An early scene from the movie shows a group of Algonquin watching a clock strike the hour. They look like primitives – awed by a simple piece of ‘Western’ technology. ‘Is it the Black Robes’ God?’, one asks, ‘Who knows, but the Black Robes’ life seems to be governed by it’.
At least that’s the way it’s assumed you will read this scene. But as the Algonquin take LaForgue, a Black Robe, up country, with each moment like this they seem more assuredly in tune with life and he more lost.
One reviewer said Black Robe shocks twice over. You are ambushed by the action. And you get jolted when you realize it is us here and now who are being portrayed, rather than events 300 years ago.
The story is timeless – and grim. The possessors of physical and religious technologies want to enlighten the savages, who benightedly prefer their own way (supplemented with muskets if they can get them).
Black Robe was an early effort to cast doubt on Western assumptions of superiority, morally or in any other form, over the Algonquin, the Iroquois, and the Huron. It coincided with a growing consciousness in Canada of ‘things that had happened’. Thirty years later, in 2020, Canadian academics, addressing Canadian audiences at least, had taken to beginning presentations with a land acknowledgement:
I respectfully and gratefully acknowledge that I live and work on the traditional ancestral unceded territory of the Anishinaabe, Missisauga and Haudenosaunee from which I am working today. (If you were working from where I am).
This land is protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum agreement and the Two Row Wampum agreement
These acknowledgments have mostly felt to me like pious platitudes, smug, delivered by White (Pink) people (Daikons (Pitayas)), Brown people (Coconuts) or Yellow people (Bananas). Algonquin or Haudenosaunee physicians to this day are rarely found addressing medical meetings.
Illustrated with local art, the acknowledgement can catch attention – but it’s the Anishinaabe or Mississauga message in the art that engages – the idea we could live together in harmony and sustainably.
Two Row Wampum portrayals show two groups travelling down the river each in their own way but side by side. The agreement is to co-exist on the river of life. Each side puts their own laws and customs into their canoe or ship and commit to a relationship of respect between two peoples.
The Dish with one Spoon didn’t seem to envisage the risks of sharing a spoon with the Devil.
There is no reference in land acknowledgements to a genocide creeping over two centuries that came into the frame between 1990 and 2020. Around 2020, a further unearthing of mass graves of children of the tribes, who had been taken away to residential schools for education, brought the issues back. Thousands more children were added to those already known about and others suspected.
For two centuries, Protestant Canadian governments had seen it as a duty to civilize these people in its midst using the cheap labour of Catholic clerics, who civilized with a firm hand.
Similar scenarios played out in Ireland through to the 1950s or later with women who had children out of wedlock. Again, the Catholic Church had a police role. This sounds misogynistic but its not a men hating women misogyny – it’s the civilized hating the uncivilized with women an easy target.
In Germany in the 1940s, Protestant and Catholic Churches remained silent about the termination of lives not worth living, of Gypsies, Jews and others – plants that didn’t suit the national garden. The mission of both States and Churches is to civilize the wilderness.
The deepest of ironies is that this effort at control, this wiping out of others, has been done in the name of someone whose message was to throw out the tabernacles, the incense, the vestments and the money raising – that what we are looking for lies in the people around us.
In Canada, in 2020 and 2021, each report of yet another unearthing came with an unstated this could never happen again. This caught my eye in the innocent times before vaccine mandates began to bite – see Invalidating Indigenous Immunity.
When the White Coats came we welcomed them. They brought magic bullets that helped us defend ourselves. There was a lot we could teach them about sustainability.
Along with others we volunteered for Medicine Trials, taking risks in the hope that what we learnt would benefit our families, our communities and all people. This cooperation led to a golden era of discovery.
The Two Spiral Wampum conveys a message that we and the White Coats working together could create an ever expanding circle of life.
