Globalization: collateral damage

In his documentary entitled "Darwin's Nightmare", Hubert Sauper shows how globalization becomes the last stage of human evolution, and how the law of the strongest, applied to the economic and social system, generates ecological and human catastrophes.

Tanzania, shore of Lake Victoria, end of the 50s. It was in this region which had been preserved until then that the Westerners decided to introduce the "Nile perch", a fish very popular with European and Japanese consumers but which was to turn out to be a formidable predator, turning one of the richest ecosystems in the world into a death zone. This predator has in fact eliminated the 200 species of fish originally present in Lake Victoria, leaving waters without oxygen and living species. The species of fish which fed on algae having gradually disappeared, the algae accumulate, die and cause drops in oxygen levels, while the Nile perch ends up feeding on its own young for lack of other resources… Over-exploited by more and more fishermen - in 1970, 4.000 boats brought in 15.000 tonnes of fish, in 1980 their number increased to 6.000 and fishing produced 100.000 tonnes of fish - the Nile perch has , in a few decades, transformed a 500 year old lake into eutrophic waters.
In Mwanza, a city bordering Lake Victoria, between 500 and 1000 tonnes of fish arrive every day in the factories and are then transported to Europe by Russian cargo planes. But planes do not only transport fish: they arrive in Africa loaded with weapons, sold by Europeans to the protagonists of the guerrillas raging in the region -Rwanda, Congo, Burundi… - Hubert Sauper shows the incessant ballet of these planes, some of whom - the height of cynicism - bring humanitarian aid to the UN refugee camps at the same time as they bring them the weapons that will kill them. Without being totally ignored, the countless wars are often referred to as "tribal conflicts", like those in Rwanda and Burundi. The hidden causes of such disturbances are, in most cases, imperialist interests in natural resources, ”underlines the author, who made a previous film in 1998 on Rwanda.

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 Capitalism won " 

At the same time as this disastrous spectacle, the director shows the arrival of a delegation from the European Commission, come to congratulate themselves, with local industrialists, on the economic success of the Nile perch. 34 million euros have been paid by Europe to develop this sector, the production of which is intended solely for Western consumers (2267 tonnes in 2004 for the French market alone). The population that survives around the lake only feeds on fish waste that is unsuitable for sale. Because this industry has not only destroyed the ecological wealth of the region, it has also shattered the local economic and social system, the small local fishermen excluded from the Nile perch industry no longer having any other species to be fished. The perennial question of which social and political structure is best for the world seems to have been answered, notes the author. Capitalism won. Future societies will be ruled by a consumerist system seen as "civilized" and "good". In the Darwinian sense, the "good system" won. He won by convincing his enemies or eliminating them ”. Unemployment, destroyed families, shattered communities: in this relentless demonstration of biological and social Darwinism, Hubert Sauper shows, without miserability, the ravages of capitalism on human beings. Prostitution, alcoholism, the acute prevalence of AIDS, street children sniffing the molten plastic from fish wrappers… the destruction of local life is indeed a Darwinesque nightmare. "I tried to turn the story of the success of a fish and the fleeting" boom "around this" perfect "animal into an ironic and frightening allegory of the new world order, explains Hubert Sauper. But the demonstration would be the same in Sierra Leone and the fish would be diamonds, in Honduras they would be bananas, and in Iraq, Nigeria or Angola, they would be crude oil ".

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Le cauchemar de Darwin (Darwin's Nightmare), a film by Hubert Sauper, was released in theaters on March 2, 2005. The film received 8 awards at international festivals, including the Europea Cinemas Prize at the 2004 Venice International Film Festival.

Véronique Smée

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