Volatility

December 15, 2010

Smugman

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Russ @ 2:19 am

 

In light of Paul Krugman’s recent pro-corporate proclamation, where he sneers that we should just lie back and enjoy corporate tyranny, that to want to fight it is “so sixties” anyway, I thought I’d ask a few questions about him of those who still believe in him.
 
The contention is that he’s a reformist, and even among those who reject reformism there’s a residual affection for him. Everything he says is, on its face, reformist at best. But as I’ve traced in many posts, I think he’s actually a pro-bank, pro-austerity manipulator who only poses as a citizen. Others think his pro-bank aspects are the pose. If he’s really a citizen advocate, that’s the secret. Others think they can detect this citizen advocacy in him, but it seems to me they can never adequately explain it. My explanation for what I think is a scam is that it’s precisely because Krugman has such (fraudulent) progressive credibility that he can astroturf better by posing as a real progressive, even though he’s not really that even in his pose.
 
But here’s my questions (versions of this can apply to many others as well):
 
1. You think Krugman is secretly on our side, and that if he had the power he’d come out in open opposition to the system. But he thinks he lacks that power, so he tries to change from within, tries to nudge, tries to persuade, to convince. “I joined the Party because I hoped to be a moderating influence from within.” You think he’s an appeaser, and you support him in that even if you reject it in others.
 
2. For the sake of argument, let’s say that’s true. But we know for a fact that appeasement of a criminal aggressor doesn’t work. It’s been tried innumerable times throughout history, and has failed every time. So even if that’s Krugman’s real mindset (I doubt it, but I grant it’s possible), it’s a pointless mindset. And when he explicitly rejects class war as being the enemy’s motive, it’s an objectively harmful, malicious mindset.
 
3. Krugman may possibly be that dumb, but why should any of us? So even if that is his mindset and strategy, why would anyone support him in it?
 
4. Why oppose my criticism of him? If Krugman is who you think he is, then my criticism would fall into the “make him do it” category. Because it’s clear that if Krugman really were on our side, the best thing he could do would be to come out in open opposition.
 
5. But again, I don’t believe that’s what he really is. I think he’s on their side, playing his role, which is make some of their worst crimes look “progressively” palatable. So I’m not trying to “make him do it”. I’m trying to convince people that Krugman is not our secret friend, but our enemy.
 
But he can prove me wrong any time he pleases.

December 13, 2010

Wikileaks, Hypocrisy, and Sunshine (2 of 2)

 

As discussed in part 1, the most important thing about Wikileaks is the simple democratic fact that we the people are the rightful owners of all system information. This information is our property and the elites have zero right to monopolize it. Anyone who leaks it or delivers those leaks is simply restituting stolen property to its rightful owners.
 
This can be distinguished from our private information as individuals, which is our individual property. For anyone – government, corporation, private scumbag –  to seize and organize that information without our full consent (contracts of adhesion are not consent) is the same theft, and generally perpetrated by the same elite criminals or their thugs.
 
But system secrets, the secrets of government and big corporations (which are all welfare leeches upon society), are public property. The information belongs to we the people. Therefore by definition a system secret is a theft, unless there’s some truly critical reason why it has to be a secret. As the Wikileaks deliveries prove, this is almost never the case. So far the Wikileaks record has been 100% illegitimately secreted information, stolen property, now restored to its rightful owners. (Since this record is so complete, so unanimous, so definitive, we now have proof, if there were any doubt before, that the press has an affirmative professional obligation to publish all system secrets, based on the presumption that the secret is wrongly classified, and/or is being kept in furtherance of crime.) 
 
But the elites themselves, by having betrayed their citizenship and humanity, reveal themselves to have no such private information either. That’s because in their essence, where they’re not conscious criminal conspirators, they are something far more odious, pure hypocrites. In On Revolution (chapter 2, section 5) Arendt discusses the hypocrite, who “is the actor himself insofar as he wears no mask. He pretends to be the assumed role, and when he enters the game of society he does so without any play-acting whatsoever. In other words, what made the hypocrite so odious was that he claimed not only sincerity but naturalness, and what made him so dangerous outside the social realm whose corruption he represented and enacted was that he instinctively could help himself to every “mask” in the political theater, that he could assume every role among its dramatis personae, but that he would not use this mask, as the rules of the political game demand, as a sounding board for the truth but, on the contrary, as a contraption for deception.”
 
This “mask”, as a public persona, was supposed to help clarify and enhance truth by serving as a buffer between the private person and the public citizen. In this sense it’s related to though not the same as Nietzsche’s concept of the mask, as discussed e.g. in Beyond Good and Evil sections 40, 270, and many other places. As Arendt discusses elsewhere in the chapter, it can be horrible for personal secrets to be dragged into the light. So for the individual to participate as a citizen requires some mediation of the concept of political persona, if only as a boundary between public life and what’s legitimately private.
 
But the greedy, power-seeking political hypocrite abuses and betrays this humane concept. His mask protects nothing, since his private essence is the same as his public crimes; he’s simply a criminal, nothing more or less.
 
All this is bound up with the bizarre obsession and debate over Obama’s state of mind. Obama’s actions as an aggressive neoliberal corporatist and warmonger are crystal clear. So why the obsession with motive? I suppose it’s progress that so many people are now reaching the stage of at least questioning what he really stands for, however absurd it is that this is not obvious to everyone already. It seems like a proxy for figuring out the real nature of the kleptocracy itself. For many people the real nature of the corporations and their goon government is still a paradox. The belief in the goodness of these things (or at least their necessary evil) is dying hard. Can the expanding argument over Obama be a working out of broader psychological issues among the masses, a solving of the conceptual problem, a withdrawal from the brainwashing?
 
The mere possibility of this demonstrates why transparency is so important, why the criminal suppression of information is so destructive, and why the hypocrite is so morally repugnant. If they can keep the crime secret, they can lessen the chance of the victims liberating themselves. And if they can successfully deny the crime in their own minds as well, it never happened. A hypocrite is a walking exemplar of the possibility of destroying truth. He’s willfully oblivious of the truth of his own action, denies this truth, and therefore destroys it in himself.
 

[T]he hypocrite’s crime is that he bears false witness against himself. What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only the crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.

 
Of course our “leaders” are both criminals and hypocrites, and hypocrites precisely in order to be able to commit their crimes and still live with themselves, since they’re moral cowards as well.
 
Here’s just one choice example, especially bizarre in light of the absolute hatred of Hillary Clinton and all the others for Wikileaks and by extension the Internet itself:
 

Consider, for instance, how the views of the US administration have changed in just a year. On 21 January, secretary of state Hillary Clinton made a landmark speech about internet freedom, in Washington DC, which many people welcomed and most interpreted as a rebuke to China for its alleged cyberattack on Google. “Information has never been so free,” declared Clinton. “Even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.”

