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No One Noticed

No One Noticed

NO ONE NOTICED No one noticedWhen the sparrows leftIt was just another smoggy winter morning People drove their carsdropped their children offAt air conditioned schoolsWhere they learnedPollution is a bad thing Meanwhile, a sexual predatorBuilt his temple of learningRight on the Vasant Kunj ridgeNext to gigantic […]

The Will of Life by Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi

The Will of Life by Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi

Watching Paul Mason’s Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere performed at the Young Vic, was an emotional experience. An influential commentator on global politics and events, Mason has had a busy career. This performance that was aired on BBC2 on the 22nd July, and I feel it […]

Mad Max Fury Road: A two-step with ecofeminism?

Mad Max Fury Road: A two-step with ecofeminism?

“Who killed the world?” The Splendid Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) asks in Mad Max’s (Tom Hardy) post-apocalyptic world of fire and blood. The answer to her question floats across the white noise that accompanies the starting credits of Mad Max: Fury Road:

“We are killing for gasoline.

“The world is actually running out of water”
“Now there are the water wars “.

“…Thermonuclear skirmish”

If greed killed the world, it didn’t die with the thermonuclear apocalypse. As the earth soured, capitalism mutated and entrenched itself further. By naming the three main habitations in the film, George Miller perhaps (un) consciously refers to a corporate-military-fossil industry complex where the Citadel produces water (aka Aqua Cola) and trades it with Gas Town and Bullet Farm.

In this nightmare that is left behind, men still rule how things get produced, owned, traded and consumed. The Citadel is a repository of fresh water, control of which makes Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) a powerful overlord. But the Citadel is also a factory where women’s socially productive labour is exploited as ‘produce’. Young women in the citadel are ‘breeders’, who are forcibly impregnated to swell the ranks of Immortan Joe’s army of ‘war boys’; and their breast milk is stockpiled as ‘mothers milk’ and traded. In the Citadel, the control on commodification of nature and women go hand in hand.

Interestingly, this echoes closely with what ecofeminist scholar Ariel Salleh argues to be one of the key premise of ecofeminism, which is that the “objectification, exploitation, and destruction of nature will not be remedied without addressing the parallel structural resourcing of women”.

Mad Max: Fury Road is anchored around the escape of a group of prized “breeders” from the Citadel and their search for the Green Place. While the Citadel is masculinist, violent and thrives on exploitation, it is juxtaposed with the Green Place of Many Mothers, a place where women grow food and rule their own territory. This escape from “man-capital-human” to “woman –labour-nature” reflects closely the ideological dualism that Salleh points at in ecofeminist discourse. But after reaching the Green Place of Many Mothers, it dawns on the group that it no longer exists. The earth has soured and contamination displaced the Many Mothers of whom only a handful has survived. However, instead of going further on, they decide to return to the Citadel with the remaining Many Mothers to recapture it. I personally believe that this turning point of the film is also a political one. It recognises that for women, there is no ecofeminist utopia that exists out there, but it’s a political struggle that has to take place at the heart of the male dominated military industrial complex that the world is.

This escape and return constitutes a high octane hold-on-to-your –seats chase sequence that never allows a single dull moment to creep in. The film is remarkably parsimonious on dialogue for a mainstream Hollywood blockbuster, but still manages to squeeze in serious ecological and feminist messages. Within the Many Mothers, is a character called the “Keeper of Seeds” (Melissa Jeffer). Her collection of seeds is hope for nurturing and healing the world. The relation between women and nature, where the former act as seed keepers is often discussed by Vandana Shiva in her ecofeminist writings on India and the Global South. It may seem a bit romanticized, but this discussion on seeds and hope is juxtaposed with the Many Mothers being badass hell’s angel’s bikers who shoot to kill. The coming together of the Many Mothers and the ‘breeders’ is a great plot device, where it brings together two binaries, and shows that solidarity can develop between two groups of women, each from a completely different context. The development of this ‘sisterhood’ is dealt with sensitively, and is one of the rare moments when human emotions are seen to survive in an inhuman world.

In many ways, Mad Max: Fury Road is a deviation from its earlier male centred narrative around Max and puts Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in the lead. With a number of female protagonists sharing centre stage, and the theme it deals with, the film is a testimony to how current discourses on feminism and gender have embedded itself into film making.

Unfortunately, in the making of the film, the filmmakers stand accused of damaging the fragile ecosystem of the Dorob national park, in the Namib Desert in Nambia. Given the ecological messages in the film, it is indeed disappointing that Mad Max: Fury Road doesn’t walk the talk.

Standard Oil Co by Pablo Neruda

Standard Oil Co by Pablo Neruda

The discussion of peak oil and the worldwide struggle against oil companies fracking and exploitation brings us back to this poem by Pablo Neruda’s. Food for thought… Standard Oil Co.   When the drill bored down toward the stony fissures and plunged its implacable intestine […]

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

by Elliot Hurst The Dispossessed is an amazing utopian sci-fi novel, and everyone should read it. It won all the prizes when it came out and is considered a classic. Ursula Le Guin grew up with an anthropologist father. As she puts it ‘Even though […]

Entropia by Samuel Alexander

Entropia by Samuel Alexander

by Kevin Karaca | @kevinkaraca

Peak Oil is around the corner. The rise in the political-right sends hints that the neoliberal project is coming to an end. Economic growth is being questioned by many. What could a post-growth society look like?

It’s the third decade of the 21st century when Industrial Civilisation collapsed. A community living on an island in the South Pacific Ocean find themselves isolated with no way of knowing what is happening on the mainlands. So, their only option is to survive with what they have on the island.

This utopian novel from Samuel Alexander, scholar and Head of the Simplicity Institute, is a narrative rooted in very realistic theory. Unlike the utopias we’re used to, Alexander looks at what a post-oil future could look like and what we might have to achieve in order to survive and be happy. As an academic engaged in degrowth theory, Alexander is in a great position to bring in the concepts discussed, which are especially relevant in today’s political climate. He looks at the commons, conviviality, job sharing and politics, whilst painting a clear picture of what a simple lifestyle could really be like.

The island’s story is told by a character, born on the island and lived there all his life. The island lost contact with the outer world when the first settlers had moved there all those years ago. So, for all they know, they are the only human community left on the planet!

The protagonist guides us through the result of 7 decades of trial and error and how they created a self-sustainable economy with the limited resources they have. We see the joys of their community, how they celebrate together, hold meetings, make decisions. Marriage no longer exists yet it is not what you would think. Also, leisure time is a thing of the past and the arts are thriving. Education is booming regardless of the tragedy of the fire. Simplicity has brought happiness.

Maybe the biggest surprise is not the way of life that is so beautiful. No, Entropia concludes with a twist. A Noble Lie that has you confounded and shocked. To say more would be to spoil the pleasures of reaching the climax of the story…

In conclusion, Entropia has you turning the pages throughout, and is a great introduction to the concepts that underlie degrowth theory. This book is perfect for anyone interested in ecology, alternative narratives, the alter-globalisation movement or environmentalism. It shows that life without excessive material consumption can be one full of joy.

Alexander has done a great job at showing what an alternative lifestyle could look like in a post-industrial world. Will we get there? I think so. Will it be in our lifetimes? I’m not so sure, but it sounds awesome.

Entropia
by Samuel Alexander
Simplicity Institute, Melbourne 2013
http://www.bookofentropia.com/
Amazon UK


Book Cover taken from www.bookofentropia.com homepage.