Mexico: Idealized Nature: On Absolutism and Misanthropy
There is an ever-spreading idealistic, romantic, and superfluous tendency regarding the existence of a pristine, virgin, and idyllic nature that has never been touched by human beings and that must be preserved without having any contact with our species. There are many, many problems and shallow reflections regarding this stance about a pristine and virgin nature.
First of all, we must be aware of the context in which we are currently living: in the Anthropocene, an era in which the industrial human being has caused the greatest changes of the past 300 years. “Climate change has disrupted all ecosystems in the world.” That is to say, the industrial human being, by contaminating the water, earth, and air, has negatively disrupted all the planet’s biomes, that is, there is no pristine, untouched nature left in the entire world. All ecosystems have been touched by climate change.
Now, another issue originating from this Christian idealization and myopic romanticization of virgin nature is the belief that the human being in general, our species in its essence, is inherently ecocidal and destructive of nature, which is entirely false and erroneous.
The world with all its beautiful biodiversity is being destroyed not by the human being itself, but by a defined, identifiable and sick manifestation of humanity. That is, the destruction of life and ecosystems is due to the type of industrialized and modern human being that has existed for around 300 years, since the historical emergence of capitalism and modern industrial globalization.
Another conclusion can be drawn from the above: in the global techno-industrial society, not all industrialized human beings participate with equal importance and impact in the devastation of what the West calls nature. For example, an indigenous construction worker who migrated to the big city doesn’t do the same damage to the biosphere as a modern soldier, nor does a baker in a middle-class neighborhood do the same damage as a Monsanto biotechnologist.
The large military and industrial corporations – with their executives, politicians, scientists and generals (be they capitalists or not) – are the ones killing people and ecosystems across the planet, not the human being itself. The ones responsible are those humans who have been sickened by dominating Otherness, those who rejuvenate, create, execute, and organize the imprisoning projects of society.
Humanity is neither good nor bad: it is vital! And this is as a result of its own evolution. But it happened that 5,000 years ago it created civilization – it chose to live in cities – and that was when everything started to go from bad to worse. Yet nothing that previous civilizations have done is comparable to the magnitude, speed, and destructive intensity of industrial civilization’s impact on the planet. Humanity as such – homo sapiens – have been around for something like two million years, meaning that for only approximately 0.1% of its existence has it been negatively disturbing ecosystems.
This 0.1% of sick human existence can only be attributed to the industrializers of the planet, not to the tribes, indigenous peoples, and pastoral and peasant societies that continue to lead their vernacular lives according to the planet’s seasons and cycles of bioregulation. Humanity – again – is not the enemy of that which we call nature, but a certain project – undertaken by certain humans during a specific stage of development – is that which is devastating the planet. Those fatalistic ideas derived from misanthropy and idealism about nature and the environment are merely superficial statements that ignore the “primitive history of humanity” and its recent history. Vague ideas, lacking in depth about evolutionary, geopolitical, and economic processes, deduce that humanity itself is antagonistic to ecosystems, “instead of precisely pointing out those truly responsible for the ever-expanding personal, environmental, and social devastation of the planet.”
How does one fight against industrial development if one doesn’t have an in-depth knowledge of the enemy? How does one defeat the ecocidal and imprisoning project of society with defeatist and victimized positions, positions without vitality, such as nihilism and pessimism? Positions like these reflect resignation and a lack of responsibility for the world that surrounds them. Positions such as misanthropy reproduce the values of the system that they supposedly want to destroy: hatred, rancor, selfishness, and competition, the values that strangely enough sustain the project of capitalist society. Misanthropy plays into the hands of those who dominate society, torture animals, and destroy ecosystems.
Now, aside from there being fatal errors in the abovementioned positions, another problem needs to be pointed out regarding the very concept of Nature. That being that nature as a word is term/concept of civilized origin. It is a term/concept that conceals the false separation between the human being and all other living species. To begin with, the concept of nature does not exist in many human cultures around the world. Something like 99.99% of human tribes and peoples that the West calls indigenous did not originally use this term to refer, for example, to rivers or forests. That is why it is preferable to describe ecosystems by the rivers, forests, animals, fungi, etc., that comprise them rather than with the simple and plain word Nature.
