August 6, 2018

US Electoralism is No Difference

Filed under: Mainstream Media, Reformism Can't Work — Tags: , , , — Russell Bangs @ 1:02 am


How can we explain electoral idiocy? To significant extent it’s ignorance and stupidity. Years ago when I was masochistic enough to “debate” politics with Democrat partisans of my acquaintance, I was always amazed at how ignorant they were of almost everything their Party and their Leaders actually do. Thus for example they’d always be astounded to learn that Obama and Hillary Clinton are hard core supporters of Monsanto, GMOs and the whole regime of poison-based commodity agriculture, indeed that if anything Obama was even more aggressively pro-GMO than Bush was. And in truth they’d never learn any of this but forget it immediately.
But most of all it’s non-political egoistic perspective. If A and B agree on 99% and differ only on 1% of details, they may argue all the more fiercely over the 1% in dispute. But from the point of view of C, who completely disagrees (agrees on 0%), A and B are practically identical.
Thus both Democrats and Republicans are imperial war-mongers who support US wars of aggression. They disagree only on some details, which to them take on huge proportions.
But to those of us who are anti-imperialist, anti-war, they are identical.
In the same way, both Democrats and Republicans agree that America should be ruled by the rich and big corporations, that these should pay little to no taxes, and in fact that the purpose of society and the Earth is to serve the rich as a resource mine and waste dump. They disagree only on details, and that the Republicans “go too far”.
But to those of us who recognize that the rich are purely parasitic and destructive, who want to abolish the rich completely, who want to abolish concentrated wealth as such, Dembots and Repbots are identical.
They both agree on ecocide. They both agree that the living Earth should be nothing but a resource mine and waste dump for their worthless civilization. They only differ on details of how absolute the destruction should be, and how fast total destruction should be carried out. They argue about details like whether national parks should be privatized. They agree on the total destruction of everything not specifically “protected” in this formal way. (There we find the mission of the mainstream “environmental” groups: To help the destroyers of the Earth “manage” the destruction, which in practice means to carry it out somewhat more slowly. The role of NGOs is much the same as that of the WWII Judenrate (Jewish Councils) who helped the Nazis organize the deportations to the death camps.)
But to those of us who love, revere, cherish the Earth in all its beauty and mystery, we who recognize the absolute dependency of humanity on the only home we’ll ever know, the Democrat and Republican parties are identical in their insane and evil drive to murder the Earth and force the total murder-suicide of humanity.

August 5, 2018

You Can Hoard, But You Can’t Hide (Svalbard’s Broken Freezer)


When we built the seed vault, there was not even discussion of the permafrost,” Hege Njaa Aschim, the press representative of the organization that oversees the project, told me. But the weather last winter, she said, was “like a Norwegian summer.” “We didn’t come up with the term doomsday vault,” Cary Fowler, the mastermind of the seed vault, told me. “The idea there was to provide an insurance policy, so if anything were to happen to those other facilities, it wouldn’t be an extinction event.”
Destruction of seed biodiversity is one of the worst crises and crimes of corporate agriculture. The proprietors of Svalbard – the agrochemical cartel and the governments that serve it – all want the total death of humanity and the Earth. For the ecology, agronomy, and human freedom it’s essential that we the living people breed our own necessary organic crops and sustain and expand a decentralized network of seed saving and seed exchange.
You won’t hear this in the corporate media. There you’re far more likely to find the hagiography of Svalbard, the “doomsday vault” which is going to save us all, the seed bank which in crisis is going to enable Monsanto and the Gates Foundation to continue to “feed the world” even though so far all they’re doing is starving it.
Svalbard is part of the system dedicated to centralized corporate control of all genetic diversity and committed to the destruction of agroecology, participatory breeding, networked seed sharing and conservation. Consider who controls the Svalbard project: Bayer/Monsanto, the Gates Foundation, Syngenta, DuPont, USAID, the CGIAR, the World Bank, all dedicated to totalitarian technocracy.
The project is a typical “public-private partnership” which fits into the decades-long pattern of CGIAR institutions traversing the global South to collect germplasm, convey it to the corporations (i.e. to perform corporate research with public money), and to proselytize on behalf of Western corporate agriculture among Southern officials, intellectuals and farmers, but using a “public” veneer. USAID and the Gates crew specialize in this. The seeds they heist and convey to the corporate vault then come under corporate control and will be used only for the elites’ purposes. The same system which is trying to enclose seeds everywhere will deploy its corporate vaults in the same way.
The doomsday vault is supposed to come in handy if the political and corporate elites ever were to have catastrophic need. In the meantime the place serves as a standard publicly-funded corporate gathering and research facility for Monsanto and the rest of the GM seed cartel. In that day-to-day way it represents doomsday for humanity and the Earth.
Beyond that, the idea of Svalbard – a centralized, literal fortress – is completely wrong ecologically. Here as everywhere else we need networked decentralization. We need a vast network of thousands of seed banks, all devoted to adapting landraces on a regional basis. Also, storing seeds is only second best. For varieties to remain attuned to the ecology people need to keep growing them. There’s no way to rely on the ecological viability of even the most carefully stored seeds as time passes while the plants aren’t being grown in the real world. You have to keep planting and growing them.
This also is the only way to restore seeds and crops as a core part of human culture, human spirit. They must be part of our living experience, our immersion in the flows of the ecology.
Svalbard’s broken freezer, its melting permafrost, is a reminder of how physically and politically vulnerable a bunker like this is, how it’s the wrong path. It’s ironic that the climate chaos being driven most of all by the industrial agriculture paradigm of which Svalbard is a devoted part is coming home to threaten the vault itself. This project of Monsanto and Gates does indeed represent doomsday: First human doom through socioeconomic attack, then ecological doom through poisonism and destruction of habitat and biodiversity, and above all total human and ecological doom through total climate chaos.

