Russell Means on "Paradigm Shift"

Discussion in 'Ancient History and Mythology' started by Pathless, May 5, 2009.

  1. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    "We had time for everything..."

    I almost posted this in the politics forum, but I think it can easily go here as well, especially given the long spans of time that Means talks about, and the references he makes to the Mayan and Aztec calendars.

    "Patriarchy is a fear-based system. Totally based on fear. Why? Because only the patriarch is at the top. Now patriarchy has not been here for a while. It's only been here for a little while, and that is a little over six thousand years. A little over six thousand years is all, a blink of an eye in the lifetime of a rock."

    "It's a fear-based society because that man up there all by himself, he has no balance. Where's the female? A-ha! That's what he fears the most!"

    "In a matriarchal society the women don't take over. What you have is a celebration of all the sexes and their differences."

    "In our indigenous languages we do not have the word 'war' or 'warrior'. Hello! Without the word, where's the concept? Without the concept..."

    "We don't believe in evil... Where's the evil? Where's the evil? Where is it?"

    "While you're addressing evil, who's taking care of the good?"

    LiveLeak.com - The Beauty, Power and Brilliance of Matriarchy - Call for a Paradigm Shift!
     
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Some only describe all colours via root words for "black" or "white", but doesn't mean to say they don't see colour.

    Humanity as a social animal I think has social hierarchy hard-wired into our evolutionary biological drives - therefore I think no matter the society, it will always be one of unequals. Replacing patriarchy with matriarchy merely changes the make-up of the social pyramid, not the structure itself.

    Vive egalitarianism. :)
     
  3. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Hey Brian,

    I'm just advocating that people listen to and consider what Russell Means has to say. It is a long video, and rambling and even raving at times, perhaps, depending on one's perspective. But did you take the time to watch it?

    "In a matriarchal society the women don't take over. What you have is a celebration of all the sexes and their differences."

    Vive egalitarianism. :)

    Some theorists use the word "matrilineal" instead of "matriarchal" to differentiate a mother-based (clan) system from a father-based (fear) system, in a hope to avoid a certain predictable reaction from those who see no reason to change the status-quo. Whatever the term used, my support is with those who would celebrate the diversity of life and live respectfully and harmoniously within the circle of all our relations, rather than those who attempt to create and justify a hierarchy of dominance. In order to live a life that I feel is worth living, I have chosen to refuse to believe that such a horrible concept is "hard-wired" into our beings.
     
  4. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    Pathless, I think that women are better team players, leaders and bring less ego to the table. Part of the reason for this is because they have been minorities for so long (eventhough they are the majority of the population !) that they have deeper understanding of concensus and power sharing.

    I was disappointed that Caroline Kennedy did not move her bid for the Senate seat forward. From what I have seen, she would have been a good Senator. She just needs some practice in making speeches :D. But I remember when Teddy Kennedy was first in the Senate. He was a disaster. He could barely make a speech. But over the years, with experience, he became one of the leaders of the Democratic party.

    On the other hand, Hillary, whose politics I agree with, will have serious problems as she moves her goals forward ambitiously. Remember what she did to the health care issue when Bill was President ? People just do not like her. She is too ambitious and comes off as nasty. She is one of these post WWII personalities that had to claw and scratch her way to the top, stepping on faces as she moves up the line. Too bad, because idealogically she is quite good.

    I have also always liked Gerry Ferraro and Nancy Pellosi, they are good idealogical Dems.

    So yes, you are right, it is time for paradigm shift.
     
  5. shawn

    shawn New Member

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    I did watch the whole clip.
    Interesting guy.
    I think that we need not have either a patriarchal or matriarchal system, but a new hybrid which is made of the best of both.
    There's a new paradigm for ya.
    Let us not regress to the past, but push on, further, to evolve to the fullest potential which we have as a species, not retreating to old hills of conquest, or hiding behind the skirts of the old ones.
     
