On the surface, culture is a good thing, reminding us of all kinds of peoples and lifestyles. We pride ourselves with activities or anthologies that are cross-cultural or multi-cultural.
City-dwellers, the largest sector of world population, would seem to have the most culture, what with the arts: museums, theater, ballet, etc. Yet according to the word itself, they do not and are simply the beneficiaries of the by-products (or really, buy-products) OF culture.
From Latin “cultus” from “colere: to inhabit, till, worship.” Much of what we call culture is a cult of buy-products coming from the land. The process that manufacturers those products and the propaganda used to promote the buy-products are predominantly controlled by the Industrial Ruling Class (IRC), as John Trudell refers to them.
From mining and agriculture come the items that fuel high-end lifestyles thriving on luxury/brand-name merchandise or low-end lifestyles feeding off mass produced slave-labor’s cheap not-so-goods – no wonder the middle class has virtually disappeared!
The IRC aka Global Corporate Empire (GCE) controls most of the flow of the resources and that is the focal point of current protests and activism in cities as well as for Indigenous Peoples and non-Native allies on the front lines, directly protecting Mother Earth’s sources from neo-fascist, multi-national land, air, and water grabs.
GCE has its tentacles on most of the tilling(agriculture) as well as the till(sales). The word “till” provides further insight. From the Dutch “tellen: to breed, cultivate,” Old English “fortyllan: to seduce” akin to Latin “dolus: trick” and Greek “dólos: bait (for fish).” Quite apt, considering the advertising/marketing world’s 24-7 push to have you become part of their cult-ure via buy-products.
The Method Is Madness
In a recent article “You Won't Believe What the Food Industry Is Doing to Keep Americans Hooked on Junk,”
If anything could be worse than the food, it’s the pandering directly at children.
One of the biggest agricultural issues has to do with whether to-label or not-to-label GMO products. I don’t know about you but when it comes to laboratory enhanced buy-products, I at least want to know . . . so I have the choice to not eat them!
The food industry flavor-designs food to keep people addicted.
The pharmaceutical industry designs drugs.
According to clinical psychologist and author, Bruce E. Levine:
As example, witness ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). To meet the “diagnostic threshold,” one of the so-called symptoms is: “Actively refuses to comply with majority’s requests or consensus-supported rules.”3 Hmm . . . how very ODD!
With Edward Snowden’s recent whistle-blower revelation regarding surveillance, seems fitting to label all this the stasi quo.
While there are many roots of these control-freak strategies, colonization (from the same word-root as culture) can be cited as the main culprit. After the subjugation of women in Europe, the patriarchal monoculture was exported.
According to the blurb about her book, Chain Her by One Foot: The Subjugation of Native Women in Seventeenth-Century New France,
What is the main side-effect of subjugating the feminine and disconnecting from Mother Earth energies? PTSD. Not only Post but Patriarchal Traumatic Stress Disorder. Each of us feels the effects to some degree and minorities even more so. According to Tiokasin Ghosthorse, who spoke at a panel session called “Indigenize Our Paradigms: Restoring Sacred Sustainability” at the Left Forum: why do some Natives,
The corporate monoculture (as Lawrence Ferlinghetti refers to it) encourages a subtle form of patriarchal naziism, where everything is exactly the same, from the pesticided lawn with each blade of grass the same green and standing at one-inch attention, to agribusinesses with huge swaths of land producing one crop for instant gratification greed while depleting the soil of nutrients over the long haul, to big pharma’s mono-mind pre-emptive drugging, to franchised school testing, etc. – one size fits all but all look exactly the same.
Along with monoculture is the culture of deception and illusion. Whether faux metallic showerheads with their silvery-coated plastic, to different brands of batteries yet (what the hardware store guy told me) same batteries!, to I.F. Stone’s “All governments lie,” to The Police’s lyric “there is no political solution” from the song “Spirits in the Material World” – it’s all done with sleight-of-mind and wallet.
