Mauna Kea Telescope Highlights Modern Colonialism

A viral protest has emerged against construction of one of the largest and most expensive telescopes ever made. The conflict centers around the location the developers want to construct the telescope. The top of a volcano called Mauna Kea, on the Big Island of Hawaii is considered an ideal place to view space. The site is sacred to Native Hawaiians and there is a long history of tension over various projects in the area.

This conflict is one of many recent situations that highlights the continuing tension between the morals of western philosophy such as universalism and equality and the realities of on-going colonialism in the Americas.

Defining Colonialism

“Colonialism is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another.”

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Colonialism

Colonialism is nearly as old as human civilization, but the large extent of colonialism has occurred in the last 400 years at the hands of European colonizers. The advent of technology, like large ships and navigation, made worldwide colonialism and imperialism possible.

Colonialism Was Justified Initially With Religious Rationales

The first major colonialism from Europe out into the world starts with the Crusades. While there was an initial defensive justification, eventually the standards developed to justify taking over “infidel” lands laid the religious, moral and legal foundations for colonizing the Americas. It was justified that the only way to “civilize” the Native Americans into accordance with a European concept of natural law was to subjugate them and convert them to Christianity. Their enslavement was viewed as a moral imperative.

Enslavement Has Disappeared, But Has Western Supremacy?

Knowing the foundations of thought that established justification of colonizing the western hemisphere, including Hawaii, we must ask what, if anything has changed? The sort of blatant violence, enslavement, and domination seen has certainly subsided as the societies who inhabited these lands have lost their strength and identities…though a more subtle form of violent subjugation remains widespread. How about the general conception of western supremacy?

The telescope itself is telling. Those who colonize these lands today say their pursuit of science is more important than the beliefs and lands of the original peoples who inhabited them. If it’s not the pursuit of science, it is the economic engines driving the demand of resource extractions and delivery systems, such as the DAPL oil pipeline.

The laws are all written, enforced and interpreted by the colonizer society. The rule of law, then, is a mechanism of the current colonial assumption, though no one likes to call it that.

Decolonizing Indigenous Lands To Save The World From Climate Crisis

As a result of industrial civilization and colonialism, the world’s fauna mass has been decimated by 80 percent, and much of their habitat gone with them. More species have gone extinct in recent years than in the previous 65 million years.

Scientists are calling this the sixth great extinction. Humans have their own extinction to ponder with the climate crisis. One of the best ways to address these problems is to stop the damage and let some of these habitats heal. That can be accomplished by protecting the lands and rights of indigenous peoples.

The land flourishes under native stewardship. It gets destroyed under the stewardship of industrial colonizer civilization.

Mauna Kea Is The Current Battlefield for Indigenous People And Climate Change

There are battles over indigenous rights happening all over the world. The fight for Mauna Kea is just one, but it is in the spotlight. The protests are going well beyond Hawaii and making it to large channels of influence, including a few presidential candidates.

Tulsi Gabbard made the following statement about the protests.

Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono
“The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.”
Motto of the State of Hawaii

Make a post on social media

Show up to a protest

Write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper

Call your representatives in congress

They can’t ignore all of us.

Our Contribution

This is where we are starting this blog. We call it “The Omega Blog,” because Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet and symbolizes the end. In the coming years, humanity must decide if this will be the end for life on this planet, or the end of our destructive ways. That’s what we will continue to talk about here. Stay tuned.