August 4, 2018

For Book Draft: Chapter Introduction on Agronomic Failure and the Poison Mandate


Decades of harsh agronomic experience proved the model of agriculture based on pesticides didn’t work and couldn’t be sustained. Rational and honest participants and observers rejected poison-based agriculture in favor of agroecology. We had a “Show Me” attitude toward Missouri-based Monsanto’s proposition that the GMO version of this poison model would be any different. The reality of the field quickly proved it the same failure.
The poison agriculture machine was successful for decades at driving billions of human beings off the land, exterminating wide swaths of ecological community, and concentrating tremendous socioeconomic, cultural, and biological power as well as venal wealth. But its agronomy was always a complete failure. Indeed, the corporate state production system depended on this failure for all its successes.
Herbicides and insecticides became more profitable as pests developed resistance to them. The more the poisons failed against their targets, and the more secondary pests moved in to exploit temporary gaps opened up where the targets temporarily were suppressed, the greater the array grew of different poisons which had to be applied, and the volume of application for each. The pesticides themselves were being “stacked” long before that became a term of art among GMO products. At the same time propaganda converted each failure into an imminent crisis which could be met only by stampeding more poisons into service. In this way the agrobusiness state stampeded minds, stampeded the culture, furthering its own power goals and reinforcing the general goals of instilling religious faith in corporate control and acceptance of the need for deregulation and bureaucratic speed.
Genetic modification technology had far reaching despotic monoculture and eugenic goals from the inception. But the operators soon zeroed in on agriculture as their first battle deployment. Attempts to engineer for agronomic and product quality traits like environmental hardiness, nutritional efficiency, and food quality always have been failures because genetic engineering is basically a stupid, brute force technology incapable of attaining the evolutionary precision and harmonies required to bring out such traits. But the engineers found that crops could be dumb-engineered to become poison plants: Engineering a plant to tolerate an herbicide or to produce its own insecticidal poison generally required only the rote insertion of a single “transgene”.
Therefore GMOs dovetailed perfectly with the existing paradigm of the pesticide treadmill. More herbicides could be sprayed directly on the crop at any time. In principle agriculture now could be subject to a limitless menagerie of herbicides coupled with seeds “stacked” with multiplying herbicide-tolerance traits. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready line opened up a whole frontier for the massive slathering of glyphosate, hitherto a lesser herbicide. As the weeds surged to resist glyphosate, the agrochemical bazaar offered seeds to tolerate glyphosate plus every kind of poison – glufosinate, 2,4-D, dicamba, isoxaflutole, HPPDs, and onward. The multiplication of the GM seed traits and the herbicides also multiplied the profits, the patents, the monopoly power, the cultural power, the biological power.
At the same time and by the same process insects developed resistance to the endemic Bt toxins of the GM poison plants. Here too the system’s solution was to stack more poisons and more of every poison: Each new GM seed was engineered to exude a greater variety of Bt poisons, while each seed also was coated in multiple neonicotinoid insecticides (along with fungicides, mitcides, nematocides, and so on). Farmers who were told that GM seed would eliminate the need to spray insecticides now needed to go back to spraying in addition to buying the ever more expensive stacked GMOs.
For poison-based agriculture, a power-seeking project, failure was success. Failure always was built into the business model and the geopolitical strategy.
Persistence Proves Intent. If governments, the agribusiness corporations, the scientific establishment and the corporate media see this inexorable failure of every poison in the face of simple natural evolution, and see how the paradigm’s one and only answer each and every time is to add more poisons to the stack, each poison guaranteed to fail in its turn, this proves that this failure is part of the effect intended and desired by these organizations. As a rule the major effects of a large-scale action always are the desired effects. If concentrated power desires different effects, if the government and political-intellectual class desire different effects, they always have alternatives which could preserve the “good” effects without the “bad”. There’s really no such thing as “collateral damage”. That’s a propaganda lie which pretends that some effects weren’t sought by the policy-makers and that they deplore these effects. Never mind that all the major effects are consistent, predictable, therefore premeditated. If there really were major effects which the government did not anticipate and found bad, it would change the policy so as no longer to produce those effects in a major way. Persistence proves either that the effect, if truly unanticipated, is nevertheless welcome, or else that it was anticipated and consciously intended all along. Morally and practically this makes no difference. The major effects of an action comprise an organic whole, and anyone who wants one characteristic effect of an action will anticipate and want its other effects and will welcome any major effect he didn’t anticipate.
In reality the agrochemical project has zero beneficial purpose and no redeeming qualities. It claims two purposes: To “feed the world”, yet it has done nothing but sow malnutrition, hunger, and famine; and to control crop pests, which has been nothing but a losing arms race. Meanwhile agroecology grows more calories and nutrition per acre than industrial monoculture, and it grows this as food for people, not commodities for Mammon; and agroecological methods are vastly superior for pest control.
But just as poison-based agriculture never wanted to grow food and did want to sow desperation and famine, so it never wanted to control pests, only to manage them so that pest afflictions become ever more severe. As we’ll see in the next chapter, this management ideology has a direct parallel in the regulator ideology of “managing” poisons in the environment, in part by gauging alleged human and ecological “tolerances” for these poisons. These versions of this false ideology are deployed because the program of poison-based agriculture is to maximize poison production and use as such, toward the goal of increasing system power and monoculture control. This is why industrial agriculture seeks the destruction of agricultural and ecological biodiversity as such: Dynamic diversity is impossible to control. This is why it seeks to maximize monoculture at every level from the most literally physical to the political and cultural: Because monoculture is easier to control. This is why it is waging biological and chemical warfare around the world at the most extreme levels possible: Because it wants to eradicate physical biodiversity and to eradicate political and socioeconomic diversity through total corporate control of political and economic life.

August 3, 2018

How the Supply-Driven Economic Society Works

Filed under: Dance of Death, Globalization, Mainstream Media — Tags: , — Russell Bangs @ 3:58 am


How the economic society works. This describes all societies based on productionism, which means all of modern civilization.
1. Get subsidies to build a factory and to destroy parts of the Earth by extracting “resources” and/or spewing poison.
Meanwhile productionist-consumerist indoctrination begins early in childhood and never lets up. The supplementary propaganda also begins early and never lets up. (It’s telling how relentlessly the dose needs to be repeated to keep humans within this mindset. That’s strong evidence that none of this is a major part of human nature.)
2. Overproduce. Destroy parts of the Earth with pollution.
3. Launch a propaganda campaign (i.e. advertising) to convince consumers that they need and want the thing you overproduce.
4. Use the revenue to further concentrate your wealth and power.
5. Use this wealth and power to lobby for further subsidies, to destroy more earthly “resources” and build more factories, to overproduce more, and to directly destroy parts of the Earth purely for the sake of destruction.
I can’t think of any aspect of the economic society, any corporate sector, which isn’t summed up here.