She went on to relate how, during his visit to China in November 2009, Barack Obama had “defended the right of people to freely access information, and said that the more freely information flows the stronger societies become. He spoke about how access to information helps citizens to hold their governments accountable, generates new ideas, and encourages creativity.”

 
So this presents the possibility of a nation of hypocrites which commits hideous crimes whose truth is then lost forever. If a mass murderer convinces himself that he’s innocent, did the crime ever take place? Did the victims ever exist? Or were they in fact the criminals? The only existing witness says Yes, if hypocrisy is able to triumph. That’s obscene. That’s why humanity needs total transparency, not as the solution, but as a prerequisite, a basic tool. That’s why letting in the sun is part of our moral imperative. Wikileaks is helping with this mission. 
 
Therefore we have to publicize all elite secrets, nor is there any fear here of violating the persona of individual criminals, since the system criminal is not a citizen or an individual, but a piece of crime incarnate. The level of this crime is exemplified by the secrecy regime – done purely to cover up crime, and simply as an exercise in illegitimate power itself. This secrecy is in fact another assault on our sovereignty as a people. This sovereignty gives us the right, and by now the obligation (now that pseudo-democracy has been proven not to work), to rule ourselves directly. But the elites construct a system which allegedly requires secrecy, monopolize those secrets, and then turn around and claim this need for secrecy rules out direct democracy. But that’s simply a criminal lie, an act of classical usurpation, classical tyranny. The obvious response is to get rid of the artificial, illegitimate system which is claimed to require such secrecy in the first place.
 
We know our property has been stolen and our political heritage usurped. For us to continue to allow the secrets to be kept is to alienate our own sovereignty. We have a citizen imperative here. As citizens we have no choice but to demand total sunlight. We have the right to total transparency, the responsibility to demand it, and no right to shirk this responsibility.
 
Then there’s also the practical fact that the secrets all involve crimes against us, robberies and assaults on our freedom. So also in self-defense we must seek total transparency. We must reciprocate war on their secrets (our public property) as they declared war on our informational private property – surveillance, databases, consumer info compiling and selling, advertiser tracking, drug testing, DNA testing, TSA scanners, polygraphs. When we consider the monumental level of crime, the existential hypocrisy of the criminals, and the special insult of their absolute assault on our human privacy at the same time that they impose a blackout on our informational property as citizens, the French Revolution’s absolute rage for unmasking and its impetus to drag all hypocrisy into the light becomes comprehensible.
 
Wikileaks hasn’t done anything so expansive, but has simply engaged in some targeted restorations of public property. It is in fact trying to support and protect true American interests and values (as opposed to the interests of the criminal elites).
 
Here’s all my Wikileaks posts so far:
https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/transparency-vs-kleptocracy-bp-oil-spills-wikileaks/
 
https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/afghan-sunshine-wikileaks-and-transparency-vs-corporate-tyranny/
 
https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/transparency-wikileaks-and-odious-secrecy/

December 10, 2010

Wikileaks, Secrecy, Federalism, and Globalization (1 of 2)

 

The question of what the American Revolution was primarily about – ideals or governmental forms, politics or economics – was temporarily settled by the framers themselves in 1788 when they imposed it as a fact that the revolution had been fought to establish a strong central government which embodied in many details the exact details the revolution had claimed to find odious, and flouted in many ideals the exact ideals the revolution had claimed to embody.
 
Here at least there’s no question – the emphasis was on a form of government, a republic. They called it (and themselves) “federalist”, but even then that was clearly just a successful Orwellian terminological inversion. It was actually the framers and adherents of the new Constitution who were anti-federalist in normal terms, according to the standard usage of the time, while their opponents whom they successfully smeared as “anti-federalist” were at least arguing on behalf of something closer to true federalism, power much closer to its true source in the people. (I won’t claim they were all sincere.)
 
I think it’s moot to ponder how sincere the “federalists” were as champions of this central government. If the rise of the fossil fuel age and the industrial revolution really necessitated strong central governments, then perhaps this Constitution was one of the better (I don’t say “good”) attempts to harmonize that need with protecting the people’s rights and freedoms. At the same time, Hamilton and others seemed ardent to maximize power for its own sake, and displayed the standard elitist contempt right from the start. It’s beyond dispute that a major purpose for this power concentration was to use it aggressively for continental imperialism. The Federalist repeatedly cites this goal as a reason to concentrate federal power. What later came to be called “Manifest Destiny” was already a core element of the Founders’ ideology.
 
So what’s the specific link between imperialism and the republic form of government? In On Revolution (chapter 2, section 4) Hannah Arendt emphasizes how Founders of various stripes agreed that a desired goal was to encourage faction among the people in domestic matters while seeking a united front where it comes to foreign policy. She quotes Jefferson as wanting “to make us one nation as to foreign concerns, and keep us distinct in domestic ones”, and cites Madison’s Federalist #10, with its celebration of “the spirit of party and faction”, which of course was to be kept within the limits of representative government.
 
This formula would allegedly generate the maximum political freedom within the country compatible with a sufficiently strong projection in foreign policy. While this was already dubious in the 18th century, in modern times it appears in a sinister light. We see what it means today: The elites encourage and foment discord among the non-elites, while we must all submit to the astroturfed united front for whatever foreign policy our betters assure us is necessary, no matter how wasteful, deranged, and destructive to the very domestic freedom and prosperity for which the policy allegedly exists in the first place.
 
This puts in a different light Arendt’s contention, no doubt literally true, that ” the direction of the American Revolution remained committed to the foundation of freedom and the establishment of lasting institutions.” The question is begged more starkly than ever, Freedom for whom? To do what?
 
But this question was already being begged when Madison wrote numbers 10 and 51. It’s here that he notoriously posited that the greatest threat to social stability would be the rancor of the people, who to him were inherently a kind of proto-mob ready to realize their full mob potential at any moment, against the elites. It was explicit in Madison’s concept that political elites need to exist at all (only they, as elected representatives, know how to organize power and run a government). Implicit were such propositions as that economic elites need to exist at all; that their wealth and property concentrations are justified; that their own aggressive actions, which from the outside and from the receiving end look like depredations, are the natural way of the world and can’t be held accountable in any way (therefore if the people react with anger it’s really they who are the aggressors); that a foreign policy designed and dictated by those elites is to the benefit of “the country” as a whole. All this, so viciously and tiresomely familiar to us today, adds up to compel the strong presumption that another implication of Madison’s scheme was that the very “faction” celebrated by Madison and Hamilton and even Jefferson was always intended to be a tool of divide and rule.
 
However it was with the original intent, we now know it represents the essence of misdirection. For America, the rule has long been (if it wasn’t always) aggression against others and hijacking of public resources, which is always for the benefit of the elites only, and could only ever accidentally coincide with the interests of the people. The misdirection is meant to distract from this and help trump up the tawdry “united front”.
 
