Date: Friday, November 10 @ 03:03:52 UTC
by Michael C. Ruppert, fromthewilderness.com
November 7th 2006
Cultural diversity is not only humanity’s hallmark of progress, but an insurance policy against extinction as a species. Diversity gives not only cultural and economic riches derived from different perspectives on natural resources and what it means to be human, but options to problem solving that are stifled in a homogenized society. When such a society is organized around economic goals that are measured by profit margins for private gain by powerful elites, where the demands of those who bear cash as the ticket of admission to the marketplace rule, rather than the needs of people, then those who are deprived – and those who have never been part of such a global economy – must necessarily suffer. The genocide of tribal peoples, therefore, is symptomatic of a deep malaise in the world’s metropolises. Indigenous peoples will suffer the most, but humanity as a whole will suffer the loss of some of its memory, not only of a unique knowledge of the natural world, but of its ability to cope with the future in various, diverse ways.Nature protects itself through diversity. It stands to reason then that when threatened – as it is now on so many fronts – Mother Earth will exert itself aggressively; enforcing rigid boundaries that ignore the lives of individuals – plant or animal – in order to preserve the diversity which protects all life. That human beings as a species also show such characteristics is proof of the connection between man and planet. In some ways this is not unlike the point in time when a child must break with parents in order to fulfill its own destiny, with its own unique life path, thus guaranteeing that the evolutionary process – life itself – is protected; that something better and new might follow.
All individual life ends so that that life as a whole may go on and evolve. As I have said in so many lectures, the human race is now being faced with a choice: either evolve or perish.
Americans tend to think of the Third World as "the frontier", a place still open to settlement as if it were a divine right just for the willingness to endure a little hardship. With overpopulation and dwindling global resources, the "frontiers" are defending themselves to protect diversity in many ways; ways that are far more effective than any resistance to colonization in previous centuries. Global warming has been characterized as a planet developing a fever to rid itself of an infection. I believe that increasing global tensions might also be mirroring that process.
The human side of this resistance is also organic and, in Latin America, Venezuela is its heart. It has now taken solid root, emerging almost simultaneously in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. I do not think it can be stopped. It is an anthropological resistance.
Living in Venezuela has been an amazing, brutal, and illuminating lesson. It is a truly alien culture that I find simultaneously beautiful, hard, giving, unfamiliar, uncomfortable and definitely self-protecting to the extreme. That is why I am confident that Venezuela, and most of Latin America, will survive the coming crash of Peak Oil better than any other region of the world. I believe it is already starting to protect itself. It doesn’t need me or any outsider to survive. But as a general rule, only those who are native here will be protected by its blessings.
It is not just that I am blond haired and blue-eyed, which does get me a lot of double takes – some hostile. It is as though I am a fish used to swimming in a different kind of water. The way that I swim affects the other fish here, already swimming too much in a superimposed American cultural blanket that has been enforced by scores of coups, debt enslavement, colonization, exploitation, genocide and war over the course of the 20th century and into today. In order to understand this picture a British citizen trying to drive in super-crowded Caracan traffic where there are few rules. Under stress the Brit might instinctively react in a way that might tie up streets. Now change the image of traffic to a culture adapting to dwindling energy reserves, conflict or panic. The Brit would be singled out quickly and forced off the road so that the rest might "function" in ways they were accustomed to.
However, the powerful lessons and principles of human justice, sustainability, harmony with the land, freedom from the mandate of endless capitalist growth, openness, and localization contained in the Bolivarian Revolution led by Hugo Chavez are powerful survival tools that can and must be studied and adapted to other regions. If one reads Richard Heinberg, Matt Savinar, Megan Quinn, Post Carbon Institute, FTW, or any of the great sustainability writers, one will find those same principles; arrived at through different means.
Forget labels. This is what will work.
The Bolivarian Revolution is different from the main body of sustainability literature in one key respect. It is the practical, hands-on implementation of these principles on local, national and continental levels; something all European and North American sustainability advocates know little or nothing about. How could they? While US and European sustainability advocates write about "shoulds" the Bolivarian Revolution is an evolving process of actual doing. It must be watched closely by all who would learn from it.
The irony is that for the most part, the Bolivarian revolution does not see itself as a sustainability movement but rather as a political and economic one. Now for another of my trademarked quotes: Until you change the way money works, you change nothing. The Bolivarian Revolution is doing just that.