August 2, 2018

This is Fishy (Salmon CAFOs and GM Camelina)


Factory farming of salmon, allegedly a more “sustainable” alternative to industrial mining of wild salmon, depends to a large extent on using ground up anchovies as feed. Thus it decimates another wild fishery. This generates the problem of declining anchovy populations and insufficient feed to fuel the overproducing salmon factory. The government, corporation, scientific establishment, and mainstream media then use this purely artificial problem as the pretext to tout GMO “solutions”. They do this for mundane profit purposes and toward more far-reaching goals of political power and eugenic control of GM animals and eventually GM humans.
In this case, anchovy-based feed as well as non-GM algae (also used extensively, and still available in adequate volume) are slated to be superseded by feed based on GM camelina modified with algae DNA to cause it to produce long-chain omega-3 oil. The fish fed on this material then will be touted as “healthy” to eat.
A laboratory feeding trial with this GM camelina currently is underway in Britain. As always with such trials, it’s not a food safety trial but only studies whether the animal quickly reaches slaughter weight. Nor will there ever be a study on the food safety for humans who eat animals fed this way. Once GM salmon are fed on GM feed it’ll be double exposure.
Note how the so-called “scientists” quoted in the piece think exclusively in terms of capitalist ideology, especially the Orwellian lie that government-subsidized supply-driven overproduction (in this case CAFO feed and farmed salmon), supplemented by consumerist propaganda, equals some natural mechanism of supply and demand. In reality there is no such “demand” except where artificially juiced by propaganda and retail prices kept deceptively low by hiding most of the costs and simply refusing to pay the environmental costs. But this environmental debt is vastly greater than the national debt. (National debts are denominated in money and owed to other money-mongers, and therefore can be written off without much trouble. But civilization’s mounting debt to Gaia is existential, biological, not financial; and it cannot be written off. On the contrary the Earth, perhaps at first slowly but all the more surely, will insist on payment in full, with interest.)
Reject the false Mammonist way of thinking, and the gratuitous idiocy of the whole CAFO/GMO paradigm becomes clear.
Fish farming is as bad as any other factory farming. Good land is condemned in order to grow the feed while human food production is driven onto more marginal land or just driven out completely. CAFOs are disease incubators, in the case of salmon frequently spreading disease to already beleaguered wild populations. CAFOs especially are designed to drive antibiotic resistance among human pathogens leading to the collapse of antibiotics as a medically effective treatment. Factory farming drives many socioeconomic evils, destroying community ways of life and community economies of farming and fishing for human food rather than for mass commodity production. CAFOs are ongoing atrocities against the animals exploited by them, physically and morally the descendants of Auschwitz. Anyone who could do this to non-human animals also would do it to humans, and anyone who could tolerate this level of animal cruelty would tolerate this level of cruelty to people. Nor is there any good reason to believe it’s less cruel for salmon than it is for chickens, pigs, cows.
And then in cases like this, the self-generated problems of factory farming are used as a pretext for the existential aggression of the genetic engineering regime.
On the other hand, no wild fish have evolved to withstand industrial fishing methods. All commercial fisheries are unsustainable. Salmon also are the special targets of dams. The attempted murder of rivers also murders the salmon who migrate up those rivers.
There is no ecological way to consume commercially extracted fish. Those who work toward an ecological way of life have to abjure commercial fish completely. This also would purge many poisons from the diet, from the mercury which accumulates in big predator fish to the incipient danger of GM salmon, the most dangerous kind of GMO for food safety because unlike commodity GM maize or soy it’s a true direct GM food designed to be eaten directly. Any food safety danger from genetic engineering itself will be maximized by such direct frankenfoods as GM salmon, “golden rice” if it ever got beyond the hoax stage, RNAi potatoes, botox apples and others.