  6. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    Interestingly, just read this article:
    614:HBI eZINE - Is Judaism a Girl Thing?

    on the increasing trend for men in the Jewish Reform movement to be less and less active (as compared to women) and an analysis suggesting this is in some ways due to the overextension of feminist ideology. My own experiences in one particular community suggest that may be very true. There was a lot of feminine energy and little room for an acknowledged masculine energy which found ways to gurgle up outside of the imposed communal structure.

    I'm not certain either a patriarchal or matriarchal system are the answer.

    I mean, I think for a lot of hetero- men on the board, there is probably the experience in relationship that women aren't so much about "a celebration of all the sexes and their differences". Rather, I argue, they subtly try to impose their will upon us: trying to change the way we dress, break us of our bad habits, decorate our living spaces and so on.

    I don't think matriarchy is much more than an equivalent answer to patriarchy.
     
  7. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Hmmm. Thanks for the responses. Here are some related thoughts, left somewhat loose, for your consideration:

    Is returning to an ancient way of being necessarily a regression? To use the word "regression" is to make a statement about returning to some lesser state of development.

    I've always felt a strong pull towards the wild, the untamed. I've always wanted to run away from civilization as it has been practiced by the dominant culture. It has always seemed to me, a child of the late 20th century, that the pushing ever forward into tomorrow, this ever-repeating refrain of material and even social progress, is patently absurd. It seems to me that everyone is always talking about progress, evolution, or where we will be in twenty years, without ever articulating a clear goal: what is it that we are aiming at? What is this future-oriented civilization striving for?

    This same absurd trajectory of the future is traced on the micro-level of our society in the individual quest for careers and accumulation of goods, ultimately climaxing in an orgy of retirement.

    No thanks. :) ;)

    In the professional worlds of Career Land, if you are just out there working without articulating a five-year plan, you appear aimless; yet there seems to be no five- or ten- or twenty-year plan left for civilization as we know it. There is no destination and no direction. But this seems to be accepted as foundational; it's almost as if the whole of society believes that the Grand Project of Civilization is going somewhere, but no one can tell you where.

    When you begin to look backwards at what propelled us into this mess, it's really quite disgusting, and has everything to do with racism, greed, imperialism, and religion, but it's not considered polite to bring that up.

    Anyway.

    I want to live a rich life, not stuffed with material wealth, but rich with scents, sounds, experiences, relationships, and other things of intrinsic value to human beings. It seems like this sort of paradigm is what Russell Means is talking about in his 45-minute extemporaneous monologue that he has shared with us.

    Perhaps the words "matriarchy" and "patriarchy" are too loaded with cultural baggage and accumulated meanings from our individual personal and collective political experiences. Perhaps we do need to find a more holistic word for this idea of living "Mitakuye Oyasin", in harmony with and respect for each other and all of the manifestations of life and divinity immanent in the natural world.

    Yet the way that Means is using the terminology, it's clear that he is not offering "matriarchy" as an equivalent system of dominance to "patriarchy". No, what he is offering and hoping that we will consider is the nullification of dominance in our relationships with each other and with other beings. He is suggesting respectful co-habitation; community in the truest sense of living together, working together, playing together, and making decisions together. Please note that by using the term "matriarchy" he is not suggesting that women hand down decisions from on high or from bureaus and governments offices. What he is suggesting is that women, givers and generators and supporters of life, tend to naturally work to preserve life.

    Perhaps this is no longer accurate in our post-modern society, though. Perhaps what he is trying to say would be better stated as feminine ways of relating, such as nurturing, bonding, supporting--"soft" ways of being rather than the "hard" linear and hierarchical ways associated with masculine energy.

    But masculine energy is important. This "paradigm shift" would not nullify masculinity or emasculate men, but it would bring them back into the community, instead of sending them out into the work world to dominate the social sphere and the land, reap their financial benefits, and then drag their dollars, pounds, pesos, or euros back to the nest where mama waits with the children. This is of course an oversimplification, and many women also go out into the work world--which is like this external field of battle, in a way--where they pull in their share of riches to bring back into the isolated nest.

