This week, Nonviolence Radio hears from Dr. Vandana Shiva; physicist, ecologist, fierce advocate of biodiversity and conservation, protector of farmers and women’s rights and prolific author. During the interview, Dr. Shiva speaks on a wide range of topics, from the dangers of philanthrocapitalism (the subject of her latest book, “Philanthrocapitalism and the Erosion of Democracy“) to ecofeminism. With Stephanie Van Hook and Michael Nagler, she expounds on what she sees as an insidious new form of colonialism, one which purports to offer us the benefits of technological advances, but in fact is slowly turning our bodies and minds away from — or even against — each other and the earth.
If in the first colonialism, religion was used as a civilizing mission, the new religion at this point is the tools of the philanthrocapitalists. And the level of violence being used to impose digital technologies is unbelievable.
Thankfully, Dr. Shiva does not shrink in response to these challenges, rather she recognizes the power of human beings to bring about change, the power we have to unite, despite our superficial differences, to avoid “the trap of new colonial divide and rule policies.” Recognizing our shared humanity and our profound connection to Mother Earth is the ground for generating — together — common solutions to our problems.
Stephanie: In many circles, she needs no introduction. Dr. Vandana Shiva is an author, physicist, ecologist and advocate of biodiversity, conservation, and protection of farmers and women’s rights. Her pioneering work around food sovereignty, traditional agriculture, and women’s rights created fundamental cultural shifts in how the world views these issues. She founded Navdanya, an organization that promotes agroecology, seed freedom, and a vision of Earth democracy, seeking justice for the Earth and all living beings.
She’s authored more than 20 books, including “Reclaiming the Commons, Biodiversity, Indigenous Knowledge and the Rights of Mother Earth,” which is from Synergetic Press. She received the Right Livelihood Award in 1993. It’s an honor known as the alternative Nobel Prize, and she’s received numerous other awards and honors for her work, including the Save the World Award in 2009 and the Sydney Peace Prize in 2010.
Dr. Shiva joins us on Nonviolence Radio today to talk about her latest book, “Philanthrocapitalism and the Erosion of Democracy: A Global Citizens’ Report on the Corporate Control of Technology, Health and Agriculture,” which is available from Synergetic Press.
The book calls to account problematic initiatives that serve to corrode the integrity of democratic institutions, often under the banner of future oriented innovation. It lays bare the destructive power of overly capitalistic systems that enable mass human suffering and environmental catastrophe, via the entanglement of private investment and public policy. And she touches on nonviolence in so many ways. We were very grateful to have Vandana Shiva. Let’s turn and hear from her.
Vandana: Well, the Global Citizens Report is really a synthesis, put together by movements that have been responding to different elements of the new form of imperialism that comes from the technologies that made the technology barons rich. They have now become the philanthrocapitalists. And it’s not that they’re giving. Through their giving, they are carving out new territories. They are carving out new definitions of the future.
And because Bill Gates is everywhere. In 2015, I had watched him start to dominate the climate scene at the Paris Treaty. Everyone celebrates the Paris decision as if it was made by governments. Bill Gates was standing there, and Zuckerberg, and dictating to governments. I wrote a book then called “Oneness vs. the 1 percent,” which has been published by Chelsea.
But the Corona hit and articles were coming out from everywhere how the WHO and the GAVI and the vaccine program, and investments in the Pfizers and the Modernas are all driven by Gates. But what was less known was exactly at the time when the COVID was shutting our worlds down, Mr. Gates was announcing One Agriculture for the whole world. And he was buying up prime farmland. He’s the biggest farmland owner of America. Most people think of farmland and think of farmers. Now you got to start thinking of the digital barons.
Around that same time, he and his Silicon Valley friends started to invest in what I call, “fake food.” Food made in labs, using agriculture now not as food, but agriculture as a supplier of raw materials for lab food. The GMO soya, the GMO corn, becomes the new use. Just as GMO corn, soya, became animal feed, GMO corn and soy became biodiesel and biofuel.
Entire subsidy structures are shifted to make these very violent systems come into place. Now, we know this much, that food is the currency of life. And my journey on food started when I saw violence erupt in Punjab. And I started to seek nonviolent farming since 1984. I called it “Ahimsic Kheti.” Nonviolent farming.
I watched the Green Revolution in India. Studied it. Created alternatives. There’s a chapter in the book on the Green Revolution in Africa, by Tim Wise, how it is causing devastation. We’ve already had disasters through patenting and disasters through GMOs. Mr. Gates is now financing new gene editing and controlling the patents on gene editing. But worse are the two unacceptable applications that he is driving along with the defense research system.