August 1, 2018

Science Has Abdicated


Institutionalized “science ethics” always has been a contradiction in terms. The UK Nuffield Bioethics Council’s endorsement of genetically engineering human embryos for eugenic and designer baby purposes is one of the most grotesque examples.
This is typical of how genetic engineering has never been about anything but further concentrating wealth and power. In this case, both the fake “medical” rationale and the real eugenic rationale are reserved only for those with financial access to these extreme high-maintenance technological treatments. Indeed many erstwhile “anti-GMO” people believe the Heal the World lie, although this British eugenic gambit is so brazen that even the lukewarmists oppose this particular outrage.
Meanwhile the truth is that the Heal the World lie is identical in every way to the Feed the World lie which is universally refuted among GM critics. There’s far more than enough food for everyone on Earth to eat sufficient diets, but billions lack the money to buy sufficient calories and/or nutrition. This artificial Mammon condition is the only source of hunger and malnutrition. In the same way, good basic medical care easily could be available to everyone through a sane, humane economic system like single payer, which would deliver much better care at far less expense than the bloated parasite which is the private health insurance racket. Boutique high-maintenance “treatments” like gene therapy and this kind of eugenics could at most help a tiny handful. In both cases, “feed the world” and “heal the world”, the genetic engineering religion is based on nothing but lies. One of the main lies is that problems like hunger and disease aren’t socioeconomic problems with political solutions, but purely technical problems with purely technocratic solutions. That’s a gambit of corporate rule, and of neoliberal capitalism in general.
In the same way, it was always obvious that fantasies of genetic engineering, “transhumanism”, space colonization were about nothing but the power and depraved whims of the rich.
Chinese vaccine manufacturers make defective vaccines and lie about it. US manufacturers are no more trustworthy. Indeed the US system doesn’t even have the token fines the Chinese system does, only the subsidies.
Then we have the “eco-modernist” ideology, ardently embraced by the mainstream STEM cadre, which stems from mainstream “management”/sacrifice oriented corporate environmentalism. It hooks up seamlessly with both corporate power and the scientism religion. It flatters the consumerism of the Western middle class which always wants to “have it all”, total gluttonous license along with ecological and moral integrity. It promises that “growth” can continue. It promises that the Progress religion will come true. It promises all these things with a shiny techno-sheen, so attractive to all the retarded infants of this madhouse: GMOs (who cares that they’ve already proven to be an absolute fraud in every way), geoengineering, biofuels, fracking, the electric car, the “space” meme, all these genocidal-ecocidal frauds will turn magically into salvation at the ultimate moment of the Armageddon they’re currently generating, if only Homo domesticus stays the course, doubles down on the destruction, becomes ever more murderous and wasteful. Stalinist doctrine had it that the class struggle reaches its most extreme level of violence right before the complete victory of communism. Christian doctrine had it that the struggle of God vs. Satan reaches its most extreme level of violence right before the complete victory of Jesus over death. And now we have the terminal doctrine of the modern technocratic civilization, the same among all strains of its ideology, now including the “eco”-movement: The struggle of man vs. nature reaches its most extreme level of violence right before the complete victory of a suddenly sustainable and free civilization, where human lion will lie down with human lamb and civilization’s lion will lie down with the ecological lamb.
In reality, the evangelists of the “eco-modern” scam (such as the false prophet of “vertical farming” exposed in this piece) are speaking in code. Like the politicians and corporate CEOs they serve, they really intend for the vast majority of human beings to die of starvation and pandemics, most likely deliberately engineered. Biowarfare to produce pandemics goes logically with the entire technocratic ideology, and it’s the only explanation for the technocracy’s deliberate campaign to wipe out antibiotics as an effective medical treatment. Modern famines always are artificially and deliberately generated, without exception.
Just as agriculture is the basis of exploitative, destructive, wasteful civilization, so for the scientific establishment the number one purpose is to render agriculture as exploitative, destructive, and wasteful as possible. Thus the establishment’s absolute embrace, staking their entire future authority, of the GMO/pesticide regime. The poisoning is more slow and subtle, the repression is primarily economic rather than directly violent (though that’s increasing too), the forced mass expulsion from the land is primarily coerced economically. It’s all part of corporate neoliberalism’s strategy for domination, more refined than that of classical fascism. They realized they could attain the same results as the Nazis without generating similar resistance against themselves. (Indeed, via the EU Germany has attained something like the economic dominion in Europe which the Nazis sought.) As for scientists, today’s are the exact same type as those who served the Nazis and would do the exact same thing given the circumstances. Today’s Bayer is of course the exact same company which provided Zyklon B, its executives the exact same executive type. Monsanto should fit in just fine.
Science has completely abdicated, sold out, gone over. It is no longer trustworthy on any level and no longer there for the good of humanity. On the contrary science is completely encompassed by engineering imperatives and the corporate science paradigm. It seeks only profit and power, including its own religious will to power, and it’s an unequivocally enthusiastic participant in the productionist/consumerist/technocratic/corporate paradigm, the destruction of humanity and Earth purely for the sake of destruction and control.
Only some individual fugitives are working on a new ecological paradigm for science. The rest are fully committed to mechanistic reductionism, corporate science, science as waterboy for profit-seeking tech development, all the modes of boot-licking junk science.
What will have to die out isn’t a sclerotic generation of scientists in favor of a rising generation of ecology-minded scientists. This generation will not be forthcoming. Part of the reason for the STEM indoctrination onslaught in the schools is to foreclose this possibility.
What has to die out is the generation which still believes in “Science” as a religious idol. The scientism generation must die out and be replaced by a generation ready to go home to Earth, which recognizes that science in its modern form, irretrievably corrupted, distorted, demented, is toxic baggage we mustn’t take for the journey.
We can salvage and continue with ecology, agroecology, chaos theory, the purely intellectual aspects of physics, and related modes. The rest is malign and must be jettisoned.

