Fazal Rahman, Ph.D. November 8, 2017
In the following 2012 article, “Let’s Spread the Word: Wetiko” , the author Paul Levy discusses a psycho-spiritual disease of the soul that has been wreaking havoc throughout human history that Native Americans call wetiko. During 2013, he also wrote the following book on the same subject (1). It was received very favorably by thoughtful and critically thinking readers, who were searching for the causes of dehumanization and inhumanization in the modern societies. Such books and writings are very rare, indeed, as vast majorities of billions of wetikos (people inflicted with wetiko, including authors and researchers), are totally unaware of being inflicted with this most devastating disease of the Human Soul and Human Spirit, and, instead, consider themselves to be most developed forms of human nature, while, in reality, they have become the most deformed and mutilated forms of human nature. The erosion of Human Soul in modern societies, starting with those in the West, is very real and is also becoming universal, spreading like wildfire everywhere, including the East.
Jack D. Forbes, a Native American writer, had earlier written his groundbreaking study in this area, during 2008 (2)
Even though the writings and analyses of Levy and Forbes contain profound and accurate insights into the nature and effects of these problems, these, as well as their proposed solutions, are dominated by subjective and idealist approaches.
Marxists have not done any better in this regard. Although they have written extensively on the problems of alienation, reification, commodification, and fetishism, etc., as well as asserted the great importance of creation of a New Man, under socialism and communism- almost all of them have confined themselves to the terminology and concepts developed by Marx, who had great insights into such problems, but had failed to comprehend the vastness and depth of the developing dehumanization and inhumanization, under capitalism and imperialism-they have neither understood nor described any diseases of the Human Soul and Human Spirit, like wetiko, which, the Native Americans, had so clearly identified and understood in its general characteristics and symptoms, and which later Levy and Forbes elaborated upon and added their own insights to it. With the exception of some existentialists that partially dealt with such problems, most other philosophies and religions have also failed to see this great sickness of human nature and its nature, causes, and potential solutions.
The second article below, “Seeing Wetiko: On Capitalism, Mind Viruses, and Antidotes for a World in Transition”, by Alnoor Ladha and Martin Kirk, was published in 2016.
Needless to say that I do not agree with everything they have written, and strongly disagree with some of their examples and contentions, like confusing and distorting the socialist development under Stalin with Czarist Russia, in the second article by Alnoor Ladha and Martin Kirk. However, their detailed analyses and implications of Wetiko contain numerous rare and invaluable insights and information.
I had written the following two articles on the problems of dehumanization, inhumanization, and erosion of Human Soul and Human Spirit, much earlier, in 1980 and 1982, and posted on my site in 2014 and 2015, (3, 4). These papers are incomparably more scientific and precise in identification of the problems and their causes, all ultimately related to the political economy of capitalism and imperialism, and their co-evolution with and mutual empowerment of science and technology. In those articles, I also concluded that their potential objective and subjective solutions will require nothing less than the social revolutions, replacing capitalism and imperialism with socialism and communism, and establishing and regulating new forms of relationships with science and technology.
1. Levy, Paul. Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil. North Atlantic Books (January 15, 2013)
2. Forbes, Jack D. Columbus and Other Cannibals: The Wetiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism. Seven Stories Press; Revised edition (November 4, 2008).
End of Introductory Note
Let’s Spread the Word: Wetiko
Posted on January 30, 2012
In the first part of this series, we contemplated the idea of a psycho-spiritual disease of the soul that has been wreaking havoc throughout human history that Native Americans call wetiko. In part two, we inquired into how the wetiko bug disrupts and deranges a living system, using the world financial system as our case study. The wetiko virus is like a parasite that literally feeds off, takes over and aberrates the curren(t)cy of the infected system. The wetiko pathogen originally manifests as a disturbance in the field of the collective unconscious of humanity itself, creating the psychic ley lines upon which world events are erected and energized. The origin of this virulent disease is to be discovered within the psyche (please see my article It’s All in the Psyche). Because of the psychic nature of wetiko, it serves us to understand the psychological underpinnings of the virus, which is to say, how it affects our day to day relationships and lives. We begin to ‘see’ the bug when we are able to get in focus and recognize ‘its’ psychological signature in both ourselves and others. The fact that the source of the wetiko germ is within the psyche means that the cure for this disease lies hidden within the psyche as well.
Wetiko psychosis is at the very root of humanity’s inhumanity to itself in all its various forms. As a species, we need to step into and participate with our own spiritual and psychological evolution, which means that we must focus our attention on and contemplate this ‘topic of topics’ before this virulent madness destroys us. Up until this point in our history we have been too easily distracted by the ruses of the wetiko bug itself. The disease itself is now demanding that we pay attention to it, or it will kill us. Its cure is the most pressing and fundamental issue facing us today. Author and environmental activist Derrick Jensen writes in his foreword to Jack D. Forbes book about wetiko psychosis, “Columbus and other Cannibals is, I think, the most important book ever written on one of the most important topics ever faced by human beings: why is the dominant culture so excruciatingly, relentlessly, insanely, genocidally, ecocidally, suicidally destructive?”[i] Historian Arnold Toynbee points out that a civilization doesn’t die from being invaded from the outside, but unless it creates culture which nourishes the evolution of the creative spirit, a civilization invariably commits suicide. As if possessed, our civilization is, trance-like, sleepwalking in a death-march towards our own demise. The most pressing and inevitable question of our time is not just ‘why?’ but more urgently, how can we stop this seemingly out-of-control, self-destructive, hell-bent part of ourselves?
The origin of wetiko is the human psyche. Psychologically speaking, shadow projection is at the very root of wetiko disease. Shadow projection is a process in which we split-off from and project out our own darkness onto others. It is our misguided attempt at a ‘final solution’ to the problem of the evil within ourselves which actually deprives us of the capacity to deal with evil. Projecting the shadow opens up the door and invites in the vampiric entity of wetiko to make itself at home in the most intimate spaces of our own psyche. It is through the dynamic of shadow projection that the wetiko bug digs in and entrenches itself within our psyches, where it is then able to commandeer the executive function of the psyche to its own ends. When we project the shadow, we unwittingly become a conduit for evil to possess us from behind, beneath our conscious awareness, and to act itself out through us. When there is mutual shadow projection between individuals, groups or nations, each side has an unconscious investment in the other playing out the projected evil so as to prove their own self-righteous innocence, a dynamic which becomes self-reinforcing and continually feeds the polarization in the field. Shadow projection, as it collectively plays out en masse on the world stage is an outer reflection of the initial process within ourselves of our be-night-ed effort to exterminate our own darkness (please see my article Shadow Projection: The Fuel of War). When shadow projection happens en masse, it is as if the archetype of evil emits its toxic radio-activity underground, through the shared unconscious of the collective, and manifests collectively as destructive psychic epidemics.
In shadow projection, we attempt to master and experience power over the internal condition that originally proclaimed our powerlessness to ourselves not by becoming conscious, but by unconsciously identifying with, becoming, and then acting out the power to externally destroy. Unconsciously acting out unbound power without restraint is our perverse way of defending against the internal breakthrough of feelings of helplessness. Evacuating and relocating our inner darkness outside of ourselves by demonizing the ‘other’ seemingly protects us from feeling our vulnerability and pain. Our inner anxiety about our existential ‘power to be’ attempts to resolve itself in the power to act free from restraint. In an unmediated expression of our disempowered inner condition, our unconscious acting out does not surmount the need for compulsive repetition, however, but rather, assures it. Wetikos’ modus operandi, their ‘M.O.,’ becomes to root out and kill everything that feels tender, vulnerable and alive within themselves, thus systematically murdering anything and everything within them that could possibly melt or produce a crack in the ice that encases their heart.
Because full-blown wetikos are soul murderers who continually recreate the on-going process of killing their own soul, they are reflexively compelled to do this to others; for what the soul does to itself, it can’t help but to do to others. In a perverse inversion of the golden rule, instead of treating others how they would like to be treated, wetikos do unto others what was done unto them. The wetikois simply a living link in a timeless, vampiric lineage of abuse. Full-blownwetikos induce and dream up others to experience what it is like to be the part of themselves which they have split off from and denied, and are thus not able to consciously experience – the part of themselves that has been abused and vampirized. In playing this out, wetikos are transmitting and transferring their own depraved state of inner deadness to others in a perverse form of trying to deal with their own suffering. Paradoxically, wetikos both try to destroy others’ light, as it reminds them of what they’ve killed in themselves, while simultaneously trying to appropriate the light for themselves.
Wetiko disease is an expression of the convincing illusion of the separate self gone wild. Bewitched by the intrinsic projective tendencies of their own mind, full-blown wetikos are unconsciously doing the very thing they are reacting to and accusing other people of doing. Projecting the shadow onto others, they will accuse others of projecting the shadow onto them. To use an extreme, but prototypical example, it is like someone screaming that you’re killing them as they kill you. If their insanity is reflected back to them, they think it is the mirror that is insane. Suffering from a form of psychic blindness that believes itself to be sightedness, full-blown wetikos project out their own unconscious blindness and imagine that others, instead of themselves, are the ones who are not seeing. Governed by the insane, self-perpetuating logic of fear and paranoia, those taken over by the disease fear that if they don’t attack and rule over others, they are in danger of being attacked and ruled over themselves. In their convoluted, upside-down, flawless illogic, wetikos re-act to their own projections in the world as if they objectively exist and are other than themselves, thinking that they themselves have nothing to do with creating that to which they are reacting (please see Aparticipatory Delusional Syndrome(ADS)). Someone fully taken over by the wetiko bug is like a kitten endlessly reacting to her reflection in a mirror as if it is another kitten separate from and other than herself. The evil we see in the full-blown wetikos is a reflection of our own evil; if we don’t recognize this, we will just be projecting our shadow onto them. We are then guilty of the very same thing (shadow projecting) we are essentially reacting to and of which we are accusing them.