One is called geoengineering. We’ve messed up the planet’s climate system. The Earth manages the climate. Fossil fuels are part of the problem. But now there is deliberate putting of pollutants in the sky – aerosols – and it is called solar geoengineering. You have to manage the sun, as if the sun was the problem. The problem was blocking the sun. The problem was creating a greenhouse impact of pollution.
Now, Mr. Gates’ solution to the greenhouse effect is, make a bigger greenhouse effect by creating artificial clouds and other modifications, for which he is getting trillions of dollars. And once you start to do it, you will need to keep flying jets to spray the pollution all the time. But you cannot manage the weather. It’s just that you’ve created a new place for investment.
Another place where no peaceful citizen should ever allow activity is something called “gene drives.” Gene editing designed to push species to extinction. And this project is with, again, DARPA, the Defense Research Agency, and a lot of pages about other species. But there’s one application on agriculture, and it’s on amaranth. And amaranth has become a super weed in America because of the violence of Roundup and GMO soya.
Instead of saying, “Let’s stop the roundup, let’s stop putting poisons in our agriculture.” Mr. Gates is designing, pushing the amaranth to extinction. Amaranth is the sacred food for us, sacred food for the Andean cultures, for the Mexican cultures. And they’re just saying, “Oh, there’ll be a little impact on some countries on food security.” It’s not a little impact. It’s a huge impact.
Philanthropy is giving. Philanthrocapitalism is, “I’ve made money through illegitimate means. I will now use that money for more illegitimate need.” More violence against the earth, more violence against democracy, more violence against truth.
I mean, just yesterday he was speaking at the Munich Security Conference. You know, security is actually war conferences here. They define security as how to make war. And here he is at the security conference. And he says something that should make the whole world sit up.
First, he says that the virus itself is the best vaccine, because it’s creating immunity. Next sentence, he says, “Our vaccines haven’t done as well as the virus itself in building immunity.” And, you know, in the beginning, scientists used to talk about herd immunity, and they were all shut up.
Now he is saying this at the security conference. And then he’s saying, “So, this one is controlled, but there will be a new pandemic.” What is the certainty and arrogance that one individual has to be able to make such a statement? One would expect that if these are truly disasters, they happen without anticipation and the best we can do is prepare.
But when they are announced with prediction, I think that’s violence. Because that means that you know it’s going to happen. And all you can think of is how to profit out of it. And to me, violence in our times is violence against the mind, violence against our bodies, violence against democracy.
And, you know, there’s a patent taken exactly at the time of Covid, Patent by Microsoft, 060606. That we are no more human beings with agency for peace. We are no more peacemakers. We are “users.” We are users of these systems. And the systems, with algorithms, will decide our worth. And our wealth of the future will be cryptocurrencies, allocated by the algorithm of Big Tech. To me, that’s violence against humanity. Anyone concerned about human rights should be waking up to what is the world that they are planning by 2030.
And we should then think of the world and work on a world we want for all life on Earth. Not only 2030, but forever in the future.
Stephanie: I asked further into the perceptions of philanthrocapitalists like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Outside of activist circles, a lot of people see them as just the good guys doing good things, helping solve issues of disease and of hunger and making it possible for farmers to grow seeds that will otherwise not grow in the changing climate conditions that they’re in. I asked her for her response about this.
Vandana: I would respond to it with basic common sense. If climate change and unpredictability of the weather is a problem, you don’t engineer further unpredictability and further pollution and further blocking off the sun. It’s just wrongheaded. If Green Revolution has devastated the most prosperous part of Punjab in India – and I wrote my book after the eruption of violence in Punjab in 1984, called The Violence of the Green Revolution. I named it as, The Violence of the Green Revolution because I wanted to understand, where’s this coming from?
And I realized it was coming from the militarized mind behind agrochemicals, which are war chemicals. It was coming from the idea that we have to have war against the insects. We have to have a war against biodiversity, we got to have a war against the Earth.
And then it created a war against the peasants. And the farmers of India had the most beautiful nonviolent protest for 14 months. And many of them were children of farmers I worked with 20, 30 years ago, starting in Punjab.
The Green Revolution destroyed Punjab. Destroyed Punjab. And it created so much despair that not only was there violence, but the young people have become so despondent, like the opioid crisis in America, where people have lost – despair. And they’re just taking these painkillers and getting addicted to them.
