Volatility

December 24, 2010

What Does the Class War Mean for Research and Development?

 

We have a permanent Depression setting in, the normalization of 20%+ unemployment, and it’s clear that the kleptocracy views the health care system as nothing but a rent extraction machine. The legislated policy is to use the IRS as a strong-arm goon to extort protection money in exchange for a worthless Stamp, while there will be no credible cost controls or realistic regulatory restraints on the health insurance rackets.
 
Under those circumstances, it’s hard to imagine how, for as long as this system endures, the actual care available to the non-rich won’t continue to rapidly deteriorate.
 
So we must ask about something like medically necessary research (publicly subsidized, of course): What difference does any medical advance make if it will increasingly be the monopoly of the predatory rich? In that case, don’t even medical advances become weapons against us? Weapons we pay for, to add insult to injury. Gibbon depicts the plight of conquered people doing forced labor in metal shops, “forced to forge the implements of their own destruction”. Is this the case with all technological R&D by now?
 
Do alleged advances really still advance us? Does the African farmer benefit by being driven off his ancestral land, which is then converted to corporate biofuel production to feed Western cars? No honest person would try to argue that. Yet isn’t that the core logic of neoliberalism, which is increasingly coming home to the West itself? Those same biofuels have been driving up the price of our food for three years now, even as our jobs vanish and the cost of living soars in every other way. Is the ethanol mandate, and the cost it imposes on us, different in kind from the looming health racket mandate? Aren’t all these mandates really the same thing?
 
African agro-imperialism is only a seemingly extreme, but really typical example of how this system allocates its research and the output of this research. None of it is intended to benefit the people. The people are only there to be mined and exploited, or just driven out to die. The only intent, anywhere, is corporate rent extraction. “Profit”. We are those dispossessed tribal farmers. We can see it everywhere already. Their enemies are our enemies. We’ll end up exactly as they are.
 
In the end, all the mid-century liberal advances were fruit of the cheap oil surplus. With Peak Oil, that period has come to an end. That’s part of why in the 1970s the power structure switched over from normal exploitation, which could include the concessions* that enabled the rise of a mass middle class, to neoliberal kleptocracy, through which those concessions have been rolled back and that middle class is being liquidated.
 
So everything has changed politically. The kleptocratic process is intended to be terminal toward the the restoration of feudalism. 
 
[*I use the word concession with deliberation. Liberalism, as an elitist trickle-down ideology, never contested the right of predatory elites to steal the labor and produce of the productive people. At its best, what liberalism did was beg for some concessions to be trickled back down. Today it no longer even does that.]
 
At the same time, physical resource limits are imposing a great change, the end of “growth”. A different way of putting what I said above is that it was easier for the corporatists to concede more wealth equality when the pie was growing thanks to cheap, plentiful oil. But now that the pie must contract, and the oil surplus recede, we’re headed back to history’s normal economic course, the course prior to the drawdown of the fossil fuel principal.
 
It’s up to us whether we let ourselves be driven back into serfdom, or whether we take all we’ve learned from the Oil Age, politically and economically, and use it to build a wiser, more prosperous world.
 
That requires the relentless fight against corporatism on every possible front. This fight must supersede all other concerns, since the progress of the fight dictates the status of those concerns. Even issues which are ambiguous in themselves will often become clear once placed in the corporate war context. We have to oppose the redistribution of wealth upward in all its forms, including the use of public money for alleged social goods which will really be rationed by ability to pay in an extremely wealth-concentrated environment.
 
When I say “fight” I’m thinking of the likelihood that it’s far more possible to block bad government actions than to induce it to perform good ones. I’ve long considered the latter impossible, and that it’s a waste of effort to beg the system for the good. But maybe it’s still possible for citizen pressure and resistance to block some of the bad. On that front, we have to be obstructionists wherever possible.
 
We can no longer afford to contemplate the intrinsic ambivalence of things. The struggle against corporatism and for direct democracy dictates most positions out of its own imperatives. Few things now are significant in themselves.
 
So that’s what I meant when I started out expressing skepticism about system research, and obviously all proprietary research. Like so many things which look intrinsically benevolent from the ivory tower, removed from the real world context (cap and trade? electric cars? a VAT?), it becomes far less so in practice if undertaken under kleptocratic auspices.
 
So that’s why by now my default position is: Political transformation first, even at the temporary expense of things which may be theoretically beneficial but are not so under this dispensation. 
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30 Comments

  1. “Do alleged advances really still advance us? Does the African farmer benefit by being driven off his ancestral land, which is then converted to corporate biofuel production to feed Western cars? No honest person would try to argue that. Yet isn’t that the core logic of neoliberalism, which is increasingly coming home to the West itself?”