The term wetiko is a Cree term (windigo in Ojibway, wintiko in Powhatan) which, to quote Forbes, refers to “an evil person or spirit who terrorizes other creatures by means of terrible evil acts.”[ii] Wetikos are the human instruments for the transpersonal ‘spirit of evil’ to terrorize the world. In wetiko disease, we unwittingly become drafted into being foot-soldiers in the war not ‘on,’ but ‘of’ and ‘for’ terror. The wetiko parasite feeds on and harvests the emotions of fear and terror. Terror is the essence of its insidious ‘ill-usory ill-logic.’ In wetikodisease, the psyche takes the ‘terror’ that haunts it from within, and in its attempt to master it, unwittingly becomes taken over by it, thus becoming an instrument of terror in the world. We have then become the thing we most feared, ‘creatures of the European nightmare world,’ as we psychologically terrorize ourselves, as well as terrorizing the world at large. Wetiko is the bug which feeds the experience of terror within our mind and out in the world, fueling one of its more prominent manifestations in our world today: the ‘Global War on Terror.’
A Frankenstein Monster Come to Life
Wetikos suffer from what is called ‘pseudologia phantastica,’ a form of hysteria characterized by a talent for believing their own lies. “Lying,” Forbes writes, “in fact may represent a key strand in the entire epidemiology of wetokoism.”[iii]Ultimately deceiving themselves as they believe in the propaganda of their own lies, full-blown wetikos become strangers to themselves. Wetikos continually have to invest their life-force in lying to themselves, while at the same time fooling themselves into believing that they are not doing so, a version of what George Orwell referred to as ‘doublethink.’ Suffering from amnesia, they have forgotten what it is to remember, and to ‘seal’ the deal, they have forgotten that they have forgotten. The result is that they split their mind in two. Falling into denial, and yet denying they are in the state of denial, becomes a process that they are invested in at all costs, or it would blow their denial. Anything that threatens their perverse state of affairs has to be destroyed. Hiding from their lie, they are in essence hiding from themselves, which is pure madness.
Instead of living from and out of an awareness of the psyche, full-blown wetikos continually avoid awareness of the psyche, a habitual pattern which becomes their internal compass and continual default, their M.O. Taking refuge not ‘in,’ but ‘from,’ themselves, wetikos are continually fleeing from themselves, endlessly circling around in the hamster wheel of samsara. All of their energy gets invested in fueling their own, and others, deception. Their will becomes dedicated to hiding from the truth of what they are doing, a truth which endlessly pursues them, as they continually avoid relationship with themselves.Wetikos become wedded to the full-time occupation of keeping one step ahead of themselves, a process which, once it gains a certain momentum, attains a seeming autonomy that is self-generating (please see Autonomous Complexes). As this inner process progresses, it gains a sovereignty over their psyche, as if a self-created Frankenstein monster has come to life in the flesh. The wetikoshave then created their own sci-fi nightmare, with themselves in the starring role. Once created, a mind-virus like wetiko, just like the Frankenstein monster, gains a seeming life of its own, independent of its creator. It then holds its creator in its thrall, unable to escape from the out-of-control hell of their own making.
Speaking of someone possessed by the wetiko virus, Forbes writes, “such a person cannot be authentic. Such a person is not merely a pimp, he is also a ghost, as it were, a mere imitation of a person. His life is an imitation of life…their life is less than that of a wild (free) animal who is, after all always authentic.”[iv] Wetikos become unreal to themselves, a simulation of themselves. Split in two, they become schizoid, dissociated from themselves, duality having seemingly established itself as the reigning logic at the core of their being. Different parts of the person taken over by wetiko become compartmentalized, neither connected to each other nor to the whole. This process of inner fragmentation serves to hide from the wetikos what they are doing to themselves, as they become their own never-ending ‘cover-up.’ This psychological dynamic is kept in place by how painful it is to behold and contemplate the modes of avoidance they construct to protect themselves from what they do not want to know. And yet, as painful as it is, it is only in the seeing of what they are doing (to themselves) that there is any possibility of becoming free from this malignant malady.
Wetikos can psychopathically (and thus toxically) mimic the human personality perfectly. If it serves their agenda, they can be convincing beyond belief, making themselves out to be normal, caring, politically correct human beings. They are unable, however, to grasp emotionally the meaning implicit in the thoughts and feelings they are exhibiting. They lack insight into how they differ from others, for they do not differ from others as they see others. They are skillful at pretending love and devotion, as if they are imitating a person. Impersonating themselves, their existence is a true parody of life. They can’t distinguish between their mimicked (pseudo) responses of love, remorse, etc., and the genuinely felt responses of a healthy person.
Full-blown wetikos are emotionally stunted, as their feelings are confined to the primitive, archaic emotions of anger, frustration, numbness and rage. Suffering from a deep disorder of feeling in which they can not allow themselves to consciously feel, they typically swing between numbness and rage. Fixed in their own limited and myopic point of view, they have no capacity to see themselves as others see them. Proclamations to the contrary, they have no empathy nor compassion. They can’t see the world through others point of view, only through their own, which in Hannah Arendt’s opinion is a primary characteristic of what she calls the ‘banality of evil.’ Wetikos don’t relate to others as autonomous, independent beings, but rather, as pawns to be used as means to their own selfish ends, objects to be manipulated for their own narcissistic benefit, rather than as ends in themselves, subjects with their own intrinsic value and valid viewpoints. Because they have lost connection to their soul, they cannot hear the pleas of nor see the soul in others. They refuse to see the harm their actions are doing to others, as this would injure their overly-positive, inflated narcissistic self-image, which protects them from consciously feeling their shame and guilt (read more about Malignant Narcissism). Seemingly unable to consciously experience their guilt animates more shadow projection, which fuels the wetiko pathogen in a continually self-regenerating feedback loop. Unwilling to experience their guilt, wetikos are afraid of being exposed, of being found out, which is an outer reflection of the terror that the wetikoparasite within us feels at potentially being illumined.
We secretly feel a sense of guilt when we shadow project, because we inwardly know we are not in our integrity. This sense of guilt itself is the very feeling from which we split-off. Our guilt does not allow us to feel our guilt, which is what we secretly feel guilty over. To the extent that we don’t consciously experience our guilt, we become caught in an infinitely-perpetuating double-bind in which we project out our guilt and darkness, which just perpetuates the very thing we feel guilty about, ad infinitum.
Big wetikos[v] may never know nor be forced to come to terms with the harm they have caused, as oftentimes they find themselves in the privileged position of the victors who rewrite history on their own terms. Many of our society’s historians, themselves infected by the wetiko virus, exalt aggressive and exploitative behavior, categorizing as ‘primitive’ and ‘backwards’ those who don’t forcibly ‘conquer’ others, thereby subtly and subliminally brainwashing the young into the ways of the world of wetiko.
The Self-Destructive Evil of Empire
Being a field phenomenon, wetiko psychosis doesn’t just express itself individually, but its nonlocal tentacles are continually manifesting collectively throughout the underlying field of consciousness. The multi-headed hydra that is the wetiko collective psychosis materializes itself in families, groups, nations, and in whole species such as ours. Wetiko’s ‘body politic’ has an intrinsic and insistent need for centralizing power and control, fueled by the bottom line of corporate-driven profits. Speaking about the monster of ever-expanding empire, Forbes writes, “imperialism and exploitation are forms of cannibalism and, in fact, are precisely those forms of cannibalism which are most diabolical or evil“[vi] A ‘front’ for the underlying wetiko virus, the military-industrial-criminal-complex, with its ultimately self-destructive, built-in need for endless expansion is like a systematic runaway in cybernetic theory. The Frankenstein monster of ever-enlarging empire is like a runaway locomotive gaining speed, approaching the event horizon of its inevitable ‘crash,’ all under the deceptive banner of ‘progress.’ Meanwhile, this ‘progress’ destroys people, families, communities, and potentially, the biosphere itself upon which human life depends. “Wetikos,” Forbes writes, “have taken their Satan to the four-corners of the world, and they have made him their God.”[vii]
Evil is like a pathogen that enters a system, be it an individual, nation-state, or world-system, and exploits the system, knocking it off balance. Such disturbances can transform something wholesome, such as the drive to reproduce, into something evil – the drive to rape. Etymologically, the meaning of the word ‘evil’ has to do with ‘excess’ as well as to ‘transgress boundaries.’ Full-fledged wetikos are rapists of the human soul. The word ‘rape,’ etymologically speaking, is derived from words that mean to overwhelm, to enrapture, to invade, to usurp, to pillage, and to steal, which are all characteristics of someone who is taken over by the wetiko virus.