Nature as a concept and as oppositional to culture, that is, as a sphere of life separate from the human, arose about 3,000 years ago with Greek culture. As we see, the concept of nature is a well-defined and historically situated invention from a kind of human being that alienated itself from ecosystems so that it might live in cities, that is, to live in civilization. “Indigenous tribes and peoples do not participate equally in impacting the biosphere: before the European colonial conquest, many vernacular peoples, far from diminishing biodiversity, increased it…and continue to do so today.” For example, with the diversification of domesticated plants.
Given the above, we can draw at least two conclusions: that the human species itself is not an immanent destroyer of that which we call nature; and, that not all human beings (civilized or not) participate in the destruction of the biosphere. Of those who directly participate in the ecocide – a small percentage that can be pinpointed accurately – not all do so in the same way or to the same degree. It is absurd to point to all of humanity as the enemy of nature.
Another conclusion to be drawn from this is that the term Nature is a false concept that encourages biocide against ourselves as well as the rest of the biosphere. And even more harmful is this idea of a nature that has not been touched and remains pristine.
This idea of virgin nature is the result of an idealized and Christian vision that arose – curiously – from the disdain for life itself. The search for a terrestrial or metaphysical paradise beyond the plane that one is a part of is the effect of a sick and resigned body looking for solutions outside of its reality, that is, creating idealized and romantic worlds that supposedly contain all the solutions to its problems.
The supposed love for pristine nature that certain activists have conceals nothing more than a contempt for themselves and the world around them: the pristine, the pure, the absolute are symptoms of a body consumed by sadness.
Paradise, be it wild or celestial, is practically identical to the communist idea of a socialist paradise or the Nazi idea of a state of human racial purity. Idealistic romanticism confuses causes with effects, creating systems of true confusion and self-deception that lead to nothing more than the repetition of the same mistakes which have been used to justify a thousand and one atrocities.
However, we must keep in mind that in the Mesoamerican context (from Mexico to Panama) nearly all ecosystems have been intervened upon for millennia – in a responsible and knowledgeable way – by the indigenous peoples of America. The long tradition of the diverse use of plants and landscapes in Mesoamerica proves that agriculture is not the origin of evil. Bio-archeological evidence as well as current ethnobotanical research in indigenous territories show this. We repeat that agriculture is not the origin of evil: Private property of the land is.
What today may seem like a “virgin” mountain or valley was perhaps 100 or 50 years ago an agro-ecosystem where people used and cultivated various vegetable species. With the passage of time, this human-impacted vegetation was diluted among the wild vegetation. Now, that anthropogenic vegetation appears in the midst of a landscape that is supposedly pristine, yet in reality the human being has contributed to the configuration of this apparently virgin, “natural” landscape.
Another example are the forest agro-ecosystems, such as coffee groves, that at first glance could appear to be pristine ecosystems without the direct involvement of humans, but which in reality are mutual and symbiotic creations alongside the rest of nature. There are many examples of this. We recommend a critical reading of the book The Importance of Biocultural Memory: The Ecological Importance of Ancestral Wisdom (La importancia de la memoria biocultural: la importancia ecológica de las sabidurías ancestrales) by Víctor M. Toledo and Narciso B. Bassols, to learn more about the human relationship with the biosphere and agro-ecosystems (anthropogenic nature).
Be it based in history, philosophy, anthropology, ecology, or one’s own experience with non-industrialized societies, the idea of nature itself is rather dubious. And the idea of a virgin, pristine nature that remains untouched by our species is totally ridiculous. Beyond that, it reflects narrowmindedness, conceals ideas which justify the domination, exploitation, and destruction of that which we call nature, giving way to fundamentalist and eco-totalitarian ideas, beliefs, and actions that the eco-bourgeoisie don’t hesitate to adopt as their own doctrine. They believe they are unique and special for “defending” a paradise that is nothing more than the unfinished result of their desire to dominate.
WE ARE NOT DEFENDERS OF NATURE! WE ARE NATURE DEFENDING ITSELF!
From some beautiful forest
By Anonymous Texts
Mexico, the beginning of February 2018