Commenter Lidia posted an excellent report
on her experience at an organizational meeting for Vermont Right to Know.
Here’s my somewhat negative review of the campaign, so far as I’ve learned about it from her and elsewhere. I’ll let this criticism of the Vermont effort stand in for my growing doubts about the whole “labeling” premise, which I see as, in general, a typical collaborationist “market solution” which by its nature cannot be any real solution; and in particular as part of the GMO ”co-existence” scam. This is the scam whose basic premise is that organic agriculture and humanity can live in the same world with GMOs and the corporations who purvey them.
But we know this is false. GMOs are totalitarian, politically and environmentally. Totalitarian means there is literally no limit to one’s aspired domination, and that one in fact has the potential power to aspire to total domination. We know that Monsanto, the rest of the GMO cartel, and their flunkey governments recognize no limits to agricultural enclosure and domination. We know that’s the one and only reason GMOs exist in the first place. (They have no redeeming qualities, don’t work even at the two things they’re “supposed” to do, be herbicide tolerant and produce their own insecticide, have no natural market among farmers or eaters, and are 100% dependent on corporate welfare, government lies and thuggery, and trapping farmers on an indenture treadmill. Their one and only purpose, as Monsanto has been quite frank in stating, is total domination of the world food supply.)
We also know that GMOs cannot be prevented from contaminating and polluting every possible part of the ecology. Organic canola is basically impossible in Canada. Same for sugar beets in Oregon. It’s less and less possible to find non-polluted corn and soy shipments. This isn’t even counting the cartel’s intentional planting so as to contaminate the entire agriculture in Brazil, India, and perhaps with alfalfa in the US. Here too, there can be no co-existence.
Are the organizers of labeling campaigns sincere about Food Sovereignty and abolishing GMOs? The fact that the Vermont organizers are already flouting the boycott of the corporations who gave money to defeat Right to Know doesn’t bode well. Nor is their evident place as part of the industrial organic complex. I don’t doubt that they’ve internalized much of the system mindset. Thus they’ve unilaterally dumbed the bill down to comply with central government directives, voluntarily racing to the bottom. (In California they did the same thing, and then added stupidity to timidity by saying stuff about THEIR OWN BILL like “loopholes are good”! I’d almost have wanted to vote No just out of contempt for such a lame campaign.)
It’s Politics 101 that you demand far more than you really want to achieve, and that where you’re trying to get Better Elitism (begging the elites for labeling is certainly an elitist strategy; indeed, here it’s not even a ballot initiative, but trying to get a law passed), you supplement it with as much grassroots direct action as possible. Therefore anyone sincere and competent would encourage direct labeling in the supermarkets, as one example of the kind of things citizens of a real democracy can and will do, as their right and responsibility.
The strategic principles listed at the event contain one good point – they acknowledge that the central government won’t do anything. (I hope they acknowledge that anything the central government does would be a scam.) So they’re capable of digesting the evidence that far. Maybe it’s possible for them to do so about state governments as well.
There’s also several bad points:
“Common language among all the state bills will offer “as level a playing field as possible” for food companies to comply”
As I said, voluntary racing to the bottom. And why would the people want to “offer a level playing field” to criminal organizations that never offered it to us? That have done all they can to deprive us of any playing field at all, let alone a “level one”. And why should we want to “play” this game at all, and with such cheaters?
“They “didn’t want retailers to have to be responsible” under the law (instead, producers)”
Why not? Is there a tactical rationale for this, or is it some stupid moral misguidance? Retailers had their chance to strangle GMOs in the cradle and chose instead to join the conspiracy against humanity. They’re enemies, not bystanders. As for what’s good tactics, I haven’t thought it through completely, but my first thought is that targeting the weak link, the most publicly exposed and vulnerable link, is often a good tactic. Supermarket chains are far more vulnerable than Monsanto. (Not to mention all their other bad effects.) It’s worked well in keeping most GMOs out of Europe. Perhaps the winningest union going, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (one of the few that’s been winning at all), has based its strategy on targeting one retailer after another.
Most of all, it’s up to we the people to take matters into our own hands, not “the states”. But that truth may be frightening for some of these cadres, who by training and temperament may identify more with Monsanto than with small farmers, indigenous peoples, and true democracy activists (that is, active participatory citizens).
But here’s the core question to ask any advocate of system reformism, i.e. Better Elitism – When this fails, THEN what do you want to do? If the answer is vague, or boils down to, “keep doing what’s already failed, ad infinitum and ad nauseum”, we know we’re dealing with con artists whose only real agenda is to keep dissent firmly within system-endorsed bounds.
The right question would be, “If this doesn’t work, will you then convene a conference dedicated to enshrining abolition as the only goal, and working on strategy only toward this goal?”
We already have the fact that this was already tried in Vermont and already failed, for one reason and one reason only, because the state government doesn’t want to do it. So why would that same government change its mind? The same has been true in every other state where the legislative route has been tried. How much evidence will be needed? The fact is, where the propagators of the “co-existence” scam (of which labeling is a part) aren’t conscious liars (I think the likes of Whole Foods Market, Hirshfield, etc. certainly are), they’re still acting according to indelible system-compliant limitations. They’ve internalized the rules of the criminal system, and by now voluntarily collaborate with it. The real goal is to try to prevent a real anti-GMO and anti-corporate food movement from cohering and gathering force.
What could cause me to change my mind about this tactic and goal? It’s tough, because I argue that these campaigns have unilaterally pre-failed by making their proposed legislation so lame. I think labels for GMO-fed meat and dairy are also necessary. (I’m well aware that the central government claims to have “pre-emptive” power over this. So what? To unilaterally cave in on account of such a bogus and tyrannical presumption is hardly in the Spirit of ’76. Why not go ahead and challenge these usurpers? We can at least agree upon and publicize the fact of this usurpation and this illegitimacy. Would that cost the state money from the central government? If so, that should be seen as a feature and not a bug. We’re never going to take back our political and economic sovereignty while we remain a dependent cog of the central money system. Everything is interrelated, and we must be organic and holistic about our philosophy and activism. To think anti-GMO activism can be a stand-alone campaign which doesn’t fundamentally challenge the entire structure is, ironically, a perfect example of the NPK mentality that’s destroying our agriculture, and which was the ideological fount of GMOs in the first place.
On that note, I’ve heard of an ongoing secession movement in Vermont. I don’t know its specific ideology, but perhaps there’s a ready-made ally, once people get serious about Food Sovereignty.)
Leaving aside the scope of the labeling, I’d have to see the thing passed and fully enforced. More importantly, I’d have to see the campaign organize itself as a permanent grassroots organization dedicated to enforcement of this measure, and to expanding the action as far as it can go, toward full abolition. This is a non-negotiable baseline for any democracy activism worthy of the name. Within-the-system reforms like getting a law passed are always to be seen as supplementary to directly democratic movement-building and direct action.
But more likely, the elite organizers of the campaign wouldn’t see grassroots action as even a supplement to the “legalistic” action. On the contrary, we’d have proof that the campaign had been a con job if, once the bill was passed, the Leaders were to turn to whatever grass roots had sprung up and say, “We won! Now you can disband and go home. We, Your Betters, will now confer with our fellow elites in government and at the corporations. We’ll try to keep you posted.”
I’d say that if we the people want to support a labeling campaign, we must do so as a parallel grassroots organization, built from day one to be a permanent, ever-growing movement. Under no circumstances should we let ourselves be “led” by elites, however well-meaning they may seem. We must lead ourselves.
I think the answer is that existing groups won’t be part of the true wellspring which shall one day surge to a purifying Flood.