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Lecture 5

Lecture 5 - Environment, Development and the Postcolonial - October 9.docx

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Saul Cohen

October 9, 2013. Lecture 5 – Environment, Development and the Postcolonial Clicker stuff  50% of women in North America? US? Say they would rather be hit by a truck than be fat  626 million people in India have to defecate in public (no adequate washroom facilities within accessible distance) Louis CK: If God Came Back  “Did you shit all over everything?!”  The way we exist makes little sense  We want silly things  That wanting has consequences for others (that are serious and worse than silly) A few key propositions today  We have exacerbated poverty, inequality, and ecological destruction in the name of “development”.  Reject the idea that we must choose between humans OR the environment; humans OR animals. We are all bound together.  “Environment” is not a neutral term. Certain people’s environments suck, while certain other people’s do not.  In our consumption, we make value judgments about the worth of our lives compared to others. Development  An “anti-politics machine” o This means that, often, by giving people things in the name of development, we are ensuring that they depoliticize themselves.  Things like schools, washrooms, resources, etc. o An attempt to fix problems that are actually structural (structural as in racism, sexism, colonialism), and you can’t fix a structural problem like colonialism by giving people a toilet o Makes people feel like the problem is being solved, when it isn’t o Saying to people “don’t speak out against say, World Bank, because they gave you a school in your village”  Technical solutions do not solve structural problems, they only further them.  The “charitable-industrial complex”. What’s the problem? o Peter Buffet (Son of Warren Buffet, big-time financial investor) wrote an article arguing about technical solutions to structural problem (like Ferguson’s anti- politics machine but on a more everyday level)  What he calls “conscience laundering” o For example, getting all bothered over unprotected sex-work in another country and then donating money to a charity that provides these sex-workers with condoms to protect them  Doesn’t change any structural issues, and in fact makes the situation worse because it heightens the value of unprotected sex and therefore more women engage in it because they make more money  Does not acknowledge the structural issues of women being in situations where they have to engage in sex work to survive  Development usually just means dumping our surplus and therefore expanding capitalism’s reach. o Giving people who “have less” shit we don’t want which leads to them having more things and more money and then putting that back into the capitalist grasp through consuming more  And then what happens? o Green revolution in Indonesia  Given miracle rice in the 1960s, a strain called IR8; had a yield higher than ever seen before  Students and peasants took on the spreading of this strain, making sure people knew how to plant them, etc.  Sarto (president) came along and in 1965 took this initiative away from the peasants and students and sold the rice to multi-national corporations who then created “Green revolution kits” that they sold to farmers  Something about killing all the fish and then losing out in protein but then having this excess of rice  Bigger farmers who were able to acquire loans and kits and used them to buy tractors, which completely changed the playing field and allowed them to takeover smaller-scale farmers  These small-scale farmers had no choice but to move to the city and their demand for labour and flooding of the job market lowered the minimum wage in an area that already had many urban/poverty-related issues  Overpopulation, spread of communicable disease, etc. o Milk production in India  European surplus in 1968  Surplus was bad because it would lower the value because too much supply for demand and the dairy industry would suffer; European le
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