July 31, 2018

Strict Mores


The record is clear that the USDA and EPA intend and desire all the harms and failures of poison-based agriculture. Pretending to deal with the dicamba crisis the EPA explicitly endorsed part one of my corporate template with this quote: “We’re committed to taking appropriate action for the 2018 growing season with an eye toward ensuring that the technology is available, number one, to growers but that it is used responsibly.” Throughout the crisis the agency has provided Monsanto with its imprimatur, as per part three of the template. The EPA itself refused to perform or require volatility testing in the first place. Therefore both Monsanto and the EPA strictly admit the volatility of Monsanto’s XtendiMax. Such an admission is always implicit where those with the resources and responsibility to test refuse to do so and work to prevent anyone else from doing so. In the broad sense this is Strict Proof that the corporations and governments know or believe pesticides and GMOs to be harmful to human health. If they didn’t believe this they certainly would have performed legitimate safety tests instead of promulgating the religious lie of “substantial equivalence” along with a passel of methodologically fraudulent tests and rumors of “secret science”, a contradiction in terms. We know that the worst we can speculate is in fact true. The corporations and governments themselves admit this, proven by their consistent pattern of action.
In the same way, any consistent course of action on the part of those who can choose a different course proves their Strict Intent to cause all the consistent significant effects of their consistent course of action. Here we see the intent of Monsanto and the US government to wipe out all non-GM soy, as much of any other kind of farming, gardening, ornamentals, and wild plants as possible, and along the way to poison the soil and environment as totally as possible. Whatever human and animal health effects soon arise from the atmospheric suffusion of the dicamba zone also have been intended by these organizations.
Monsanto and the US government want to maximize dicamba use. The corporations of course want to maximize sales, from a mundane profiteering point of view. But far beyond mundane profits, maximal poison deployment is intended to masximize monoculture power and control. The corporate-technocratic system seeks this regardless of destructive effects, and intentionally to maximize the destruction. By Strict Intent there’s no practical difference between willful premeditated nihilism and the active will and premeditation to destroy. Therefore there is no moral difference, and there should be no difference from the perspective of the law or policy. This doctrine is necessary especially in a case like poison drift where it’s difficult to impossible to pinpoint responsibility for specific damage and where, even if this circumstance of non-responsibility hadn’t been anticipated and pre-planned, all the perpetrators rush to take advantage of it in a deliberate, systematic way.
Therefore it follows that abolitionist doctrine must be to impose Strict Liability upon all participants in the poison racket, from developers to sellers to users. It’s the same principle as for any other criminal conspiracy: The guy driving the getaway car is just as guilty of murder as the robber inside the bank who pulls the trigger, even though he never left the car. Everyone knows how toxic and destructive all these chemicals are, the corporations and regulators most of all, so no one can claim innocent ignorance. This is a core movement principle and the movement must promise to put this into effect wherever it gets the power. This principle follows practically from the principles of Strict Proof and Strict Intent.
The same principle applies to all programs of ecological and social destruction, all the actions of the economic civilization. If there was ever a time when anyone could claim to be innocently mistaken about the consequences of Mammon, of capitalism, of empowering corporations, most of all the consequences of treating our only home the Earth as a resource mine, waste dump, and subject of sadistic vandalism; if there ever was such a time (I doubt it myself), that time is in the distant past. No one has been innocent for a long, long time. Most of all, it’s beyond any dispute that the cadres of government, corporations, academia, and media are fully conscious, or willfully ignorant, of all the primary consequences of the system’s anti-ecological and anti-human assaults. They are all Nuremburg criminals to their rotted soulless core. We can no longer think in terms of questions or doubt. The crimes and the culpability are existential.
Everyone, abolitionists and reformers alike, should take up these doctrines, make them mainstays of philosophy and political communication, and promise to make them the law of the land.
To prevent confusion, I’m not saying there’s a master cabal somewhere consciously plotting out all the evils, though for example in the case of poison agriculture Monsanto certainly is conscious of much of it. I’m describing an existential inertia and a biological campaign. Therefore we’re only dealing proximately with conventional moral philosophy. Rather, we’re dealing with an elemental process whose morality we must view more primally in terms of its consistent action rather than foolish speculation about the “consciousness” of the creatures driving it. You might as well speculate about the consciousness of corporations, patents, and dollars while you’re at it. Anyway, in this case the primary organisms involved are Agrobacterium tumefaciens; soybeans, corn, and cotton; weeds like Palmer amaranth; pathogens like salmonella and botulins. The humans involved behave according to the same patterns. The technocratic propagandists who exalt corporate personhood, artificial intelligence, and robots are similarly disparaging their own role on the other, “post-human” end.
We see how inadequate conventional moralizing is to the crisis. Rather we need the strict morality of Strict Intent, Strict Proof, Strict Liability. We must apply it to the corporations, the regulators, the scientific establishment, academia, the mainstream media, the technocratic political class in general.
Adapted from part four of my series on the dicamba crisis.

July 30, 2018

We Need Renewable Ideas, Not Stale Ones About “Renewables”


They may say I look like Don Quixote, but they’re the ones charging a mirage.

Industrial renewables are unsustainable because of their dependency on a foundation of cheap plentiful fossil fuels: Especially, they and the industrial economy they’re supposed to rescue would continue to be completely dependent upon fossil fuels for transportation. Industrial renewables also are bound up in ecological destruction: The destruction of arid ecosystems for CSP monocultures, the murder of rivers for hydroelectric, the straight extractionist rape from the metals mining it requires. And of course the wholesale massacre of birds by industrial windmills. It takes a special kind of depravity to call this “environmentalism”, and only today’s corporate environmentalists could reach such a level of depravity.
The main evil of the propaganda of a large-scale industrial renewables buildout is that it’s supposed to replace fossil fuels in powering what would otherwise be the same corporate globalization regime. This is no improvement. Centralization itself, gigantism itself, is at the core of the crisis. No one who would want a high-consumption grid based on CSP and industrial wind mega-farms would care about replacing fossil fuels anyway; they’d only want to supplement them. If the paramount imperative is to feed the monstrous consumption maw (and for the advocates of the industrial civilization this is the only imperative), then the climate crisis and all other environmental crises can’t have any importance at all, other than as propaganda gambits on behalf of further escalated destruction. On the contrary, if averting the worst of the crises was any kind of goal, then the goal of maximizing energy production automatically would be downgraded severely.
What’s most promising about renewables is their decentralized, non-grid potential to contribute to a decent life for human beings, such as the great potential of passive solar heating. Just as with agroecology, here we can provide warmth and comfort and sufficient electricity for family and community use, as opposed to the productionist mindset which only wants massive corporate-controlled electricity generation for its own sake. It’s the same as how growing food for human beings is vastly more productive and healthy in every way than producing agricultural commodities from which food is then supposed to trickle down as an afterthought. It’s true that acre for acre agroecology is far more productive in every way – calories, nutrition, biodiversity, every other ecological function – than industrial monoculture, whereas decentralized renewables would produce less gross energy quantity than any kind of industrial generation. But the better quality of life provided by a decentralized ecological society would more than make up for that.
Anyway, industrial-scale renewables never could be self-sustaining rather than dependent upon a fossil fuel foundation. Therefore the whole quantity-vs.-quality debate is moot since the quantity couldn’t be sustained anyway.
All this must be placed in the context of humanity’s great need to abolish the onslaught of industrial poisons. This is a more immediate and dire threat even than climate change, as pressing as that’s becoming. (But these two crises are completely intertwined and cannot be separated. What drives one drives the other, and the only solution for one is the only solution for the other.) Many of those who tout industrial renewables want to use this to prop up poison-based agriculture. Obviously it won’t be possible really to do that once the necessary cheap, plentiful fossil fuels aren’t available. But the idea itself is pernicious since it’s part of the “delayer” form of denialism, the de facto denialism of the climate crocodiles shedding their usual crocodile tears.
That too is a reason to reject any version of the call for productionist Business As Usual, including the version which would have it all powered by industrial renewables. Such a program, if it were possible and actually carried out, would continue destroying the Earth and would continue to drive the climate crisis since it would continue destroying the forests, grasslands, and soil.
No aspect of the modern technocratic-corporate system is redeemable. Productionism, capitalism in itself is the most evil of all ideologies and systematically maximizes all other evils because it can’t use or tolerate anything that’s good in people or the Earth, only the bad, destructive, and wasteful.
We must reject concepts of absolute production and consumption, but rather think and speak only in terms of what’s sufficient and desirable. This includes the social/community element. All the worthless high-maintenance material junk which has been available to the Western rich and middle classes and their apes around the world have not made them psychologically secure, content, happy. On the contrary, it’s evident how unhappy, insecure, insane and deranged the “modern” human type has become.
Conversely, and as a corollary, people still close to an indigenous or national way of life, or who faithfully seek such a life, don’t need more “stuff”. We can benefit from modern agroecological science (which is knowledge, not imported junk like commodified seeds and poisons) and some of the medical knowledge (there too, it’s basic knowledge and low-tech practice which helps most, not modern high-maintenance technology; the fact is that most of the modern medical gains were achieved by things like better sanitation, while hi-tech modern medical science has had a much smaller and diminishing-returns role, and in any event is increasingly impossible financially for most people even in the West). Agroecology is not a revelation to people still close to the Earth, but builds upon and modifies traditional knowledge.
For the physical reasons of Peak Oil, the climate crisis and the many other environmental crises, driven by the socioeconomic and spiritual evils of productionism and corporate capitalism, all our ideas about energy and technology must mean finding the level which is best for the most constructive and fulfilled human experience and interaction within the ecology, our only home. The workable political and economic level for the ecology is also the best level for human happiness and contentment, on an individual and community level. All the evidence says this level is low in terms of the physical technological sophistication and grossness, high in terms of knowledge. The best example is the extreme contrast of the technologically highly ramified, but intellectually and scientifically very stupid and retrograde poison agriculture regime, vs. the “low-tech” but intellectually highly advanced agroecological paradigm. The same is true for money and finance. The same is true for everything else. And the same is true for energy, where the low-hanging fruit of fully developing passive solar knowledge to provide adequate heating for home and community use, joined with the necessary social transformations, is far more promising than generating extreme amounts of electricity amid an ongoing consumer atomism while the civilization attempts to murder the Earth and commits suicide in the process.

