Ecocide- A Sibling of Genocide 

global warming earth

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.


Humanity has been the witness of glory and upheavals since history. A history that has long been constructed to corner the reality that stalks now and then. Utmost resistance of reality also leads to an explosion, explosion of fragmented truth, which if given a shape from the understanding of Immanuel Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” we can see that those fragments will have undifferentiated consciousness and later looking into the abyss of this consciousness we could gaze of underrating, in with the abyss gazes us with pure reason, a reason with certain limit and scope.

The truth that we are talking of is about environmental destruction generating destruction of civilization vis-a-vis the reverse. The literature on the expansion of cities, war, trade, demographic changes and migration speaks of human greed for existence and achieving the pleasure of assorted fetish.  In fact, surviving is every soul’s greed but achieving this in the context of another soul is a curse of Darwinian evolutionary praxis of “Survival of the Fittest”.

The colonial hard-headed truth of upholding iniquity against indigenous mortals with denial of rights has a legacy of victimisation. In parallel, it is also perceived that this inequality is also against the non-human species of the living and the non-living. The former scaffolds genocide and the later ecocide.

Human agency causing extensive impairment and destruction in the ecosystem of a territory leading to the diminishing of habitat and living of the inhabitants in the following territory falls under the realm of ecocide. Whereas, genocide refers to purposely wiping up a huge flock of people of a specific nationality, ethnicity, religion or race.

It is, however, perplexing that one is recognised by the human-created institution of law while the other is not. Law is yet to take crime against nature seriously for which the dark abyss stalks the institution and shows us a limit of metaphysics.

There has always been a cordial relationship between indigenous people and their land. However, due to the profit mongering of various agents, there is a separation between the two. And the destruction of one can lead to the destruction of another. The paradox of genetically modified crops for the farmers is not a new fact, so is the destruction of land and leading to the destruction of lives. However, understanding how the political economy works for fading away off resources and truth needs serious attention.

If we look colonialism in the purview of violence, harm, exploitation and victimization, we will know that a rat race for dominance over resources has played an important significance in holding ground for not letting people understand how crimes against the dispossessed are entwined with the crime against nature.

In various wars, because of bombing and explosions, ecosystems are being damaged causing the annihilation of living and non-living. The shadow of various wars on our planet, especially Vietnam cold war speaks of war against the unborn. Scientific glory in inventions like herbicides played a hidden role in the following war as a tactic against soldiers. Agent Orange, an organochlorine biocide blended with dioxin was used by the US military as a tactical commitment of unmasking the hidden Vietnamese fighters through demolishing crops and paddy fields.

The deadly toxic component notched into the Vietnamese population leading to the demise of thousands. This incident haunted the future generations because of the abnormalities caused by transmission of the harmful component from mothers to their foetus.

The saga of contemporary military actions carried out by various nations in the name of peace directed against those who violate and abuse of human rights, can also on contrary themselves deny and violate human and environmental rights. The functioning of defence and war produces various wastes. But in terms of dangerous and radioactive waste that causes harm, the seriousness of dumping those is questionable. Examples of disposing of radioactive waste into water bodies are not a new phenomenon, which can sometimes lead to damage to the marine ecosystem.

Environmental embeddedness of human and non-human are never acknowledged by the perpetrators of environmental destructions. Neither the full surmount of this relationship is acknowledged, nor the persona of capitalism and resource accumulation for yielding such menaces.

To understand the consortium of both ecocide and genocide, we have to perceive with attention on culture. Culture is the element that brings solidarity among the mass through its various instrumental projections of material and nonmaterial.

Culture foregrounds as a key concept in understanding the process of genocide. Because of the presence of the binding force between human beings, the destruction of a group of people can be led to genocide via the substantive passage of culture that is through conquering culture. This conquering of culture is done through conquering the fundamental organs which operates for the homeostatic equilibrium of our society.

These organs are the social, biological, economic and cultural.  Society functions through the independent and dependent functions of these organs. Therefore, an assault on any one of it might lead to lethally cripple the entire building of a society. And this can result in social death of a group. Thus homicide occurs at the level of targeting one or more organs leading to mass killing and erosion of society.  When land and ecosystem are encompassed within the realm of culture, the destruction of these identities can lead to social death too, which can lead to an ecologically induced genocide.

Among the ecocides and homicides happening in and around us, think tanks and governments have always induced for sustainable development which is an oxymoron because of the finite nature of the natural resources echoed by the ghost of Thomas Malthus since centuries and just the spirit of capitalism is simply ecologically unsustainable. Therefore sustainable development in the emancipation of capitalism is just an utopia.

Bijit Das, Dept of Sociology, Dibrugarh University, Assam




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