In Punjab, 75% of the youth are addicted to drugs. And there was a film made on flying high called Udta Punjab, flying high on drugs. So that’s the devastation of the fabric of the most beautiful land from where the religion of nonviolence of Sikhism, where Guru Nanak said, “we are part of the Earth. And compassion and love for all beings is the religion. Service to all beings is our religion. It didn’t increase food production. It increased commodity production. Destroyed the soil, the waters.
It has created a cancer train because of the poisons being used. So if someone tells me he’s doing good by taking this disaster to Africa on a continental scale, I would say just look at what it did to Punjab.
And for disease, all you have to see is what his money has done to the management of the COVID crisis. The many words for it, the vaccine, apartheid, they called it. He took patents, his companies took patents. His investments are big in the vaccine companies. In fact, I think he has investments in all of them. But most importantly, he controls the Global Alliance for Vaccines. GAVI, it’s called.
And he is the biggest funder of the World Health Organization. He now controls the Food and Agriculture Organization. He controls all the seed banks of the world, about which I have a chapter in the report, in Philanthrocapitalism. So when people think he’s an angel, it’s because he also controls the media and puts his angelic stories out.
You know, Wall Street to New York Times to The Guardian and BBC – there are amazing studies done in the nation about how the media is his media.
Stephanie: I wanted to know a little bit more about her take on the role of science and incorporating science into our practice of nonviolence. This is what she had to say.
Vandana: You know, my country, India, is one of the oldest scientific civilizations of the world. 5,000 years ago, The Science of Life. We’ve been doing agriculture for 10,000 years without harming the Earth. Wherever farmers farm, the soil is richer, the biodiversity is richer.
It was, literally, in 1825 I think, when the British were trying to conquer us. You know, throughout the 18th century, they siphoned off Indian science. The science of vaccination. We used to vaccinate our people. One in a million had smallpox because of indigenous systems of vaccination. System was taken. Vaccines were developed. They brought the vaccines to India, then banned the Indian treatment. That is how smallpox became an epidemic.
Shipbuilding – we were the leading shipbuilders. They took the ships initially and then banned Indian ships. Steel making – they took steel making. The best swords were made in India. The best steel was made in India. Took all this, banned the Indians from steel making. So there’s been a phenomenon of piracy. My own work has been based on fighting piracy of neem, of basmati, of wheat.
And so, when we are talking about science, with a capital S, as one class, one race has it, it’s a distortion of what science of science means theory to know. Anywhere where there’s knowledge there’s a science. Indigenous people have their sciences. People in holistic medicine have their sciences. People in homeopathy have their science. People in agroecology have their science.
The people in industrial agriculture don’t really have a systems science of how systems hang together. They do have a system of how to kill species. You know, brilliant at herbicide and pesticides and fungicides and terminator seeds.
So, I think the first thing about science is it is pluralistic and the minute you said this is the only thing that will call the science you have committed what we in our community are increasingly calling epistemicide, the killing of knowledge systems. Now, that is dangerous for humanity because we need – just like in ecosystems, we need diversity of species for ecosystem stability. In cultures, we need diversity of people for social and cultural balance and peace. In knowledge, we need diversity of knowledges in order to really know the world in its richness.
So, the neglect of science begins with neglecting the pluralism of sciences. And then marginalizing the independent scientists who look at impact. Because even in industrial systems, there are two sciences. One is a science of how to produce something, how to produce a GMO, how to do nuclear fusion. I mean, I was a nuclear technologist at one time. You know, I was a nuclear scientist. That’s where I started my life. That’s one science. Or to be able to first make fossil fuels and then make gas and frack and all that has its own side.
But on the other hand, is the impact sciences. And the impacts on issues include analysis of climate change. It includes biosafety of GMOs. And I played a big role in the United Nations to shape the international law on biosafety. So, they keep calling me an anti-science person. “She’s anti-science.” No, I’m a scientist looking at the harm that you do at the systems level, and you are in a responsible industry which denies the science of interrelationship within the genome and a living organism with its environment. These are basic fundamentals of science.
So, the fossil fuel industry, of course, ignores the impacts of climate change. The GMO biotech poisoned cocktail industry tries to shut down the biosafety scientists who tell the truth about what’s happening to the environment, to species, to disease, to our gut, to the insects. So, there are many scientists, and all voices should speak. The more voices we have, the more democracy in science we have, the more knowledge we have.