Wetiko disease is a self-devouring operating system that leaves nothing unmolested. It is a living death sentence that, if left unchecked, destroys everything within its dominion, including itself. Wetiko psychosis ensures that everything is sacrificed on its altar of death and destruction. From a galactic perspective, our planetary so-called ‘civilization’ is a living, spreading outbreak of wetiko psychosis that is threatening to destroy not only its human host, but the entire planetary biosphere which makes life on earth possible as well. Speaking of wetikos’ ravenous hunger, Forbes points out, “It’s voracious, rapacious, appetite will cause it to literally eat itself.”[viii] Forbes continues, “The rape of a woman, the rape of a land, and the rape of a people, they are all the same…Brutality knows no boundaries. Greed knows no limits. Perversion knows no borders. Arrogance knows no frontiers. Desire knows no edges. These characteristics all tend to push towards an extreme, always moving forward once the initial infection sets in.”[ix] Untreated, this psychic infection gradually takes hold of the wetikos’ being, corrupting their heart, poisoning their psychic body politic from within. Like the virus of evil insinuating itself into the soul in incremental, un-noticed steps, at a certain point this leukemia of the soul becomes irreversible, inevitably leading to its host’s destruction. The wetikovirus’s pathogenic effects within an individual are a microcosmic fractal iteration of the collective, macrocosmic dynamics of the disease; how wetikoworks within each of us is synchronistically mirrored with stunning perfection in how it is playing out throughout the greater body politic.
Unchecked by a psychic vaccine, the disease, like an addiction running rampant, is progressive and is thus getting worse over time. Forbes writes, “The wetikosdestroyed Egypt and Babylon and Athens and Rome and Tenochitlan and perhaps now they will destroy the entire earth. But neither the ‘junkie’ looking for money for a shot of heroin nor the capitalists destroying Amazonian forests for big profits are able to stop their own destructive behavior.”[x] Wetikos can’t help themselves. Suffering from a compulsion to destroy, if left to themselves they are unable to stop their suicidal behavior. Having lost their internal freedom, they are singularly lacking in options.
Having mesmerized themselves, wetikos have, ultimately speaking, become their own victim. Running like a tape that loops back into itself in endless iterations, their self-hypnosis is dedicated to forever forestalling the prospect of the gnawing anxiety of confronting and dealing with the insanity of what they are doing, both to themselves and others. Like the subject of a master hypnotist, their attention becomes attenuated, narrowed and constricted to their limited and particularized viewpoint. After a certain point, wetiko disease becomes so completely internalized that the person so afflicted, as if compulsively repeating their initial moment of trauma, moment by moment recreates their own psychosis without any external stimulus at all. Having unconsciously identified with the aggressor, they become their own perpetrator, police state and control system. Their pathological inner state in-forms their actions in the outer world, which becomes the channel through which their ravaged inner landscape plays itself out and takes on embodied form.
An inner sickness of the soul, wetiko is unique in that it is a boundary-dissolving disease, collapsing the distinction between the inner and the outer, between dreaming and waking. Wetiko nonlocally materializes itself in, as and through the medium of the outside world, which becomes the canvas for its full-bodied revelation of itself. Wetiko nonlocally in-forms, gives shape to and configures events in the world so as to synchronistically express itself, which is to say that just like in a dream, events in the outer world are symbolically expressing an inner, psychological situation (please see my article The World is Psyche).Wetiko can only be ‘seen’ when we snap out of our literal way of interpreting our experience and start seeing with symbolically informed awareness. At the same time, wetiko itself can become the impetus for expanding our consciousness and recognizing that the world itself is a continually unfolding, living revelation of itself that is speaking symbolically, which is the language of dreams.
A Cult(ure) of Madness
People have to be cured of their spiritual sickness before they can build a just society. Forbes says, “to adjust to a wetiko society is to become insane.”[xi] It is no great accomplishment to adapt to and be considered sane in and by an insane society. The culture of wetiko promotes the systematic destruction of the human heart, which when fully internalized, alienates us from everything in ourselves, save what reproduces the conditions of the system. Adopting the values of our oppressors, however, insures the continuation of our own dehumanization. The system is set up to be a set up such that, to quote Forbes, “a person oppressed by wetikos adopts the values of wetikos as he ‘rises’ in position. The wetikos taught him well, but they taught him falsely.”[xii] BigWetikos learn to exploit every situation to their advantage and sacrifice in themselves everything that doesn’t advance this motive. To become a “BigWetiko,” Forbes comments, “requires a lot of back-scratching, back-stabbing, drinking, and maneuvering. It also requires the corruption of other young men (and women), who in turn, will become hooked into the system.”[xiii] Speaking about how “very, very easy” it is to become a wetiko in our society because of all of the perks and incentives, Forbes writes, “they do get promoted, they do get better salaries, and they do get testimonials (and a gold watch) when they ‘retire.’”[xiv] Because of all of the ‘benefits’ of the role, there is not merely a passive disinterest, but rather, an active resistance and counter-incentive forwetikos to self-reflect, a contraction which simply feeds their compulsion and further reinforces their addiction to power.
Forbes writes, “the wetiko disease has so corrupted European thinking (at least of the ruling groups) that wetiko behavior and wetiko goals are regarded as the very fabric of European evolution…if we continue to allow the wetikos to define reality in their insane way we will never be able to resist or curtail the disease.”[xv] It should be noted that indigenous people are not free from thewetiko virus as well. There are indigenous cultures that are governed by wisdom, but there are also indigenous cultures that are ruled by wetiko. We should be careful to not romanticize and idealize indigenous, aboriginal cultures as opposed to European cultures, which would be too simplistic, and dualistic of a view.[xvi] When wetikos possess power in any culture, or more accurately, when power possesses them, they are in a position to influence, define and create a certain level of reality that, though based on falsehood, operates as if it is real. In words that would be just as relevant with regards to the current Obama administration, author Ron Suskind quotes a neocon in the previous Bush administration as saying, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality─judiciously, as you will─we’ll act again, creating other new realities.”[xvii] If left in positions of power, wetikos will ultimately become and dream up into full-bodied materialization their own, as well as our, worst nightmare into reality.
Evil can take many forms – political, social, economic, militaristic, and psychological. Forbes says, “predation can lurk under many guises, such as ‘patriotism,’ profit-seeking, ‘protecting our way of life,’ and ‘investment returns.’”[xviii] Many ‘isms’ themselves are simply thought-forms used bywetikos themselves to justify their rape, criminality, murder and evil. Wrapping their cause in the mantle of goodness allows Big Wetikos, who are in fact full-fledged predators, to sleep at night, seemingly guilt-free. In a form of self-entrancement, they have so thoroughly convinced themselves of the rightness of their actions that they rarely, if ever, have any ethical qualms about what they are doing. Where the evil of wetiko is endemic, there tends to be an ethical, developmental arrest in both individuals and throughout the society.
Full-blown, big Wetikos are morally insane, and abuse power simply because they can. This is why, to quote Forbes, “the development of rigid patriarchy follows the wetiko disease.”[xix] In other words, cultures dominated by wetikostend to organize themselves around the calcified, archetypal mythic pattern of the ‘negative patriarchy,’ which, simply put, is based on domination over others (read about The Archetype of the Negative Father). To quote Forbes, “‘Might makes right’ is the wetiko belief, but it is often accompanied by self-serving doctrines of ‘divine will,’ ‘manifest destiny,’ ‘providence,’ ‘the march of civilization,’ ‘doing God’s work,’ ‘stopping communism,’ or comparable slogans.”[xx] These slogans are the mantras, or words of power, by which the collective spell of group-think is disseminated throughout the collective psyche. Any rationalization will do, as long as it serves as cover for the wetikos to continue to exploit others, centralize power and feed their sickness.
Interconnected Roles in a Nonlocal Field
Speaking about how our species has never been able to get a handle on what is at the root of our self-destructive behavior, Forbes comments, “Unfortunately, most of these efforts have failed because they have never diagnosed the wetikoas an insane person whose disease is extremely contagious. Nor have they, generally, understood that the [seemingly] non-wetikos, whether flunkies, pimps, or the most oppressed, are often ‘secret carriers’ of the disease.”[xxi]The wetiko virus can only thrive in the global human family if, just like in any family system, each member enables and is complicit in the abuse. Being a field phenomenon, wetiko incarnates by em-bodying itself through various interconnected, form-fitted roles arising in the field, all at different stages of the disease. Each of these figures are various re-presentations of the multiple faces of the underlying pathogen. Wetikos can be hard to recognize because the people who are its instruments seem like normal, well-intentioned, innocent looking people, and yet, it is these seemingly regular people, just like you and me, who often become the ‘secret carriers’ of the disease. To the extent that we are not aware of this insidious, nonlocal, psychological disease, both in others and potentially within ourselves, we can very easily become its ‘secret carriers,’ its unwitting accomplices.
Forbes writes, “But this we must emphasize over and over, that the whole wetiko disease is not limited to the brutes and goons who handle the gun, the lash or the instruments of torture. The nice people in the offices, the typists, the lab technicians, the clerks and, of course, the owners, directors, stockholders, senators, generals and presidents who use, profit from, and feed on human exploitation are also cannibals to one degree or another.”[xxii] The Big wetikoscould never get away with the murder that they do without ‘the nice people in the offices’ enabling them. These ‘typists, lab technicians and clerks’ are just ‘following orders,’ and yet, are complicit in the insidious evil that is being spread throughout the world with their co-operation. Modern, corporate, technological systems are set up to distance us, both physically and psychologically, between what we do for a living and the ultimate, potentially destructive consequences of our actions. Even ‘the nice people in the offices,’ people just like you and me, to the extent that we are not aware of how we are feeding, and being fed by, thewetiko virus, are tiny cogs in the great predatory machine, complicit in the impersonal evil of the faceless system and in the destruction it wreaks upon all life.
