Monday, May 16, 2011

WILD POLITICS - A MANIFESTO

I wrote this manifesto in 1993. It was written very quickly under a tree in Bangladesh. I was attending a conference and had been talking for three days about issues around globalisation. I thank Maria Mies for her many insights in the days preceding the writing of this manifesto. And I particularly thank Farida Akhter for organising the conference which was attended by 65 women from every continent. George Bush (snr.) was President of the USA at that time and he had recently proclaimed the New Economic World Order. After encouragement from some participants, I began to read economics and eventually enrolled in a PhD in order to finish what had begun as a manifesto. It was later published as Wild Politics: Feminism, Globalisation and Bio/diversity (2002).



The New Economic World Order is the last of a line of coercive methods of control. Industrialisation has been a process of ever-increasing interference in the lives of people - from structured and alienated work for wages to medicalisation of women's bodies and souls, now extended to interference with life processes.

Patriarchal capitalism seeks to control the wild elements that have resisted control. We need to develop a wild politics to resist control of these wild elements including: wild seeds, wild land, wild farming, wild peoples, wild women, wild reproduction, wild sexuality and wild markets.

Wild types is a term used in genetics that identifies unregulated genetic structures. Wild types occur in all living organisms and are not the result of human interference through breeding or hybridisation. Wild types are the source of genetic diversity and critical to the continuing biological diversity of the planet.

Wild seeds are the seeds of plants that remain in the hands of people who use them for subsistence or a sustainable lifestyle. Wild seeds are in evidence in every country, culture and geographical region of the world. Traditional Aborigines use wild seeds and their products to produce food, medicines, resin, decoration and cultural products.

The people of India use the Neem tree for over 200 different purposes. The Amazonian peoples use wild plants to sustain their lives. Traditional healers use wild products - seeds, herbs, roots - to heal the body. Indigenous peoples and peasants wild seeds and wild plants.

These seeds and plants are under threat from the TRIPS policy of the latest round of GATT, which threatens to control this source of diversity through a universal application of the US patent law.

Wilderness regions and commons are lands that remain untamed and outside private ownership. Wilderness is harvested through collecting and hunting its traditional owners for medicinal and food stuffs. Wilderness is land not subjected to invasive methods of cultivation.

A wilderness is minimally affected by human intervention in its ecosystems and it sustains a wide range of wild seeds, wild plants and wild animals.

Wild farming is productive work done for the purpose of subsistence. Wild farming depends on a detailed knowledge of local conditions and of the environment. Wild farming is self-sustaining, non-invasive and regenerative. Examples include mosaic burning patterns developed by Aborigines, use of medical substances extracted from plants and animals, irrigation based on natural cycles of flooding, hunting and herding small numbers of animals.

WILD PEOPLES
Minority populations, indigenous and tribal peoples are considered "wild" peoples by bodies such as the Genome Project. They are subjected to many kinds of tests, such as scraping from the inside of cheeks as a method of collecting banks of genetic information on human gene pools. Having suffered genocidal policies through murder, environmental destruction, removal from their lands and cultural and linguistic annihilation, this is just one more policy threatening the existences of these peoples. They are regarded by multinational institutions as "wild peoples" because they resist being drawn into the capitalist market economy, as they adhere to a politics rooted in reverence for the land, its resources and its ecology.

WILD WOMEN
Women are regarded as "wild types" because they too, until recently, have remained a small part of the market economy, and in large numbers they still produce what is regarded as unproductive work connected to the household, rearing, caring and cultivating. Women are also wild because again, until recently, reproduction has remained an untamed and uncontrolled aspect of existence. Women's wildness is under threat from coercive population control policies, from the new reproductive and contraceptive technologies and from a host of other medicalisations of their lives.

With so-called assisted reproduction methods there are increasing levels of control over all aspects of life. Children are also prevented by more and more invasive means including the pill, IUDs, Norplant, Depo-provera, vaccination, and sterilisation. Assisted reproduction includes: IVF, GIFT, microinjection, amniocentesis, chorionic villi sampling, ultrasound and the mechanisations of birth. All of these procedures control who is born and add value to the resulting child through R&D, labour and technical interference. The intended result is that no wild children - no children with visible or hidden disabilities - be born. Such children, because of their disabilities, are regarded as expendable because they too cannot easily be drawn into the market economy and productive waged labour.

WILD REPRODUCTION
This is still the norm, but with increasing interference and intervention in reproduction, wild reproduction will become a rebellion and a resistance. Refusal to subject oneself to amniocentesis to find out the sex of the child, or genetic screening of "unwanted" or "undesirable" genes will result in sanctions. In particular, where such refusal is followed by the birth of a wild disabled child, no social services will be provided. Wild reproduction means not knowing and refusing to know the sex or genetic characteristics of a child. Wild reproduction allows for wild types.

WILD SEXUALITY
Wild sexuality is sexuality that refuses to conform to the model of homogenised eroticisation. This means a refusal to play the power games expected of women and men, or refusal to imitate these models. Wild sexuality refuses patriarchal definitions of institutions such as marriage, heterosexuality, dominance/submission sexualities and sexualities that are commodified - among them prostitution, sex tourism, pornography, queer and marketed sex commodities such as the "toys" and implements of sado-masochism.

WILD MARKETS
Some economies exist outside the mainstream. Wild markets are markets not based on monetary exchange. They include reciprocal arrangements between people or donated labour or goods, donated not on the basis of tax deductibility or on self-serving notions of "aid". Wild markets include the exchange of information between wild women and/or wild peoples engaging in wild politics. Wild markets include exchanges between communities engaging in wild farming.

WILD POLITICS
Wild politics embraces a philosophy which refuses co-option into patriarchal and capitalist institutions as outlined above. Wild politics is life affirming, values diversity, self-reliance, creativity, and the sustaining of cultural traditions that support equality. Wild politics is rooted in the earth and in knowledge of local conditions and environments. Wild politics encourage productivity that gives as much (or more) as it takes, and is not based on growth and accumulation. Wild politics is feminist and in keeping with the resistances of indigenous peoples, the poor and the marginalised. It resists coca-cola colonisation and accumulation, over consumption, fundamentalist and repressive ideologies, mass communications, the military and interference by international scientific, monetary and cultural elites. Wild politics is a politics of joy.


Many thanks to all the women at the Peoples' Perspectives on "Population" conference whose ideas and discussions are central to the writing of this piece.

Susan Hawthorne, Comilla, Bangladesh, 15 December 1993

© Susan Hawthorne, 1993
First published in People’s Perspectives, Nos. 15-16, December 1993. Dhaka, Bangladesh.
If reproduced or photocopied please acknowledge.

3 comments:

  1. Dear Susan,

    It's time to republish it...with vigor. Gratefully,

    Diane

    ReplyDelete
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