I think the first form of nonviolence is to be aware of the fact that we are in a beautiful living planet. And this living Earth has our own self-organizing systems. That’s why James Lovelock called her Gaia. He realized that through creating biodiversity and creating the biosphere, she managed the climate. She brought temperatures down from 290 degrees to 13 degrees. She brought carbon dioxide down from 4000 parts per million to 270 parts per million. That power of life on the Earth is the first thing we have to be deeply aware of.
The second thing that nonviolence requires is we have to be aware of the fact that all lifeforms are self-organized. They have their right to ecological space. They are part of an old family that, you know, colonialism and anthropocentrism that went hand with it created what I call an ecological apartheid.
And just like apartheid created violence and race. Ecological apartheid creates violence against the other kind of species, but also the people who are dependent on the Earth and our species. And that’s why indigenous people have been constantly violated. And even today, some of the worst killings are of the earth defenders who are indigenous cultures and the worst armies are unleashed. You know, the pipeline movements of Canada and America, I watch these images from far away. Their action is nonviolence.
So, to be aware that there are others on the planet with us and they are our family, they’re our relatives. And just like in our family, we love our family. Nonviolence of the earth level and as a Earth beings is to be compassionate, to be defenders, to have acknowledgment and to live peacefully with all life on earth.
But the final issue for me and, you know, being a follower of Gandhi is and having you know, started my theological training in the Chipko movement, a beautiful, nonviolent movement of the 70s with the Gandhian – you know, the Gandhians were very active – Mirabehn, Sarala Behn had left a legacy. And that’s where I learned that a very deep element of nonviolence in a period of dominant harm because of dominant greed, which is the kind of violence of the philanthrocapitalists is to engage in the nonviolent force of truth. The satyagraha, as Gandhi called it, the fight for truth to defend life on Earth with your very being.
And that’s what the anti-apartheid movement became. That’s what the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King was. That’s what our freedom movement was. And, you know, I’ve taken inspiration from the Salt Satyagraha and the Indigo Satyagraha, to say we will not accept that to succeed. We will not be dumped with GMOs. We will do a Seed Satyagraha. So, when we do a food satyagraha. We do these satyagraha’s as part of our normal organizing in activism, and this is part of a nonviolent duty.
Stephanie: We then turned to the discussion of philanthrocapitalism as the new colonization, the new colonialism.
Vandana: Philanthrocapitalism is very much recolonization. And, you know, land was not a colony till the colonizers took our land and made the property. You know, for us, land was Mother Earth, Pachamama, Gaia, Vasundhara. And we could not own land. We could use the land. We could till it by constantly recognizing that the Earth gave us everything and making a commitment on a daily basis not – to not be violent. The [unintelligible 00:23:36] of India says, “I will not be violent to you.” Every indigenous culture apologizes to the Earth and then turns to her for her gifts.
So, colonialism was carving out a territory and land and saying, “This is ours. It’s our property.” When I watched in the 80s, the Monsantos trying to create property and seed through intellectual property and patent issue. I said, “This is a colony.” You know, they’re turning life into a colony.
How is philanthrocapitalism creating new colonies? And how are they defining primitiveness and barbarianism? And what is this civilizing mission? If in the first colonialism, religion was used as a civilizing mission, the new religion at this point is the tools of the philanthrocapitalists. And the level of violence being used to impose digital technologies is unbelievable.
In my book, “Oneness vs the 1%,” I have talked about the 2016 banning of cash in India overnight imposition of digital. Overnight war on cash with Bill Gates. Two days later he was here congratulating India. Who was making money out of this? He was selling the platforms for digital currencies. Azure, it’s called. And all Indian companies were having to buy from it and pay him royalties.
What are the new colonies making? Education has become a new colony. Education was a public good. But look at the edge-tech firms and how they are exploding and how every kid is forced to sit in front of the screen. And I keep wondering, you know, because I work in agriculture, I work with gardens. We created Gardens of Hope in schools just to let the mind of the child open up, and they become their full human potential by becoming part of the Earth. I’m just thinking of the children who day-in and day-out, day-in and day-out, just sitting in front of the screen. We know the data showing the eyes are going crazy. We know they’re so distracted all the time. I would love to do brain scans of our children.
Health, of course has become – our bodies are a colony, yeah? Our bodies are totally a colony. And our minds are a colony because most of the tech giants have reduced us to a mind for data. You know, they call it data mine. Facebook takes our data on the phones and they mine for data and sell it as a commodity.