Wetiko is an entity that becomes co-dependently entangled and inextricably coupled with others in its environment in order to survive. It serves us to differentiate the interdependent roles in the field which ‘conspire’ (which literally means to ‘breathe together’) to create and sustain the wetiko disease. All of these figures collaboratively enable the bug of wetiko to play out its reign of (t)error. Forbes writes, “The most guilty of the wetikos are, I would think, those who mastermind, justify and profit most from such systems. Such persons are the ‘master predators.”[xxiii] The full-blown, Big Wetikos, the ‘master predators’ in positions of power, can be suave and sophisticated, with refined tastes, highly intelligent, educated people, with offices in places like New York and London, and can be highly respected by society, all of which makes their malady hard to recognize. Others are cast in the role of ‘protecting’ the abuser─the master predator’s handlers, minions, sycophants, enablers, supporters and followers─while others are complicit by simply remaining silent and looking away. Some pick up the role of feeling powerless, thinking ‘what’s the use?’ Some politically active sorts can pick up the role of attempting to fight the disease in a way that simply strengthens the diabolical polarization in the field, which just feeds and is the signature of the disease itself (please see my article Spiritually-Informed Political Activism). Whatever the role, it’s all just multiple guises wearing the same underlying uni-form.
All wetikos, including the Big Wetikos, are themselves just pawns in the hand of the underlying archetype itself, however. It is like when Toto, in The Wizard of Oz pulls away the curtain, but instead of their being a man behind the curtain, there is no one there but the formless archetype itself. If the master predators are removed from their positions of power, but if the underlying system which spawned them remains in place and not dealt with, over time others will simply pick up their ‘vacant,’ and vacuous roles. These power-mad roles exist as potentials in the field waiting to be filled, fleshed-out and incarnated, as these roles are an expression of the full spectrum of possibilities implicit in the underlying field, reflecting, as it always does, this same range of potentials within ourselves. The nonlocal field is seamless, and the roles do not, and cannot, exist in isolation, but rather, in co-relation to each other, as well to the whole field itself, in an interconnected web of infinite relatedness.
It is important to see the whole system, rather than only fixating on, and demonizing, one of its parts as separate from the whole (please see my articleDanger: Fasci-Nation with Bush). Focusing on an individual person is analogous to contemplating one finger on a glove without recognizing the underlying hand in-forming and animating all of the interconnected, and fundamentally inseparable fingers in the glove. To concretize a localized manifestation of the pathology in an individual would be analogous to only seeing the circle that a three-dimensional sphere makes as it passes through a two-dimensional plane. The circle is a lower-level reflection of a higher-dimensional entity (the ‘sphere’ of wetiko’s influence), just as the person taken over by the wetiko bug is a surface expression of a deeper, more fundamental pathogen that pervades the underlying field. To use another example, the person momentarily afflicted withwetiko is like a shadow on a wall─cast from a globe hanging from the ceiling─relative to the globe. The shadow on the wall is a re-presentation and projection of the higher, three-dimensional entity of the globe into a lower dimension of space. Studying the shadow within its proper context relative to the globe is the way of understanding the object casting the shadow (the higher-dimensional entity of the ‘global’ wetiko psychosis). In these examples, the point is not to focus on the personal manifestation of the disease, but rather, to see the deeper, nonlocal field that is giving shape to, in-forming and pervading the particular, localized outbreaks of the disease in the greater body politic. Seeing, in Jung’s words, “the numinous character of the reality in the background,”[xxiv] IS the very expansion of consciousness which becomes the doorway connecting us to a deeper part of ourselves, as well as to each other. Recognizing the underlying field paves the road to healing.
In the culture of wetiko, people at various stages of the disease pick up seemingly different and separate roles from each other, but when the deeper, underlying pattern comes into focus and is seen, it can be recognized that all of these inter-locking roles fit together like a higher-order mosaic. This process couldn’t play itself out without all of its parts reciprocally co-arising relative to each other. The whole field, with all its myriad, fluid and unfixed roles─each of us at various moments in time picking up the different roles─are mutually conditioning each other in a seamless, interpenetrating net of relations, as if appendages of a higher-dimensional organism that is revealing itself through our nonlinearly orchestrated and coordinated interplay.
Stepping Out of Separation
The in-spirit-ed organism of wetiko is a field phenomenon, and can only be seen when we snap out of the illusion of imagining we exist as a separate self and recognize and become conversant with the deeper, underlying and more fundamental nonlocal field in which we are all indissolubly inter-connected. “The field,” as Einstein once succinctly put it, “is the only reality.” In modern physics, the field─the invisible organizing principle of the universe─has become more fundamental than matter. Instead of relating to any part of the field as an isolated entity, it’s important to contemplate the entire interdependent field as the ‘medium’ through which wetiko manifests itself. The native American concept of wetiko disease is a social phenomenon, a relational dynamic of the field itself that can not be understood, and does not exist in isolated individuals apart from the social milieu in which they move, interact and have their being. Seeing the nonlocal field drives a stake into the very heart of the prevailing scientific, materialistic perspective, which ironically enough, still attempts to see the world as ‘machine.’
Seeing the field, and stepping out of the perspective that we are separate from each other converges into being the same experience. Seeing ‘through’ the illusion of the separate self, rather than seeing ‘through the separate self’ as a lens through which we view the world, entails recognizing that even the full-blown wetikos, the master predators themselves, are not separate from us. The Big Wetikos are fully em-body-ing, in person-ified form, a pathological tendency that exists in potential within ourselves. It is as if they are the externalized materialization of this potential within ourselves that we’ve projected outside of ourselves and literally collectively dreamed up into manifestation. Recognizing this generates compassion for this part of ourselves. It is only through compassion that we immunize ourselves from the virus.
Paradoxically, although wetiko disease doesn’t exist in isolated individuals separate from the field, someone taken over by the wetiko bug, though merely its instrument and not, in the ultimate sense ‘who they are,’ literally can be said to be ‘the incarnation’ of the disease in human form. The person so possessed (think of, like I did in my book, George W. Bush, as one example) is the ‘revelation‘ of the pathology in living flesh and blood. The person so stricken is showing us, in fully embodied, personified form, the underlying infrastructure and dynamics of this trans-human disease. When someone is so possessed, they are the local crystallization ‘in form’ of a nonlocal, and ultimately ‘formless’ phenomenon. The person taken over has been dreamed up into materialization to be a living, breathing ‘symbol’ of the nonlocal disease, an embodied reflection of an archetypal, and yet pathological, part of ourselves. Recognizing this is to realize that this person doesn’t exist as an isolated, discrete entity, a skin-encapsulated ego, separate from the surrounding field. Seeing the person so possessed in their true context─as literally inseparable from all of us─becomes a portal through which we can refine our inner vision and see through the transparent illusion of the separate self. Seeing that the person so taken over is not separate from the field is a reflection of our own condition. Seeing the other’s transpersonal nature enables us to not person-alize ourselves.
Holographically enfolded within the psyche of every human being, the wetikovirus pervades and underlies the entire field of consciousness, and can therefore potentially manifest through any one of us at any moment if we are not mindful. The wetiko bug is something that we all have unconsciously acted out in our lives at one time or another. We’ve all had our wetiko ‘moments,’ that’s just the way it works. Recognizing this cultivates humility, which helps to psychically immunize us from the pernicious effects of the disease. This realization ultimately collapses the boundary between those who have the disease and those who don’t. Wetiko’s nonlocal nature ultimately makes the question of who has the disease irrelevant, as we all have it to varying degrees, or rather, it has us. We are all in the soup together. This realization engenders both compassion and forgiveness. This does not mean, however, that the Big Wetikos are not ethically, spiritually, and legally responsible for the unimaginable carnage they have caused.
The primary line of distorted code through which the wetiko virus deviates our mind is the presumption of the separate self. The un-reflected upon acceptance of the axiom of separation is what makes all of the other delusions that make upwetiko possible. Seeing the diabolical nature of the disease entails realizing that it is the bifurcating ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mind of duality which splits the world into opposites, that is itself the generative root of the wetiko germ.
This series of articles began by invoking the spirit of wetiko through our shared act of inquiry. As we shed light on wetiko, we become sensitive to its movements within ourselves. At this point the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, for there is no place for the spirit to hide. We are then in a position of having access in our lucid, self-reflective awareness to a sacred vessel which can nourish the very spirit which is to be venerated. To come full circle and successfully accomplish the original, healing intent of our magic ritual, the hidden, powerful spirit ofwetiko needs to be ‘contained;’ this is the archetypal point behind the sacred alchemical idea of a mystical vessel which transforms the entire universe.
As people who are becoming wise to the wiles of wetiko help each other to step out of the illusion of separation together, a psychic alchemical container that is greater than the sum of its parts gets created. This holy grail-like vessel of collectively shared lucidity is reciprocally conjured up through our shared realization. This higher-dimensional mystic container is forever stimulating, stabilizing and strengthening itself in a positive feedback loop which literally gives birth to and inspires the creative spirit. This jewel-like higher-dimensional entity composed of consciousness itself is a lucidity generator that is tapping into the zero point energy of the mind, a form of higher-mind technology that attracts the rest of the universe into itself. When we recognize that we exist not apart from, but relative to each other, our connection with each other is ‘hermetically sealed’ with the stamp of Hermes. We then relate with each other in such a way so that none of our projections unconsciously leak out into the world, for the simple reason that the world is recognized to be our projection. This is the very realization which bonds us together and through which we are united with the world, each other and ourselves. Becoming ‘tight’ in this way, we are ‘blessed’ by the master magician ‘Hermes/Mercury,’ the God of the sacred art of alchemy (please see my article The Sacred Art of Alchemy). ‘The Force’ is then with us. Empowered, we are able to trans-fix, trans-mute, trans-form and liberate the vampiric spirit of wetiko, while simultaneously snapping out of our en-trance-ment of ourselves.
