Rivers Are People, but People Aren’t People


Do you know how people laugh at those stories about rats being put on trial in the Middle Ages? These days, Spain grants personhood rights to apes and New Zealand granted personhood rights to a river. (A baby in the womb however is just a stray collection of cells and only some kind of ignorant religious fanatic would assume that it had any personhood. It’s not like it’s a river.)

The government of New Zealand and the Whanganui iwi indigenous people recently agreed that the Whanganui River will be legally recognized as a person. The agreement has given a whole new meaning to the term “natural rights” by literally bestowing rights upon nature. The river will now hold legal status as a person because of its role in sustaining the Whanganui iwi people.

As I’ve said before, 90 percent of animal rights and environmentalist activism is about disenfranchsing people and enfranchising things that  cannot represent themselves, but can only be represented by liberal activists.

The left began with the lower classes, which were thought so inferior that they could never represent themselves. When the lower classes showed that they could, the left switched to racial minorities, which were thought so inferior that surely they could never represent themselves. When they showed that they could, the left moved on to the animal kingdom, the oceans and the environment of the entire planet… which surely could never represent itself.

The principle behind this is the same as the left’s takeover of foundations for deceased people. They can challenge the management of a foundation and take it over and turn it into a cash machine for their causes, as they did with the Ford Foundation. The hijacking of the Doris Duke Foundation, accompanied by the destruction of her gardens and art collection, and the shifting of resources to environmentalist causes, is a local area reminder (for me anyway) of how the left operates.

In The Great Philanthropists and The Problem of Donor Intent, published by Capital Research in 1994 and revised in 1998, Martin Morse Wooster examines how donors committed to free markets and traditional virtues had their fortunes taken over by people they would never have considered as trust managers in life.

Not only the Dukes, but heroic entrepreneurs such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and J. Howard Pew, men who championed individual liberty and free market capitalism, created foundations that ignored their founders’ ideals and championed big-government liberalism. The evidence suggests that the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts continue to fund causes their donors would have opposed.

According to Wooster, “the heads of these large foundations are somewhat defensive and apologetic about the big-government liberalism they champion, but these non-profits are still among the leading funders of the left in America today.

How does this connect to the enfranchisement of a river?

Rivers need someone to represent them. So do mountains. “In 2008, Ecuador preempted New Zealand by recognizing the legal rights of its mountains and rivers.” Every major natural feature then becomes “owned” by its representatives while the people who live there are disenfranchised creating a new feudalism with environmental barons who “own” all the land.

Environmentalism equals federalism, shifting control to federal authorities, and they shift it further into an unelected clique of their friends who represent those “persons” who cannot represent themselves. The ideal is a shift away from representative democracy and to representing “stakeholders” and “groups”, crowding the voting rolls with dole takers who trade votes for benefits, and throwing in unelected representatives on behalf of the air, the sky and the mountains who get more of a say than living voters do.

  • http://twitter.com/undefined @undefined

    For information on similar happenings in America, David Stirlings "Green Gone Wild" is a sobering place to start: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yu6oCbIS5g8

  • aloyicious

    Based on the premise of this article, the United States of America beat out New Zealand and Ecuador years earlier when it established the National Park System – effectively putting thousands of square miles of our national resources in the hands of a few government bureaucrats who faithfully "represent" them.

  • riverboatbill

    Why shouldn't the small pox virus have the right to life,and the right to infect? "Committee Restoreing A Pox."

  • Annette Main

    The status of the Whanganui River in New Zealand as a legal entity absolutely puts the management of this culturally important and stunnungly beautiful river catchment back in the hands of the people. Those who live there, and those, both Maori and Pakeha (European ) whose relationship with the river (te awa) spans many generations.
    This agreement between Whanganui Iwi [Maori] and the New Zealand Government deseves praise for its foresight and courage, not irrelevant comparisons.

  • Valerie Tarico

    I couldn't help noticing that the author failed to mention the notion of "corporate personhood" even once. Corporate personhood, as a legally useful fiction with associated problems, has much greater relevance to the question of river personhood than does the litany I just read of ideosyncratic or ideologically based grievances against environmentalists, family foundations, aboriginals, and others.

  • Mary Sue

    Is there something in the water in New Zealand? It seems to get crazier and crazier each time I hear something.

    If Corporations are not People, why in heaven's name is a River? I've heard of Old Man River but this is ridiculous.