But what is more serious, and it’s in a very brilliant book written by a Harvard professor called Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshona Zuboff. And she’s saying, we are the new raw material, but we are also the new market. So, they suck our data and then manipulate our mind through behavioral science to tell us what we should think and what we should do and what we should buy and also what we should wait for. The 2016 elections with Cambridge Analytica are living evidence of this. So that’s a new colony. The human being has become a new colony. Our minds are a new colony. Every seed, every gene is a new colony. And so, this is hyper-colony. The planet itself and our atmosphere is a new colony with geoengineering.
Her lifeforms are a colony with a manipulation of gene editing and gene drives. So, there’s nothing that’s being left out of colonization. You know, the British and the Spanish could take the land and the gold and silver. So that’s it. Outside that, they couldn’t touch the freedom of people and the freedom of the Earth. This lot of colonizers want to invade into every space that they can find. And that’s why they are a threat to not just life, but freedom.
Stephanie: We wanted to know a little bit more about the dynamics of nonviolence as she sees it. If the situation globally is such that people are being pushed so far against a wall that they’re going to have to draw from their inner resources. And in that way, the times that we’re in, there’s an opportunity for growth. There’s an opportunity for accessing our inner awareness. Here’s what she had to say.
Vandana: I do not believe that just because the crisis is deeper, that is what will make people react. I believe human capacity to anticipate, to foresee is the truest capacity to prevent disaster. But we also know when the crisis gets too big and too deep instead of people towards solutions, they end up falling into the trap of new colonial divide and rule policies.
You know, when the British failed to control us, the 1857 movement of India was really a unity movement against the East India Company. And you know, the East India Company was created to rule India and the East India Company was defeated in India and that was the end of the East India Company. But immediately after that, the British empire said, “Divide and rule is the only way we can govern these societies.”
So, they started to divide us along religion and that’s been carrying on. And what I am watching now is more divide, you know? And societies are being made so intolerant of each other and that intolerance could not just prevent us from finding solutions but creating a new problem of the threat to each other. You know, a new balance in society and it’s happening in every country. It’s happening everywhere because it is contrived, you know? The new imperialists know if people sit together and talk to each other, they’ll find common solutions. They’ll find common solutions and unity across implications, across classes, across races, across gender. They find it. That’s what I’ve tried to talk about in my book. “Oneness vs the 1%.” So, they don’t – keep dividing them on gender, race, just keep dividing and dividing and dividing.
And I find it as, you know, as an intellectual, I find it fascinating that 21st, you know, in the year 2022, the thing that’s dividing us is a drug and our relationship with it, yeah? Are you for it? Are you against it? I’m thinking of Mr. Bush, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” Now you cannot deal with crises of this kind with that level of intolerance. So, we do need pluralism. We need solidarity. We need compassion. We need to recognize that there are others who have come from a different place and have a different way of looking. But that does not mean rejecting the humanity, and that does not mean looking for common solutions.
Stephanie: I noticed that she’s teaching a course on ecofeminism, and I asked her about that.
Vandana: You know, I was very, very fortunate to have been born in a family where my mother was a feminist before the word was born. And my father was an even deeper feminist than her. And so, we never even knew what patriarchy is. I did not experience patriarchy until I was an adult. And by then I was able to deal with it.
But when, you know, Chipko happened, and, you know, the women saying, “These forests are our mothers. These forests give us soil, water and air.” And police and the government are saying, “No, these are timber mines and they bring us profits.” And I kept thinking in agriculture, Green Revolution farmers are saying this soil is our mother. The scientists of the Green Revolution are saying soil is an empty container for fertilizer.
So, I tried to solve that puzzle in my mind and wrote the book, “Staying Alive.” And then I realized that the same constructions because these are all artificial constructions made by capitalist patriarchy, defined the earth as dead, you know. Terra Madre becomes Terra Nullius. But women, as pure bodies, you know, because Descartes said he’s a thinking thing without a body. Then women became bodies without minds.
And so, we don’t know. We don’t have creativity. We don’t produce. We work like mad, but that’s not production, you know. It’s non-work, non-production. So, ecofeminism really is waking up to the creativity, life, generosity of the Earth and waking up to the amazing creativity, intelligence, productivity of women. And recognizing that, creating a world of peace with the Earth and with each other, with abundance for all, in well-being, for all.