    Part of that is just fine. It's natural to work and to benefit from the labor that we do. But the isolation is the part that doesn't sit right with me, and I think this is also something that RM focuses on in the clip: there is a part where he talks about helping his neighbor, a Mormon, get his firewood into a dry place during a rainstorm. From his perspective, this is just part of life, this is just what human beings do; but for his neighbor, it was an unusual act: "a good turn" that required payback. It was almost a commercial transaction. And that is where the problem lies: everything has been compartmentalized into economics. Natural social events have been broken down into economic transactions. You want to eat, you go to a restaurant or to the grocery store. The most natural thing to do, to go out hunting or fishing, requires a permit, and requires you to conform to the seasonal constraints handed down from above; or farming requires ownership of land, or the rental of a garden plot. You cannot go pick apples or strawberries or whatever from the land without risking being busted for trespassing. When you really think about this stuff, does it not begin to seem absurd? The most natural things...

    ...

    ...

    :eek:
     
  8. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    Frankly, even in the simplified talk of "feminine" and "masculine" energies I still find the suggestions problematic. If so-called feminine-energy is made dominant, then men are forced to engage in masculine activities outside of that structure. That is merely a reversal of the situation we had before where women were forced outside of public representation. The only male that could publicly be male would be the emasculated one.

    Even your suggestion that: "What he is suggesting is that women, givers and generators and supporters of life, tend to naturally work to preserve life." doesn't seem strong. Men tend to work toward the same thing. All life seeks to preserve and perpetuate itself. The dangers of ethnocentrism are not engendered. They afflict male and female alike.

    The very use of gendered language, be it -archy or energy is too loaded with cultural baggage to be of any use. Rather than holistically suggesting "This and this" it suggests that we're forced to make a choice between "This or this" even is that's not the intention, and the two words, masculine and feminine, have so many varied concepts attached to them as to only confuse the meaningfulness in suggesting change. It further seems like a lot of jumping-on-bandwagons, picking up that language simply because it's what all the cool kids are doing.

    And as a last objection, it reinforces a dualistic view of the world. Holism can't, if it is truly holistic, assert that one part of the whole should be seen as the whole. That's just another ethnocentrism.

    Clearly from your response you are interested in something a little more holistic than that, but couched in the propagandic language of matriarchy or feminine energy I cannot personally be party to it. The All is either all genders or no genders.
     
  9. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I suppose if one wishes to evade reality and historical truth, one can make such statements. In all of the tribes I am familiar with: wives were "stolen," horses were "stolen," and coup was counted among "enemies." Perhaps the indigenous definitions of war and warrior are just a tad different than that held by Eurocentric Westerners, much like the indigenous definition of "medicine," but the concepts do indeed exist. In the West war tends to be an "all or nothing" proposition. In the indigenous cultures I am familiar with war was a yearly seasonal tradition, more on par with the Superbowl without helmets and padding and if you got killed in the process, it was a good day to die anyway...

    I'm not against this peace and love movement ideologically, I just don't see where trying to mask and hide and deny the existance of a very real part of indigenous culture serves any purpose in promoting that ideology.
     
  10. nativeastral

    nativeastral fluffy future

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    ho, russell, hello?!! liked his albeit idealistic stance, the 'purification' time of women, not the 'curse' [where did that come from l wonder?!] affected by the fullness of the moon as it is shone/ shown by the suns rays here on grandmother earth = nice.
    Yes as a woman brought up amidst feminism in the 70's the men baulked [and some still do], at the 'emasculated' female], but really, things in the career sector has settled since WWII since women were required to get out of the kitchen to work. And yes there are women 'in power' but not in equal balance hence the 'imbalance' in world politics/diplomacy as l have mentioned before. And if one believes in taoism that is, if it goes to one extreme nature will redress, somehow;maybe this is what this whole recession/world economy situation is. But will the world powers in their suits [male or female] take this opportunity and volte face? Nah, they will be even more cut throat and territorial in the diminishing market because the rules and ways and double dealing are too entrenched.
    Russell had a lot of interesting nay vital messages to spread. l think the increase in single parenthood is engendering men who have no fear of their 'femininity', but it may prove too late by then for gaia when they are able to come into positions of power .
     