July 29, 2018

Notes on the Industrial Organic Sector

1. A few years back there were some false rumors, which may have started as satire, that Monsanto was buying Whole Foods Market. This stemmed from the fact that Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield and others joined with Obama’s secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack to try to make a “co-existence” deal with Monsanto over Roundup Ready alfalfa. This was a backdoor way to try to water down organic standards. The USDA always has wanted to include GMOs within the organic standards, and the industrial organic sector, reliant as it is on the “natural” label scam, has no objections. Lots of rhetoric followed which eventually led to the false rumors. The prosaic truth is that industrial organic is industrial first and organic a distant second. The sector is not committed to anything beyond what it sees as effective marketing and profiteering. WFM’s CEO at the time Jeff Mackey openly said that WFM touts “organic” and “natural” purely as a marketing gimmick, and he explicitly repudiated any ecological or public health philosophy beyond that. This mirrors the USDA’s appraisal of its own organic certification program: According to the agency organic food is no better or healthier than poison-based food, but is merely a kind of lifestyle ornament.
What’s not a rumor is the fact that BASF and Cargill are members of the Organic Trade Association. Nor is this a surprise, as the OTA represents the industrial sector and shares the USDA/WFM view of organic agriculture and food as merely a branding device. That’s why the OTA consistently has worked to water down NOSB standards, and that’s why it supported the 2016 DARK Act which put a stake in the heart of the GMO labeling movement by co-opting it in a sham fashion, as I predicted for years would happen.
2. Many system NGOs are dedicated to performing a pro-corporate, pro-globalization triangulator role. Some oppose pesticides and GMOs but want FDA control of produce, or of GMO labeling. Some oppose pesticides and GMOs but support expanded use of synthetic fertilizers, themselves a major pollutant, driver of climate change, and basis of pesticide monoculture. In reality it’s not possible to support synthetic fertilizers and not effectively support the entire apparatus of agribusiness and poison-based agriculture. Even the USDA organic certification acknowledges this.
In the guise of debunking some pro-GMO lies they reinforce others and in general reinforce the lies of corporate industrial agriculture, commodity farming, and globalization. In the course of it they implicitly attack Food First and other organizations truly dedicated to fighting hunger, and who document and publish the truths of food production and economics. Just like how industrial organic’s lobbying arm Just Label It stressed labeling but supported GMOs on other points, as well as supporting corporate agriculture and food as such, with the eventual result I predicted for years: In 2016 the labeling strategy reached its logical end with the passage of what I called DARK Act Plan B.
This reflects the industrial organic agenda. This globalized commodity sector: 1. Opposes food-based agriculture, just as much as the GM cartel and any other commodity sector does. 2. Joins hands with Monsanto in trying to suppress the facts and propagate lies about food production, the environment, and hunger. 3. It diverges from the GM/pesticide cartel on some specifics regarding GMOs. (But not on fertilizer.) These seem to be chosen cynically, with an eye toward continuing to receive some corporate funding. Thus EWG refutes the “feed the world” lie where it comes specifically to GMOs but supports this big lie in general, while Just Label It supported the lie that GMOs have been tested and found to be safe.
All this is intended to serve a gate-keeping function, since any real abolition movement would be a threat to: 1. Industrial organic’s leadership of the food movement, 2. The sector’s very existence, which after all is just as dependent on corporate welfare, the parasite paradigm, the whole globalization system.
As far as the official certification, organic is nothing more or less than what the USDA says it is, by definition. When the USDA issued its original proposal for an organic certification in the 1990s, this proposed rule would have allowed GMOs to be certified “organic”. Only massive pressure from farmers and consumers forced them to back down and rewrite the standard to exclude GMOs. But the agency has not changed its mind about thinking they should be allowed, just as it has never changed its official opinion that organic agricultural practices and food are no safer or healthier but just add up to a set of “lifestyle” products. The USDA’s basic position on GMOs is that they’re not only safe but normative, and that the environment and food system should maximally be contaminated and transformed. (They would say “improved” or something similar; they call GM seeds “improved seeds”.) They’ve not only approved every GMO application without exception but are doing all they can to declare whole classes of GMOs to be outside their jurisdiction and unregulatable. It’s not every day you see a bureaucracy voluntarily giving up vast swathes of its power. Only extreme ideology could drive such a thing.
So much for the USDA. As for industrial organic, the likes of Jeff Mackey openly say that they subscribe to no organic philosophy but view the whole thing as a marketing ploy. Gary Hirshberg never misses a chance to try to euthanize activism, like with his endorsement of the QR code as an allegedly acceptable labeling compromise*. And although the Fabers were unable to reach a deal with Vilsack and the GMA in January 2016, they rushed out to justify the basic paradigm of secret elite conclaves toward some “compromise” which then can be handed down to the people. So there’s the basic attitude of the economic and cultural elites of the movement. As for standard practice, just look at the “natural” scam which is near-universal among them. If they’re willing to surreptitiously sell you GMOs and Roundup in your food (at a premium, no less!) while calling it “natural”, they’d certainly love to do the same by calling it “organic”. They’ve already slipped such poisons as gut-busting carrageenan into the certification standards.
Their most clear-cut political ploy was the attempted “co-existence” deal over GM alfalfa which Vilsack tried to broker between the industrial organic sector and Monsanto. The USDA itself in its Environmental Impact Review admitted that over the long run GM alfalfa cannot co-exist with non-GM. This means that legalizing the GM product is tantamount to rendering much of certified organic meat and dairy untenable – unless the standard is changed to allow some level of GM presence in the hay. Obviously Vilsack, WFM, Stonyfield, etc. knew this when they tried to make the deal. So unless one thinks they want certified organic meat and dairy to cease to exist, the only alternative is that they want to see the organic certification standard changed to allow GMOs.
Why would industrial organic do such things? In their perfect world, they could sell the same industrial junk but slap the “organic” brand on it and charge a premium. They already do exactly that with the term “natural” (which is why they’re hostile toward any labeling policy like Vermont’s which would end this terminological scam). They cherish the same desire as that of the USDA, to allow GMOs under the “organic” name. That’s why they always felt dissonance and ambivalence toward the idea of GMO labeling. They got involved only as a PR campaign. But as we saw with the history of JLI, AGree, etc., what they really wanted was to control and manage the labeling campaign, in the same way EPA “manages” Roundup and dioxins, and mainstream environmental groups help the corporations manage ecological destruction. They want to control it in such a way that they get the PR benefit while forestalling any reality of a strong, honest labeling policy. JLI, Hirshberg and the GMA are Roundup-burnt peas in a pod.
We’ve seen how in response to the Steve Marsh lawsuit there was a major propaganda campaign to the effect that Australia’s organic standards are too strict and need to be relaxed to allow some level of “adventitious presence”. The OTA and the industrial organic sector are leading same campaign in the US. Anywhere this relaxation is enacted, the level of contamination allowed under the standard then will begin a mechanical upward creep, in exactly the same way that pesticide “tolerances” are mechanically raised by regulators as more pesticides are used.