And I don’t see these as empty words. This is what I’ve been practicing. This is what I do and I do believe. You shed the illusions of capitalist patriarchy and you allow ecofeminist realizing of life on Earth and creativity everywhere you can create abundance. And we do that in the Navdanya movement.
Stephanie: We were reflecting on the way that dependency is created in the systems of capitalism that we live under and what we can do about that.
Vandana: Why did Gandhi call it satyagraha? The force of truth that comes from within? All my work for all of these decades now on the seed, on biodiversity, has been a learning that life is so organized, the organizing systems come from within the inner resources of the seed, the inner resources of the soil. In community, is the inner resources of community that will allow us to regenerate our collapsing economies. Because I think the economic crisis is really actually much deeper than the climate crisis because people are dying today for lack of food, lack of work, and in well-to-do societies.
I studied in Canada when no one was hungry, no one was without shelter. Everyone had education, everyone had healthcare. And I benefited from it. And now I see people being thrown on the streets because they couldn’t pay their rent. And then the police are beating them up because they’re in the parks and on the streets. And that brutality that is being unleashed because of an economic violence, basically means that we have to turn to our inner resources both for the satyagraha as well as for the regeneration. We will not even be able to imagine another future if we don’t realize that we have the capacity, ten people join hands and make low-cost housing. We have the capacity for ten people to join hands and create a community garden.
That is why our inner resources are the solution at every level in this moment of existential collapse. If we don’t do it differently.
Michael: I wish, everyone. I wish everyone could see you, Dr. Shiva, on our screen, where you’re poised between the goddess Lakshmi and Einstein.
Vandana: Annapurna is luxury. Luxury, but as the luxury of food. And in our hands are all the major crops that grow in India. Sugarcane, rice, you know? These are all gifts from India to the world. And Einstein, he’s the one who made me do the physics I did. She’s the one who makes me do the food and agriculture I do. So that’s with this.
Stephanie: You’ve been listening to Nonviolence Radio, and we’ve been speaking with Dr. Vandana Shiva about her new book, Philanthrocapitalism, and the Erosion of Democracy. A Global Citizen Report on the Corporate Control of Technology, Health and Agriculture available from Synergetic Press.
We turn now to the Nonviolence Report with Michael Nagler.
Michael: Greetings, everyone. Thank you, Stephanie. This is the Nonviolence Report for the end February. And the part of the world that has everyone’s attention right now is Ukraine. There have been some discussions, the peace team intervention is at the discussion stage. But of course, this would be if you think of our escalation curve, you know, with the three phases, this is Phase 3 where open conflict is already happening, and it would be very difficult to introduce peace teams at that point.
But honestly, outside of diplomacy or rather along with diplomacy, this could help bring people to the table, though it’s not anticipated that Putin will be particularly responsive to that. This is about the only hope that we can think of.
There is an article called The Crushing Loss of Hope in Ukraine. But they’re overlooking two things. One, that the Ukrainian people themselves have a wonderful spirit as far as one can speak of the wonderful spirit in such a dismal situation that they do not intend to roll over and simply give up their country. And this has happened before. 2014. I don’t think that Russian intervention will really be a pushover and some very successful.
The other hope, of course, is a distant hope that is under a discussion stage of having peace team interventions. Peace team interventions are very effective and less costly when they’re introduced earlier in the conflict. This is Phase 3 where invasion has already occurred, though maybe not quite Phase 3 because the shooting hasn’t started yet – hopefully it will not.
So, it would be difficult, not impossible. And of course, the difficulty is that we do not have ready-to-go institutions of well-trained teams. We have some, but the lack of symmetry between the enormity of the invasion force and the lack of preparedness and the small number of the peace teams would be a little scary. But it’s good to know that at least people’s spirits are not crushed that easily.
Two things I’d like to say about the Metta Center for Nonviolence. Happy to share with you that Ela Gandhi from Durban, South Africa, who is the granddaughter of the more famous Gandhi, she has agreed to join our board at the Metta Center for Nonviolence. So, we are very proud and happy to welcome Ela to the board.
The other is we’ll soon be launching our Science of Nonviolence course. And since I am a frustrated scientist or rather a non-scientist who frustrated his father because he didn’t go into sciences, I feel this is going to be kind of a redemption for me. And anyway, an extremely important topic, because as David Gordon pointed out quite a while ago, for Americans, for people in our culture generally, if something is not scientific, it is not real. So, join us for the Science of Nonviolence at the Metta Center.org.