  11. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    No one here is proposing that. Have you watched the video and listened to what he is saying? It seems to me that you are getting caught up in terminology. You are having an allergic reaction to certain words without understanding the context in which they are being used, or the message that they are being used as tools to convey.

    I'm sorry you don't like the terminology being used. Holism is fine, and I'm happy to use that word, but I don't think that trying to use other, gendered language to describe imbalances within the whole is too hot a topic to be handled. To me, looking at social issues from a gendered stance is useful, and addressing gender is not just merely about replacing one imbalanced paradigm with another imbalanced paradigm. As nativeastral gets at in her reference to taoism,

    what we should be seeking is not dominance, as I have made clear, but cooperation and respectful co-existence, even harmony.

    Dauer, I agree with you. I'm sorry that the language touches a nerve.
     
  12. shawn

    shawn New Member

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    I agree.
    What is the purpose of life?
    It is certainly not what the dominant culture of the earth has set before us.
    (**Be a good, specialized, tax-paying work droid that doesn't cause any trouble which we can dispose of when you are worn out past usefulness.)
    The worlds religions don't provide a very useful framework either with their heaven and hell (carrot and stick) theology designed to work hand in glove with the above statement (**).
    My use of the word regression is just that.
    To draw back into the matriarchal folds ( as nice and cozy as that may be)
    is also not a step forwards.
    We must (to paraphrase) boldly venture forth to places where we have not yet been.
    Then, maybe, we will remember what we are.
    We all seem to have this inexplicable, collective amnesia on that score.
     
  13. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Hey Juan. Thanks for your post. You bring up some important points that I'd like to elaborate on.

    Some interesting points. First, let me address the "historical truth" issue. Who is writing the history? When you mention the tribes you are familiar with, how are you familiar with them? Are you familiar with individuals within those tribes, as they exist today, after 500 years of cultural and bodily annihilation by disease and genocidal war, after the carving up of land into reservations, after the kidnapping of children from kin to transfer them to boarding schools? What is left of the history?

    It's hard to know what things were like on the two continents of Turtle Island before 1492. The historical record we have is certainly biased, full of prejudices, preconceptions, and outright lies. How can we be certain that what RM is claiming is not true? I'm willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt and at least allow him to speak his mind and recount the history of indigenous people as he has come to understand it. I'm certainly not convinced that he speaks verifiable, unvarnished truth, but I do welcome his version of history, if for no other reason than to add some counterweight to the scales of the historical record, which are polluted with racism and the fanciful embellishments of the apparent victors.

    Counting coup: from what I understand, your account of war as something akin to the superbowl is pretty close to the "war" practiced by the natives. I think Means' point was that the "all or nothing" war, as you put it, practiced by Europeans and waged on the native inhabitants of North and South America, was an entirely foreign concept to those people. Possibly--very probably--people did die in their engagements, but the scale of both the "war" and the casualties from those contests were completely negligible compared to the crusading, pillaging, raping, and murdering perpetrated by the Europeans.

    One other thing to keep in mind is that by the time the English colonies got under way, disease had likely rampaged up into North America, decimating the population, so that when the English arrived, the people had already gone through a holocaust that had broken down their social structures. It's likely also that they were familiar with the shenanigans of the conquistadors down south and in California; due to the precarious state of their cultures and the advent of the "all or nothing" style war that was raging in other parts of the continents, the tribes likely did develop more aggressive war tactics to use in defense of their lands. They were, after all, facing hordes of invaders.
     