Supposedly the greatest ruse of the devil is to convince us that he doesn’t exist. Or on the other hand, is the suggestion that the devil does exist that is implicit in the previous statement a deception of the devil (who is, after all, considered a liar), and as such, is a disguised form in which the devil has insinuated himself into not only our conversation, but into the world at large? It is important to shed light on this murky area: An evil, archetypal figure like the devil doesn’t exist in the way we have been imagining he does if we have been imagining that he exists objectively, as something apart from ourselves.
The devilish wetiko virus, like a vampire, if left to its own devices, would die, as it is only able to exist if there is someone outside of itself on whom it can feast. A vampire has no intrinsic, independent, substantial existence in its own right, it only exists relative to us. The pathogenic, vampiric, mind-parasite called wetikois nothing in itself, yet, it has a ‘reality’ such that it can destroy our species. The fact that something that only exists as a function of ourselves can destroy us is pointing at the incredibly vast invisible power that is inherent within our being. Ultimately speaking, in wetiko disease we are not being infected by a physical, objectively existing virus outside of ourselves, but rather, the origin of thewetiko psychosis is within us. The fact that a vampire is not reflected by a mirror can also mean that what we need to see is that there’s nothing, no-thing to see, other than ourselves. The fact that wetiko is the expression of something inside of us means that the cure for wetiko is within us as well.
In the Gnostic Dialogue of the Savior, it says, “Whoever does not know the root of evil is no stranger to it.”[xxv] Wetiko forces upon us the evolutionary responsibility to come to terms with the evil within our own hearts. To the extent we have not rooted out the wetiko bug within ourselves we are complicit in the co-creation of the evil playing out in the world. The part of us that is colluding in the creation of a collective psychosis like wetiko is the part of us that is mad, for why else would we be doing this? To the extent we’re not fully awake, we each have a part of us that’s mad, which gets acted out in our life. How can we not have a part of us that’s mad, living in a world gone mad, a world that is not separate from, but rather, a reflection of ourselves? It is only by confronting what is insane and inhuman in ourselves that we become truly human. It is important to face how we have been deviated by wetiko, for if we cannot see how we have been set off course, we can’t orient ourselves to find our true path in life. Seeing how we’ve been led astray is a form of illumination. To see how wetiko operates with our co-operation is to gain critical insight into the elusive workings of our own mind.
We capture within ourselves and truly ‘see’ the nature of wetikodisease─‘Vampire/Cannibal Psychosis‘─when we realize that, just like a dream, its full-bodied manifestation in the world theater is a reflection of a process going on deep within our very soul. We are all dreaming up the wetiko epidemic together. Seeing through our experience in this way gives world events a certain transparency, as well as rendering us transparent to ourselves. Seeing through ourselves makes it unlikely that we would fall prey to and be seduced by anywetiko inspired impulses that pulsate through us. This intimacy with ourselves enables us to step into and embody a role in the field of being like a ‘psychic T-cell’ that helps to heal the malignant cancer in the collective body politic of the world soul. Seeing the dreamlike nature of the world and ourselves helps to generate a culture of compassion, which is a ‘wetiko dissolver’ par excellence. Compassion can, however, when necessary, set a fierce boundary, displaying itself in the most fearsome of ways.
Just as a vampire can’t stand the light of day, a bug like wetiko can’t stand to be seen. Flooding light on wetiko’s machinations takes away its seeming autonomy and alleged power over us, such that it can no longer compel us to act it out unconsciously. Paradoxically, ‘seeing’ this vampiric parasite is to relate to it as other than ourselves, while at the same time recognizing it within ourselves. Though the vampire is a figure within us, it is not us. In differentiating ourselves from the vampire, we recognize the difference between ourselves and it. Seeing the vampire, we don’t identify with our subjective experience of the vampire within. This is to say that in seeing the vampire, we free ourselves from our unconscious identification with and possession by it, and step back into ourselves.
Forbes laments, “One of the tragic characteristics of the wetiko psychosis is that it spreads partly by resistance to it. That is, those who try to fight wetikossometimes, in order to survive, adopt wetiko values. Thus, when they ‘win,’ they lose, or at least, the people lose.”[xxvi] When we see people who are taken over by wetiko and we feel superior to them, our feeling of superiority is itself a symptom of the disease. If we unconsciously react against wetiko, having judgement, anger, hatred, etc., we are then acting out, however well-intentioned, the same process of shadow projection that underlies the wetiko disease in the first place – which is to dissociate from, project outside of ourselves, and react to our own evil. We are then unconsciously reacting to the unconscious part of ourselves which the wetikos embody. This re-action is an unconscious ritualistic invocation and re-enactment of the initial impulse within ourselves of turning away from and contracting against a part of ourselves. This is the timeless, primal act which called forth and spawned the spirit of wetiko in the first place. To the extent we are unaware of what we are doing, we, as ‘reps’ for wetiko, are compulsively re-enacting our trauma, participating in re-creating the wetikovirus in this very moment. We are then playing out our unresolved internal affairs in the outside world by, in and through our reaction, unwittingly becoming a vector that is carrying the wetiko bug out into the world (please see my article, Triggered by Evil). Instead of unconsciously reacting and projecting the shadow outside of ourselves, when we consciously relate to and take responsibility for the evil within ourselves, we are energetically withdrawing and dis-investing from our complicity in the continual re-animation of evil in the world.
The way to engage with wetiko disease is to (at)tend to what it triggers within us (please see The Lion’s Gaze). Just as the way to cut off the head of the mythic Medusa is to look at her reflections in the mirror-shield, the way to stalk the vampiric entity of wetiko is to track and sense its fingerprints within ourselves by looking into the mirror of our own mind. The evil of wetiko can be too much to stare at directly, however, just as looking at the snake-haired Medusa face on turns us to stone. Vampires are ‘petrifying,’ which means both ‘terrifying,’ as well as ‘paralyzing’ and ‘turning to stone.’ They petrify their victim, just like a mouse becomes immobilized by the transfixing gaze of the serpent. Vampires are not a creature to be messed with by the frivolous. Mapping wetikos nonlocal footprints, both out in the world and in the co-responding places within ourselves that are being touched, is to discover the nonlocal multi-dimensional ‘anatomy’ of wetiko. It is impossible to encounter wetiko and not be activated, as wetiko’s nonlocal force-field is activating by its very nature, in that it is co-extensive and interwoven with our own. Our unconscious, knee-jerk reactivity is the primary way that the wetiko psychosis regenerates and propagates itself in the field. Like a pathogen invading a body, this virulent psychic bug strikes and hooks us through our weakest point in the unconscious, the tenderest and most vulnerable spot within ourselves through which we are most likely to re-act.
Wetiko is like a psychic nautilus machine that is continually ‘working’ us. Humanity’s highest virtues are called upon when we are confronted by evil. Encoded within the evil of the wetiko virus is its own psychic vaccine, a potential inoculation against our own ignorance and laziness, which if not overcome, will overcome us. The wetiko bug’s existence requires us to strengthen our muscle of discernment. The virus demands that we cultivate impeccability within ourselves, or we don’t stand a chance. Wetiko literally demands that we step into our power and become resistant to its oppression such that we discover how to step out of bondage and become free, or else!Instead of a typical virus mutating so as to become resistant to our attempts at healing it, the wetiko virus forces us to mutate relative to it. It is as though the evil of wetiko is itself the instrument of a higher intelligence. This higher power, through the revelation and understanding of wetiko, connects us to a sacred, creative source within ourselves. The wetiko bug is the greatest catalytic force of evolution ever known─as well as not known─to humanity.
Naming is a magical act, typically done when something new is born into our life. Like Adam naming the animals in the Garden, we have to name something before it can be formally ‘discovered’ and brought into our shared collective cartography. It was only by naming these creatures that Adam could differentiate and distinguish himself from them and realize who he was. Finding the name for this higher-dimensional, malignant virus of the psyche helps us to more easily recognize it and get a ‘handle’ on it, which is the first step in taking away its destructive power over us. Seeing wetiko and calling it by its rightful name initiates a process that resigns it to the ranks of the unemployed, leading to the wetikonomy that it animates being put out of business. The energy that was being invested and bound up in feeding the wetiko pathogen then returns to nourish and be nourished by the creative wholeness of the psyche. Naming something creates ‘currency’ in the economy of the psyche. To name something is to evoke it, to call it out, which is an expression of an intrinsic, magical power that we all have within us. This is related to the Australian Aboriginal belief that we ‘sing’ the world into being – that we are creating as we name things.
Understanding the meaning of the name ‘wetiko‘ is a form of exorcism. Jung says, “For mankind it was always like a deliverance from a nightmare when the new name was found.” It will serve us greatly as we introduce the word ‘wetiko’into our planetary dialogue, making wetiko part of our day to day vocabulary. In ‘spell’-ing a word, we are casting a spell, calling forth a spirit, and creating a universe, all while discovering our ability to name. In divining the true name we are de-‘literal’-izing language, as we create language to ‘symbol’-ize our experience. The word wetiko, being a sacred name, is like a mantra, a word of power, in that the speaking of it empowers the idea. Let us therefore ‘spread the word.’ We are only able to name ‘wetiko‘ when we see, and register, its nonlocalnature, both throughout the world and within ourselves. This can only be done when we ourselves become acquainted with our nonlocal nature, to the part of us that is woven into both the evil of wetiko and the wholeness of the divine. Like that great maxim of medicine states, “Do not attempt to cure what you do not understand.” The famous Greek philosopher Socrates reminds us that if we want to understand something, we first must name it. Naming something means to find our experience of its nature within ourselves. Indigenous, wisdom-based cultures understand the exorcistic power of finding the right name of a ‘demon,’ which is precisely what they would understand the wetiko pathogen to be (please see The Daemonic).