Two Spiral Wampum © Nina Otulakowski April 2022
Black changed to White. A key moment was 30 years ago when Eli Lilly created Fraud Based Medicine (Vampire Medicine and A Call to H-ARMS). Suddenly the White Coats stopped listening to us and started listening to the British Medical Journal and the New England J of Misinformation, misinformation spread from lands formerly occupied by the Massachusett.
This new Faith leads White Coats to do to the People in the name of RCTs what Black Robes once did in the name of Christianity. How could we not want to ensure your soul gets to heaven? How could we not want to civilize the knowledge you have about drugs? We need to replace your local knowledge with universal truths.
This sounds harmless, almost benevolent. It translates into savagery. As the Milgram experiments demonstrated, good people are capable of unimaginable savagery, if this is sanctified by an authority like a Guideline or a God.
It means that if you or a family member are injured by a drug, or vaccine, if the problem hasn’t shown up in RCTs, which we design so problems cannot show up, we invalidate your knowledge of what has happened to you.
Because we are benevolent, we increase the dose of your drug, add more drugs to the mix in order to put you right, or force you at the price of losing a job, or your benefits, or your ability to travel, or visit family, to have a second, or third dose of a vaccine that has already injured you.
RxISK is full of firsthand accounts of just this – how health systems and White Coats respond with violence against us if we mention the harms we have suffered from treatment.
No one hears us, just like no one heard the children abused by the Black Robes. Just as women get battered without men becoming batterers, we get harmed without anyone becoming a harmer.
If we ‘fight back’ against the ‘good guys’, we prove there is something wrong with us. As Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in his White Coat, put it – you have to believe us and in us but for us to believe you we need proof.
There is a savage War now going on in Ukraine, which the West pitches as a battle between autocracy and democracy. A War that has to be won for the sake of democracy. For the sake of the People?
This is happening at a time of astonishing technical/technological development, heading toward Artificial Intelligence (A.I.).
It is hard to know who is ahead in the technology race – the West, Russia or China? Hard to know who is ahead in the race to Autocracy.
For centuries the West has been good at developing technologies, at least as good as Russia or China. The West looks like it has been better at techniques like propaganda.
Back in the 1980s, Vaclav Havel and others behind the Iron Curtain wanted to throw off the yoke of Soviet unfreedom, wanted to be let live the lives they wanted to live rather than have to live the lives the system wanted them to live. They wanted to stop having to be skilled in saying one thing and meaning another.
They were equally clear though that Western freedom was illusory. That Westerners who thought they were freer than people in the East were, if anything, less free if only because in the Eastern bloc it was very clear who Big Brother was, while Westerners didn’t seem to think they had a Big Brother. Just before he died, Havel said that Czechs were less free in 2010 than they had been in the 1980s.
Whatever freedom there once was in the West, technical systems do not tolerate pluralism. The latest vaccines have made that very clear. It is not mRNA technology that doesn’t tolerate pluralism. The RCT techniques that brought these technologies to the market are the source of universal standards that do not permit exceptions.
RCTs would come with problems even if done by angels, but allied to sequestered trial data and decades of propaganda that RCTs are the Way the Truth and the Light, they make it seem that these vaccines work close to universally and are essentially free of harms. Any brief discomfort at the start, even in your chest, is just a sign that the vaccine is working. (See The Fault Lies in our Stars).
Before RCTs developed to this extent, we had the possibility of religious exemptions from vaccination. One of the curiosities of these religious exemptions from medical procedures is that religions do not have a history of offering exemptions to the Algonquin or others, do not have a history of tolerating pluralism – just the opposite.
This intolerance points to a little noted feature of religion. Rather being something spiritual, the ‘organized’ religions involve a series of techniques, stylized rituals, as well as guidelines, acceptance of and adherence to which define the believer, and justify eliminating the unbeliever. Like medicines and vaccines now.
This is done in the name of keeping the Tribe – the Herd – together. The deeper religious or political challenge is how to enable an Us to be an open group rather than a closed Herd.
