Wild Law, exists as a frequency, an umbilical cord to the creative life force existing in all living things on Earth and in the universe, and quite possibly in every atom from the theoretical “Big Bang” to the end of eternity, a force connecting everything and everyone, and providing them with a soul In the second edition of his seminal ground-breaking book, Wild Law (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011), Cormac Cullinan explores how one can tap into this cosmic juice and adapt laws of humankind into alignment with the natural laws of the “Great Earth Jurisprudence,” the physical laws governing all life on the planet and in the universe.
This book by a South Africa attorney who has performed thorough and extensive research over a number years, investigates a number of possibilities and issues into the way humankind can change their system of governance and start down the path to save the world from the disastrous course along which it currently heads. Wild Law, with a heart moving preface by the late leading world thinker on human relationships with the natural world, philosopher, cultural historian, author and “eco-theologian,” Thomas Berry, is a must read for anyone interested in the environment, the law, saving the planet from being consumed by corporations and the governments they dominate, and anyone interested in their children, grand children, and humankind. This is not a book for Liberals or Progressives, Conservatives or Libertarians, or for Europeans or Americans, Chinese or Australians, it is a book for everyone.
The necessity for reading this book has become urgent when one takes into account the recent disasters of a BP oil rig blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan. Both these catastrophes have produced ecological and environmental deleterious effects which will last for centuries if not longer. Many more such horrendous events will likely render the planet uninhabitable for all living things if something drastic is not done soon. The criminality of these events produced by fictitious “legal” entities called corporations, jeopardize life on the planet not just for humankind, but for every living thing in the Earth Community
Cullinan practices law, and manifests his competence and logic, and presents his arguments as an experienced attorney building his case, one fact after another. He starts with the patently obvious, humankind lives as an integral and inseparable part of the Earth, and cannot live without the earth, and thus it makes extreme sense to take good care of the foundation and basis for all life on the planet, animal and plant, and the Earth itself with it’s rivers and oceans, forests and mountains. Logically, this unity with the Earth means humans and their social systems are inextricably embedded within and influenced by the context of the Larger Earth Community in a feedback loop. It is crucial that human-well being does not undermine the integrity of the Earth and Earth community which it supports. The Earth and its Community provide the source of well-being for all humankind, and they are inextricably a part of it.
When human being divorce themselves from the rest of the Earth Community they suffer physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, losing connection to the Earth which gave birth to them. Indigenous cultures retain their connection to Mother Earth, and don’t suffer from the mental, emotional and spiritual illnesses of humankind, and Cullinan gives plenty of examples of this.
Cullinan convincing contends only by creating a jurisprudence, a system of laws, reflecting human society is indeed a part of a wider Earth Community and must observe universal natural principles will humankind be able to begin a comprehensive transformation of human societies and their legal systems crucial to halt the mass extinctions taking place on the planet which have the distinct possibility of wiping out all life. Cullinan’s short summary of what currently takes place on the planet induced by humankind is chilling.
In order to reorient human governance and legal systems to reflect an Earth oriented jurisprudence, humankind needs to establish laws which are “Wild” at heart. Wild Laws foster, rather than stifle, creativity and the human connection to nature. The last point Cullinan makes is to implement wild laws effectively, humankind needs to cultivate personal and social practices which respect the Earth, and base its social structures and communities, and communities of communities as seen and found throughout the design patterns in the natural world.
What Cormac Cullinan proposes is a radical change in world view and thinking. It starts with the realization that every animal and plant, every river and ocean and forest, and every foot of beach and meter of ground shares a commons with and among all the subjects of the Great Mother Earth, and none of them can be thought of as mere objects for utilization by humankind, and the corporate and governmental monstrosities they have created.
To many this may seem overly idealistic and impossible to implement. Many years ago when he first heard such ideas, Cullinan thought the same, then he did his research, and in the process rediscovered his connection to and with the Mother Earth which gave birth to everything brought forth on the planet, and realized this could not only be done, but was and is in urgent need of getting done. Cullinan is at his best when he writes from his own personal experiences.
Wild Law first came out in 2,003, and clearly the book has had a great impact, though the process of its influence has only recently gathered critical mass and implementation. In September 2008 the people of Ecuador adopted a new constitution which commits the state and citizens to seek well-being in a manner harmonious with nature and recognizes the rights of nature. The preamble to the Constitution explicitly refers to the intention of the people of Ecuador “To build a new order of cohabitation for citizens, in its diversity and in harmony with nature, to achieve well-being by requiring individuals, communities, people and nationalities shall effectively enjoy their rights, and exercise responsibilities within the framework of inter-culturality, respect for their diversity and harmonious cohabitation with nature.”
Ecuador and Bolivia are the first two countries to implement Wild Law which is truly democratic, and not just a whitewash word for politicians to espouse. The spontaneous movements for true Democracy in the Middle East and throughout Africa and South America, truly provide a breath of hope for the planet, the Mother Earth of life as we know it. The dominant world cultures are all in the Northern hemisphere, and in less than two centuries have created havoc on the planet, putting all life in danger. Currently many of these deleterious effects are felt most profoundly in the Southern Hemisphere.
The book, Wild Law—A Manifesto for Earth Justice is not without its problems. Cormac Cullinan is an attorney, and though he generally writes well and understandably, unfortunately, he writes like a lawyer, and members of the legal profession are infamous for cluttering their writing with unnecessary words which muddy the meaning they wish to convey. Hundreds of “thats” can and should be cut from the book, and a good number of the ones which remain should be changed to which. This cluttering of words by Cullinan is most evident when he writes about jurisprudence. Occasionally he breaks out of this lawyerly habit, though problems still exist.
“Some say the Earth itself has a measurable ‘heart beat’ and can use certain notes to renew our connection with Earth—to harmonise ourselves with Earth. The idea music plays a part in ordering the universe and connects between our inner desire for rhythm and music and the greater cosmic symphony, is an old and persistent one. This idea of the ‘music of the spheres’ captured the imagination of generations of poets, and the idea of universal harmony is still powerful today. Certainly all people make, love and respond to, music. Everywhere you look, our species drums and hums, sways and swings, taps and raps, jumps and jives, bops ad be-bops: We are sounding boards for Earth. Singing and dancing bursts out of every happy child. Music engages the full range of our human nature. It stimulates the imagination,sweeps our emotions along with it, and gets our bodies, swaying, tapping stamping and gliding.”
Cormac Cullinan needs a good book editor. Aside from cluttering his writing with necessary words, Cullinan has the court room lawyer habit or repeating and summarizing what he already presented at the start of each chapter. This becomes almost formulaic and truly annoying. It may well work when presenting a legal argument in a courtroom or in a brief, but it is not appropriate for a book to be read by the general public. After reading the book, I am quite sure Cullinan will not take offense of my criticism of his writing. He is a man dedicated to serving the world and improving himself in the process.
It seems to this reviewer smaller publishers are the ones coming out with the important books offering a hope for humankind to save themselves from their excesses. Chelsea Green sees publishing as a tool for cultural change and ecological stewardship. The company aligns its manufacturing practices along with its editorial policies, using chlorine-free recycled paper and vegetable based inks when possible. Invest in and help implement what this book entails, by purchasing from a small ecologically minded private business. You can order your book here: http://www.chelseagreen.com. When you finish this important book, please pass it onto friends or donate it to your local library, as this reviewer did with his copy so this important book can be read by more and more people.