Its simultaneously diabolical and mercurial energy makes the Native American idea of wetiko disease incredibly hard to describe in words. Whether we refer to this trickster-like entity as a virus, parasite, tapeworm, vampire or a demon, or call it wetiko disease or malignant egophrenia doesn’t matter. These various names are interchangeable, as they are naming one and the same thing. There is no one definitive model for this disease, however, as each model has both its utility as well as its limits. When all of these models are combined and looked at together, it gives us a greater resolution and capacity to see what no one particular model by itself can reveal.
The Idea of a Cure
Finding the right name(s) invokes the sacred, creative and transformative power of the ‘Word.’ Wetiko is the word made flesh in its most depraved form. In finding the name, however, we are accessing the divinely sponsored power of the word to create an idea, which is a living psychic organism of real value and merit, with an intrinsic power all its own. Ideas are ways of regarding things, the means by which we see, as well as perspectives through which we view the world. The word ‘idea,’ etymologically speaking, has to do with both ‘to see’ as well as ‘to know.’ In other words, a novel idea opens our inner eye and helps us know by giving us in-sight into something previously unconscious. What Plato called the “eyes of the soul,” ideas are the modes of consciousness through which we envision and create our life. In finding the right name(s), we are impregnating and incubating a novel idea. We can then spread and give birth to our meme by sharing it, as we create our own mind anti-virus, a living antigen to the heretofore unrecognized mind-virus of wetiko. As Communist China’s Chairman Mao openly confessed, the one thing he was most afraid of was a new idea. For nothing is more powerful than a magical idea whose time has come.
Let’s spread the word.
May these words be of benefit for all beings.
[i] Forbes, Jack, Columbus and Other Cannibals, p. ix.
[ii] Ibid., p. 24.
[iii] Ibid., p. 43.
[iv] Ibid., p. 60.
[v] People taken over and possessed by the wetiko pathogen─‘full-blownwetikos’─might be petty tyrants at home or at work but might not wield real power in the world. What Forbes refers to as “Big Wetikos,” however, are full-blown wetikos who have climbed the wetiko ladder, jumped through the wetikohoops, and have risen in the ranks. ‘Big wetikos’ (be they the super wealthy, CEO’s of corporations, bank presidents, or leaders of nation-states) find themselves occupying positions of power where they can influence and control events in our world so as to game the system.
[vi] Forbes, Jack, Columbus and other Cannibals, p. 24.
[vii] Ibid., p. 188.
[viii] Ibid., p. 164.
[ix] Ibid., p. xvi.
[x] Ibid., p. 164.
[xi] Ibid, p. 173.
[xii] Ibid, p. 60.
[xiii] Ibid., p. 120.
[xiv] Ibid., p. 60.
[xv] Ibid., p. 38.
[xvi] I want to thank Jonathan Zap for this clarification in a comment that he wrote after Part 1 of this series. To quote Zap, “There’s an anthropologist with a lecture on ted.com who provides considerable evidence that the per capita war death rate of an indigenous rainforest tribe is much higher than that of Western Civilization (even during the 20th Century). Western Civilization because of its far greater novelty magnifies the outer edge of light and the outer edge of dark,” (please see zaporacle.com for more of his writings)
[xvii] From the article by Ron Suskind titled “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush,” in the New York Times magazine of October 17, 2004.
[xviii] Forbes, Jack, Columbus and other Cannibals, p. 150.
[xix] Ibid., p. 42.
[xx] Ibid., p. 48.
[xxi] Ibid., p. 171.
[xxii] Ibid., p. 68.
[xxiii] Ibid., p. 68.
[xxiv] Jung, CW 10, Civlization in Transition, par. 886.
[xxv] (II, 5, 134.5-20)
[xxvi] Forbes, Columbus and other Cannibals, p. 61.
More recent article on Wetiko
Seeing Wetiko: On Capitalism, Mind Viruses, and Antidotes for a World in Transition
PUBLISHED IN SPRING | SUMMER 2016
Wetiko: the greatest epidemic sickness known to humanity. ~ Paul Levy
It’s delicate confronting these priests of the golden bull
They preach from the pulpit of the bottom line
Their minds rustle with million dollar bills
You say Silver burns a hole in your pocket
And Gold burns a hole in your soul
Well, uranium burns a hole in forever
It just gets out of control.
– Buffy Sainte-Marie, “The Priests of the Golden Bull”1
What if we told you that humanity is being driven to the brink of extinction by an illness? That all the poverty, the climate devastation, the perpetual war, and consumption fetishism we see all around us have roots in a mass psychological infection? What if we went on to say that this infection is not just highly communicable but also self-replicating, according to the laws of cultural evolution, and that it remains so clandestine in our psyches that most hosts will, as a condition of their infected state, vehemently deny that they are infected? What if we then told you that this ‘mind virus’ can be described as a form of cannibalism. Yes, cannibalism. Not necessarily in the literal flesh-eating sense but rather the idea of consuming others—human and non-human—as a means of securing personal wealth and supremacy.
You may dismiss this line of thinking as New Age woo-woo or, worse, a lefty conspiracy theory. But this approach of viewing the transmission of ideas as a key determinant of the emergent reality is increasingly validated by various branches of science, including evolutionary theory, quantum physics, cognitive linguistics, and epigenetics.
The history of this infection is long, strange, and dark. But it leads to hope.
Viruses of the Mind
The New World fell not to a sword but to a meme.
~ Daniel Quinn2
One of the most well-accepted scientific theories that helps explain the power of idea-spreading is memetics.
Memes are to culture what genes are to biology: the base unit of evolution. The term was originally coined by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. Dawkins writes, “I think that a new kind of replicator has recently emerged . . . It is still drifting clumsily about in its primeval soup, but already it is achieving evolutionary change at a rate which leaves the old gene panting far behind.” He goes on, “Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain, via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.”3
One of the high priests of rationalism, the scientific method, and atheism, is also the father of the meme of ‘memes.’ However, like all memes or ideas, there can be no ownership in a traditional sense, only the entanglement that quantum physics reminds us characterizes our intra-actions.4
Of course, similar notions of how ideas move between us have been around in Western traditions for centuries. Plato was the first to fully articulate this through his Theory of Forms, which argues that non-physical forms—i.e., Ideas—represent the perfect reality from which material reality is derived.
Modern articulations of the Theory of Forms can be seen in Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s idea of the Noosphere (the sphere of human thought) and Carl Jung’s Collective Unconscious, where structures of the unconscious are shared among beings of the same species. For Jung, the idea of the marauding cannibal would first be an archetype that manifests in the material world through the actions of those who channel or embody it.
For those who prefer their science more empirical, the growing field of epigenetics provides some intellectual concrete. Epigenetics studies changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than any physical alteration of the gene itself. In other words, how traits vary from generation to generation is not solely a question of material biology but is partly determined by environmental and contextual factors that affected our ancestors.5
The Wetiko Virus
We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and the winding streams with tangled growth as “wild.” Only to the White man was nature a “wilderness” and only to him was the land infested by “wild” animals and “savage” people. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery. Not until the hairy man from the east came and with brutal frenzy heaped injustices upon us and the families we loved was it “wild” for us.
~ Luther Standing Bear, Land of the Spotted Eagle6
Many spiritual traditions, including Buddhism, Sufism (the mystical branch of Islam), Taoism, Gnosticism, as well as many Indigenous cultures, have long understood the mind-based nature of creation. These worldviews have at their core a recognition of the power of thought-forms to determine the course of physical events.
Various First Nations traditions of North America have specific and long established lore relating to cannibalism and a term for the thought-form that causes it: wetiko. We believe understanding this offers a powerful way of understanding the deepest roots of our current global polycrisis.
Wetiko is an Algonquin word for a cannibalistic spirit that is driven by greed, excess, and selfish consumption (in Ojibwa it is windigo, wintiko in Powhatan). It deludes its host into believing that cannibalizing the life-force of others (others in the broad sense, including animals and other forms of Gaian life) is a logical and morally upright way to live.
Wetiko short-circuits the individual’s ability to see itself as an enmeshed and interdependent part of a balanced environment and raises the self-serving ego to supremacy. It is this false separation of self from nature that makes this cannibalism, rather than simple murder. It allows—indeed commands—the infected entity to consume far more than it needs in a blind, murderous daze of self-aggrandizement. Author Paul Levy, in an attempt to find language accessible for Western audiences, describes it as ‘malignant egophrenia’—the ego unchained from reason and limits, acting with the malevolent logic of the cancer cell. We will use the term wetiko as it is the original, and reminds us of the wisdom to be found in Indigenous cultures, for those who have the ears to hear.
Wetiko can describe both the infection and the body infected; a person can be infected by wetiko or, in cases where the infection is very advanced, can personify the disease: ‘a wetiko.’ This holds true for cultures and systems; all can be described as being wetiko if they routinely manifest these traits.
