“The notion of a “one-world-world” (OWW) is predicated on the West’s ability to arrogate to itself the right to be “the world” and to relegate all other worlds to its rules, to a state of subordination, or to nonexistence. It is thus an imperialist, colonial notion.”(chapter 1 of Pluriverse Politics by Arturo Escobar)
So what does that mean?
In lay terms, it means that the West eradicates other worldviews. Any version of reality that does not conform to the West’s ideas of how the world ought to exist is terrorized, destroyed, or oppressed.
This can be seen in the genocide of Indigenous tribes, in the destruction of the environment (as in the West doesn’t see land as relative), in the destruction of Black communities (as in the West doesn’t see value in their lives), etc. It can be seen in the for-profit prisons and slave labor within prison-industry and sweatshops, where people’s relationships with one another and the land are severed and forced to be cogs in a profit-making machine.
The pluriverse is the idea that multiple realities coexist, and thus there isn’t any “one-world-world.” The pluriverse embraces the idea of quantum mechanics, where multiple realities and possibilities exist, and even the art of measurement doesn’t erase those other possibilities. It only changes the relationship. A change in relationship is part of the growth and exploration of the pluriverse.
Capitalism and settler-colonialism seeks to destroy our relationships with one another and the land. It tries to instill in us this idea that there is only one way to relate to one another, one way to view our world, one way to interact, which is all centered on ownership and hierarchical power structures.
“It is, however, an extremely seductive idea; the best way to dispel it may be ethnographic and decolonial, as [John] Law suggests: ‘So here’s the difference: in a European or a Northern way of thinking the world carries on by itself. People don’t *perform* it. It’s *outside* us and we’re *contained* by it. But that’s not true for Aboriginal people. The idea of a reified reality out there, detached from the work and the rituals that constantly re-enact it, makes no sense. Land doesn’t *belong* to people. Perhaps it would be better to say that people belong to the land. Or, perhaps even better still, we might say that processes of continuous creation redo land, people, life and the spiritual world altogether, and in specific locations (Law 2011, 1)'”
Thus, here we are separating out the fact that the Western approach tells us there is only *one real* that can exist, but that isn’t true of majority of the world. There is a multiplicity of *reals* within how we exist within the world and the world exists within/around us. The way we experience reality will differ based on the land, people, their lives, and the interaction of all of those interdependent facets of existence. Our relationships changes over time and space, and as much as the Western approach tries to destroy that concept, it still lives on when we fight back.
The problem is that the Western world:
“translates non-Western reals into beliefs, so that only the reality validated by science is real. We have science (and thus the true perception of the real); ‘they’ can only have ‘beliefs’ (myths, ideologies, legends, superstitions, local but never universal knowledges, and so on.). When the OWW is enacted, this Euro-American metaphysics effectively hides multiple realities through complex processes involving power.”Escobar
Thus, if non-western ideas and reals are translated into “beliefs,” then they aren’t actually real. The people and land upon which those reals exist can be subsumed into the capitalist machine, the world overlayed with the fake one-reality-one-world-one-way-to-exist. It erases people and our relationships to each other and the land and the world at large.
This is why organizers work so hard to undo the settler-colonial neoliberalism that stifles and strips us of our imagination. There isn’t just ‘one reality’ and ‘one way to exist.’ There’s multiple overlapping and interdependent reals; the land is not something we can own but instead it is that which we are in relationship. The way relationships work is through multiple reals and multiple approaches — there is no one way to have a relationship.
This is why it’s important to deconstruct our worldviews and the way in which we think about reality and the world in general. We need to stop falling prey to the OWW ideology— there isn’t a one-world-world; there’s multiple worlds of which there is a diverse expression of realities.
Science isn’t the answer to all things, and often Indigenous ways of knowing are just as crucial if not more so than science! But science as used by the OWW ideology erase and destroy Indigenous ways of knowing, stifling their creativity and the inherent and crucial knowledge they contain. This cultural genocide by OWW ideology is accomplished by placing them in competition and refusing to acknowledge how they are, actually, in relationship with one another. This stifles are ability to imagine other realities, other ways of being in relationship, other ways of existing in society.
Science and Indigenous ways of knowing can and must work in tandem instead of in competition. In the pluriverse, both have their part and are in relationship with one another.
So I leave you all with this parting thought:
“If we can speak of a real that is shared by all of us living beings, it is the ‘unformed but generative flux of forces and relations’ that Law writers about (in scientific terms: the complex self-organizing dynamics of matter and energy, and Earth itself), from which all the forms of the planet and the universe emerge. Many ancestral cosmovisions include similar notions, such as the perpetual circulation of life…” This “flux of life gives rise to many reals and different worlds.”Arturo Escobar
It is allowing ourselves to break free of the neo-liberal capitalist imperialist hold on our imaginations. We must break apart the idea of only one-world-world (OWW) existing, and embrace the plurality of many worlds existing in interdependence, in overlapping, in this ‘perpetual circulation of life,’ where Indigenous ways of knowing are crucial to survival and must be upheld as equal to any science notion.
We must recreate our relationship to the land and each other that is not dependent on hierarchy, ownership, and profits.
Because in order to survive the oppressive systems and recreate a more equitable and just world for all, we MUST envision radical interdependence and commmunalism, where we work together with the land and each out in relationship.
Thanks for reading.