Santiago, January 2020.
Do you remember last month we shared readings on “green extractivism”? Well, I keep reading more on the subject. I learned, for example, that International Rights Advocates sued Microsoft, Tesla, Apple, and Alphabet (owner of Google) for allegedly taking advantage of child labor in the mines of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The reason? Cobalt extraction, which is part of all rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in all those modern devices that these companies promote.
But I also read a fascinating report by an anonymous Microsoft worker who denounces how the great titans of technology are a vital part of the current strength of oil production. On the one hand, it’s all about cloud computing, aka those horrible servers we talked about in December. These companies seek oil companies – which are some of the wealthiest in the world- to buy their cloud services. But, even more: they also offer Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems to process and interpret the incredible amount of data from each oil well and, thus, improve their efficiency, as well as discussing ways of electronic monitoring of their workforce.
That is to say, cool boys in Silicon Valley are not only the reason behind “green extractivism” (which is developed at the cost of the bodies of the most vulnerable communities), but also many of them encourage a business that must be reduced to its minimum.
All this violence with, literally, everything that surrounds them, that toxic idea that everything is a “resource” that is available for their necessities, reminded me of this excellent and recent report on Vaca Muerta in Argentina. This city, which was once a village, has the second unconventional gas reserve and the third-largest oil reserve in the world. And that is also his misfortune: the relationship between extractivism (fracking) and hegemonic masculinity is imposed in the community. An activist makes a very clear point (my English translation from Spanish): “The development of Vaca Muerta is the return to the scene of an exacerbated hegemonic masculinity. There is an adoration of masculinity that presumes and constitutes itself as a provider, as the driller. And of course, the presence of that masculinity also builds some types of relationships and certain demands.”
I think that if we can continue to stretch the tangled thread, a vital knot of everything is the idea of supremacy of something over someone or something. In fact, I was very impressed to read Eileen Crist, who believes that a fundamental concern in the climate crisis is the idea that we, humans, assume we have supremacy over other species and animate and inanimate beings. She calls it “human supremacy” and, yes, it openly shares all the fanciful and cruel elements of white supremacy or male hetero supremacy.
It was hard for me to realize that in this context, even women and diversities behave as racist male who believes that the heart of his supremacy is the forced use of bodies and territories. Something like the rapist is also us </3
But if I have learned anything with the gatito.earth readings, fueled by feminist readings, it is that the pessimism in the face of the crisis of modernity (and the ecological disaster) is sooooo masculine. Braidotti would say that hide out in nostalgia is a male antidote, and a leap forward would be the way out of the subordinate. And if we are going to get out of this shithole, it cannot be in the analysis of data patterns from the past, as Artificial Intelligence intends to do, because those patterns are what precisely took us here. *
The potential of feminist creative power is the only way forward. I repeat that idea as the chorus of a sad pop song while I read the news, and I feel helpless and fearful.
* Regarding cats and artificial intelligence, I send you an image when a cat was confused with guacamole.
Hola amiga hermosa,
I’m so sorry for writing so late, as you know, I’m in the middle of a multi-destination trip in order to use just one transatlantic flight. Cachai that before leaving I went to an exhibition at the MaMA showroom in Rotterdam, there were mostly young artists from the city and the climate emergency was one of the central topics, for example there was a work about the airlines that offer a “CO2 compensation” that costs just two euros, with that money they supposedly plant forests or something, at the installation they showed what can be bought with those two euros: a tiny block of soil of 5×5 cm. Very green neoliberalism overlapped with absolute stupidity.
I hate to bump every day with a new al peo ecological practice that is mere public relations. And it is very difficult to find instances of boycott, which is something that could truly have an impact on polluting corporations. An initiative I liked was Climate Strike Software, a software license that developers can use to prevent their code to be used by companies who contribute to the climate emergency through fossil fuel extraction. I liked that it was a modest idea but with an escalation potential, it would be so cool to organize a future in which we could organize through unions to boycott all the psychopath business that are destroying the planet.
Well, right now I’m in Santiago, minutes away from my former house in Dublé Almeyda, having diverse flashbacks of my past life. I kinda hate that because I keep having a feeling that nothing changes in this fucking city :/
These days of nostalgia have resonated a lot with an essay I read by Zadie Smith about climate change, the text is part of her book Feel Free (which is excellent) but it is also available at this url. The name of the essay is Elegy for a Country’s Seasons and it is about an idea we talked about several times: the memory of past years where the weather was very different from the current temperatures. For instance, I always recall that my birthday (April 14th, autumn in the Southern Hemisphere) was always a rainy day, I recall more than one cloudy and sad Viernes Santo in which I tried to raise my spirits by eating cake and playing with cajitas de sorpresa. Then during my teenager years I recall a birthday at El Ermitaño were we had to wear lots of clothing to combat the mild cold but with our youthful drive we had a fantastic time anyway drinking wine and lighting fireworks. Finally, my last birthdays in Santiago were always sunny days outdoor.
Zadie Smith says that every country has their own local versions of that sadness about the climate of the past, for example she remembers a time in which the Thames used to be completely frozen by Christmas, that is something that no longer happens. I also thought about my friend Dennis, some days ago we were drinking on a January night in Amsterdam, there were 12 degrees and he said that he practically forgot that winter came this season.
Smith says that we can access scientific and ideological language regarding the climate emergency, however we cannot find narratives or words that connect this topic with intimate and emotional dimensions. She detects a problem in this type of sensation of shame for talking about these memories because they’re not as relevant as the apocalyptic narratives and other pessimistic ideas that techno-solutionist men love to promote, men who come with stupid ideas such as this portable air purifier presented at the last CES conference about internet of things.
I’m in Chile and my memories of the climate are part of my nostalgic torments in these days of 34 degrees, however, I’m happy that we had a beautiful time together inhabiting a captivating present of love and amazing food <3
And for the readers of gatitoearth I bring you my new cyborg addiction: videos of cats over roombas