Voices 02/03/2009

Living takes courage

It takes courage and spirit to resist the invasive, cynical, dehumanizing effects of capitalism and the myth of progress at all costs. It takes patience and tough ethical sensibility to speak out against unequal distribution of wealth. It is not easy to give free voice to dissent because most of the media and intellectuals sustain those in power, more or less explicitly. Worse still, many sustain hidden powers, the identity and ramifications of which remain obscure.

When the economic interests of the few prevail, it is a bad sign for the future. Great determination is needed to sustain inconvenient truths. An example of something to speak out about is the expropriation of land from indigenous populations occurring in poor and emerging countries. These expropriations are often by regular sale and completely “legal”.

On 9th February, there was a dramatic general protest in Madagascar that led to much bloodshed. As a result, the Minister for Defence, Cécile Manorohanta, resigned in protest against the killings. Manorohanta had the dignity to resign, but the president Marc Ravalomanana persists in privatising a common, the land of his country, selling off hundreds of thousands of hectares at a time to multinational corporations. Such expropriation is inadmissible and morally indefensible. It deprives indigenous populations and liquidates critical resources under the pretext of promoting the latest, hi-tech, agricultural practices. Though “legal”, these actions amount to new colonialism.

The rampant practice of land “sales” must be openly condemned and not allowed to remain taboo. Are there no heads of western governments with the moral rectitude to call a halt to these thefts?

At the Berlin Festival première of his documentary “Terra Madre" (Mother Earth), Italian film director Ermanno Olmi denounced western acts that are starving whole populations. With the pretext of feeding a hungry world, the perpetrators pave the way for projects of planetary industrial agriculture based on extensive transgenic monocultures. “We cannot let a few dissimulators steal from the weak,” Olmi declared. If farmers are left on their land, the future will have a new face. For everyone!

di Luigi Caricato