Volatility

February 27, 2012

Rain Dance

Filed under: Freedom, Sovereignty and Constitution — Russ @ 8:18 am

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Nature includes the endless cycle of water from liquid to vapor to liquid. Its basic state on this earth is liquid, reposing at the basin of gravity.
 
So it is with our work and our political sovereignty. We work and play and rest, and exist as political animals, at the level of the soil. Everything which goes into the air, we send there. All which comes down, we call down. It’s as if we do a rain dance and the sky answers. This is nature. This is humanity.
 
But elitism claims the clouds are the only solid reality, while the earth is the mirage. Reality can only fall to this fantasy land, and only as what trickles down according to the elite’s magnanimous fiat. Political and economic sovereignty, wealth creation, all the forms and ideas of civilization, these exist only among the clouds. Humanity, the 1%, is only the handful of these cloud-dwellers. The rest, the 99%, “the people”, are mere shades, not even animals but the depraved semblance of animals. Oh how magnanimous the clouds are to us, oh how merciful!
 
Here too we do the motions of a rain dance, but we do it as dangled from strings. This is anti-nature. This is slavery.
 
Shall we cut the strings? Shall we look at these clouds we lofted, curse them for their poison rain, and choose no longer to suspend them? And shall we compel them to plunge in flames, the moment we no longer support them with our credulity and corruption? Shall we purify our sky by purifying ourselves?
 
And shall we again perform the endless primal rain dance, calling down nought but the cool, clear water to slake our humanity?
 
Each day a new sun rises expectant, revealing our sky, which shows nothing but our human reflection. What have we sent there? What shall we send today? What shall we send tomorrow?

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February 25, 2012

The Bill of Rights vs. “the Constitution”

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It’s an error to assimilate what’s in the Bill of Rights to “the Constitution”, i.e. to the foundation of the central government.
 
The drafters of the 1788 Constitution, the so-called “Federalists”, heaped scorn and contempt upon the notion of a “bill of rights”. Only filthy hippies and anarchists were licentious and paranoid enough to want such a thing. The promulgators of the plan for an imperial central government grudgingly agreed to include a bill of rights only when it looked like the Constitution, lacking this, would fail to be ratified.
 
So it’s wrong, both historically and conceptually, to amalgamate the centralized government plan with the guarantees of various individual, community, and truly federalist rights, and call it by one name, “the Constitution”. The intent of the planners of the central government, and the sense of their document (the main Articles), run directly counter to the spirit of this Bill of Rights. The promulgators despised it, and everyone who has followed in their stead, all who support central government and empire, have regarded it as nothing but a fig leaf to be used, abused, most of all disregarded except for propaganda purposes.
 
So those who today cite the Bill of Rights and “the Constitution” as something being abused and affronted by the actions of government and corporations are mistaking the fundamental nature of this Constitution, by helping dress it in the nimbus of a Bill of Rights which is fundamentally alien to it.
 
I can appreciate constitutional arguments as a political weapon. I make many such arguments myself. But if one lets oneself see, for example, freedom of assembly* and electing a president as two parts of an integral whole, then one has fallen for a scam meant to keep us mired in fruitless notions of “reforming” a fundamentally evil system.
 
“The Constitution”, as an undifferentiated, unexamined holistic notion, is nothing but propaganda. It’s not organic, in principle or practice.
 
*Freedom of assembly is an excellent example. The natural right can only mean bottom-up citizen assembly for direct democracy and direct action. But the 1st Amendment carefully limits it “to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.
 
Thus many aspects of the Occupy movement are, by the technicality of the central Constitution, outside our “recognized” rights.
 
Add 2/27:
 
My point isn’t to disparage the argument for Freedom of Assembly and constitutional claims. But we must claim these only from and for ourselves. We can demand them only of ourselves, through direct action and movement building.
 
But to rely upon the government and the courts to agree is to misunderstand what the courts are for, and to misunderstand the difference between our sovereign constitution and the system’s “Constitution”.
 
 
 

February 21, 2012

Corporate Liberals for Monsanto (the CSPI, et.al.)