    If neoliberalism is all we get and all we got, progress might as well be named defeat. Happy holidays, Russ, with thanks for the gift of this blog.

    Comment by RT — December 24, 2010 @ 8:29 am

    • Thanks, RT, and happy holidays to you and everybody else as well.

      Comment by Russ — December 24, 2010 @ 9:26 am

    • Dear Russ and friends, don’t know if you have caught any of Ronnie Cummins recent articles over at CounterPunch. Here’s one from today: http://www.counterpunch.com/cummins12242010.html

      Here’s what’s coming up in 2011 in your neighborhood — Let’s Fight Back, Accept the Challenge, Get Involved:

      “Millions Against Monsanto: Launching a Nationwide Truth-in-Labeling Campaign, Starting with Local City Council Ordinances or Ballot Initiatives —
      Early in 2011 the Organic Consumers Association, joined by our consumer, farmer, environmental, and labor allies, plans to launch a nationwide campaign to stop Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies from force-feeding unlabeled GMOs to animals and humans. Utilizing scientific data, legal precedent, and consumer power the OCA and our local coalitions will educate and mobilize at the grassroots level to pressure retailers to implement “truth-in-labeling” practices; while simultaneously organizing a critical mass to pass mandatory local and state truth-in-labeling ordinances or ballot initiatives similar to labeling laws already in effect for country of origin, irradiated food, allergens, and carcinogens. If local government bodies refuse to take action, wherever possible we will gather petition signatures and place these truth-in-labeling initiatives directly on the ballot in 2011 or 2012. Stay tuned for details, but please send an email to: information@organicconsumers.org if you’re interesting in helping organize a truth-in-labeling campaign in your local community. Millions Against Monsanto.

      Power to the people!

      Love to all, may the PEACE of the season swallow you, tawal

      PS If anyone is in contact with ‘i on the ball patriot’ please pass on my well wishes.

      Comment by tawal — December 24, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

      • Thanks tawal. That looks great, and I’ll sure check it out. So should everyone.

        Thanks for the greetings of the season, and same to you.

        I think i ball takes a break sometimes, but maybe he’ll read this.

        Comment by Russ — December 24, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

  2. Russ —

    I’ve been coming to your site for months (h/t Naked Capitalism comments section), not participating, but anonymously (solipsistically?) seeking the solace of knowing I’m not alone. I guess it’s time to come out of my closet and thank you for your courage, your clarity, inspiration, despair, defiance — it’s all there. It’s a lifeline, more than you know.

    Re: food sovereignty. Are you familiar with the work of Dr. Elaine Ingham on the soil food web? It’s an amazing place to start for reclaiming our argricultural heritage from the corporatists.

    Thank you, and please keep on keepin’.

    Comment by MP — December 25, 2010 @ 6:26 am

    • Thanks, MP. Comments like that are a lifeline to me, too.

      No, I haven’t read Ingham, but I just made a note of her. Thanks for the lead.

      Comment by Russ — December 25, 2010 @ 7:03 am

  3. Russ,

    Are you familiar with Ivan Illich’s work on medicine and health care in books such as “Medical Nemesis”?

    As early as 1976 Ilich was developing his concept of the “medicalization” of life and arguing modern medicine had become detrimental to society, by “launching … an inhuman attempt to defeat death, pain and sickness” and making individuals into medicalized objects and mere consumers (of medicine).

    To quote Illich: “Modern medicine is a negation of health. It isn’t organized to serve human health, but only itself, as an institution. It makes more people sick than it heals”.

    With the onset of Peak Oil, perhaps Illich’s work will become more relevant than ever, as it becomes urgent for us to find different ways of thinking about medicine and health care.

    Anyway, thanks for your recent post, and for this blog.

    Happy Holidays.

    Comment by Frank — December 25, 2010 @ 11:33 am

    • You’re welcome, Frank. I’ve often seen references to Illich, but I haven’t read him yet. But it sounds like you’re right, and his work will be a useful tool.

      Happy Holidays to you as well.

      Comment by Russ — December 25, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

    • Frank, I have been reading Illich recently and he addresses not only medicine but food, energy, schooling and work (pointing this out to those who may not be familiar with him).

      A priest, he fought against typical foreign aid, calling it the “War on Subsistence”.