In his now classic book Columbus and Other Cannibals, Native American historian Jack D. Forbes describes how there was a commonly-held belief among many Indigenous communities that the European colonialists were so chronically and uniformly infected with wetiko that it must be a defining characteristic of the culture from which they came. Examining the history of these cultures, Forbes laments, “Tragically, the history of the world for the past 2,000 years is, in great part, the story of the epidemiology of the wetiko disease.”7
We would presumably all agree that behavior of the European colonialists in North America can be described as cannibalistic. Their drive for conquest and material accumulation was a violent act of consumption. The engine of the invading culture suckedin lives and resources of millions of others and turned them into wealth and power for themselves. The figures are still disputed, but it is safe to place the numbers killed in the tens of millions, certainly one of the most brutal genocides in history. And the impact on non-human life was equally vast. Moreover, it was all done with a moral certainty that all destruction was justified in the name of ‘progress’ and ‘civilization.’
This framing belies the extent of the wetiko infection in the invader culture. So blinded were they by self-referential ambition that they could not see other life as being as important as their own. They could not see past ideological blinders to the intrinsic value of life or the interdependent nature of all things, despite this being the dominant perspective of the Indigenous populations they encountered. Their ability to see and know in ways different from their own was, it seems, amputated.
This is not an anti-European rant. This is the description of a disease whose vector was determined by deep patterns of history, including those that empowered Europeans to drive ‘global exploration’ as certain technologies emerged.
The wetiko meme has almost certainly existed in individuals since the dawn of humanity. It is, after all, a sickness that lives through and is born from the human psyche. But the origin of wetiko cultures is more identifiable.
Memes can spread at the speed of thought but they usually require generations to change the core characteristics of cultures. What we can say is that the fingerprints of wetiko-like beliefs can be traced at least as far back as the Neolithic revolution, when humans in the Fertile Crescent first learned to dominate their environment by what author Daniel Quinn calls ‘totalitarian agriculture’ — i.e., settled agricultural practices that produce more food than is strictly needed for the population, and that see the destruction of any living entity that gets in the way of that (over-)production—be it other humans, ‘pests’ or landscaping—as not only legitimate but moral.
This early form of wetiko-logic received an amplifying power of indescribable magnitude with the arrival of Christianity. “Let us make mankind . . . rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground,” said an authority no less than God in Genesis 1:26. After 8,000 years of totalitarian agriculture spreading slowly across the region, it is perhaps not surprising that the logic finds voice in the holy texts that emerged there. Regardless, it was driven across Europe at the point of Roman swords in the two hundred years after Christ’s death. It is no coincidence that, in order for Christianity to become dominant, the existing pagan belief-system, with its understanding of humanity’s place within rather than above nature, had to be all but annihilated.8
The point is that the epidemiology of wetiko has left clear indicators of its lineage. And although it cannot be pathologized along geographic or racial lines, the cultural strain we know today certainly has many of its deepest roots in Europe. It was, after all, European projects—from the Enlightenment to the Industrial Revolution, to colonialism, imperialism, and slavery—that developed the technology that opened up the channels that facilitated the spread of wetiko culture all around the world. In this way, we are all heirs and inheritors of wetiko colonialism.
We are all host carriers of wetiko now.
Wetiko Capitalism: Removing the Veils of Context
I don’t know who discovered water, but I can tell you it wasn’t a fish.
~ Attributed to Marshall McCluhan
When Western anthropologists first started to study wetiko, they believed it to be only a disease of the individual and a literal form of flesh-eating cannibalism.9 On both counts, as discussed, their understanding was, if not wrong, certainly limited. They did, however, accurately isolate two traits that are relevant for thinking about cultures: (1) the initial act, even when driven by necessity, creates a residual, unnatural desire for more; and (2) the host carrier, which they called the ‘victim,’ ended up with an ‘icy heart’— i.e., their ability for empathy and compassion was amputated.
The reader can probably already sense from the two traits mentioned above the wetiko nature of modern capitalism. Its insatiable hunger for finite resources; its disregard for the pain of groups and cultures it consumes; its belief in consumption as savior; its overriding obsession with its own material growth; and its viral spread across the surface of the planet. It is wholly accurate to describe neoliberal capitalism as cannibalizing life on this planet. It is not the only truth—capitalism has also facilitated an explosion of human life and ingenuity—but when taken as a whole, capitalism is certainly eating through the life-force of this planet in service of its own growth.
Of course, capitalism is a human conception and so we can also say that we are phenomenal hosts of the wetiko mind virus. To understand what makes us such, it is useful to consider a couple of the traits that guide the evolution of human cultures.
We have decades of evidence from social science describing just what highly contextual beings we are. Almost all aspects of our behavior, including our moral judgments and limits, are significantly shaped in response to the cultural signifiers that surround us. The Good Samaritan studies, for example, show that even when people are primed with the idea of altruism, they will walk by others in need when they are in a rush or some other contextual variable changes.10 And the infamous Stanley Milgram experiments show how a large majority of people are capable of shocking another human to a point they know can cause death simply because an authority figure in a white lab coat insists they do so.11
We really are products of our environment, and so it should be taken as inevitable that those who live in a wetiko culture will manifest, to one degree or other, wetiko beliefs and behaviors.
Looking through the broader contextual lens, we must also account for the self-perpetuating nature of complex systems. Any living network that becomes sufficiently complex will become self-organizing, and from that point on will demonstrate an instinct to survive. In practical terms, this means that it will distribute its resources to support behavior that best mimics its own logic and ensures its survival.12
In other words, any system that is sufficiently infected by wetiko logic will reward cannibalistic behavior. Or, in Jack Forbes’ evocative language, “Those who squirm upwards [in a wetiko system] are, or become, wetiko, and they only perpetuate the system of corruption or oppression. Thus the communist leaders in the Soviet Union under Stalin were at least as vicious, deceitful and exploitative as their czarist predecessors. They obtained ‘power’ without changing their wetiko culture.”13
This ensures that the essential logic of cultures spreads down through generations as well as across them. And it explains why they self-organize resources to maintain a high degree of continuity in distributions of power, when those distributions efficiently serve their survival and growth. When this continuity is interrupted or broken, revolutions occur and the system is put under threat.
However, as the above quote suggests, the disruption must happen at the right level. Merely trading one wetiko for another at the top of an otherwise unchanged wetiko infrastructure (as in the case of Stalin replacing the czars or, more contemporarily, Obama replacing Bush) is largely pointless. At best, it might result in the softening of the cruelest edges of a wetiko machine. At worse, it does nothing except distract us from seeing the true infection.
The question, then, for anyone interested in excising the wetiko infection from a culture is, where is it? In one respect, because it is a psychic phenomenon that lives in potential in all of us, it is non-local. But this, though ultimately important to understand, is not the whole truth. It is also true that there is a conceptual place where the most powerful wetiko logic is held, and that, at least in theory, makes it vulnerable.
In the same way that a colony of bees will instinctively house its queen in the deepest chambers of the hive, so a complex adaptive system buries its most important operating logic furthest from the forces that can challenge them. This means two things: first, it means siting the logic in the deep rules that govern the whole. Not just this national economy or that, this government or that, but the mother system—the global operating system. And second, it means making these rules feel as intractable and inevitable as possible.
So what is this deep logic of the global operating system?
It comes in two parts. First, there is the ultimate purpose, which we might call the Prime Directive, which is to increase capital.
We often dress this up in a narrative that says capital generation is not the end but the means, the engine of progress. This makes the idea of dethroning it feel dangerous and even contrary to common sense. But the truth is, we have created a system that artificially treats money as sacred. At this point in capitalism’s history, life is controlled by, more than it controls, the forces of capital. The clue is really in the name. But if you need further proof, look no further than how we define and measure progress: GDP. More on that below.
Then, there is the logic for how we, the living components of this system, should behave, which we would summarize with the following epithet:
Selfishness is rational and rationality is everything; therefore selfishness is everything.14
This dictates that if we all prioritize ourselves and maximize our own material wealth, an invisible hand(ah, what a seductive meme!) will create an equilibrium state and life everywhere will be made better. We are pitted against each other in a form of distributed fascism where we cocoon ourselves in the immediate problems of our own circumstances and consume what we can. We then couch this behavior in the benign language of family matters, national interests, job creation, GDP growth, and other upstanding endeavors.
Put these two parts of the puzzle together and it’s easy to see why the banker who generates excess capital receives vast rewards and is labelled ‘productive’ and ‘successful,’ almost regardless of the damage s/he causes. Those who are less ‘successful’ at producing excess capital, meanwhile, are rewarded far less, regardless of the life-affirming good they may be doing. Nurses, mothers, teachers, journalists, activists, scientists—all receive far less reward because they are less efficient at obeying the Prime Directive and may even be countermanding the ‘self-interest’ operating principle. And as for those who are actually poor—well, they are effortlessly labelled not just as practical but also moral failures.
This infection is so far advanced that the system now requires exponential capital growth. The World Bank tells us that we have to grow the global economy by at least 3 percent per year to avoid recession.15Let’s think about what this means. Global GDP in 2014 (the last full year of data) was roughly USD $78 trillion.16 We grew that pie by 2.4% in 2015, which resulted in the commodification and subsequent consumption of roughly another $2 trillion in human labor and natural resources. That’s roughly the size of the entire global economy in 1970. It took us from the dawn of civilization to 1970 to reach $2 trillion in global GDP, and now we need that just in the differential so the entire house of cards doesn’t crumble. In order to achieve this rate of growth year-on-year, we are destroying our planet, ensuring mass species extinction, and displacing millions of our brothers and sisters (who we commonly refer to as ‘poor people’) from around the world.