Now, moving on to some resources, there is a new one to me called TheConversation.com. And it has various topics. And one of those topics is nonviolence. So that’s a simple URL to look up one word, TheConversation.com/US/topics/non-violence. They, of course, hyphenate nonviolence as most people do. I like to reserve the hyphenated variety or flavor of nonviolence for the mere absence of open force. Whereas nonviolence without a hyphen, to me, means the mobilization of active love as a kind of resistance.
Here’s a nice innovation. Rivera Sun and Ken Butigan, among others, have started something called, The Campaign Nonviolence Affinity Groups. These groups would study, strategize and move into action for a culture of peace and active nonviolence. Good to see how those two things go together. Active nonviolence with the short term, culture of peace through the long, long term. And everyone is welcome to join them.
This history here, of course, goes back to the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, where grupos de afinidade were starting to resist them. So, what they intend to do with the Campaign Nonviolence groups study, strategize and move into action as said. If you want to see more resources. Of course on Campaign Nonviolence, there are quite a few. And there’s also let me remind us of the extremely useful Nonviolence International and Rutgers Database.
Incidentally, having mentioned Nonviolence International, they have a recent webinar online based on a book by Peter Ackerman, the founder of the ICNC, the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict. And his book was called, “The Checklist to End Tyranny.”
Let me just comment again that nonviolent conflict is a term that is used again, like non-violence. It kind of stops short of identifying the spiritual or some people call it philosophical force or power or concept that nonviolence ultimately is okay.
Now, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has got another one. They have a militarism working group. And recently they hosted a 90-minute webinar on gun violence and militarism. So, it’s an interesting, intuitive, but not very often explored kind of connection – gun violence and materialism. They have a number of distinguished guests, including a friend of ours, John Lindsay-Poland, who worked in Latin America for a long time and is now identified with the group Stop U.S. Arms to Mexico
Up in Canada, our friend Meta Spencer has been holding a series of town halls, global town halls. And the next one coming up is on Sunday, the 27th and that will be a 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Toronto time. And the organization heading under which all of this fits is Project Save The World.
Now, moving on to some events at the United Nations recently, the Ukrainian foreign minister, Mr. Kuleba, said that President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin all assured him that, quote, “The United States will stand by Ukraine, whatever happens.”
Now, the question that I think we should all be pondering is what exactly does that mean? President Biden has stated quite prudently that it does not mean we’re going to have boots on the ground, send in American troops to fight Russian troops. That would probably ignite a third world war right away. So, it is difficult to see what this does mean. So far, it means threatening and now applying sanctions against Russia and providing the Ukrainians with weapons, which again sidesteps the whole possibility of nonviolent intervention not to mention diplomacy and so forth.
So, let’s get down now closer to home. And a lot of the resources I’m going to be sharing with you now come from the website CommonDreams.org, and then from Nonviolence News.
In Detroit, the city officials have attempted to limit the citizen’s right to protest and dissent. Now, in this case, the move was viewed as a retaliation for the organizing efforts against police brutality. And I’m very happy to say that the Detroit citizens succeeded in getting the city to back down.
And I think this is identifying a very important development which we need to be aware of, we nonviolent activist types. And we need to be ready to protest with all nonviolent means at our disposal. And that is the criminalization of dissent, the criminalization of protest.
In some happy news, there is an item called a win for civil rights because Florida had an anti-protest law and it was blocked by a federal judge. So, civil liberties advocates and racial justice advocates are celebrating this. After he ruled, the judge did, that Florida’s anti-protest law is unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable. It’s the way to go about things.
Now, I’d like to share a little item with you that comes from Brooklyn. It’s Eastern Brooklyn, whereas I’m a little bit more from central Brooklyn. But that’s okay. Pretty close there. So Eastern Brooklyn is a culturally diverse and underserved community. The Brooklyn that I grew up in was Balkanized, I would say. It was only diverse if you took the long view because it was a Jewish enclave, Catholic enclave, Italian enclave and so forth. But at least, you know, open conflict did not break out.
But more to the point, there’s a very heartwarming organization called East New York Farms. And by the way, they point out the acronym is ENYF pronounced, “Enough.” And they now so far have two farms and two community gardens that work to provide solutions to pressing food justice issues by promoting local, sustainable agriculture and community-led economic development. I mean, what is not to like? That is a perfectly wonderful model. And I’m sure our very distinguished guest, Vandana Shiva would appreciate it.
