Exploitation of Nature for Capital Accumulation in Globalization Era

By Taufani (Opan Rahman)

            Undeniably, every human has dependence towards nature, so that nature is deemed important and vital for human life. Nature is a macrocosm and human is microcosm in this life, why nature is macro, while human is micro? Because nature is a worldly reality which provides everything that human needs such as air, water, wind, etc. While, human only enjoy everything that nature provides. It implies that human has a limit because he/she has dependence towards the nature.

According to Hidayat (2006: 208) that prior to Socrates era, the philosopher considered that nature was a source of virtue. One could learn much from it especially in its regularity and its beauty. That is why nature is always so-called cosmos, why because it has a same root meaning with cosmetic which means a beauty outfit. It is no wonder, there were many wisdom came up at the time to appeal the human in the importance of performing good attitude especially towards the nature. Though people at the time had a very limited understanding about the nature, but they realized that it was vital for them to take care for it because they were nothing without the nature which was overwhelmed. Conversely, human needed nature to make them survive. This era was signed by the Cosmo-centrism paradigm.

When the era of Socrates, there was a gradual shift from Cosmo-centrism to anthropocentrism, in which this new paradigm centered on human as the central point to make a better life. To achieve this better life, this paradigm promoted that human insight was the determiner for making a blessing for all creations. This paradigm was developed in Plato and Aristotle era, despite both still conceded that nature was an open corpus which taught a good virtue. For instance, the theory of state which was promoted by Plato, its concept still drew on the analogy of human body. Likewise, Aristotle used the beauty of universe to be his inspiration source to develop his sense of philosophy (Ibid., p. 208).

In the middle century, the paradigm shifted to Theo-centrism, in which everything should be based on what God teaches. It is no wonder; most of the governance system worldwide at the time was theocracy. In other words, everything centered upon God’s sovereignty which was represented by the Church in West and the Caliphate in East (Ibid., p. 208). In the East which was dominated by Moslem, underwent the awakening in science and technology in which pushed for the seeds of modern civilization. Conversely, in West which was dominated by Christian (Catholic) got resistance by some scholars (scientists), because church was considered hindering the idea of progress that scientists strived for. The resistance of the scholars towards the Church prompted the born of Renaissance in Western world.

The development of science and modern technology at present time is always claimed by the West as their contribution. They claim it, due to the success to dismiss God’s intervention in human life. Thus, they only placed God in very private sphere; God, for them, do not deserve to intervene for human life in public sphere. This finally induces the pragmatism for human life nowadays, in which the pragmatism only views everything based on its function (especially, to accumulate money) and ignores the impact (Nashir, 1999: 21). This indifference comes up because the religious virtue is absent to overcome of human crisis.

This pragmatism, then, generates capitalism, in which accumulation of capital is its main agenda. This capitalism has expanded worldwide, in which it always seeks to integrate everything to be one entity as well as strive itself as universal value by penetrating within the system. It is underpinned by Lorentzen (2001: 181) whom he notes that “globalization, most broadly, is the integration of nation-states, cultures, economies, markets, and diverse people, into a global network or system”. This very integration is deliberately used as globalization value to convince everyone that this phenomenon is inevitable, so everyone with his/her worldview should integrate with the value of globalization advocates.

As time goes by, this globalization value is criticized because it just focuses on contemporary pleasure, such as accumulating money and disregards human character development. Furthermore, Vesseth in Lorentzen (2011:181) notes that “Globalization can apparently destroy democracy, create it, and be used by political entrepreneurs to manipulate democracy. This Globalization must be a terrible, wonderful thing”. This makes sense because to some extent, some political entrepreneurs used all of possibilities within the democracy to achieve their vested-interest. They choose dirty way to achieve the power, such as bribing to conceal and manipulate the truth. They forget to give exemplary to the future generation in the importance of implementing the very value of democracy pointing out the freedom of expression, speech and protection of civil rights. They just leave the burden, not a good legacy.