      Many of his writings are available online:
      http://www.davidtinapple.com/illich/

      I have read and can recommend Energy and Equity, Tools for Conviviality, and Disoccupazione Creativa (Creative Unemployment) so far. Disabling Professions applies his thoughts on medicine to other protected areas such as education, social services, and law.

      Comment by Lidia — December 28, 2010 @ 11:12 am

      • Thanks Lydia,

        I enjoyed your excerpt from Illich below (#8) and also checked out the website you referred to.

        Illich has provided us with a guidebook and a possible means of coping with Peak Oil and the collapse of industrial civilization, yet he was already writing about these matters over 40 years ago.

        And, as you know, he practiced what he preached: choosing to live in voluntary “poverty” but rejecting its negative connotations, especially when contrasted with “the modernization of poverty” and, to quote Illich “the experience of frustrating affluence which occurs in persons mutilated by their overwhelming reliance on the riches of industrial productivity”.

        Also his total, uncompromising rejection of consumer society; traveling throughout South America on foot and by bus; a priest who did not let that stop him from “documenting the participation of the Vatican in the “modern development” of the so-called Third World” (from Wikipedia); his refusal of medical treatment for a tumor because he did not want to risk losing his speech, etc

        In short, a person whose writing can help us with many of the problems we face today, as well as a person we can admire almost without reservations.

        I read Illich a number of years ago, many of the same books you mentioned, perhaps it’s time for me to go back and have another look at them….

        Comment by Frank — December 28, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

      • Lidia,

        Sorry about misspelling your name before.

        Comment by Frank — December 28, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

    • ‘s ok, Frank.
      It’s not my real name, although I am fond of it. ;-))

      I’ll tell you a funny story: More than ten years ago, when I was first only visiting my current home in Italy, I was invited to a giant sort of potluck party by some friends of friends, or rather acquaintances of acquaintances, in Bologna, and what I remember of it was the preparation of a “fake fish” (a big pate’ of potatoes and tuna, shaped on a board into fish form and decorated with cut-vegetable eyes, ‘scales’, and so forth), and taking this “fake fish” with us, five or six people plus giant “fish” board in a microscopic Fiat or Renault, with people sitting on each other’s laps.

      This special event was taking place at a music school named after Ivan Illich. The school itself was apparently a very anarchic affair, and the music played on the occasion did not merit the appellation to my way of thinking. I recall a slight hunched figure, surrounded by reverent young students, conversing with great intensity of attention to those near him (all of this inaudible to me, what with the music and the room being impassible for the crowd of a couple of hundreds at least). Much attention was turned to this central (dis)figure, who was said to be ill and only rarely seen in public, thus the school was the recipient of a great honor. At the time I had absolutely zero idea of who this personage was, nor did I investigate thereafter.

      It’s only been in the course of the last year that I have found his works, and have “discovered”, in a manner of speaking, that I had actually been in his presence.

      Comment by Lidia — December 28, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

      • The Scuola Popolare di Musico Ivan Illich? I had to look it up. So there actually is an experimental music school named after Ivan Illich? That’s hilarious.

        However, it kind of makes sense if you consider that Ivan Illich was often considered to be an anarchist, and experimental music was largely the brainchild of John Cage, the American composer and anarchist, influenced by Henry David Thoreau, and perhaps most famous (or notorious) for his performance entitled 4’33, written for any instrument or combination of instruments and consisting of 3 movements over a 4 minute 33 second duration, without a single note being played.

        Although commonly perceived as “four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence”, in fact the piece consists of whatever random sounds the listeners hear in the environment while it’s being performed.

        Cage, a student of Zen Buddhism, who supported himself as a dishwasher and gardener while composing music that no one wanted to hear, explained:

        “What is the purpose of writing music? One is, of course, not dealing with purposes but dealing with sounds. Or the answer must take the form of a paradox: a purposeful purposeless or a purposeless play. This play, however, is an affirmation of life -not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and one’s desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.”

        In another performance, Cage used tapes of computer-altered voices reading from Henry David Thoreau’s essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”. His favorite line in Thoreau’s essay was the following: “That government is best which governs not at all.”

        Cage, like Thoreau, and like Ivan Illich (assuming I understand him correctly?) believed anarchy to be the highest form of social organization. He dreamed of the disappearance of governments and nations so that all people could be free to live their lives as they saw fit.

        And he saw his music as being analogous to the kind of individual anarchy he desired politically.

        All three of them (Cage, Thoreau, Ivan Illich) would be appalled and horrified by what’s happening today politically, in the United States.)