But now to some items from Nonviolence News. They have listed their listings this month or this week under the title, 95 Wins. Now, not all of these that Rivera Sun cites are what I would call strictly nonviolence. But at least again, we’re talking about non-violent struggles, which are labor struggles of various kinds.
But here’s an interesting one. Actually, there are several of them that have to deal – let me quote several that have to deal with the criminal justice system in the U.S. So, in Los Angeles, there is a group called the Prison Abolition Coalition and they have been racking up some victories. They have halted the plans for two jails, and they’re now going forward and using both direct action and bold demands. They are “Rewiring what justice looks like in Los Angeles.” And, of course, the hope here always is that with a major iconic city like Los Angeles, what they can succeed in doing there will be something that can be duplicated, replicated anywhere around the country.
So, in Illinois, the Illinois legislator just voted to end cash bail, which was discriminatory against the poor. And they are poised to become the first state in the country to completely end the use of money funds because opponents have long claimed that cash bail is punitive and unjust toward lower income persons. And there’s a story that you can read more about in Nonviolence News on how they got it abolished, which would be a model for many such campaigns.
Now, here’s another one. If any of you happen to have read, as I have, the diaries of George Fox – George Fox was a founder of Quakerism. One of the things he describes in his diary are the horrors of private prisons because that is the only kind of “correctional” institution that existed in the UK at its time.
And they are vulnerable to a very severe kind of corruption because what you could do is if you got into prison, you could pay your way out or get people to pay your way out. And so, it became a huge cash business which is not too different from what is going on right now. But there has been a huge step forward now for prison justice in that the Biden administration has ended the Department of Justice’s use of private prisons.
Again, the same general topic moving over to Oklahoma. There is a death penalty that was hanging over Julius Jones and the Oklahoma governor has halted his execution and has decided to grant clemency which makes a partial win for a diverse group of activists and supporters who proclaimed that he was wrongfully convicted for a murder that occurred back in 1999 during a carjacking.
So, partial in that it’s a clemency that’s been granted in the case of Julius Jones, but it is not an admission that there actually was a miscarriage of justice much less a commitment to seeing that this spreads and such things are prevented from happening elsewhere.
So, moving again now a little bit beyond our local circle, there’s an interesting development in Portland, Oregon, where there have been a lot of interesting developments. And this is called, “A compassionate model for street hygiene.” There’s a group called the Hygiene Hub, or a region called the Hygiene Hub, which is under the Morrison Bridge, which has been a kind of crude shelter for the unhoused people. And so, they have toilets and wind and solar powered showers and have lots of information and other resources.
It was from Arundhati Roy that I was first made aware of the critical need for something as basic as a toilet for people who are extremely deprived. And so, this is a big step towards giving people back their human dignity. And that has to be welcome wherever it happens.
Now, just moving north just a bit, Vancouver did an interesting thing. They took 50 unhoused persons, formerly called homeless, and gave them almost $5,000 each to get back on their feet. And guess what? It worked. 70 percent of them were food stable in one month’s time. 50 percent more likely to have stable housing than the control group. They reduced their spending on alcohol, drugs and cigarettes by 40 percent. And here’s a really remarkable development, that at the end of the year, they had an average of $1,000 still in the bank from that $5,000.
So, this is not at all the first time that authorities have discovered that homeless people or unhoused people, that what they need is homes. You give them homes and they’re no longer unhoused. It solves all kinds of problems. It seems almost too simple to be true. But of course, now what’s a little bit different is there’s a whole technology in the variety of what they call tiny homes, that is available for such people. There’s a kind of factory that makes them available right here in Petaluma. We often drive by and it does my heart good.
And moving even further afield, there’s a story now of how activists in Berlin took on corporate landlords. There was a referendum that was carried out by – in this city of renters, which Berlin is now. And this referendum could have a huge impact, it is hoped, not just in Germany’s capital, but across Europe. And one of the steps in it having a bigger impact is our recognizing and reporting on it. As I have just done. So, I will now stop patting myself on the back and invite you to join us again for the next episode of Nonviolence News.
Stephanie: You’ve been listening to Nonviolence Radio. We want to thank our mother station KWMR. And to Dr. Vandana Shiva for joining us on the show, Jasmine at Synergetic Press for making it happen, to Matt Watrous for transcribing and editing the show. Annie Hewitt for her work to get it up at Waging Nonviolence to everyone at the Pacifica Network. To you, all our listeners and everyone out there until the next time, take care of one another.