By Prof. Claudia von Werlhof
I only have a few minutes to convince you of the usefulness of a new term; a term that will help us understand the dangerous times we are living in as well as the related struggles on a deeper level, that is, from the roots.
The time for lighthearted jokes and uncertainties is over. The “storm” predicted by the Zapatistas is approaching faster than expected. Our confusion needs to end.
The world system that is threatening all of us is based on a strange phenomenon I was only recently able to fully grasp, namely a “hatred of life”. (2) This hatred has indeed become a system, society, global civilization. It is embodied in all of modern civilization’s institutions: in economics as much as in politics, in science as much as in gender relations, and, especially, in modern technology. There no longer exists a place where the hatred of life has not, literally, been poured into concrete as the basic idea and sensation of our existence. The hatred of life is no fleeting emotion or a mere individual or personal experience of a certain situation or moment. It is nothing less than hostility to life itself, which – and this is my thesis – has become the main foundation, driving force, and defining criterion for a patriarchal civilization dating back almost 5000 years.
After a virtual ban of 30 years, the term “patriarchy” is now re-emerging. It was commonly used by radical feminists whose movement was destined to be destroyed with the arrival of neoliberalism.
The appearance of so-called “gender studies” was a consequence of this. The term “patriarchy” was shunned and the advocates of gender studies soon rallied behind demands for “equality” within the present system. The goal was integration and a share of power – something the Left had been propagating for a long time.
But the challenge lies in moving beyond a system driven by the hatred of life instead of (voluntarily!) turning into an ever more loyal accomplice in the massacres it is responsible for.
It has been repeatedly suggested here that the patriarchal system is a system of death. That is not entirely correct. The patriarchal system is a system of killing, that is, of artificial death: ecocide, matricide, homicide in general, and finally “omnicide”, the killing of “everything”.
Omnicide is already appearing on the horizon in the form of so-called “geoengineering”. Geoengineering has begun with the destruction of the planet itself, of Mother Earth and of her living order. Geoengineering intends to turn planet Earth into a gigantic weapon of war. (3) It uses new, “post-nuclear”, technologies of mass destruction intended to take control of the planet and its energies to employ “weather warfare” and “plasma weapons” among others.
The military geoengineering we are facing is an “art of war against the earth” that has been developed during 70 years of experimentation with the planet. It cloaks itself in “civil” and “scientific” clothing and claims to protect us from “climate change” and “global warming”. However, climate change and global warming are the results of the named experimentation and not of greenhouse gas emissions, as we are falsely led to believe in order to hide the crimes of the military. (4)
In this context, I would like to announce the publication of Planeta Tierra – la Nueva Guerra, the Spanish edition of Dr. Rosalie Bertell’s book Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War, which will be released by La casa del mago, based in Guadalajara. (5)
We always knew that the military was no institution expressing a love of life. But until recently we didn’t know that our civilian institutions were poisoned by the same perverse, illogical, and, in the words of Ivan Illich, “counterproductive” hatred of life.
How can you hate life when you are a part of it? How can you hate yourself? And why?
It is this scandalous secret that needs to be revealed. It is self-evident that the hatred of life cannot be acknowledged or openly named, supported, or propagated. It is never mentioned. Practically no one would want to partake in a project driven by a hatred of life. The love of life is still ours; it is deeply human. It is still with us from the times of non-patriarchal civilization, so-called “matriarchy”. Matriarchal civilization is based on a love of life. It is a civilization that cooperates with life, that celebrates life, and that cherishes the “good life” of communities, without the state and hierarchies, without the police and banks. (6)
The sinister motive of hating life needs to be hidden. The unspeakable crimes that all patriarchies have committed against life itself, against children, women, and all human beings, against the earth, animals, and plants must not be revealed. The hatred of life is the reason and the rational justification for the violence against it; a violence that intends to prevent any rebellion or uprising of those not believing in the system it protects; a system that many would see as a grave assault on their dignity if they only recognized it.
We are told that this violence is necessary for development, progress, and a better life for all of us. It is usually only understood and recognized by those who are directly affected by it. Even then, the promise of a better life is supposed to be a consolation, although any chance for a better life has, in fact, been sacrificed!
Why do we so seldom recognize how flawed this logic is? Why do we so seldom recognize the blatant contradiction of sacrificing life in order to improve it?