It’s this fraudulent pretension to a unified America in its foreign policy which Wikileaks has directly attacked with this latest document delivery. The leaks demonstrate in the clearest detail how the specially designated foreign policy elites are the same petty, incompetent crooks we’re so familiar with everywhere else, and how their concerns are the exact same combination of crime and meanness as we see everywhere else. But most importantly in assaulting their pseudo-monarchical secrecy prerogative, a key trapping in their very claim to authority and power, Wikileaks has dealt a blow to their ability to pseudo-legitimately maintain this prerogative. Once the people understand once and for all what a sham “foreign policy” is, in the same way they’ve come to understand the central “federal” government as a fraud and a parasite in domestic policy, we’ll finally be ready to relinquish it completely, all at once or in stages.
 
Here’s just a few things the leaks have proven:
 
Each leak is something which should never have been classified in the first place. It proves how promiscuously they’ve abused the classification privilege, as a matter of normal practice. We citizens already knew under Bush that this privilege needed to be rescinded. (Of course, we now know that most of the liberals were lying when they said that at the time.)
 
Each leak is proof that there’s no real “national security” at stake. Each proves further that the only secrets regard the power and crimes of the elites.
 
Every document is further proof they have no valid secrets. Each act of secrecy is an affront to democracy and a violation of the social contract.
 
As has already been proven with previous deliveries, the leaks don’t endanger the American people or our interests. On the contrary, to whatever extent the leaks hinder the corporate agenda, they serve the American interest. The empire itself, and the stateless corporations themselves, are contrary to the American interest, as history has proven over and over, every time. Empire serves no one but imperial elites, and harms everyone else. In 2008 that became brazen here in America.
 
We saw the NYT and the WaPo suppress leaked information which lessens the case for war with Iran, at the request of the administration. (We got it through the Guardian.) So there we see the scurrying cockroaches exposed in broad daylight – your leaders, your elites, your government, and your media, suppressing evidence against war.
 
Wikileaks has proven that elite secrecy has no right or reason to exist at all, and that transparency is a citizen right and imperative. With the evidence of the leaks, no one can any longer argue for secrecy other than as a brazen celebrant of domination for its own sake. No one can any longer cite “reasons of state”, or that the elites know pertinent facts at all, let alone pertinent facts which can’t safely be shared with the public. No one can any longer argue with a straight face that foreign policy has anything to do with “American interests”, or anything other than the same ugly, paltry elite interests.
 
We’ve now seen it all, and we know there’s no there there. From here on, we know secrecy is nothing but an anti-democratic ritual. We must be all the more relentless in asserting sunlight as a democratic ritual. No one can see the American flag when its hidden away in the dank and dark. Only the sun shining upon it renders it visible at all. So there’s the real essence of the symbol. Not the mere dyed fabric, but the light upon it. Darkness, secrecy, is the true mortal insult to the symbol, and to the essence.
 
We should also recognize how this bogus “foreign policy” astroturf, which we can trace to the original framing of the system, is by now completely entwined and indistinguishable from globalization. The slow but steady progress of over two hundred years has been for these elites, and their government, to extract the wealth of the land they did nothing to work for, abscond upward in power and “law” with it, and eventually detach government and law themselves from the land. The anti-sovereign globalization entities and agreements represent the full logic of the entire process. The WTO is a kind of one world super-constitution. All of this is rule by pure administrative decree, intended to extract all wealth and power from the land but leave behind the dead husk of government, law, and civil society. This husk is now meant to be just a weapon against the people, but nothing in itself. It’s a world-historical secession of the elites.
 
The neoliberal franchise is a sick joke. It’s the symbol and ritual of nothingness. And then this stateless, anti-sovereign body is to rule the disenfranchised people by direct bureaucratic tyranny, as the direct private agent of the corporations. That’s the goal of globalization.
 
When “federalism” was redefined and centralized upward in 1888, and organized to be focused on a false unified foreign policy, this secession process was set in motion. From there it’s been the same vector and the same logic which have advanced through every trial. Since the end of the Cold War, in the face of imminent Peak Oil, this false federalism is attempting its final upward redefinition. But this depends upon keeping the people gazing spellbound up into the fog, instead of seeing clearly how every truth is right there in front of us, easy to understand, and always at our own level, except where it’s actually below us.
 
There’s no reason at all for wealth and power to concentrate upward. The people are understanding this intuitively. We’ve always known to be suspicious of globalization, and now we know to reject it completely. This means we must also reject the globalizing elites. We should see their “foreignness” for what it is and reject it. They chose to abstract themselves from our land and wage war upon it and us. So while we reject their foreign policy front, we can accept that framing against themselves.
 
A good place to start is to actually see them for what they are, and insist upon this clarity at all times. We know they mean us nothing but harm. If we didn’t know before that every secret is kept not on our behalf but against us, we know it for a fact now. We can thank Wikileaks for the documentary proof of the illegitimacy of the elites’ foreign policy pretensions and alleged prerogatives.
 
And since the false federalism which has led us so far astray was already based upon this false foreign policy emphasis in its inception, we must take our hard-won knowledge and apply it back as we reconceive our democracy. This has been a case study in the falseness of representative pseudo-democracy itself, and proof of the need for and unique legitimacy of positive democracy.

December 9, 2010

Food Tyranny Bill Revote Scheduled for Today

Filed under: Food and Farms — Russ @ 10:05 am

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So after the Senate’s greedy blunder in sticking funding provisions (a prerogative of the House only) into the Food Tyranny bill, it looks like the fix will be today in the House. It would be comical how these goons were so precipitate in their greed and arrogance that they blithely stuck fund-raising provisions in the thing, if so much weren’t at stake.

I wish I knew how to get the word out at a broader level:

1. Industrial production and distribution poses the real threat and is responsible for all significant outbreaks.

2. In particular, factory farms must be banned completely.

3. Short of (2), existing regulation, if enforced, would be sufficient to deal with all other threats.

4. We don’t need new laws.

5. The best way to render the food system more safe, in every way, is to decentralize agriculture.

6. Since the new law does nothing to help toward food safety, but on the contrary seeks to render every aspect of it worse, we know that the purpose of the new law is NOT “food safety”, but something else.

7. This something else is to further the exact corporate concentration which generates all the problems.

8. More broadly, this whole issue and the bill must be placed in the broader context of the corporate war against the one and only obstacle to total domination it faces – economic relocalization.

This bill is an assault on democracy and economic freedom.

It’s exactly the same fight as the fight against the big banks, against Walmart, and against every other kind of corporate racket.

December 6, 2010

The Bridge

 

The Western elites used the industrial revolution and the fossil fuel heritage to organize the amassment of a vast wealth and power surplus. Their goal was always to steal as much of this surplus as they could, using the wealth and power they amassed to organize themselves to use Peak Oil itself as the ultimate opportunity to steal the rest.
 
