My real drama, dear D, is that as the Latin lover, Chayanne, says, I would give everything to dedicate myself only to reading things to comment on Gatito Earth. Everything else is such a drag.
I’m writing this on the day I’m on a feminist strike, and I’ve been reading all day barefoot. Today is March 9, the day after the women’s march with almost two million women only in Santiago, and it is also the day I find out they have lockdown Italy because COVID-19.
I’m struggling, as you can see, between feminism and DRAMA, which is, and I’m saying this very personally, the best form of feminism.
Civilizations go extinct, and what if we all end ruined because of a microscopic inert bug. Ah, but everything indicates that this century will have several pandemics, and perhaps COVID-19 will not be the one that kills us all. Patience. Although this alarm reminded me of Edward O. Wilson, who used to talk about how the food industry has specialized in a handful of foods for humans, destroying ecosystems that could give us a diversity of nutrients. And what would happen if one day this handful of crops goes through a crisis due to microscopic disease. Oops, we already killed everything else :/
What is clear is that if it does not kill us, COVID-19 will be an excellent excuse to end our liberties and human rights, and the technology industry plays a leading role there. First, in what (very gringamente), they have just named as Infodemic. It means the disinformation pandemic or the pure rumors on social networks that have raised panic and racism as a result of this coronavirus. And second, finding a happy excuse to deploy all surveillance capabilities.
For the rest, we thought this pandemic could reduce air travels and, therefore, carbon emissions, but planes continue to fly empty so as not to lose their landing positions at airports! WE ARE BRILLIANT IN CAPITALISM. Srećko Horvat tweeted about it: “Capitalism is the virus!” By the way, Horvat wrote a very cool text -serious and funny- about COVID-19. He talks about the panic in the supermarket for hoarding consumer goods, but, what he really talks about is how the capitalist system is the one that is broken or, perhaps more precisely, how the capitalist system is the one that has broken us and how that seems evident in times of uncertainty.
Whether it is COVID-19 or another global pandemic expected for this century that kills us, it is essential to clarify that there is still no direct link between the climate crisis and COVID-19. However, there are several studies (extensively reviewed by Nafeez Ahmed here) that are alarming: The profound changes in the natural environment produced by industrial activities have allowed pathogen vectors of diseases like COVID-19 to thrive. And in countries where we do NOT have prepared public health systems, where having people in quarantine only means their sentence to misery, this coronavirus is perhaps the last urgent call to think things through. Or to think things differently. And, by the way, ultimately realize how exploitation (and its climatic consequences) is taking us to the limits of vulnerability.
Ohhhh, I would like to talk more about doing things differently as I’m reading What Would Animals Say If We Asked the Right Questions?, however, this email does not seem like a love letter anymore, but a death sentence.
So to make a final turn, I send you a beautiful text published in a small newspaper at the end of 2019. It says that in the south of Chile since October 2019 (yes, October), quilas are flourishing. They do this every 70 years. And when they do, according to the Mapuche, «total crises come, “huge battles,” where there will be deaths and famines. But also renewal and new outbreaks: “After the fire, the rain and the very young life.”.»
Oh, la vida jovencita. That beauty. That, that, that is what we need.
My present for you is a cat that, between quarantines and racism, is the cry of resistance.
Not even in this apocalyptic corner of the internet we could have anticipated that this edition of gatito earth would be a GLOBAL PANDEMIC SPECIAL.
I would like to focus my monthly letter in the colonialist dimension of this big mess, in fact I was a little late with my dispatch because I wanted to finish the book Biopiracy: the Plunder of Nature and Knowledge by Vandana Shiva. She is an ecofeminist activist and scholar from India and she works on the cultural sovereignty of global south communities and their women, whom she considers the custodians of the biological wealth of the Earth 🙂
I think it is pertinent to mention her research because several of us who work on digital justice started in this area because of an interest on intellectual property and on the potential of the internet to promote free and open access to knowledge. As we know, that longing never happened and now we inhabit an ultra surveilled cyberspace in which people consume what Netflix, Spotify and the other tech corporations dictate. Well, Vandana Shiva firmly opposes patents and develops her lines of action around the legal industry who appropriates seeds, crops and several types of ancestral community knowledge. She says “seeds are life forms, they are our kin, members of our earth family”, therefore, the invention of patents constitutes a neocolonial immorality since it is ethically unacceptable to possess a living being.
This capitalist monstruosity called copyright is especially damaging in the environmental dimension since by aggressively promoting monocultures, biodiversity is severely affected and it cannot adapt to changes in climate. Shiva says that this situation delineates a process in which the knowledge of an entire planet is cut down to reductionist Western logics of science and technology.
I hate that the idea of abolishing copyright is still perceived as an extremely radical proposal, is truly unfortunate that while the world is being transformed into a big monoculture of the mind there is still people who thinks that open access to knowledge is to digitize old paintings from some European museums.
I want gatito earth to be a decolonizing inspiration, to me that is THE alternative I visualize in this time of pandemics. Did you read this incredibly sad article at The Guardian? It explains how the damage to biodiversity is the cause of global epidemics such as the corona virus. My impression is that in environmental circuits there is also an obstacle with technosolutionism, that fantasy in which an almighty technological creation will solve all of our problems, that approach is certainly nonsense considering that scientific evidence indicates that these outbreaks are caused by the destruction of biodiversity. A vaccine, for example, won’t address the structural capitalist mandate that affirms that owning life is something valid while the only thing it produces is a trail of death.
So I’m tired of this situation but I’m more convinced than ever of my love of life. I’m inspired by ecofeminism, the quila that flourishes in southern Chile, the many animals who took the streets of the cities in quarantine and my amado Albert Camus, whom in his novel La Peste, delivers a very moving vision on how we humans face the power of nature which will always exceed us. Here’s a photo of this fantastic man and his cat <3