By the emergence of the globalization, a culture shock strikes human life, in which the value that he/she adheres is no longer valid because everything should be dependent upon the globalization value. For instance, in the case of El-Salvador, Pacific Rim, a company based in Vancouver, Canada explores gold and silver mining in El-Salvador. This exploration eventually produces some environmental crisis; such as the water in the area surrounding the mining dried up, the cyanide from mining also could contaminate the water and soil around, etc. (Lorentzen, 2011: 196). This case also happens in Papua, Indonesia. The indigenous there once preserved their nature that they inhabit. They used everything within wisely to fulfill their daily needs. But, now everything is under the control of the government associating with multinational company.

The indigenous have no right any longer to rule their lands because everything is taken over by the government. The indigenous become powerless to fight against the government (state power), though they are weak, but they keep opposing the government. In opposition, the government usually defends their selves by proclaiming that what they do towards the indigenous lands is a way to enhance the life quality of the people surrounding especially for indigenous.

When sophisticated technology tools could, at last, detect that there are so many gold within this indigenous’ land, Freeport which is an American based company colludes with the Indonesia government to cultivate this mining. All of the profits from this mining are both shared between Indonesian government and American company. Indonesian government uses the profits to enhance the national income in order to improve entire sectors in Indonesia. But, the fact is contradictory because all of the profits from this gold mining are misused by the government; they forget to enhance the life quality of the Indigenous in Papua as we can see evidently at present, there are big numbers of illiteracy and also the education infrastructures are so bad especially in the remote village. Because of this, The Indigenous becomes more peripheral because they have no any access for good health and education. Badly, The government also forgets to think over the bad impact of this exploitation towards the environment, such as the cyanide used in the extraction of the gold mining will contaminate the water and soil around, so that it can pose the threaten for the people there.

In new order era which was under the dictatorship of Suharto, he manipulated democracy by tricking the people by means of religion. One of the ways was to establish Indonesia Ulama Council (MUI) to support the every single of government policy which most of its executive according to Gusdur (2007: 29) were the retired man from department of religious affairs and non-civil servants who had a weak bargaining position. All of the executives within MUI got some facilities from the government, so that they lost their independence. By the emergence of this council, the Ulama which was supposed to be frontier to spread out the truth message (read: Islam) became so blunt and indifferent to control and oppose the government’s policy. This institution, till now, still colludes with the government, therefore most of the Ulama within, lose their spirit of liberation to oppose and criticize the government misconduct.

In addition, Suharto established some mosque like At-Tin mosque (Tin was the name of late Suharto’s wife) at Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Indonesian Miniature Park), Jakarta. The funding of this mosque was taken from the national budget which was one of its sources taken from the gold mining in Papua. Suharto deliberately built this mosque in order to spread out his charm as well as to show the people that he was a religious one. By doing this, he expected to strengthen his status quo. It is no wonder; he led Indonesia for 32 years. Suharto realized well that building the mosque was a good strategy to appease the Moslem at the time who was majority; because the Moslem would not protest the exploitation of this mining gold because its result was used to build the mosque that is a sacred place for Moslem.

To overcome the greediness of human in exploiting the nature to accumulate money, it is required to the Ulama for being independence, so that they can remind, criticize and oppose the government, purely, from the religious spirit. The Ulama should also notify to his/her proponents that taking care for nature is a kind of Jihad (the struggle in the path of God). In this regard, Religion is not only about ritual, but also becomes involved to overcome the human crisis. It is also important to uphold the religious Cosmo-centric paradigm as Hidayat argues (2006: 212), in which insists to care and love the nature, because nature is a sign of God’s almightiness.


I think the presenter should develop the questions relating to this essay. I believe the presenter in this discussion is the best representative that the comittee selects…have a nice discussionJ

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Exploitation of Nature for Capital Accumulation in Globalization Era

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