First they used the power to force the Global South to pay the costs of the West’s post-war affluence. Cheap oil and the fact that non-Westerners were providing most of the resources, doing most of the work, and bearing most of the costs, enabled the West to temporarily distribute the fruits of this crime fairly widely among the populace. Out of that we saw the temporary rise of the mass middle class. As the oil crunch began in the 1970s, this middle class was carried further by the exponential debt system.
 
Now that cheap oil and exponential debt are over, the elites intend to clutch at 100% of the deteriorating wealth and power, forcing all the austerity of the end of cheap oil onto the Western peoples, just as they stole all the surplus in the first place. (They’ll also continue to exploit the non-Western peoples as much as possible, although the end of cheap oil will render such imperialism increasingly untenable.) Permanent mass unemployment in itself is an intentional policy goal. It’s part of the winding down of the “growth” economy which will no longer be able to grow, post-Peak Oil.
 
The point of “austerity” is to steal while the stealing’s good the last public pensions and other social property afforded by the oil surplus. It won’t be possible to resume productive growth. There hasn’t been any real economy growth in over ten years now as it is. All the paper growth was just fraudulent FIRE sector “growth”, and whatever gains are being temporarily measured during the phony “recovery” are of the same character. That’s why corporations are merely hoarding cash and looting “bonuses”. This is the robbery end game, while most of the people are still foolish enough to believe we’re headed for growth recovery, or that such recovery is possible at all.
 
Since programs like Social Security will also not be sustainable in the long run, the only question is whether to restore them to the people as they’re liquidated by the end of growth, or for the elites to liquidate them and steal them for their own benefit. It’s always been true that whatever the limits of resources, scarcity has always been the result of artificial, system-imposed political choices. The very basis of capitalism is artificially-generated scarcity. That’ll remain true post-Peak, for as long as the system of false scarcity prevails. The pensions of the oil surplus are not sustainable in the long run, but they do exist in the shorter run. Their mode of winding down can be done in a way fully for the benefit of the people. This can alleviate the energy transition civilization must undergo post-Peak. That’s also why we should institute Single Payer. Not because it’s long-run sustainable, but because in the medium run it would be a constructive use of the diminishing oil surplus. (I used the term “sustainable” in this paragraph, but see below for why going forward we shouldn’t use it in this context.)
 
Post Peak Oil, for many years to come, it will still be a question of the scarcity of necessities, which the political system will always try to drive ahead of the energy scarcity itself, vs. the winding down of luxuries. Political choices will largely dictate this. The elites will try to maintain their luxuries and impose total scarcity upon the people. The people should focus on winding down luxuries in favor of preserving as much material necessity as possible. The very existence of the elites is, of course, the most bloated, wasteful, parasitic, obscene luxury.
 
Permanent mass unemployment is now a structural imperative under the framework of continued neoliberalism. The political normalization of it has been the main political task of the Obama administration. As difficult as it will be for the system, this is the only way to minimize their political risks. Our task is to maximize their political risks.
 
So we need our own strategy for political and policy advocacy for cheap oil’s end times. It’s not easy to formulate – one seems to have to constantly switch back and forth between those discussions and advocacies which are conscious of Peak Oil, and advocacies which don’t know about it or pretend it doesn’t exist. The same is true of exponential debt/growth itself, which was also unsustainable even uncoupled from Peak Oil, since capitalism’s very capacity for real growth has long since been exhausted. All sectors are mature or nearly mature, and the profit rate should fall to nearly nothing according to their own textbooks.
 
It seems that we face two hierarchies of ideas/facts:
 
1. Awareness of Peak Oil – awareness of the end of exponential debt – the business as usual (BAU) mindset.
 
2. Political and economic transformation – reformism – denial, passivity, defeatism, selling out.
 
We recognize:
 
A. Cheap fossil fuel, and therefore this level of energy consumption, is unsustainable. So the only fully valid political awareness is Peak Oil awareness.
 
B. Exponential debt is in itself unsustainable, on account of the structure of capitalism itself.
 
C. Reformism cannot work, because of corporatism’s war of attrition, and often because of A and B.
 
D. For all three of these reasons, transformation is the only political alternative to neo-feudalism and restored serfdom.
 
Nevertheless, some reformist ideas, although not forever sustainable in themselves, can be sustained for some length of time during the transformation. We can picture a transition period where a full employment program, Single Payer, and the still-intact (non-austeritized) Social Security are still operating, as a temporary bridge to the post-oil civilization.
 
So that’s the first reason we must fight for them: To construct that bridge.
 
The second reason is that neoliberalism, like all forms of fascism, and like growth itself, must keep moving forward, “winning”, destroying. As I mentioned above, its political existence depends upon normalizing mass unemployment. We must deny them the reality and just as important the political semblance of victory in this. That’s one example of a severe political blow we can strike.
 
Then there’s the fact that for the moment it seems the true post-oil positive democracy sounds so different juxtaposed with the corporate reality. To the casual observer it sounds like a Utopia. The most important work to be done here is democratic education. We must somehow revive and propagate the ideas of true democracy, since no one in the schools or media is going to do it. Quite the contrary. So the policy bridge is also a psychological bridge. So we make such policy demands also as part of the movement psychology within which the real transformative action takes place. (All political action exists within a psychological framework.)
 
It’s a tremendous leap from soil to soil, across a seemingly uncanny abyss. That’s true physically, where it comes to energy, transportation, social and economic infrastructure, and it’s true psychologically. So both of these needs must be served by one span across the abyss. Then we can feel fully liberated to embark upon the bridge as if every aspect of it were sustainable.
 
Consider this by Zizek:
 

In the domain of socio-economic relations, our era perceives itself as the age of maturity in which humanity has abandoned the old millenarian utopian dreams and accepted the constraints of reality—read: capitalist socio-economic reality—with all its impossibilities. The commandment you cannot is its mot d’ordre: you cannot engage in large collective acts, which necessarily end in totalitarian terror; you cannot cling to the old welfare state, it makes you non-competitive and leads to economic crisis; you cannot isolate yourself from the global market, without falling prey to the spectre of North Korean juche. In its ideological version, ecology also adds its own list of impossibilities, so-called threshold values—no more than two degrees of global warming—based on ‘expert opinions’.
It is crucial to distinguish here between two impossibilities: the impossible-real of a social antagonism, and the ‘impossibility’ on which the predominant ideological field focuses. Impossibility is here redoubled, it serves as a mask of itself: that is, the ideological function of the second impossibility is to obfuscate the real of the first. Today, the ruling ideology endeavours to make us accept the ‘impossibility’ of radical change, of abolishing capitalism, of a democracy not reduced to a corrupt parliamentary game, in order to render invisible the impossible-real of the antagonism that cuts across capitalist societies. This real is ‘impossible’ in the sense that it is the impossible of the existing social order, its constitutive antagonism; which is not to imply that this impossible-real cannot be directly dealt with, or radically transformed.

