean and air pollution, the increase in bio-invasions
which may be one of the great environmental catastrophes of our time. These
bacteria and viruses and nematodes and bugs of all kinds, and animals are walking
around on peoples' shoes and in cargo ballast and shipping back and forth across
the oceans are great threats to environmental stability in every country of
the world. All of that is because of increased shipping.
So if you are going to have
an export-oriented economy you are going to have these horrific environmental
results. There's no way around it. It goes hand-in-glove. But they need to have
that because that's where the profits are. There's no profits in economic self-sufficiency
for global corporations. So they have to destroy that - put everybody into shipping
their stuff back and forth and make profits that way. And in agriculture, it's
particularly a problem, of course, because it drives people off their lands.
People who used to grow food to eat are no longer on their lands; they're in
this mono-cultural agricultural production with these global agricultural corporations.
There are very few jobs because they are all pesticide and machine intensive.
People have to leave their communities. They don't get jobs; they are cashless;
and hunger actually increases from that model. They claim that this is the way
to solve hunger but we know that there is tremendous increase in hunger as the
industrial, mono-cultural model increases for an export oriented production.
GOODMAN: So, Vandana, why
are you hopeful then as we wrap up this conversation? I mean, you have all of
this that Jerry just described, and that you were describing, you have the next
World Trade Organization meeting in Qatar which outlaws protest. [Laughter]
Why do you think you're winning?
SHIVA: Because most of the
world doesn't live in Qatar. [Laughter] And the alternatives will be worked
out where they are. There are two reasons I'm hopeful: I've always, always believed,
and I've experienced this again and again, that peoples' love for freedom is
more powerful than any course of authority, in the final analysis. [Applause]
And I think we're just going to see that grow, as more and more coercion will
be required to keep in place a system that is not serving the majority. The
second reason I'm very hopeful is these guys have such linear minds. They've
done their calculations of how if you take two million tons of wheat out of
India and bring the same two million tons back you've got four million tons
of trade increase. [Laughter]
SHIVA: They are not going
to be able to get rid of the hunger and we're going to have increasing numbers
of people aware that there is less food.
SHIVA: We're going to have
more and more climate instability, and that one cyclone in Orissa laid them
all to rest because here they had thought that there would be a telecommunication
revolution. Nothing worked for ten days. No flight could land. It's what people
could mobilize for themselves that worked. I think more powerful than the cause
of power of global capital and corporations working with WTO and the World Bank
and IMF, is the freedom of nature and the freedom of people. The reason I'm
optimistic is ultimately those two forces will decide the future. Even if people
lose, nature will win. [Applause]
GOODMAN: So would you say
grassroots globalization is ultimately what is going to succeed and predominate?
MANDER: As I said, I think
things are turning around. I think we're starting to win now. Also, I just saw
a poll, I have it in my pack someplace, probably couldn't lay my hands on it
fast enough, that said that
it was an international poll, taken in the G20
countries, and it said that people do not trust globalization and that they
trust NGOs and faith-based communities far more than global corporations. Global
corporations were lowest on the list of trust. I think people get it. That even
though the media has not properly reported these protests - they don't say what
they're about - I think people are getting it: that all of this activity is
meaningful. And they're thinking about what does it mean? And they have an instinctive
resistance to it. I don't think it's only grassroots. I think that plenty of
sort of mainstream people who go to work everyday in regular office jobs are
feeling very vulnerable from all this and I think that the energy is shifting
GOODMAN: And if the revolution
does succeed, what happens with the fact that, just in this country alone, the
majority of the soy is genetically engineered; the majority of the corn is genetically
engineered? How can that be reversed?
SHIVA: With appropriate
quarantine measures, we will supply your seed, to shift your agriculture. [Laughter
GOODMAN: Well, thank you
very much. And are you headed for Qatar?
SHIVA: Well, we are going
to watch and see. I'm going to watch and see.
GOODMAN: What's your next
SHIVA: Well, our next big
action is keeping GM out of the country. We've just managed to have yet one
more year of a ban on Monsanto commercializing genetically engineered cotton
in India. For four years in a row, they've tried to corrupt our government,
like they've corrupted yours. They haven't managed yet. [Applause] That continues
to be a big issue. The hunger issue, the growing conditions of hunger and famine
in India, the return of hunger and famine will be very, very big for us. India
is an agricultural society. That's where we are going to bring change. We are
having elections in major states in the spring. Food and agriculture will decide
where the future policies of our country go. And I think around the world, like
Jerry said, not just the grass roots. We have an invitation from the President
of the state of Tuscany, who wants to critique globalization, as a President
of a region, just before the G8 countries say we must have more of it. So we
are getting a lot of discontent. Four of the ex-Prime Ministers of India are
with us in our campaign against globalization. Most of the ex-agricultural ministers
are fighting with us. It's not a marginal movement, it's a real debate and I
think they are on the defensive. They must tell more lies, use more force, for
a short triumph.
MANDER: Right. Speaking
from the point of view of the IFG, the next big event we're going to do will
be in Johannesburg in September '02 which will be at the Rio plus 10, you know
the follow-up to the Rio summit. We hope to get them to put environment back
into that discussion and also get them to put globalization on the agenda so
that they realize that you can't have environmental sustainability without dealing
with globalization in a meaningful way. So, we will be
SHIVA: And as a run-up to
that we are having in India
MANDER: we're having a meeting
called the Earth
Family versus the Global Market. [Applause]
MANDER: Right. We'll have
organizing meetings in India and Africa
SHIVA: End of September.
Any of you who want to come, come. [Laughter]
MANDER: So that will be
the next big action, but we're also involved in the battle on water privatization
which is getting to be huge. The fast-track battle which is very important right
now, and trying to get the public to understand all of what's going on in the
General Agreement on Trade and Services - the privatization of services, government
services. That's extremely important. And the FTAA. All of these things we'll
be very active with. But as far as public events, it'll probably be next year.
GOODMAN: So do you think
such an extremist administration, as the Bush administration, will actually
serve your interests because people will have such a negative reaction to all
how fast they are escalating and accelerating what Clinton really
laid the groundwork for?
SHIVA: I can tell you that
Bush did more to educate the world on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol
than any other educational program. [Laughs]
MANDER: He's doing pretty
good on environmental matters in general, I would say. [Laughter] He raises
each one of these environmental issues with such outrageous positions that even
the press, [laughter] has to go after him on it. So it's been useful, so far,
[laughter] but let's hope he doesn't get
. But I think the shift of the Senate
has been very, very important also, [Applause] because he might have gotten
away with some of those things.
GOODMAN: Is there a last
point that you would like to raise to this audience? We're in the nuclear capital
of the world, [laughter] also, in terms of the United States, probably one of
the areas of the highest concentration of indigenous people.
SHIVA: Well, you know, while
Bush might educate us a lot environmentally, to me, the biggest concern is the
new geo-political arrangement in which the right-wing of this country and the
right-wing of our country emerge as new partners for globalization, which is
a totalitarianism of the market, and militarization, with all the nuclear backup.
And I think that is something
I mean, I really feel the part that we thought,
you know we thought we'd won the peace issue, and I think we have to reactivate
the peace issue while we keep the movements for cultural diversity and ecological
sustainability, and democracy. I think peace has to be brought back in as a
very, very strong campaign issue.
GOODMAN: Well, thank you
MANDER: Thank you.