The Age of Monoculture

As the environmental studies begin to take centre stage among the sciences we see the destructive impact of the silo thinking of former generations. Whether in the destruction of natural habitats in the form of tropical forests of Indonesia being lost to make way for palm oil plantations, or the production of unhappy birds and animals in the factory farming practised by industrial agriculture, the effect is anti-Life at every turn. How can happy people be grown on unhappy food? Obesity is a sign of unhappiness. Can a strong society develop from people at odds with themselves, as well as one another?

Nature has taken millennia to develop the widest variety of enchanting life forms, while humanity has taken only a few decades to eradicate them, preserving only those it considers useful. Those it can make money from. Even then reducing varieties to the ones that serve the food manufacture industry alone. The South American colleges of the Incan civilisation worked with over 200 varieties of potatoes, before the Christians arrived, each suited to different climatic conditions from deep light starved valleys to mountain tops. Today the modern market has reduced these to a handful of varieties that travel well, or make the best crisps.

Vast prairie wide fields of single products – unlike the prairie itself – have starved the earth of her wildlife. But it is not in agriculture alone that we find this monoculture mentality.

From the efforts of communist colonisation of other cultures, (this being written following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine), to religious fundamentalists attempting to destroy any faith other than their own, whether in the Middle East or Levant, or world wide through the efforts of Christian evangelism. Nature, I repeat, has unfolded a multitude of forms, of cultural expressions among the human beings. These stand as beautiful blossoms on the tree of life and the human family.

It is not only in religious expression, nor in communism that the monoculture mentality dominates. The idea of a global economy is equally crippling to cultures the world over.

The Lakota people have been fighting the imposition of an oil pipeline across their land. For such people the land is sacred. The imposition of a pipeline across their sacred lands represents the highest order of desecration. A train line is planned to run from south Finland right through the migration trails of the reindeer, destroying the livelihood of the Saami people who follow them. The Masai are being thrown off their traditional lands to make way for tourism. Who does tourism benefit? The tax collectors. Who are these? They are the governments who turn to the world bank to borrow money to retain their position, their self-esteem and their privilege. The global economy, in this light, is seen not to be global at all, but a cancer on the face of society, benefiting the very few.

Meanwhile from the people themselves comes the revolution, the revolt against a monoculture mentality. We see it in the civil rights movements, in the sexuality demands for recognition among people, the movements for inclusion of all. People simply find the monoculture mentality revolting. Whether it is among the wealthy – who form the tourist population – longing in their boredom for novelty, or among the impoverished, who will find new ways to make use of the waste the over-indulgent society discards. The age of monoculture is past.

Author: Keith Armstrong

Dance teacher, writer, film-maker, educationalist, enthusiast.