Vandava Shiva's antidote to the greed of new colonialism
Care, care for one other and as part of a "new partnership across species" has become the central preoccupation of global activist Vandana Shiva. Care within locked-down households and communities kept us alive during the pandemic. But care’s true potential extends beyond surviving a crisis. Caring can be revolutionary, says Shiva, an effective antidote to greed.
The large audience gathered in the courtyard of Palazzo Ducale certainly cared for her words and showed their appreciation with frequent applause. Shiva is impassioned, eloquent, and analytical. She delineates the contours of a “new colonialism”, one that is even more invasive (think GMOs, one of her long-standing targets) and even more extractive than “old” colonialism. Extraction has strengthened its grip on natural resources, and has now turned to us and our data, now priced and exchanged like any other "commodity" (money, land, labour).
This greedy extraction is the brand of so-called philanthro-capitalists. Shiva's sights are on the tech billionaires who are responsible for the most ambitious solutions, the most significant investments and (unduly strong) influences on the challenges of our time. It’s capitalism with its heart finally in a good place. Or is it? For Vandana Shiva, the answer is a resounding no. Much like “old" colonialism, new tech colonialists speak of improvements and solutions. And much like their before-the-Internet ancestors, their wealth is never really fair game, being shielded from taxation. Instead of the public and its democratically elected officials, increasingly they get to decide where big money goes.
What to do against this double movement, our data being extracted effortlessly while the proceeds remain out of reach, if not deployed to police our relationships on the web or engineer our food or prove indispensable – and thus rarely inexpensive – for our health? A boy in the audience puts the question briefly and poignantly towards the end. "Care to have a future!", Shiva sums it up.