So when people tell us that the market knows best, or technology will save us, or philanthrocapitalism will redistribute opportunities (pace Bill Gates), we have to understand that all of these seemingly common sense truisms are embedded in a broader operating system, a wetikonomy, with all that that means. And the more they are presented as ‘unchangeable,’ the more often we’re told, ‘there is no alternative,’ the more we should question. There is actually a beautiful irony in the fact that, when we know what we’re up against, such statements are our signposts for where to look.
It is not that we are against markets, technology, or philanthropy — they can all be wonderful, in the right context—but we are against how they are being used as alibis to excuse the insanity of thewetiko paradigm that they are inseparable from. We are reminded of Jack Forbes’ heavy words; “It is not logical to allow the wetikos to carry out their evil acts and then to accept their assessment of the nature of human life. For after all, the wetiko possess a bias created by their own evil lives, by their own amoral or immoral behavior. And too, if I am correct, they were, and are, also insane.”17
Seeing Wetiko: Antidote Logic
Launch your meme boldly and see if it will replicate—just like genes replicate, and infect, and move into the organism of society. And, believing as I do, that society operates on a kind of biological economy, then I believe these memes are the key to societal evolution. But unless the memes are released to play the game, there is no progress.
~ Terrence McKenna, Memes, Drugs and Community18
You might just be a black Bill Gates in the making.
~ Beyoncé, Formation19
A key lesson of meme theory is that when we are conscious of the memetic viruses we are less likely to adhere to them blindly. Conscious awareness is like sunlight through the cracks of a window.
Thus, one of the starting points for healing is the simple act of ‘seeing wetiko’ in ourselves, in others, and in our cultural infrastructure. And once we see, we can name, which is critical because words and language are a central battleground. To quote McKenna again:
The world is not made of quarks, electromagnetic wave packets, or the thoughts of God. The world is made of language.. Earth is a place where language has literally become alive. Language has invested matter; it is replicating and defining and building itself. And it is in us.20
His last line is critical for exploring our own agency in the replication of wetiko. We are all entangled in the unfolding of reality that is happening both to and through us. In place of traditional certainties and linear cause-and-effect logic, we can recast ourselves “as spontaneously responsive, moving, embodied living beings—within a reality of continuously intermingling, flowing lines or strands of unfolding, agential activity, in which nothing (no thing) exists in separation from anything else, a reality within which we are immersed both as participant agencies and to which we also owe significant aspects of our own natures.”21
If wetiko exists, it is because it exists within us. It is also entangled with the broader superstructure, relationships, and choice architecture that we are confronted with within a neoliberal system on the brink of collapse.
Forbes reminds us that we cannot ‘fight’ wetiko in any traditional sense: “One of the tragic characteristics of the wetiko psychosis is that it spreads partly by resistance to it. That is, those who try to fight wetiko sometimes, in order to survive, adopt wetiko values.
Thus, when they ‘win,’ they lose.”22 A lot of reform-based initiatives, from the sharing economy to micro-lending have succumbed to the co-optation and retaliation of wetiko capitalism.
However, once we are in the mode of seeing wetiko, we can hack the cultural systems that perpetuate its logic. It is not difficult to figure out where to start. Following the money usually leads us to the core pillars of wetiko machinery. Those of us that are within these structures, from the corporate media to philanthropy to banking to the UN, have access to the heart of the wetiko monster.
For those of us on the outside, we can organize our lives in radically new ways to undermine wetikostructures. The simple act of gifting undermines the neoliberal logic of commodification and extraction. Using alternative currencies undermines the debt–based money system. De-schooling and alternative education models can help decolonize and de-wetikoize the mind. Helping to create alternative communities outside the capitalist system supports the infrastructure for transition. And direct activism such as debt resistance can weaken the wetiko virus, if done with the right intention and state of consciousness.
By contracting new relationships with others, with Nature, and with ourselves, we can build a new complex of entanglements and thought-forms that are fused with post-wetiko, post-capitalist values.
We have to simultaneously go within ourselves and the deep recesses of our own psyches while changing the structure of the system around us. Holding a structural perspective and an unapologetic critique of modern capitalism—i.e., holding a constellational worldview that sees all oppression as connected—serves our ability to see the alternatives, and indeed, all of us, as intricately connected.
Plato believed that ideas are the ‘eyes of the soul.’ Now that the veils obscuring wetiko are starting to be lifted, let us give birth to, and become, living antigens, embracing the polyculture of ideas that are challenging the monoculture of wetiko capitalism. Let us be pollinators of new memetic hives built on altruism, empathy, inter-connectedness, reverence, communality, and solidarity, defying the subject-object dualities of Cartesian/Newtonian/Enlightenment logic. Let us reclaim our birth right as sovereign entities, free of deluded beliefs in market systems, invisible hands, righteous greed, chosen ones, branded paraphernalia, techno utopianism and even the self-salvation of the New Age. Let us dance with thought-forms through a deeper understanding of ethics, knowing, and being,23 and the intimate awareness that our individual minds and bodies are a part of the collective battleground for the soul of humanity, and indeed, life on this planet. And let us re-embrace the ancient futures of our Indigenous ancestors that represent the only continuous line of living in symbiosis with Mother Nature. The dissolution of wetiko will be as much about remembering as it will be about creation.
1 These are lyrics from a song entitled “The Priests of the Golden Bull” by the Native Canadian singer/songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie from her 1992 album entitled Coincidence and Likely Stories. The authors believe this was their first encounter with the memetic mind virus of wendigo (a version of wetiko). This will all make sense at the end of this article.
2 Quinn, D. Beyond civilization: Humanity’s next great adventure. Broadway Books (2008), p. 50.
3 Dawkins, R. The selfish gene. Oxford University Press (1990).
4 ‘Intra-action’ is a neologism created by Karan Barad and described in her book, Meeting the Universe Halfway (2007). Barad writes about intra-action, rather than interaction, to illustrate how entanglement precedes thingness. In other words, there are no things as such, just relationships—and these ongoing relational dynamics are co-responsible for how things emerge.
5 Recent research, for example, has shown how the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors have different stress hormone profiles than those from otherwise very similar circumstances but whose grandparents did not suffer through the Holocaust. Rodriguez, T. “Descendants of Holocaust survivors have altered stress hormones,” Scientific American (March 2015), accessed at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/descendants-of-holocaust-survivors-have-altered-stress-hormones/
6 Luther Standing Bear. Land of the spotted eagle. Bison Books (2006).
7 Forbes, Jack D. Columbus and other cannibals: The wetiko disease of exploitation, imperialism and terrorism. Seven Stories Press (2008), p.46.
8 See Not in His Image (2006) by John Lamb Lash for a comprehensive account of the systematic annihilation of paganism by the new Christian religion.
9 Cooper, J.M. “The Cree Witiko Psychosis” in Primitive Man, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan., 1933), pp. 20-24: The George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research.
10 Darley, J. M., and Batson, C.D. “From Jerusalem to Jericho: A study of situational and dispositional variables in Helping Behavior.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1973), Vol. 27, Number 1, pp. 100-108.
12 Capra F, Luisi P, A systems view of life: A unifying vision. Cambridge (2014), Chapter 8.
13 Forbes, Jack D. Columbus and other cannibals: The wetiko disease of exploitation, imperialism and terrorism. Seven Stories Press (2008), p.46.
14 A version of this argument was originally published on Occupy.com by the authors in a two-part essay entitled “Capitalism is Just a Story and Other Dangerous Thoughts.” See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/capitalism-just-story-and-other-dangerous-thoughts-part-i#sthash.INKCFdNs.dpuf.
15 For example, see this forecast report by the World Bank: http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/GEP/GEP2016a/Global-Economic-Prospects-January-2016-Global-Outlook.pdf
17 Forbes, Jack D. Columbus and other cannibals: The wetiko disease of exploitation, imperialism and terrorism. Seven Stories Press (2008), p.37.
19 These lyrics are from Beyoncé’s song “Formation,” which was originally debuted at the 2015 Super Bowl. For a critical analysis, see Dianca London’s article entitled Beyoncé’s capitalism, masquerading as radical change.
20 McKenna, T. The archaic revival: Speculations on psychedelic mushrooms, the Amazon, virtual reality, UFOs, evolution, shamanism, the rebirth of the goddess, and the end of history. Harper Collins (1992).
21 John Shotter, “Agential realism, social constructionism, and our living relations to our surroundings: Sensing similarities rather than seeing patterns’’ Theory and Psychology, 2014.
22 Forbes, Jack D. Columbus and other cannibals: The wetiko disease of exploitation, imperialism and terrorism. Seven Stories Press (2008), p.61.
23 Karan Barad talks about the confluence of ethics, knowing, and being as an ‘onto-ethico-politico-epistemology.’ Ontology refers to what is in the world. Epistemology is about how we know what is in the world. And ethics is how we should engage in the world. These are not separate, but emerge materially in an ongoing dynamic. The nature of reality and the nature of knowledge are entangled—not fixed or final or determinate— and thus cannot be divorced from power and what we find valuable or just.
Co-founder, Executive Director – The Rules (www.therules.org) Founding Partner – Purpose (www.purpose.com) Board Member – Greenpeace USA (www.greenpeace.org) Alnoor’s work focuses on the intersection of political organizing, storytelling and technology. He is a founding member and the Executive Director of /The Rules (/TR), a global network of activists, organizers, designers, coders, researchers, writers and others […]
Martin Kirk is co-founder and Head of Strategy for /The Rules. Formerly, he was Head of Campaigns at Oxfam, GB and Head of Advocacy at Save the Children, UK, working with governments and multi-lateral institutions. He has been published by The Guardian, Al Jazeera and authored Finding Frames: New Ways to Engage the UK Public in Global Poverty.