The reason is patriarchy’s utopian project. This was already laid out in ancient texts, during the times of the early patriarchies. The project’s purpose is to turn the natural order upside down and to establish an unnatural, and anti-natural, order instead. (7)
The origins of this can be found in the wars of conquest against the world’s matriarchal civilizations. Establishing control over those conquered required a system able to administer control: the state. It began to control life itself: humans, nature, and matriarchal culture. (8) The system based on a hatred of life was developed in order to prevent any challenge to patriarchal rule. It culminated in the desire to replace the natural order with an artificial one to dispose of the “problem of life” once and for all. All dependency on nature, women, mothers, and the earth was to be overcome. A male, patriarchal system of creation was invented that had no room for nature’s cycles, webs, and motions. The Goddess was replaced by “God the Creator” and, finally, by today’s “worldly gods”, the managers of an artificial life supposedly “post-human” and “trans-human”, a life of cyborgs, robots, artificial uteri, test tubes, and global industries of reproduction. (9)
The project of replacing life with non-life could only be realized with the help of modern patriarchal-capitalist civilization and its machine technology. All of the earlier “alchemist” attempts to produce better, higher, and more divine forms of life had failed. Only modern technology allowed for the monstrous manifestation of the patriarchal project we are witnessing today. This is why I call modern patriarchy: “the Monster”!
The Monster is not only characterized by exploitation, extraction, and appropriation. It is, first and foremost, characterized by transforming its possessions into their opposites, that is, into everything we call “capital”: value, money, machines, and hierarchical structures (following Marx).
In this civilization, true democracy is impossible. We are up against a totalitarian system that does not care for its subjects, that can not (or no longer) be stopped, and that is constantly becoming faster and more efficient in its attempt to end life on this planet – while turning even this very process into a tool for further accumulation of profit and power…
Supposedly, everything that exists today derives from so-called fathers; each origin is patriarchal and no longer maternal, deriving from a mother, from Mother Earth, matri-archal. Patriarchy is a new “technological formation” that produces and transforms everything that exists violently. It will not stop before everything has been annihilated.
Capitalism is the modern form of materializing this utopian project of total transformation. When “pure” patriarchy arrives and even the tiniest matriarchal remnants have disappeared, we will all be dead.
I hope that the men among you who before had difficulties with the term “patriarchy” can now see that it concerns you, too. I hope that you will decide to switch sides and join nature and women. Women are (still) closer to life, since life emerges from them. They are always the first victims of the hatred of life, but they are also closer to the truth of life.
When women rise up, they rise up in the defense of life. It has always been like that. Today, women are rising up again against violence and for life, massively and all over the world. Everyone ought to follow them, embrace them, and love them for it. It is not them who are the threat, it is the Monster, the patriarchal “hydra”, an all-encompassing combination of capitalism, neoliberalism, colonialism, globalization, and militarism.
Patriarchy is a historical project that has reached its peak with capitalism. Because of its hatred of life it inevitably will collapse. It cannot replace the life it continuously destroys. Capital cannot return anything to life. The process of “patriarchization” is irreversible. It is a religion. And the patriarchs cannot stop believing in it, because they would otherwise be forced to return to matriarchy…
What a great idea that would be! What joy it would bring! We could leave the patriarchal deception behind us and revive human dignity by rejecting this monstrous system. Without our participation and cooperation it cannot be maintained.
Mother Earth or death! This is the alternative we are confronted with today. (10) From a common house to a common cause: liberating ourselves from the ludicrous hatred of life, a collective disease buried in our collective unconscious.
Life is not here to be killed; it is here to be loved and defended!
Translation from German: Gabriel Kuhn
- Claudia von Werlhof: El „odio a la vida“ como característica central del patriarcado, Mex. Nov 20, 2015a
- _____: El secreto inefable de la civilización moderna, man. Mex. 2015b
- Cf. Rosalie Bertell: Planet Earth: The latest weapon of war. London 2000, Women’s Press
- Cf. Planetare Bewegung für Mutter Erde, www.pbme-online.org; Claudia von Werlhof: La destrucción de la Madre Tierra como último y máximo crimen de la civilización patriarcal, Mex. 2015c, in: DEP, no. 30, Venice, Feb 2016
- Rosalie Betell: Planeta Tierra – la Nueva Guerra, Guadalajara 2016, La casa del mago
- Heide Göttner-Abendroth: Das Matriarchat, several volumes, Stuttgart, from 1988, Kohlhammer
- Cf. BUMERANG – Zeitschrift für Patriarchatskritik, no. 0, 2015, www.fipaz.at
- Cf., for example, Doris Wolf: Was war vor den Pharaonen?, Zurich 1994, Kreuz
- Cf. Claudia von Werlhof: Der unerkannte Kern der Krise. Die Moderne als Er-Schöpfung der Welt, Arun 2012, Uhlstädt-Kirchhasel; BUMERANG, no. 1: Mutterschaft im Patriarchat, 2015, www.fipaz.at
- Claudia von Werlhof: Madre Tierra o Muerte! Reflexiones para una Teoría Crítica del Patriarcado, Oaxaca 2015d, El Rebozo