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Date:

May 13, 2000

Subject:

Atomic GM; Vandana Shiva Lecture

 

- http://www.agbioworld.org, http://agbioview.listbot.com

Colleagues,

It is important to remember where Vandana Shiva is coming from. She is a self-described 'eco-feminist.' As everyone knows, feminism is on the wane, having exhausted itself on various crude and imprudent excesses, not only in word, but in deed.

Nonetheless, much of Shiva's rhetoric resonates with the hard-core remnant of that movement, who are willing to embrace the notion that biotech represents a "Newtonian rape of nature" and that we should embrace a "Gaia" mentality.

Shiva's rhetoric, while it may resonate with eco-reactionaries and remnants of the feminist movement, is ill-founded. The Newtonian paradigm of the 'rape of nature' has long been superseded, mythopoetically (or memetically, for Dawkins fans), by another and more basic archetype: the scientist as shaman.

If one looks at the doctrines of Aquinas, which have proved to be quite durable, one can see that Newton's notion of "forcing Nature to yield up her secrets" is actually a failed paradigm, something that never caught on.

Aquinas' paradigm superseded the Promethean paradigm, in which science amounted to stealing fire from the gods, and giving it to humans, an act of hubris for which the thief must atone. The Aquinian paradigm, in spite of Shiva's protests, now prevails.

Aquinas viewed science as a course of investigation which, if successful, allowed a glimpse of the ingenuity of the Divine Architect. This view does not imply rape, nor even violence. Rather, this view of science implies that reason and investigation can disclose to us ways in which we might take part, in a deeper and more meaningful way, in completing the work set for us as beings who, with free will, are by nature both created, and creating.

The scientist, in Western culture, brings us revelations, evidence of divine workings in nature. Sometimes, what scientists do is not widely understood. What shamans do is, in the same way, not comprehensible to the uninitiated.

And that is the prevalent paradigm.

Shiva, by falsely insisting on the prevalence of a failed cultural paradigm, is obviously out of touch with modern culture, as is the rest of the eco-reactionary movement.

In addition, by insisting that science is "rape," Shiva is being hysterical. And I invite everyone to look up the etymology of the word "hysteria." The word fits.

There is a deeper and more important lesson to be learned from the success Shiva enjoys, however. The eco-reactionary movement is gaining strength from the core of failed or failing movements.

Neo-Marxists, who can no longer look to the Soviet example, have infected the ecological movement and view it as a means to combat capitalism. Feminists, who have seen the ideal of the single-parent household headed by a female result in the emergence of disenfranchised bands of destructive males and androgynous females, see a 'Gaia' concept of ecology as a possible means of revitalizing their flagging energies. Those who pressed for racial equality have seen their initiatives degrade into a
system which fosters despair and dependence on government subsidies.

Shiva might be pernicious, but she needs to be put in perspective.

"Geoffrey Wollaston (by way of C. S. Prakash)" wrote:

>
> I was also wanting to respond to Vandana Shiva's pernicious lecture