Think Outside the Box Office
Entertainment is another front of the monoculture’s assault on sanity. Hollywood is often in cahoots with the military-industrial-cult-complex. As example, scripts and overall military image get vetted.5 While I like entertainment (but not much Hollywood) as much as the next human, what we need is to project some real solutions, not just watch what gets projected on a screen. And we need more people to enact the solutions.
Sometimes action trumps education. Also part of the panel, “Indigenize Our Paradigms: Restoring Sacred Sustainability,” Debra White Plume, of the Oglala Lakota Nation, told of Moccasins on the Ground6 which has a training program, part of which is for training people how to non-violently, physically (e.g. locking arms) prevent the invasion of Lakota lands and abuse of Mother Earth so as to potentially stop the tar sands pipeline and other resource extracting predators – and so protect the sacred land, air, and water.
When it comes to food stuffs, Native Peoples’ Three Sisters model of corn, beans and squash is far more than a multi-cultural metaphor:
Along with local organic farms, community gardens, cooperatives, urban gardening, “small-scale regional seed banks to preserve agri-diversity,”8 and so forth, we could remedy the agri-culture crisis with agrarian mysticism. The Findhorn9 community in Scotland began when, for real, Dorothy Maclean, during her meditations, received messages from the spirits of plants (devas) as to how much watering and where they would best grow. Along with the help of Eileen and Peter Caddy, Findhorn’s first garden was grown from soil so gravelly that many thought it impossible to grow anything.
In not so ancient times, symbols of the phallus were used ritually as part of encouraging vegetation and the fertility of crops. “In Greek mythology, Priapus or Priapos, was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia. Priapus is marked by his absurdly oversized, permanent erection, which gave rise to the medical term priapism.”10
“In Aristophanes’ anti-war comedy “Lysistrata,” women discuss using and sharing dildos while withholding sex from their partners in an effort to stop the war.”11
Recent reports of military sexual harassment and rape make that idea a secondary one, yet the principle of “withholding” or not participating is a key tool for change. The Salt Satyagraha or Salt March, led by Gandhi, was an exercise (literally a 240 mile walk with more and more people joining along the way) in tax-resistance, non-violent resistance, and self-sufficiency.
Full Healing Circle
For the Native Peoples of Turtle Island the solutions have to do with mending the sacred hoop:
The Hebrew phrase, tikkun olam, “repairing or healing the world,” provides another model:
Ten vessels containing divine light were too fragile to contain such power so they shattered, perhaps like a birthing or the Big Bang, “and all the holy sparks were scattered like sand, like seeds, like stars . . . That is why we were created — to gather the sparks, no matter where they are hidden. And when enough holy sparks have been gathered, the broken vessels will be restored, and tikkun olam, the repair of the world, awaited so long, will finally be complete. Therefore it should be the aim of everyone to raise these sparks from wherever they are imprisoned and to elevate them to holiness by the power of their soul.”13
Moccasins on the Ground is connected with Owe Aku, which is Lakota for “bring back the way.”
In his poem “Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun” Walt Whitman wrote: “Give me solitude — give me Nature — give me again, O Nature, your primal sanities!”
In “Golden Slumbers” the Beatles sang: “Once there was a way to get back homeward.”
Each of us has memory of and a connection with what Taoists call “original wholeness.”
There is no one answer as to how to go about escaping the supremacists’ brainwashing and cultural enslavement.
But be aware that mainstream society’s cult of monoculture is fishing for your dollars, your consciousness, your soul. How long will you keep taking the bait?
Whether via an organization or simply at a bus stop talking with someone of another culture or color, connecting with people is one of the simplest means for remembering and rebuilding the patchwork of global solidarity.
READ MORE OF MANKH'S POEMS AND ESSAYS ON AXIS OF LOGIC
Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is an essayist and resident poet on Axis of Logic. In addition to his work as a writer, he is a small press publisher and Turtle Islander. He edited and published the book, The (Un)Occupy Movement: Autonomy of Consciousness, Practical Solutions, Human Equality, and hosts an audio show "Between the Lines: listening to literature online." You can contact him via his literary website.