That exact same mechanical raising of the allowed level of GM presence also will occur with any labeling policy which is ever enacted, which is one of the reasons why labeling was the wrong idea in the first place. In Europe the 0.9% standard is under strong pressure from the industry to be raised.
*The whole attitude that “compromise” is possible and desirable is the same as to say that “co-existence” with Monsanto and GMOs is desirable, and that it’s physically possible at all.
3. Some people are more interested in premium niche marketing than in the food sovereignty and abolition imperatives. In many cases it’s obvious, as in the long and ongoing history of small organic companies selling out to big conglomerates. No doubt they’d often claim they were under financial duress and had no choice, and maybe once in awhile that’s true. The system is heavily stacked against healthy, ecological farming and food.
But far more often it’s simply taken for granted on an ideological level that a successful entrepreneur sells out at some point to a big corporation. Most entrepreneurs seem to regard this as a “natural” part of some kind of business life cycle, in the same way we physically go from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. But this conventional capitalist mindset cannot coexist with the ecological philosophy and imperative, any more than non-GM crops can coexist with GM for long in the most physical sense.
4. Is the USDA organic certification a decadence?** People with money are willing to pay more for what’s good (or at least better) while tolerating the general deterioration, rather than resolving to put an end to what’s bad so we can all have what’s good? I’m fighting to abolish poison-based agriculture and build food sovereignty. I regard the place of organics only from a strategic and tactical point of view. But I’m certain that the goal itself isn’t to expand organics alongside the poison system. That’s impossible anyway. Coexistence is impossible, and if the poison system continues, the organic sector must eventually cease to exist in all but name, if that.
Foodies and corporate executives and shareholders alike (often the same people) think humanity (at least moneyed humans) can co-exist with GMOs, pesticides, climate change, etc. For them organic food, electric cars, etc. add up to an island. Monsanto’s CEO thinks he and his people eat separate food, drink separate water, breathe separate air, inhabit a separate ecology. But Certified Organic is not an island, it cannot co-exist (physically or politically) with poison-based agriculture and a poisoned environment, steadily it will be eroded, degraded, corrupted, and soon will cease to exist except in name only, if things keep going the way they are.
**There are several attempts underway to promulgate non-governmental organic standards which improve upon the USDA certification. These include the Real Organic Project (designed to overcome many of the abusive features of the USDA standards) and Certified Naturally Grown (designed to be more affordable for small direct retail organic farmers; the USDA system is geared to the big industrial operators). Whether any of these is a big improvement depends on the good faith of all the participants, from farmer to certifier to customer.
5. I write mostly about a general mindset and strategy. Most of what I write is geared to organizational and philosophical matters, not as much directly to consumer matter. But for the kind of buying follows from that, I practice and recommend doing the best one can within that framework. Buy the best you can afford, the rules being that local is better than commodified, smaller better than bigger, committed to real values rather than mercenary (especially insofar as you can perceive the mentality and goals of a producer and/or seller – is it a way of life or do they have a mini-Monsanto mentality?), organic/agroecological better than not.
It’s true that big corporate buyers can help all producers of non-GM crops, for food and feed, scale up to the necessary level where the products are broadly affordable for the community food sector. In other words, the more non-GM corn is bought for a big retailer’s store brand processed stuff and for their CAFO sourcing, the more affordable it will also become for small direct retail farmers to use as feed. So if producers of non-GM grain etc. saw themselves as just using the corporate sourcing toward the real goal of community sector rebuilding and stuck with that goal without becoming corrupted, the corporate sourcing would be a helpful springboard. On the other hand the more everyone, including “organic” types, see themselves as part of the same commingled commodity economic paradigm as the corporate system, the more they’ll obey the dictates of the big buyers, and the more they’ll have the time-serving house-flipping mindset that they’re only doing this for a period before they get to sell out. In that case the corporate ideology and commodity practice will completely dominate, the community food sector’s development will be hindered rather than boosted, and in the end the quality of the organic consumer product will be degraded completely like I described above.
6. If there arose a real movement to rebuild healthy, democratic agriculture and food, the Community Food movement and economic sector as I call it, this sector could use corporate sourcing to help scale itself up to the necessary level where wholesome food became affordable for everyone, and non-GM feed was readily affordable to direct retail farmers. The sector could build out the input and processing infrastructure it mostly lacks and badly needs. I stress, the necessary level of scaling up and building out and no bigger, based on sustainability and distribution within its own watershed and foodshed. That’s a core measure of whether such a movement exists: Is the goal to produce affordable real food for human beings, while seeking revenue only in order to support this goal and support oneself? Or is it the same old capitalism, with profit and “growth” for their own sakes (and eventually cashing in, selling out to a big buyer) the real goal, while participants just pretend to do the best they can as far as the product?
Obviously the big corporate buyers don’t care about these goals and want to prevent all this from being built. Which leads to the corollary that if the movement I described above doesn’t exist, if people don’t have that mindset, then not only will corporate control of the organic sector (and of much of the organic movement’s politics as well) continue to escalate, but the depressing pattern of small organic producers offering themselves to be bought up will continue. In that case the big corporate controllers eventually will erode and then gut the organic standards themselves, and that will be the end of the whole thing. They’ll do that as soon as they’re able. We already know, for example, that industrial organic is industrial first and organic second, and that they share the USDA’s goal of allowing GMOs to qualify under the “organic” standards.
7. Therefore I’m also not sure about even the industrial organic brands. To the extent the mindset of Food Sovereignty and building the Community Food sector actually exists, and to the extent that the growth of the organic sector helps expand and render economically more viable non-GMO sourcing for animal feed and similar staples which can then be used to build the Community Food sector – its inputs, products, and processing infrastructure – to the extent these are true, industrial organic can be a stepping stone for us.
But this boils down to the first question, to what extent does the Food Sovereignty mindset, as part of the public citizen mindset, actually exist, as opposed to the same old private-individual-is-an-island mindset which, even where it comes to organic and localized agriculture and food, thinks primarily in terms of “growth” and eventually selling out to a buyer.
And since that’s the primary question, it follows that the first necessary priority of a Food Sovereignty movement is to build this mindset, propagate knowledge of it, encourage it, recruit to it, organize on the basis of it.