 
It’s clear that we have no idea what’s possible until we try it, while all such assertions of impossibility are lies told by those who want to inter humanity forever. It is in fact the kleptocracy which is truly impossible: morally, rationally, in practice.
 
So all our advocacy and demands shall exist on a triple track: Peak Oil awareness; the Bridge; non-Peak populism. Since most people still dream of reform, we need to speak to that while the educational work is conducted toward looking fully at the future and the truth. So my proposal is to bridge these two, which are not mutually exclusive but may sometimes be in tension. For example, when I’ve advocated Single Payer I’ve said things like “we need it as we enter the post-oil age”, or just left energy issues out of it. For wherever we discuss policy I recommend verbiage like that, rather than ever conceding, “it’s not sustainable in the long run”. That’s too easily misunderstood or twisted. “We need it as we enter the post-oil age” is both true and open-ended in terms of what it really means. It’s inclusive rather than exclusive. It’s a way of talking about Peak Oil and other resource limits, and advocating policy in accordance, while maintaining a positive, affirmative tone.
 
So here’s the basic situation:
 
1. We don’t expect the government to do anything good, and don’t advocate sitting around waiting for good government. We should take direct relocalization action in every way possible as quickly as possible.
 
That’s why, for example, I advocate the bottom-up debt jubilee and organized land redemption, rather than festering obediently for a real HAMP, for the government and banks to graciously do principal writedowns and allow bankruptcy cramdowns (to give “reform” examples which are at the outer limits of acceptable media discourse).
 
2. But we can also agree in principle that such reforms would be good. We agree for the benefit of those who still believe in these reforms, even as we suggest to that audience that reform is in fact impossible, and anything the system claims it’s doing in that direction will always be a scam.
 
3. There’s also some defensive political fights we have to undertake. Where it comes to net neutrality and civil liberties there’s no substitute for directed political pressure on the system.
 
And while I think we’ll have to directly fight for our Food Sovereignty on the ground, and the fight won’t work short of mass defiance and resistance, here too there’s evidence that political pressure can have some effect. The system’s united front on this and some other issues isn’t as solid as where it comes to the banks.
 
I’ll conclude by giving a few examples of the likely long-term reality, vs. the medium-term bridge possibility, vs. normal political demands which are free to us regardless of resource realities, since they don’t contradict them.
 
I mentioned Single Payer as a possible bridge, as well as a policy which is manifestly true given existing politics. People claim to be worried about deficits? Single Payer would save vast sums over the status quo, while Obama-Republicare will cost even more than the status quo.
 
Social Security is the ultimate bridge, and given existing politics it’s perfectly solvent. That there’s any SS “crisis” is a pure Big Lie. Speaking generally, it’s always morally and practically correct to reject any and all “austerity”. Total Austerity for the Criminals, Not One Cent More From the People.
 
As for the money itself, I just wrote a post which describes a money creation bridge, while my earlier money posts (parts one and two) describe the right policy from any point of view.
 
The right food policy is clear. You want better food safety? Decentralized production and more sustainable, non-industrial agricultural practices are the answer. Ban CAFOs and GMOs, which are proven threats to public health. You’re worried about how to feed the world? Organic methods consistently produce higher yield per acre than any industrial practice, including GMOs. How can we reinvigorate the economy? Food relocalization. Those are all mainstream reform questions, and all receive their true answer.
 
And when people who understand energy issues ask, “How will we feed ourselves once fossil fueled agriculture is no longer sustainable?”, what’s the answer? Decentralized production. Organic production, which we’ll now realize is really just normal production as history always knew it.
 
So whether it’s normal politics, the bridge, or full Peak awareness, the food answer is the same: Food Sovereignty and relocalization of production and distribution. That’s the most scalable policy truth of all.
 
We can see how for all these things the reformist position merges nicely with the bridge position. There’s no inconsistencies.
 
I hope these notes help toward the goal of developing a policy strategy for the movement going forward. I think the basic concepts and method are broadly useful, and are based on both physical and political truth. This can help toward our moral imperative to liberate ourselves and embrace our human destiny as a positive democracy. 

December 4, 2010

Let’s Take Back Our Money

 

Our goal should be total relocalized control of money. The optimal amount of centralized (“federal”*) currency and taxes is zero. Even at this early stage we should look to pioneering projects like the Brixton pound (which can be used to pay local taxes). (We also ought to think in terms of economic relocalization in the form of co-ops. This would have many advantages which I’ll discuss in future posts, but the one I want to mention here is the possibility of bringing as much diversification and exchange as possible under the rubric of cooperative share schemes, so that the parasitic central structure would have trouble getting after us even through trying to tax barter.)
 
[* Going forward I’ll probably be using political relocalization terms like federation and federated more often, in addition to referring to the Orwellian name “federal government”. I hope context will make the difference clear enough, and at any rate I’ll try to avoid using the term federal itself except to refer to the kleptocracy, even though that’s unfair to the term. And a reminder, I hope the (vast) difference between democrat and Democrat is always clear.]
 
Before I get to my affirmative ideas on money reclamation, let me quickly dispose of some negation, what I’m not really advocating.
 
As I wrote in my MMT posts (parts one and two), I do want the knowledge to spread, that in principle deficit spending is unconstrained and beneficial where the economy is depressed. There Is No Deficit Problem. It’s a fiscal terrorist lie.
 
We know for a fact that no one among the elites who claims to care about the deficit or the debt actually does. The Bailout, the wars, the Pentagon budget, Big Ag subsidies, and corporate welfare in general, all prove this. No one thinks the government spends too much as such. (We know that corporatist spending does destroy the real economy by stealing real wealth from the productive people and further enriching and empowering the criminal parasites.)
 
Therefore, we know that all deficit terrorism, all calls for “fiscal responsibility” and spending cuts, all “austerity”, is nothing but a criminal LIE on the part of politicians, media hacks, and academic prostitutes.
 
But I’m not in fact calling for more deficit spending from the kleptocracy. It’s clear that any new spending this government undertakes will only be for further corporate welfare, police state expansion, and power aggrandizement. Obama’s corporatist “stimulus”, just a bailout by other means, proves that. (The fact that “stimulus” money was used by the TSA for the pork/police state purpose of buying totalitarian scanners from a connected crony corporation, in direct defiance of the will of Congress itself, which explicitly voted against allocating funds for the scanners, should be taken as the definitive characterization of Obama’s “stimulus”, and of what any kleptocracy spending will be like.)
 