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Not that I have much use for petitions, other than as educational media. But this one, calling for the removal of Monsanto cadre Michael Taylor as government “food czar” (which the Food Control law empowers him to be), has a simple, benevolent demand. It fits the definition of a worthwhile “demand” on the system in that it would be easy for the system to comply, yet the system will refuse.
 
But this benign simplicity is far too much for our corporate liberal front groups. The so-called Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI – but they’re actually anti-science and most definitely against the public interest; but they certainly do support Centralism, so that part of their name is accurate) is leading the counterattack of a bunch of typical myopics, in the form of a pro-Taylor, pro-Monsanto and pro-GMO “Open Letter” asking MoveOn to back off. (To be sure, this petition is rather daring by MoveOn standards. So maybe some blowback from colleagues among that rancid system-liberal class might persuade them.) 
 
The CSPI has been notoriously soft on almost all of the most critical food issues. If you go to their website you’ll look in vain for much concern with workers, citizens, democracy, environmental destruction, CAFOs as pandemic vectors, animal cruelty. As for GMOs, they were pushing the “co-existence” scam even before Whole Foods took it up. One might think they’re just focusing on the nutrition issue, but no – they aggressively attack broad-based citizen activism, as we see here. They’re at best “useful idiots”, objective corporate front groups. More likely they intentionally chose this deal with the devil.
 
This is well-demonstrated at CSPI’s Biotechnology page, which is straight corporate propaganda.
 

That unique technique for manipulating hereditary traits can provide significant benefits, but also raises environmental, food safety, and societal concerns. Genetic engineering has the potential to decrease adverse environmental effects of conventional agriculture, increase yields for farmers (especially in developing countries), improve the nutritional quality and taste of crops, and contribute to sustainable agriculture.

 
These touted “benefits” have all been disproven, and are now flat out lies on the part of anyone who spews them, for example that GMOs increase yield (disproven by the Union of Concerned Scientists, among others). Meanwhile the brochure also expresses support for the continued enslavement of small farmers, especially in non-industrialized countries, to corporate commodity agriculture. You’d think the historical record would already have proven the evil of this, but that can’t stop our CSPI technocrats from continuing to call for what’s already been proven not to work, if the definition of “working” is the betterment of humanity and democracy.
 
As for the claim that doubling down on GMO monoculture, the ultimate oil-dependent and biologically vulnerable hothouse flower, makes for “sustainable agriculture”, the CSPI’s idiocy and malevolence speaks for itself.
 
Meanwhile, the CSPI is all about food labeling, so they must be for GMO labels, right? “Providing consumers with better label information”, as their Food Labeling page says?
 
On the contrary, few things could be more eloquent than the CSPI’s absolute silence on the GMO labeling efforts citizens are launching all over America. Just look over this list of “press releases and resources” going back to 2008. 
 
At best, CSPI is a statist “reform” organization. All its policy advocacy involves begging government for better top-down regulation. Corporatism as such, and corporate domination of our food, they take as normative. They just want it better regulated. They don’t call upon us to take back our food as democratic citizens and human beings. At most they make the meager suggestion that we be Better Consumers, to pay more attention to the nutrition labels on processed “food” in the big box aisle. The big box, and processed food in general, they represent as normative and desirable.
 
So it follows that whoever is in power, like this Taylor thug, they’ll look to as their Master and grovel before him, begging him for Kinder Gentler Tyranny. They’ll demonstrate their obedience and loyalty by attacking anyone who wants to abolish tyranny as such and create democracy.
 
This fundamental difference between the appeasement and collaboration mentality, vs. the human citizen mentality, is demonstrated in this amazing statement from the Open Letter:
 

Frankly, the petition represents the baldest sort of character assassination and plays right into the hands of those who are bent on convincing the public that all government officials are corrupt.

 
That all government officials are, not “corrupt” but pro-corporate and anti-democratic by their very nature, is a self-evident truth. But to the corporate flunkeys who signed this letter, to state such truth is “bald character assassination”.
 
