On diveristy, monoculturalism, and
by Jan Lundberg
The Earth is about diversity. Countless species have
differences that matter critically for their and neighboring speciesí
survival in unique habitats.
To oppose diversity is to oppose the Earth and life
The error of massive industrialization and overpopulation
is that other species are crowded out. In the short term this can maximize a
group of peopleís food supply or other form of material security. In the
long run we cut the web of life and thus our own throats as well.
The decrease in species diversity and in the variety of
natural environments is a form of, and perhaps the source of, spiritual
impoverishment. Nature is tantamount to spirit. It can be argued that the
need for religions and spiritual paths apart from daily life came about only
after the advent of civilization and loss of nature.
People are separated from nature and deprived of much
diversity both mentally óthrough conditioning and narrow self interestóand
through modern society. Society is today "rule by diversity-destroying
The good news
The trend towards monoculturalism regarding species used
for our food, as well as in human cultures, is starting to be offset by the
new revolutionary movement revering nature and cultural diversity.
Sadly, cultural diversity is being reduced as you read
this, thanks to the imperialistic spread of English and through technology
such as satellite television. Aspiring consumers see images of happy,
affluent, sexy young people engaging in new examples of pop music and dance.
Or, a Mickey Mouse watch is given to a tribal person who also accepts a
cotton shirt made in a distant factory, dyed with petroleum-derived
chemicals. What is not perceived is modern societyís growing loss of
individual leisure time and personal safety as stress spreads and
accelerates. The pace of change toward monoculturalism gathers speed as the
corporate profit machinery invades new lands, bringing Western culture and
consumerism to traditional peoples. Languages go extinct each year as the
last speakers die out. Stories and wisdom die with them, as does a reverence
for the Earth.
Modern society is "rule by
diversity-destroying economic forces."
However, family structures and blood loyalty remain
intact in almost all nations but the most advanced technologically,
especially the U.S. and Britain. It is in these extremely narrow, largely
intolerant cultures that diversity is undervalued and even despised. The
epitome of modern culture, exemplified by the U.S. nuclear family,
produces interesting contradictions and dichotomies. For example,
intra-family support gives way to shortsighted materialistic strategies of
enrichment or petty diversion so as to separate people most likely to help
one another. Elders are rewarded for their decades of devotion and hard
work with removal to institutions that promise a dead end of death,
especially in the "number one successful super power," the
United States of America. In other nations, even replete with cars and
other appurtenances of artificial living, family comes first, although to
a lesser extent than before the advent of technological and disposable
The movement to save biodiversity started in recent
decades with attempts to save threatened habitats such as forests from
destruction by extractive industries. Now the strongest impetus is from
foes of genetic engineering and from defenders of less industrialized
peoplesí rights of food security and self-sufficiency. A corporate
decision to eliminate "competition" in the form of seeds not
under corporate control can reduce cultural diversity and biodiversity as
much as four years of "education" for westernized students.
Todayís students are already deprived of natural living, and inculcated
with endless theory and skills designed toward manipulating nature out of
existence for the sake of employment and profit. Thatís sustainable?
Alternative cultural force
The new pro-cultural diversity and pro-biodiversity
elements of society, living outside mainstream society to the extent they
can, are saving rare seeds, reviving knowledge on growing foods and fibers,
and are practicing methods of cooperation and skill building in order to
survive and create community.
Community decreases commensurately with loss of
diversity, bio- and cultural. The roadblocks to enhancing diversity and
sustainability are rampant materialism and greed, institutionalized almost
everywhere that modern culture has a foothold. Peopleís fear of insecurity
and of government/employer oppression keeps culture-changing activist
numbers low. The plentiful supply of subsidized energy also discourages
active, convivial living utilizing human, animal and other renewable power.
Put another way, as long as petroleum is available for
almost everyone to transport themselves and "goods," and is
available for growing and preparing a surplus of food, the masses of people
do not question or challenge monoculturalism and industrialism.
Nevertheless, the World Trade Organization served to give
a name and a target for active folk defending diversity and local
self-reliance and for those interested in positive cultural change. Cultural
revolutionaries generally believe that a meaningful political revolution is
unlikely and in any case does not go deeper than surface change. We
encourage the building of movements such as permaculture, defense of the
Earth, and community living, as well as transcending the petroleum economy
and any evils that go with it.
Very few of us wish to reject all new knowledge unearthed
by modern society, nor abandon new techniques useful for compassionate
living even when developed for corporate profit. However, many luxuries and
conveniences and even "essentials" are going to disappear upon
economic collapse or the equivalent discontinuity of business-as-usual.
The continuation of massive pollution and the burning up
of our planet is a one sided war in which there is no winner. However, those
who enjoy awareness and solidarityóin these times of unprecedented entropy
and loss of speciesóhave positive feelings about themselves, the universe,
and even, on occasion, the future of humanity. It is an objective of Culture
Change to seek and provide more such happiness and realistic optimism.
We constructively move toward sustainability at home and globally, through
our own networks in the face of monolithic corporate and government
opposition to diversity and freedom.