I do say that we must resist all new taxes or increased taxes on the non-rich. These mean nothing but robbery. Every cent extracted from us, through for example a VAT, would simply be handed over to the banksters and to the likes of Chertoff-connected scanner contractors. Anyone who advocates a VAT or anything like it is simply advocating corporate robbery.
 
And I do say that we must draw a line against any further cuts to any public interest spending. If anyone sincerely thinks cuts are necessary, there are trillions in worthless bailout, war, and corporate welfare spending to cut. So there’s the only answer we ever need give. Anyone whose “deficit” plan is not 100% corporate welfare cuts and increased taxes on the rich is manifestly a liar and a criminal.
 
The watchword is clear:
 
The deficit and the debt are not a problem while there’s still unemployment. Absolutely refuse to even discuss public spending cuts.
 
No Taxes for the Non-Rich.
 
Total Austerity for the Criminals, Not One Cent More From the People.
 
So there’s the basic negative strategy for how the people should regard the central kleptocracy.
 
Affirmatively, we must take back our money sovereignty. Money is nothing but a unit of account among participants in a real economy, and is based on their productive activities. No one but the participants themselves has a right to create or exchange it. Money creation is a core feature of the people’s sovereignty. If a legitimate government existed, by definition it would directly issue money based upon the productivity of the real economy, toward the goal of the overall distributed health of this economy, and of the productive society at large. No “finance sector” would or could exist at all in a legitimate system.
 
So it follows that for a government to abdicate the money creation power to private banks, in the form of “the Fed”, is to abdicate sovereignty itself, and to become illegitimate. We know the Fed serves no legitimate purpose. The only reason it exists is to give the bankster racket its main rent extraction point, and indeed to enable the bank rackets to exist at all. Abolish the Fed, take back the money creation, and we abolish the banksters. Similarly, shadow banking serves only destructive, larcenous purposes and has no right to exist by any measure. So as political demands I support calling for the abolition of the Fed, repeal of the CFMA, and the reinstatement of one big bucket law.
 
Not that I expect the kleptocracy to actually do any such thing, but the Fed may be the most politic target, and the call to End the Fed may be a good wedge behind which to push the rest of the anti-bank, anti-“austerity”, and affirmative money sovereignty ideas.
 
The basic principle and practice of money distribution including credit must be that the community lends to itself, on collateral of future productivity. One existing blueprint for this, alas never put into practice, was Charles Macune’s sub-treasury idea. As described in Lawrence Goodwyn’s The Populist Moment:
 

Through [Macune’s] sub-treasury system, the federal government would underwrite the cooperatives by issuing greenbacks to provide credit for the farmer’s crops, creating the basis of a more flexible national currency in the process; the necessary marketing and purchasing facilities would be achieved through government-owned warehouses, or “sub-treasuries”, and through federal sub-treasury certificates paid to the farmer for his produce – credit which would remove furnishing merchants, commercial banks, and chattel mortgage companies from American agriculture. The sub-treasury “certificates” would be government-issued greenbacks, “full legal tender for all debts, public and private”…

 
In principle, this can be done at the local, state, or federal level. But I think it’s a lost cause to do more than state the possibilities for federal money creation. We should focus more practical work at the state level, where public banking is an idea on the rise.
 

North Dakota broke new ground nearly a century ago, but the true potential of publicly-owned banks remains to be explored. Nearly all of our money today is created by banks when they extend loans. We the people have given away our sovereign money-creating power to private, for-profit lending institutions, which have used it to siphon wealth from the productive economy. If we were to take that power back, we could generate the credit we need to underwrite a whole cornucopia of projects that we don’t even consider because we think we lack the “money.” We have the labor and we have the materials; we just lack the “liquidity” necessary to put them together to create products and services.

 
North Dakota provides proof of principle: State-level public banking works. Banks have been proposed in California, Washington, Michigan, Illinois, Vermont, and elsewhere.
 
This could be a big decentralizing step. The basic idea as it exists is for the state to lend for productive purposes within the state’s real economy. This could easily be ramified into something like a state subtreasury system.
 
From there the possibilities roll out to distant vistas. Perhaps the next step, or better yet a concurrent one, would be for the state to issue its own currency for use within the statewide co-op, certainly for state and local taxes. This could dovetail with a state breaking Wall Street at least within its borders by calling upon the people to Jubilate In Place: stop paying their mortgages, stay in the house, keep paying property taxes. Such an economy could largely sustain itself, and encourage collaborative efforts in other states.
 
This is to envision steps toward decentralization, anti-corporate liberation, relocalization. Of course the road from centralized kleptocracy and corporate tyranny to full relocalization and democracy is a long one.

December 3, 2010

John Wesley Powell’s Watershed Districts

Filed under: Climate Crisis, Food and Farms, Land Reform, Relocalization — Tags: — Russ @ 5:19 am

 

A few times I’ve mentioned John Wesley Powell’s idea that the American West should have been politically divided into watershed districts instead of the screwy, usually irrational and ecologically insensible state borders we ended up with.
 
Just the other day I saw his map for the first time, and I thought it would be interesting and worthwhile to show it here. Unfortunately, I can’t get the image to appear on this blog, so you’ll just have to click. Here’s the original article.
 
The basic idea is still good, and could be applied in some improved future arrangement. (Back in the heyday of New Jersey’s Highlands Act, I advocated it as the template for a future political redivision of the state into watershed districts. I also said the depressant effect on property prices it was having was actually a rational market correction that ought to be embraced, not apologized for. That was 2005, at the height of the bubble. Needless to say, the enviro-types I was talking to had no interest in either idea.)

December 2, 2010

Corporatism (Hoarding, Profiteering, AT&T, SCOTUS)

 

We recently saw the spectacle of corporations reporting $1.659 trillion in profiteering in the 3rd quarter, as they continue to hoard vast amounts of cash, much of it looted through taxpayer bailouts, the rest looted through oligopoly rent extractions. This occurs simultaneously as permanent joblessness creeps toward (or over, according to some measures) 20%. Even the propagandist NYT couldn’t obscure the fact that these corporate “profits” were stolen directly from the people. These “profits” have mostly been hoarded unproductively or stolen in the form of “bonuses” and other personal looting.
 
This is definitive proof, if anyone needed more, that:
 
1. Trickle down doesn’t work. It’s not meant to work. It’s a fraud, and advocacy of it abets capital robbery. This incriminates both Washington gangs, the entire MSM, most of academia, and conservatism and liberalism as a whole. By now anyone who advocates any corporatist “solution” is simply a criminal.
 
2. Corporations serve no constructive purpose. Under conditions of social crisis and incipient Depression, if corporations are going to do nothing but hoard these windfall profits, all of it directly or indirectly looted through the Bailout, why should their profiteering be tolerated at all? Certainly, why should individual profiteers be allowed to hide behind limited liability? Corporations should be eradicated completely.
 