The Bolivarian Revolution and Venezuelan culture inherently knows that it cannot make too many exceptions to the rule that diversity must protect itself or else the rule will have no meaning. That’s exactly what I was asking it to do (though I didn’t know it) when I came here. I am not just one migrating gringo. Mike Ruppert could not be assimilated without changing something here: the Tao of politics.
That is why, after 15 weeks of waiting, after only one interview, a formal petition and a lot of pressure from influential Americans and Venezuelan-Americans (some with direct government connections) I have not heard a word on my request for political asylum. Venezuelans are inherently suspicious, let alone of a blond gringo who is an ex-policeman who came from a US intelligence family. It is possible that within the massive and glacially slow bureaucracy, some who are not loyal to Chavez have buried my request under a pile of papers. In Latin America things take much longer and I can see now that the waiting process, never guaranteed to be successful, is part of a natural selection.
My thirty year record of activism and sacrifice in the US means little in Venezuela. Those deposits were made in a bank belonging to a different ecosystem. There are no ATMs for that kind of withdrawal here.
The first real kindness shown to me by a full-blooded Latin American with government connections, came about two weeks ago as "Tano", a bearded artist and long-time revolutionary who had worked with Salvador Allende in Chile, looked at me with true compassion and said, "Venezuela will run you through a gauntlet. It will ignore you. It will make promises and never call you back or fulfill them. It will mistrust you even if you have lived here for ten years, twenty years."
It took me 12 weeks to get to Tano and it was not by a linear, logical path.
Tano is a famed artist and thinker knows Hugo Chavez personally. He has traveled with him. His kindness and sympathy was abundant and visible. Kittens slept on his massive belly as he spoke from behind a desk cluttered with papers. Two dogs gravitated to him as though he was a magnet. He offered to open doors and make some introductions in certain ministries. As opposed to many other unfulfilled promises since I have been here, he meant it. Promises are made quickly here and soon forgotten, even between native Venezuelans. But it was already too late. My health was gone, I could not make one important event and I had already been rejected like an invading organism; rejected by the differences in culture and an environment I had trouble adapting to.
I was introduced to Tano by my young Venezuelan friend Ivan, who, at 27, who had just quit his job as a trader at J.P. Morgan because it was too stressful. He was too Venezuelan to live the life of a Venezuelan posing as an American. Good for him.
It would be embarrassing to many people if I named the names of all of those back "home" who, learning that I had come here, told me that they had been considering the same move. They said that when things got intolerable in the States, or the UK, or Canada, they would just move here; or to Costa Rica, or to New Zealand, or to someplace else. My pains and troubles here will serve as an object lesson for all that the time to relocate in advance of Peak Oil has, for almost everyone, long passed.
The important distinctions about adaptivity are not racial at all. US citizens come in all colors. American culture is the water they have swum in since birth. A native US citizen of Latin descent who did not (or even did) speak Spanish would probably feel almost as out of place here as I do. They would look the same but not feel the same. And when it came time to deal collectively with a rapidly changing world, a world in turmoil, a native-born American’s inbred decades of "instinctive" survival skills might not harmonize with the skills used by those around him.
Another one of my trademarked lines is that Post Peak survival is not a matter of individual survival or national survival. It is a matter of cooperative, community survival. If one is not a fully integrated member of a community when the challenges come, one might hinder the effectiveness of the entire community which has unspoken and often consciously unrecognized ways of adapting. As stresses increase, the gauntlets required to gain acceptance in strange places will only get tougher. Diversity will become more, rather than less, rigid and enforced.
As energy shortages and blackouts arrive; as food shortages grow worse; as droughts expand and proliferate; as icecaps melt, as restless, cold and hungry populations start looking for other places to go; minute cultural and racial differences will trigger progressively more abrupt reactions, not unlike a stressed out and ill human body will react more violently to things that otherwise would never reach conscious thought.
Start building your lifeboats where you are now. I can see that the lessons I have learned here are important whether you arethinking of moving from city to countryside, state to state, or nation to nation. Whatever shortcomings you may think exist where you live are far outnumbered by the advantages you have where you are a part of an existing ecosystem that you know and which knows you.
If the time comes when it is necessary to leave that community you will be better off moving with your tribe rather than moving alone.
Evolution is guaranteed. Useful knowledge gained by ancestors is incorporated into succeeding generations. It may not be used in the same way that it was when acquired. It may lie dormant for years or decades, safely stored in DNA or the collective unconscious. But it is there, and it will always be available should the day come when it is needed.
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