Columbus and Other Cannibals
“Columbus was a wétiko. He was mentally ill or insane, the carrier of a terribly contagious psychological disease, the wétiko psychosis. The Native people he described were sane people with a healthy state of mind. Sanity or healthy normality among humans and other living creatures involves a respect for other forms of life and other individuals. I believe that is the way people have lived (and should live). The wétiko psychosis, and the problems it creates, have inspired many resistance movements and efforts at reform or revolution. Unfortunately, most of these efforts have failed because they have never diagnosed the wétiko as an insane person whose disease is extremely contagious.”
—Jack D. Forbes,
Celebrated American Indian thinker Jack D. Forbes’s Columbus and Other Cannibals was one of the founding texts of the anticivilization movement when it was first published in 1978. His history of terrorism, genocide, and ecocide told from a Native American point of view has inspired America’s
most influential activists for decades. Frighteningly, his radical critique of the modern “civilized” lifestyle is more relevant now than ever before.
Identifying the Western compulsion to consume the earth as a sickness, Forbes writes:
“Brutality knows no boundaries. Greed knows no limits. Perversion knows no borders. . . . These characteristics all push towards an extreme, always moving forward once the initial infection sets in. . . . This is the disease of the consuming of other creatures’ lives and possessions. I call it cannibalism.”