Technologies shape the world around them. Anesthesia can do great good but even though it can kill, it seduces us into reshaping ourselves with cosmetic surgery for instance. Unlike the good that Caesar did, its seductions are not interred for instance with the bones of Joan Rivers’ whose death on her twentieth cosmetic surgery operation if anything increased the number of operations – it would likely have been the same on her fifth booster vaccine.
XRays discovered in 1895, when Wilhelm Röntgen captured his wife’s hand, have been extraordinarily beneficial but can cause cancer and much more. They show all sorts of abnormalities – that we have been living with rather than suffering from and seduce us into operations we may not need.
It’s the same with cars and computers. We vaguely know there are hazards like global warming and A.I. but their usefulness in the short term swamps our awareness of these hazards.
Jacques Ellul wrote about these issues in a series of books from The Technological Society in 1964 through to The Technological Bluff in 1990 – see Shipwreck of the Singular.
But what about religious and medical techniques? If a technique is useful, it will conform our thinking (hypnotize us) in just the same way as a technology does. The basis for both techniques and technologies is an If X, then Y algorithmic moment.
Black Robe and White Coat stories point to the possibility that religious and medical techniques might conform our thinking away from doing good in the name of doing something sold as a greater good.
White Coat Storm © Nina Otulakowski April 2022
Humanity does not lie in technologies or techniques – religious or otherwise. These can enhance or diminish us. The savagery we now see in care homes for children, or the elderly is very similar to what happened in residential homes for the Anishinaabe and others. It is now facilitated by the adoption of an algorithm to support what is called management but is really bureaucracy – out-sourcing – adopted in the name of greater efficiency (See Politics of Care Posts).
We can see Care dying in front of us but seem unable to do anything about it.
Ignoring the harms of drugs or vaccines is an Act of Violence. Western medical (and business) systems increasingly ignore the problems they cause and are steadily becoming more violent and autocratic. With Russia and China, Big Brother is in plain sight. Not so in the West, where the auto in autocratic is algorithmic. In healthcare, the algorithm is based on corrupt and fraudulent metrics and can only diminish us.
Western autocracy is systematic. There is no-one to appeal to. As Biden says, we are following the science. Whether on the Left or the Right, Western politicians or anyone involved in government are fast becoming DINOs – Democrats in Name Only.
Techniques and technologies have an inherent developmental logic that leads to autocracy. The Algonquin didn’t want much from the Black Robes – except muskets. But this is a slippery slope. We have to keep bettering our technologies and techniques to keep pace with the Other.
Technology and technique, however, are not science.
There is an intimate connection between science, justice, democracy and love. Contact with Another is at the heart of science – see Who’s Afraid of Science.
Strangers in the Room casts maturity as arriving at a point where we credit our hunches as a better pointer to reality, at least at certain points in history, than the fictions we are told are reality.
As things spiral out of control for LaForgue, he muses:
What can we say to a people who think that dreams are the real world and this one is an illusion.
LaForgue had a companion on the journey up country, Daniel Davost, a would-be Black Robe. On the journey, Davost fell in love with an uncivilized woman and abandoned the Mission.
People Acknowledgement © Nina Otulakowski April 2022
We need to restore a Two Spiral Co-existence. Land is important. People are too.
RxISK could do with a People Acknowledgement at the bottom of each post. There are some examples below. We would welcome suggestions for words – the first one here is too long.
RxISK acknowledges that the lives and experiences of those who have been harmed by medical treatments are the cornerstone on which it is built. While the harmed acknowledge the great benefits good medical healing can bring, otherwise they would not have been harmed, the harmed have been rejected by a new set of invaders who now claim control over our healing spaces. This invasion means that the abilities medical healers once had to heal us of the harms they inflict on us have atrophied. Medical systems increasingly pose a threat to our spirits and our bodies.
RxISK acknowledges that the experiences of those who have been harmed by medical treatments are the cornerstone on which it is built. This cornerstone has been rejected by a set of invaders who now claim control over our healing spaces. These invaders pose a threat to our spirits and our bodies.
We could also do with White Coat versions of