July 28, 2018

The Lying Media-“Political” Culture of the Climate Crisis

Filed under: Climate Crisis, Disaster Capitalism, Mainstream Media, Reformism Can't Work — Tags: , — Russell Bangs @ 5:49 am


The corporate media has failed abysmally at preparing the public for a climate changed world, let alone reporting on it. According to a Media Matters survey:

Throughout the recent record-breaking heat wave that affected millions across the United States, major broadcast TV networks overwhelmingly failed to report on the links between climate change and extreme heat. Over a two-week period from late June to early July, ABC, CBS, and NBC aired a combined 127 segments or weathercasts that discussed the heat wave, but only one segment, on CBS This Morning, mentioned climate change.”

Ten years ago the mainstream media was full of stories about the real effects of climate change. They ran regular features summing up the science and the prognosis.
Today the coverage is very different. As the survey cited above demonstrates, the media has jettisoned most real-world reportage on the climate crisis. Instead they’ve gone back to reporting on “natural” disasters: (1) as if they actually were natural rather than man-made; (2) as ad hoc things that happen at random rather than part of a coherent trend.
The media’s coverage of climate change has departed from the real world and instead focuses only on certain fake political angles, such as “Trump” taking the US out of the sham Paris agreement, as well as the alleged virtue of the sham agreement itself. This normalizes the climate crisis, or more specifically having fervid “opinions” about it, as just another lifestyle ornament. Just another part of fake celebrity and culture-war pseudo-politics.
The main reason the media used to report on the climate crisis in a semi-serious way is that it took some years for the corporate sectors to reach a consensus on downplaying/denying the crisis. At first they left this to Big Oil, led by ExxonMobil. Other sectors were uncertain what it all meant for them. Wall Street seriously considered trying to blow up a bubble based on cap-and-trade, “offsets”, and derivatives based on such scams. The frackers took potshots at the coal industry. Monsanto and the biotech sector touted the scam of “climate-smart agriculture”, as well as fraudulently citing climate denial in their propaganda even though they themselves are climate deniers. Those are examples of why climate change used to get more play in the corporate media. But by now, although there’s still some of this exploitative propaganda, the corporations largely have decided they want to deny the whole thing. Some still engage in de jure denial, most have joined the liberals in de facto denial. This means expressing “right belief”, paying lip service, shedding crocodile tears, emitting sham proposals, but never really proposing to do anything but continue to emit and destroy.
The hand-wringing, virtue-signalling, and fake prescriptions of the climate crocodiles – Keep Shopping! Shopping Uber Alles! for example, replacing fossil fuels with corporate-industrial renewables; Keep Driving! hybrids and electric cars of course; never mind that most of the emissions and environmental destruction are bound up in the initial manufacturing process – fits in well with this since little of this is actually going to be done, and if it were done it merely would add to civilization’s consumption and destruction maw while doing nothing but making the climate crisis worse.
Meanwhile for as long as modern civilization staggers along, emissions will continue to rise and sinks will continue to be destroyed. All the other ecological crises will continue to get worse.
But it’s always been true that there is one and only one solution to avert the worst of climate chaos:
Stop emitting; stop destroying sinks; rebuild sinks.
All else is a lie. Most of all, that anything constructive can be done within the congenitally destructive framework of the economic civilization.
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