3. There’s no longer such a thing as valid profits among any of these oligopolies. If “profit” ever served a progressive economic role, it no longer does. (And anyone who still dreams of being the virtuous small entrepreneur who truly earns a profit, and who would oppose my anti-corporatism on those grounds, had better wake up – that’s not the system we have. While for the moment we may sometimes still have to practice “capitalism”, belief in it does nothing but condemn us to destruction by fighting on the enemy’s chosen, pre-mined battleground.) By now profits have zero moral, rational, or practical validity. These profiteering and hoarding data prove the impracticality, which by itself proves the irrationality and immorality, though these have many other proofs as well.
 
Capitalism doesn’t work. We’ve reached the end of it, the purely stagnant, unproductive stage of terminal oligopoly. By now every aspect of capitalism and propertarianism is meant to kill ideas, innovation, and freedom, to prevent anything new from growing, and to preserve the rancid power and wealth of this festering, rotting corpse. The events of the last several years prove its complete abdication, morally and in terms of serving any practical purpose whatsoever. What do corporations do? They grope, squeeze, suck blood, and often gouge, punch, and kick. They do nothing but hurt and destroy. What does government do? Nothing but help the corporations do this. It steals directly on their behalf and does all it can to enable their robbery, vandalism, and murder.
 
There can no longer be any doubt about the malevolence and worthlessness of government and corporations. The only morally and rationally valid principle going forward, and the only one which can possibly work, is positive democracy. Economic and political relocalization on the basis of direct democracy and cooperative self-determination.
 
At the moment things don’t exactly seem to be headed in that direction. Just as a little case study in the essence of corporatism as I just described it, let’s consider a coming attraction from the supremely corrupt court.
 
The gist of the case, AT&T Mobility vs. Concepcion, is that AT&T systematically committed flat out fraud and theft by tacking bogus charges onto bills. The goal was to cover up for these by slathering the contracts in fine print boilerplate jargon, forcing the customer, as a condition of the contract, to agree to “arbitration” in any dispute, and make the thefts small enough that the customer either wouldn’t notice or would consider it too much of a hassle to pursue a refund. And by keeping the victims informationally isolated from one another, AT&T hoped the thefts would all look like mistakes which at worst warranted crediting the customer’s account, not felonies which warrant punitive damages as well as prison sentences for company cadres.
 
There’s a lot here which shouldn’t be able to happen, according to the capitalist textbooks. According to capitalist ideology, a competitor should come along and take all of AT&T’s business by offering better service. This competitor will allegedly offer clear contracts, no fine print, which don’t require the customer to surrender his constitutional rights as the condition of the contract. (The contract should always be absolutely clear, as a matter of market efficiency. Anyone who makes the contract opaque is simply hindering the market, not behaving as a legitimate capitalist, and will hurt himself in the competitive marketplace. The ideology says so.) This hypothetical competitor will also be so good as to not, um, steal. The contracts which surrender the right to sue are clearly invalid, as they are unconscionable contracts of adhesion. Meanwhile a conscientious government, conscientiously enforcing a conscientious law, will see that the victim gets his day in court and will vigorously prosecute the wrongdoer. The system will be vindicated!
 
Of course, in reality the opposite happens. In reality the telecom sector matured, congealed, and calcified. It concentrated into a stagnant oligopoly with full government assistance. All the oligopolists collude to impose the same opaque, unconstitutional adhesion contracts upon the prostrate customer. The government encourages them to do this. No competitor is likely to arise. The government helps set up the insurmountable barriers to entry. There is no competition. “Competition” is just another Marie Antoinette “let them eat cake” term – “You don’t like the contract? Go to the competition!”
 
There is no competition. In almost every sector, a few oligopolists have a stranglehold, and they collude to impose this grip with no escape, no alternative. The government does all it can to help them attain this death grip. Capitalism is a failure and a fraud.
 
And how is this fraud working in the AT&T case? Once enough victims of the fraud learned about one another and combined for a class action suit (the only way to render it economic to sue for a vast amount which is nevertheless a small amount for each individual class member), the adhesion contract was supposed to get the suit thrown out peremptorily. Failing this, AT&T argued other bogus obstacles to the suit’s standing. This “standing” barrier is one of the most common weapons of corporations and rogue jurists.
 
Hearteningly, AT&T’s conduct was so brazen and extreme that every court so far, starting in the California state courts and extending into the federal courts, has rejected the adhesion contract and allowed the suit to go forward. California found that the contract is indeed unconscionable, and the federal courts agree. Which has now brought AT&T and the people to the corporate criminal’s last and best resort, the rogue “supreme” court. Here there’s definitely four votes in the bag, at least three flaky ones among established corporatists (Breyer, Kennedy, and Ginsburg) who sometimes shrink from the more extreme results, and the still largely unknown quantity Sotomeyer. And then there’s Kagan making her debut in a big corporate case. Her prior record, such as it is, doesn’t offer much grounds for optimism, but we’ll see.
 
The fact that this case has even gotten this far to hang in such jeopardy, at the mercy of a handful of autocrats who have zero sovereign legitimacy, is a testament to derangement of kleptocracy.
 
In any case study of corporatism, we’ll find the same two factors:
 
1. The government sees its mission as to empower and enable corporate domination and corporate crime.
 
2. The government assaults and obstructs democracy in order to prevent us from exercising our rights as citizens, wherever those rights conflict with the lawless, anti-sovereign corporate prerogative.
 
Even the original Framers, as dubious as they were about democracy, clearly excluded corporations from any constitutional standing. They took seriously the ideal of sovereignty and government’s necessary obligation to exercise it, if it’s to have any legitimacy at all. So even by Hamiltonian standards, what we have today is a rogue, illegitimate, anti-sovereign corporate flunkey, not a government. It’s a terminal kleptocracy. 

December 1, 2010

Food Tyranny Bill: MSM Anodyne Propaganda (Et tu, Pollan and Schlosser?)

 

This was brought to my attention in comments, and since I was already mulling another post on this food bill, I turned my reply into a post.
 
See what I miss when I mostly stop reading the NYT? Not that this is surprising. Are the likes of Pollan and Schlosser really transformationists, or are they just among the “better” of liberal reformists? We know the answer. The title sounds familiar: “A Stale Food Fight”. I’ve previously written about Obama’s preference for epithets like “tired debate” (regarding offshore drilling, just a few weeks before the explosion) and “false political debates” over globalization. The same globalization Pollan champions in this piece. Are they all reading off some liberal version of a Luntz memo? Is that where they’re all getting this anti-democratic language?
 
Sure enough, here they are in “reasonable” mode between the extremists on both sides. (I always love when liberals lump us in with Glenn Beck.)
 

The agency would finally have the resources and authority to prevent food safety problems, rather than respond only after people have become ill.

