Here’s the context:
In July 2016, we are launching an ambitious new cultural campaign that focuses on the Indigenous concept of “Wetiko”, a term popularized by the great Native American philosopher and scholar, Jack Forbes, in his book Columbus and other Cannibals. Essentially we are arguing that the ‘memetic virus’ of wetiko started from our disconnection to nature during the Neolithic Revolution. It mutated into the Industrial Revolution, colonialism, imperialism, and now, late-stage capitalism. We are all incentivized to be short-termist, extractive, selfish and cannibalistic. Indeed, we call this ‘rational behavior’ and its the main driver of GDP growth, our global measure for ‘progress’.
We are calling all painters, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, dancers, graffiti artists, fine art students, animators, sculptors, designers, actors, propagandists, poets, writers, illustrators, tech specialists, crafters and anyone with a passion for creating to help support the upcoming campaign, Seeing Wetiko.
We invite you to join us in Seeing Wetiko for two weeks this July.
We are pleased to offer eight gifts of $500 to support the development of the most exciting and engaging concepts. We will offer them to our favorite concept proposals that come in for the campaign.
/The Rules (/TR) can help you explore the concept of Wetiko, and will then work to place your work in the mainstream (Wetiko) media and public spaces; specifically, those places where people think and talk about key issues like global poverty, inequality and climate change.
A key lesson from both social sciences and the healing arts (psychotherapy, restorative justice, etc.) is that when we are conscious of the narratives that shape our lives and culture we are less likely to replicate them blindly. Conscious awareness is the beginning of an antidote, like green shoots through concrete.
Therefore, one of the starting points for healing is the simple act of “Seeing Wetiko” in ourselves, in others, and in our cultural infrastructure. And once we see it we can name it, which is critical because words and language are a central battleground in the fight for a better future.
If Wetiko exists, it is because it exists within us. It is also entangled with the broader superstructure, relationships and choice architecture that we are confronted with as we live out our lives within a neoliberal system on the brink of collapse.
Once we are in the mode of Seeing Wetiko, we can hack the cultural systems that perpetuate its logic.
Elements of the campaign:
There will be a multi-media campaign including a ‘white paper’, academic articles (in journals focused on cultural evolution, communications, anthropology and psychology), a social media blitz, ‘meme briefings’ with leading journalists from around the world, written content (from articles in cultural magazines like Harper’s and Aeon to more popular op-ed pieces), visual content (including a short film to highlight the concept), and ‘artivism’ (e.g. graffiti art at key Wetiko monuments like Wall Street and the Lord Mayor’s House in the City of London) to create a visual language around Wetiko.
More about Wetiko
All over the world, there is a feeling that something is deeply wrong. It is often felt more than seen, an unnamed darkness that keeps millions (even billions) of people disconnected from the reality of authentic life-affirming experience. Too many of our so-called leaders are asleep at the wheel—they talk about economic growth-at-all-costs as the only viable solution to mass poverty, wealth inequality, the climate crisis, and other planetary-scale crises humanity must confront in the 21st Century.
Those with a spiritual bend might say that a shadowy presence has shrouded much of the Earth. People are sleeping through the same nightmare, unable to awaken within the dream.
Wetiko is an Algonquin word for a cannibalistic spirit that is driven by greed, excess and selfish consumption (in Ojibwa it is Windingo, Wintiko in Powhatan). It deludes its host into believing that cannibalizing the life-force of others (others in the broad sense, including animals and other forms of Gaian life) is a logical and morally upright way to live.
Every time someone is seen justifying the destruction of life for profit — it is Wetiko.
Every time compassion is vitally missing during a time of suffering — it is Wetiko.
Every time fear or disgust is used to manipulate for personal gain — it is Wetiko.
How to submit a concept
We have 5 x $500 awards to distribute to help people develop their ideas into physical reality.
If you are interested in accepting the invitation and applying for one of these awards, please send a short description (and perhaps a simple sketch/recording/film, if it helps you to communicate it) of your concept to seeingwetiko at therules.org before May 20th 2016.
We’ll then assess all the contributions we receive and select the 5 ideas we think best meet the criteria (detailed on the website) to receive the $500 funding. Successful entries will have until the 24th June 2016 to complete their artwork and submit it.
We hope you’ll join us in seeing Wetiko. Also, we’d love for you to send this to other people you think may be interested. If you have any questions, please email us at seeingwetiko at therules.org.