        Sorry, Lidia (and Russ!) to get so far off topic but once I found out there’s an experimental music school in Italy named after Ivan Illich, I couldn’t resist.

        Comment by Frank — December 28, 2010 @ 9:13 pm

      • No apology needed, Frank. These are interesting stories.

        Comment by Russ — December 29, 2010 @ 3:03 am

  4. Russ,

    Just a brief follow-up to the last post.

    According to an article published in July 2000 (in JAMA) by Dr. Barbara Starfield of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, doctors are the third leading cause of death in the USA:

    http://www.healingdaily.com/Doctors-Are-The-Third-Leading-Cause-of-Death-in-the-US.htm

    But considering the source is the Journal of the American Medical Association itself the real number is probably much higher than this.

    Comment by Frank — December 25, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

  5. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate that, and a happy holliday to those who don’t.

    The general feeling of goodwill and solidarity evident in this portion of the blogsphere gives me comfort and hope for the future.

    Rus; on innovation being monopolized, don’t sweat it. There is no evidence that innovation can be legislated or mandated by corporate interests. The idea is contrary to the process of scientific discovery.

    Comment by Paul Repstock — December 25, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

    • Thanks Paul, and Happy holiday to you too.

      Since when does the practicality of anything have to do with corporatist actions?

      Comment by Russ — December 25, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

  6. LOL…I couldn’t agree more,,,
    “Since when does the practicality of anything have to do with corporatist actions?”

    I have some nacent hope that this may be our salvation.

    Any large organization, be it government or coporate requires a mandate for continued existence. Individuals however, do not. If we as human persons can achieve a new value system, not based soley on material and debt, but rather on happiness and purpose; then it should be possible to decouple from the mindless train of competition. If we can smell the pretty flowers enough to realize that life is a zero sum game. we may recapture our humanity.

    Comment by Paul Repstock — December 25, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

    • Sorry that should have read: “capture” or gain, our humanity. Our former possesion of this state has always been fleeting.

      Comment by Paul Repstock — December 25, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

    • That’s exactly right, Paul. Only we as human beings are politically self-justified (by virtue of our existence).

      But any economic order, any political order, any organization, civilization itself, can be justified only insofar as they enhance the human experience on a broad basis. They don’t have to be perfect, of course; nothing can be perfect. But they have to do their best to not only maximize the creation of freedom and wealth, but distribute those as widely and fairly among the productive people as possible.

      But everything we have today strives to maximize output but to monopolize it for an ever-shrinking handful of criminals, who perform almost zero production themselves.

      By definition this “order” is illegitimate and anti-sovereign. Any human being has not only the right but the obligation to reclaim our sovereignty and restore legitimate civilization.

      Comment by Russ — December 26, 2010 @ 3:56 am

    • Citizens United is a good example of seeking to quantitatively maximize positive freedom, in this case “free speech”, while actually destroying its essence by monopolizing the increased output in a few unproductive hands while nullifying the effect of most of the rest of the output.

      It’s as if you could increase the output of a factory by 50%, and let this increase be skimmed off the top by a gangster, but only by destroying two-thirds of the output the moment it’s produced.

      So the result is that the workers lose everything they work for, and by any human measure the factory produces nothing; is indeed counterproductive, since it’s such a black hole for labor and resources. Yet an economist would crow that its output is now at 150% of what it used to be, and log the increase as “growth”. And many liberals would celebrate that last point as demonstrating the superior efficiency of “the process”. Thus we have the perverted activism of the ACLU and advocacy of Greenwald on this point. The liberal process mentality is always a perversion which supports corporatism.

      https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/constitution-and-the-process/

      Comment by Russ — December 26, 2010 @ 4:09 am

  7. I’ve just found your site, from Yves Smith. I like it.

    Everywhere I hear talk of a new feudalism. Regrettably, with the possible exception of New York City, that’s not on the cards.

    Feudalism did not emerge as a result of the collapse of the Roman Empire. Feudalism emerged gradually, over the centuries, as a means of organizing individual communities. In feudalism, individual towns were organized around the lord of the manor. This lord was in the rent extraction biz, yes, but to maintain his status as lord, he had to look after the welfare of the people entrusted to him. He could not take more of their harvest than they could afford to give him, for if they starved, he starved, since no other lord would come to his rescue, indeed, the entire thrust of feudal society was that the neighboring lords were most likely trying to kill him. Nothing personal, of course.