 
 
The agency already had vast inspection authority and simply refused to use it. The Pollan-type reformists never explain why the new regulations (to be enforced, of course, by the same old regualtors) will be enforced in a way the old ones weren’t. (It’s just like Krugman where it comes to regulation of Wall Street and health insurance, although by now I’m convinced Krugman is a conscious criminal himself. But it’s the same false logic.)
 
It really seems like, to a certain do-gooder mentality, passing a “new” rule seems like some magic talisman which will compel good behavior from the exact same people who refused to obey or enforce the old rule.
 
That type of liberal is congentially incapable of understanding the concept that there are those who will refuse to obey or enforce any rule, period.
 
Here’s the only part which sounded new to me:
 

The bill would also require more frequent inspections of large-scale, high-risk food-production plants.

 
 
No one I’ve seen, including advocates, said any such thing about “requirements”.
 
Everything I’ve seen was along the lines of the first quote I gave above: The FDA will have more discretion, which is of course exactly what small producers fear and big producers love. (BTW, most of the managers’ amendments which are supposed to lessen the effect on small producers are also “discretionary” for the FDA. They suggest this and that, but don’t require it.)
 
Where it comes to both small and big producers, we’ve already seen where the FDA’s “discretion” is prone to lead.
 
But from his ivory tower Pollan assures us that lifelong Monsanto cadres like FDA Food Czar Michael Taylor will now be conscientious about their public trust, because Congress passed a new law!
 
Yeah, I’m sure that’s how it will work.
 

Last summer, when thousands of people were infected with salmonella from filthy, vermin-infested henhouses in Iowa, Americans were outraged to learn that the F.D.A. had never conducted a food safety inspection at these huge operations that produce billions of eggs a year. The new rules might have kept those people — mainly small children and the elderly — from getting sick.

 
 
The old rules, if they’d been enforced, could have kept those people from being sick. Again Pollan fails to explain what’s so magical about the new rules.
 

The law would also help to protect Americans from unsafe food produced overseas: for the first time, imported foods would be subject to the same standards as those made in the United States.

 
 
Pollan inadvertently gives away more than he means. The reader can see the Orwellian double meaning of the sentence as written, and indeed all the evidence is that the bill’s globalization measures are intended to lessen safety, increase the amount of imported food (directly contrary to all sustainability goals*), and increase the anti-sovereign power of globalization cadres over our domestic food supply.
 
We’ve been doing this for decades now. We know how globalization works. Why is Pollan playing dumb here? Is he really that stupid, or is he being malicious?
 
[*I’ve never seen this Pollan before, Pollan as globalization champion. Suddenly he’s an enemy of relocalization and sustainability as such.
 
Suddenly he wants more imported foods, and celebrates this bill for extending that paradigm, while local food advocates are relegated to the ghetto with Glenn Beck.
 
So the mask comes off. It’s like I’ve said a hundred times – every liberal is, deep down, exactly the same elitist sellout.]
 
Pollan also lies about the food recall provision. He gets some cover because he’s able to cite Coburn telling a lie of his own:
 

[T]he government doesn’t need mandatory recall power because “not once in our history have we had to force anyone to do a recall,” and that the annual cost of the new food safety requirements — about $300 million — is prohibitively expensive.

Last year, at the height of a nationwide salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands, spread via tainted peanut butter, the Westco Fruit and Nuts company refused for weeks to recall potentially contaminated products, despite requests from the F.D.A.

 
 
The facts here are that the government could not previously mandate recalls, but has strong-armed small producers into doing so anyway. Most recently it “requested” that Morningland Diary issue a recall, and then illegally announced the recall on its own, fraudulently claiming Morningland had already issued the recall.
 
As Pollan knows perfectly well, the FDA has never shown any such exuberance in jumping the gun where it comes to its feeble “requests” to big companies like Westco.
 
Again, Pollan seems to have performed some ritual where the entrails told him this bill will cause a complete 180 degree reversal in the FDA’s attitude. The FDA, granted mandatory recall authority, will use it against the same big malefactors it previously refused to even inspect, while it will suddenly play fair in good faith with the same small producers it previously bullied, terrorized, and extorted.
 

Those legitimate concerns have been addressed in an amendment, added by Senator Jon Tester of Montana, that recently was endorsed by a coalition of sustainable agriculture and consumer groups. But now that common sense has prevailed, the bill is under fierce attack from critics — egged on by Glenn Beck and various Tea Partyers, including some in the local food movement — who are playing fast and loose with the facts.

 
 
The Tester amendment is a bone of contention. The form in which it was included is not the original strong form, but a watered-down version. It doesn’t seem to have changed anyone’s minds among sustainable food or Food Sovereignty advocates. Those whose support was contingent upon inclusion of the Tester amendment continued to support it, while those who were opposed stayed opposed. (Whether or not groups like the NSAC who claimed their support was contingent upon inclusion of a Tester amendment would actually have withdrawn support in the absence of  it, I don’t know. My default is to be highly suspicious of such contingent endorsements. We saw what happened with the “Progressive Block” scam.)
 
The only group which changed its tune were the racket groups who had supported the non-Testerized bill, but opposed it with inclusion of Tester’s amendment. I don’t know immediately whether they really fear it as too strong for their purposes, or if it’s just pique on account of their deranged sense of entitlement, that they take the inclusion of any such amendment as an insult.
 
Let’s not forget that however good the Tester amendment is or isn’t, and however much better the Senate bill is than the House version, they still have to be conferenced. Supporters like the NSAC think the House will simply rubber-stamp the Senate version, but I’m not sure why. We’ve seen with the health racket bailout and the sham finance bill how in both cases the conference was used to strip out all the better parts and make the bad parts worse.
 
I’m not sitting here in a state of total pessimism about this bill. For it to do its worst will require the FDA to be far more aggressive, and against a much vaster range of small producers, than it has been so far. The persecution of the raw milk community was meant to serve as the template, but a broad-based assault on small producers and distributors as such, at the same time food relocalization is blossoming into a full-scale movement, will be politically far more difficult.
 
But here, as everywhere else, the measure of how difficult will be in direct proportion to our willingness to resist, reject, and fight back. We’ll need to undertake direct action as producers and distributors, in an exact parallel with Gandhi’s great Salt March. And the broader populace needs to support these food efforts, economically and politically.
 
Maybe we can even come up with the political judo to turn this to our advantage. People are already willing to buy local for so many other reasons. The more we can add persecution to the list, the more of an imperative supporting this movement must seem. Remember how the German people reacted in 1933 to the new Hitler regime’s call for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses. The people not only disregarded the boycott but often went out of their way to patronize those stores, despite the frequent presence of intimidating Brownshirt picketers. After a few days Hitler had to admit the boycott was a failure and call it off. We’ll see if the corporatist government is really going to attempt something similar against food relocalization. 
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