  14. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    This is perhaps relevant, from another speech by Russell Means:
    "There is another way. There is the traditional Lakota way and the ways of the other American Indian peoples. It is the way that knows that humans do not have the right to degrade Mother Earth, that there are forces beyond anything the European mind has conceived, that humans must be in harmony with all relations or the relations will eventually eliminate the disharmony. A lopsided emphasis on humans by humans - the European's arrogance of acting as though they were beyond the nature of all related things - can only result in a total disharmony and a readjustment which cuts arrogant humans down to size, gives them a taste of that reality beyond their grasp or control and restores the harmony. There is no need for a revolutionary theory to bring this about; it's beyond human control. The nature peoples of this planet know this and so they do not theorize about it. Theory is an abstract; our knowledge is real."

    Source:
    I detest writing.

    Shawn, you suggest that we must go "where we have not yet been." I'd like to suggest that it's been a long while, if ever, since we've been rooted in the kind of society that Means is describing in his speeches. Such societies are places that might be worth spending some time in.
     
  15. shawn

    shawn New Member

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    Surprisingly, I know a lot about that culture.
    Having lived within it for many years.
    I am not speaking disparagingly about Russell and his ideas.
    I am rather fond of such thinking.
    My point though, was that we need both male and female, side by side, and not one sex or the other on top.
    Such notions of matriarchy are sentimental and overly romanticized.
     
  16. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    I agree, which is why we should not use such dualistic language. I have been in communities that embrace "feminine energy" and it is not always a good thing for men. He's clearly drawing the contrast:

    "Patriarchy is a fear-based system. Totally based on fear. Why? Because only the patriarch is at the top."

    ""In a matriarchal society the women don't take over. What you have is a celebration of all the sexes and their differences.""

    But that's not true. You admit that there can be an extreme of matriarchy. To paraphrase Wiber, just as there can be "sick boy" within a male typology, we can have "sick girl." The language he's couching his ideas in only encourages a move in that direction. Words have meaning for a reason and when we use them to describe our ideas, we invest additional meanings and associations into those ideas. It is careless and dangerous.


    I do, precisely because of all of the additional meaning that comes with the language. Whether or not it's intended it leads to the potential for misunderstanding and misapplication. The use of the terms is in the current manner is itself a misapplication, a misappropriation of language.

    I have to agree with Shawn's statement in post 15. Words do matter.
     
  17. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    Very unique ideas and messages in this speech. Means brings up the issue of European "de-spiritualizing" which is an interesting perspective. This relates to an issue that I have been wondering about as well. I have been wondering about whether Europe has really changed very much since WWII ? This speech implies that European thought has not changed much in 400 years !! This speech was given in 1980 but Means was already concerned about the importance of uranium mining on the future of the Lakota people. In these days of heightened energy concern, I would imagine that this is even more of a danger for the Lakotans.
     
  18. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    You missed one of the quotes I took from the video, an important one IMO:
    "It's a fear-based society because that man up there all by himself, he has no balance. Where's the female? A-ha! That's what he fears the most!"​
     
  19. shawn

    shawn New Member

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    Why Learn this History
    Stuff Anyway?


    Learning History...

    A good article on some relevant north Amerikan history.
     
  20. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    No, I saw that. I left it out to highlight what's problematic. The emphasis you place does not resolve the language-baggage issue. We still are faced with the problem of describing a matriarchal society as the best alternative to a patriarchal one, attributing to a matriarchal society that "the women don't take over" and " What you have is a celebration of all the sexes and their differences". Those attributions are categorically false. To claim that such a society is "matriarchal" is the butchering of the English language and the attachment of unnecessary baggage to an idea that might otherwise be more meaningful.

    edited to add:

    1 : a family, group, or state governed by a matriarch 2 : a system of social organization in which descent and inheritance are traced through the female line

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/matriarchy
     

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