    For the same reason, he could not take more than a certain portion of his subject’s gold, for if the people could not trade, then, again, the local economy shuts down & the natives get restless. Additionally, he could not afford more than a certain small number of idlers, since unemployed people tend to be politically restless, especially when times are hard. For this reason he found ways to make work for them. The smart ones knew that makework was more profitable than incarceration in dungeons.

    It helped if there were churches, so that his subjects’ ideological needs could be satisfied. Until quite late in the period these were mostly ramshackle places, but still, one way or another, they had to be budgeted.

    The rich, or their eventual descendants, are, or will be, our future feudal masters, but looking about, only Mike Bloomberg seems to fit this role. So far as I can tell, none of his fellows seem to be interested in copying his example, not even with Ralph Nader’s help. (“Only the rich can save us!” Which is desperately grasping at straws.) Right now, the rich only want our money, and once they have that, they race on to find their next victim. They’re not parasites, much less feudal lords, as much as vampires.

    What seems to be on the cards is a long period of darkness, similar in some ways to the post Civil War South, where angry, vengeful whites attacked & destroyed the communities of newly freed blacks. Police repression, in other words, to enable the vampires to complete their work.

    We will know the situation is improving when the local banker (or whomever in your town has all the money) runs for mayor, or town counselor, and then uses that position to organize the community around himself personally, primarily with the intention of establishing an hereditary dynasty by enslaving the locals in favor of himself & his immediate family. Right now, local governments, with few exceptions, are idle bureaucrats deeply in the pockets of local developers. The local government “reforms” of the mid-20th century, which replaced corrupt mayors with corrupt city planners, opened the door to exploitative developers, who then fell into the pockets of bankers seeking to extract rents. Such is where we are today. So far as stability is concerned, we have a long way to go.

    Was feudalism better than corrupt democracy? Sometimes, yes. A wise leader, who could, on the one hand, defend his town from the greedy, encroaching lords around him, and who looked after the welfare of his people, could and often did provide them with a lifetime of peace & security. On the other hand, the much more common corrupt lords, who extracted as much as their subjects could bear (we’re not citizens any more), was the underlying force behind the push for democracy, in the forlorn hope that it was somehow better.

    Elected leaders are will’o’the wisps. They are here today & gone tomorrow, replaced by equally indifferent & often corrupt leaders. That’s the nature of democracy, where, as with mobsters, would-be leaders target existing leaders for forcible retirement. Exceptions are rare (the original Mayor Daley of Chicago comes to mind) and always have “dynasty” associated with them. Hereditary leaders are trained, from birth, to look out for their own interests. Even when they’re bad, they’re often better trained, more shrewd, than their elected counterparts. Which is why we are suddenly all pining to have a king of some sort. Regrettably, the bankster class has none of the necessary qualities, and, for the moment at least, they have bought off all the politicians, leaving us with only inertial government. Which every year slows just a bit further. Enjoy it while it’s here.

    Comment by Dave of Maryland — December 28, 2010 @ 10:57 am

    • Interesting discussion, Dave. That idea of a sort of electoral warlordism isn’t far off from what I envision in my still-vague Jubilate in Place idea.

      https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/jubilate-mortgages-and-property/

      But I don’t picture the local banker being the most likely elected leader of such reclaimed local governments, and of course the goal should be to organize council democracy, not submit to refeudalization.

      Of course in my scheme taking back local government as a tool of relocalization would only be a stage toward full direct democracy, which we should also start organizing now, if only as a parallel “government”.

      Comment by Russ — December 28, 2010 @ 11:22 am

  8. Here’s a relevant yet densely tangled riff from Illich:

    False expectations of better health corrupt society, but they do so in only one particular sense. They foster a declining concern with healthful environments, healthy life styles, and competence in the personal care of one’s neighbor. Deceptions about health are circumstantial. The institutionalization of knowledge leads to a more general and degrading delusion. It makes people dependent on having their knowledge produced for them. It leads to a paralysis of the moral and political imagination.

    This cognitive disorder rests on the illusion that the knowledge of the individual citizen is of less value than the “knowledge” of science. The former is the opinion of individuals. It is merely subjective and is excluded from policies. The latter is “objective”-defined by science and promulgated by expert spokesmen. This objective knowledge is viewed as a commodity which can be refined, constantly improved, accumulated and fed into a process, now called “decision-making.” This new mythology of governance by the manipulation of knowledge-stock inevitably erodes reliance on government by people.

    The world does not contain any information. It is as it is. Information about it is created in the organism through its interaction with the world. To speak about storage of information outside the human body is to fall into a semantic trap. Books or computers are part of the world. They can yield information when they are looked upon. We move the problem of learning and of cognition nicely into the blind spot of our intellectual vision if we confuse vehicles for potential information with information itself. We do the same when we confuse data for potential decision with decision itself.

    [In fact, Americans are led to confuse increased spending on and sophistication of medical technology with increased real heath.]

    Overconfidence in “better knowledge” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People first cease to trust their own judgment and then want to be told the truth about what they know. Overconfidence in “better decision-making” first hampers people’s ability to decide for themselves and then undermines their belief that they can decide. (emphasis mine)

    Comment by Lidia — December 28, 2010 @ 11:30 am

    • Thanks, Lidia. Illich sure does seem to understand the problem.

      We see everywhere how everything boils down to the same abyss between the truly democratic, self-managerial mindset and imperative, and the elitist trickle-down “representative” scam and abdication.

      Comment by Russ — December 28, 2010 @ 11:36 am

      • Ilich was not always so dense, he often used a clear and simple prose style, as in this excerpt from “Medical Nemesis”:

        “Most man-made misery is now the byproduct of enterprises which were originally designed to protect the common man in his struggle with the inclemency of the environment and against wanton injustices inflicted by the elite. The main source of pain, disability, and death is now an engineered—albeit non-intentional—harassment. The prevailing ailments, helplessness and injustice, are now the side-effects of strategies for progress. Nemesis is now so prevalent that it is readily mistaken for part of the human condition. The desperate disability of contemporary man to envisage an alternative to the industrial aggression on the human condition is an integral part of the curse from which he suffers. Progress has come with a vengeance which cannot be called a price. The down payment was on the label and can be stated in measurable terms. The instalments accrue under forms of suffering which exceed the notion of “pain”.

        Comment by Frank — December 28, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

  9. Hi, Russ. I’ve been reading your comments at NC for about a year now and visiting this blog from time to time.

    I’m currently working on my PhD in neural stem cells/regenerative medicine. I entered academia, in part, due to my intense distaste for the corporate world. Over the last couple of years, I have come to the realization that academia has almost completely suborned itself to the corporate sphere (which includes government). The research world is, in many ways, a deeply dysfunctional and sick place- a reflection of the corruption in society at large. A few are beginning to attack the corporate publishing model, to realize that vast quantities of our research budgets are being skimmed off by unproductive corporate parasites, and so on. Ultimately, however, our dependence on money from the corporate state or the corporations themselves will become the bottleneck for reform.

    I have a lot of interest in your ideas about food sovereignty. A couple of years ago I began informing myself about peak oil, the financial crisis, and generally giving myself the education in political economy that my scientific training very consciously excluded. I realized that pursuing a career in academia was a quixotic endeavour which was unlikely to allow me to work on the problems that I believe actually matter, on which I think we are largely in agreement. I have therefore decided to pursue some ideas I have for water purification and urban aquaculture. My colleagues are largely mystified by this, but a few of them get it, and a few of those have signed on.. so there are some of us who understand the issues you’re talking about. Ideally what I’d like to see is scientists and working people collaborating in a democratically managed worker’s co-op to produce food and clean water for themselves and the local community in a way that “closes the loops” of the urban ecosystem- if our cities are to survive, and they may not, I think this will be the only way.

    I hope to discuss some of these ideas with you in the future, as I think hashing out the practical issues of how we actually get this done is of paramount and increasingly pressing importance.

    Comment by paper mac — December 28, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

    • Hi paper mac. That’s a superb ambition. I don’t know much about the technical details of it, but I’d love to discuss it further.

      I’ve read some stuff about what they’re doing in Detroit, for example the challenges of reclaiming soil which has been contamined by decades of pollution fallout. (In many places they need to truck in fresh soil for raised beds while they grow certain plants which take up the heavy metals. That takes several years before the soil is purified enough to grow edible food.)

      Here’s an excellent piece by Erika Allen on Growing Power in Milwaukee and Chicago:

      http://www.postcarbon.org/report/136551-food-growing-community-food-systems

      I don’t recall if they have an aquaculture program, or what kind of water issues they may have.

      Comment by Russ — December 28, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

  10. […] from us and in how the result is a further weapon against us. I wrote about this at greater length here, here, and here.   One big difference is that at least where it comes to housing and energy […]

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  11. […] more and more this will simply go down corporate ratholes, and to prop up luxury care for the 1%. In the hands of the 1% even seemingly good things like modern medicines become fraudulent and weapons against us.   The […]

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