Here we see an unbridgeable divide between those who would live as free, prosperous human beings and citizens of a community, and those who are dedicated to our terminal atomization and enslavement. There can be no compromise across such an infinite abyss. 
 
The letter is loaded with concern trolling. “Some of us” oppose this or that, are concerned about this or that. But the letter’s real message is that its signers oppose democracy and are concerned about citizen action. If they’re so upset about a picayune petition, imagine how they must get the vapors over anti-GMO direct action, or the Occupy movement, or any other real activism.
 
Monsanto has “some bad policies”? I challenge anyone to name a single good one. The fact is big corporations as such are evil, the corporate form as such is evil, the revolving door as such is evil. To stick up for them is to side against humanity and the earth, and to side with our enemies.
 
This is a lie:
 

It is far more relevant that in the Clinton Administration he headed the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he stood up to the meat industry and fought for strict controls that help keep E. coli and other pathogens out of meat and poultry.

 
On the contrary, the Clinton administration sought to increase concentration in the meat industry. The HACCP has had that result. Since it hasn’t been revoked, and was instead extended to produce in the recently passed Food Control law, proves that such concentration and domination was its real intent. Corporate food outbreaks, meanwhile, have increased.
 
This is an Orwellian statement:
 

Since joining the Obama Administration, Taylor has been working extraordinarily hard to transform the FDA from a reactive agency that chases down foodborne‐illness outbreaks after people fall ill, to a proactive public‐health‐based agency focused on preventing foods from becoming contaminated in the first place.

 
What this really means is that the FDA will handle Big Corporate producers with kid gloves while aggressively “policing” (i.e., acting as a corporate goon against) small producers, for example real milk dairies. The Food Control law seeks to empower the FDA to escalate this war on the small producer.
 
We see here that part of the motivation is astroturfing for Obama:
 

While the Administration has not accomplished everything we food safety advocates would like to see done, Mike Taylor, along with President Obama, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen, and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, have made great progress on food safety in a rather short period of time. They deserve the chance to keep on doing it, despite the conspiracy mongering to which Mr. Taylor is now being subjected.

 
Yes indeed, in just a few short years Obama and his thugs have accomplished more on behalf of GMOs, CAFOs, ethanol, Big Drug (as pusher of hormones and antibiotics), corporate concentration, and Big Ag monoculture as such, and against small farmers and the food relocalization movement, than George Bush did in 8 years. That’s an accomplishment indeed, and we see the record of what the criminal signers of this letter consider “accomplishments”.
 
(I’ll remind the reader, however, that the petition itself is to Obama. So to some extent this is a squabble among those who claim to consider Obama a decent citizen and Better Leader rather than what his entire record establishes him to be, a criminal against humanity.)
 
If this is shaping up to be a fight to the finish (and it is), I want to obliterate everything obscuring the line of fire. We have two trenches, and between them should be nothing but no-man’s-land. But front groups like the CSPI want to run interference, obstruct our shots, and help the corporate assassins fire from cover.
 
Nor am I much interested any longer in the difference between premeditated front groups and stupid liberal myopics who are “just” objectively pro-corporate tyranny. If anything the latter are even more destructive.
 
The petition points out that one constant throughout Taylor’s career has been his aggression against transparency and consumer information, one of the fundamental elements of democracy and true food safety. So he fits right in with the Obama administration’s vicious hostility toward transparency and whistleblowers. Meanwhile we see what kind of citizen information the CSPI and allied groups support, and what they really mean when they use the Orwellian term “food safety”. They, just as much as Monsanto, mean safety for corporate profits and state power. That’s what this ironically titled “open letter” is all about.
 
 

February 17, 2012

Occupy and Land Redemption

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Occupy is usually called a movement, but it’s really a strategy and set of tactics toward certain goals. It’s the most visibly vibrant element of the longer arc of the democratic movement.
 
One of the most promising Occupation actions is direct action against bank foreclosures, literally occupying beleaguered and abandoned homes. Occupy Our Homes is a broad coalition of actions around the country. Occupy Minneapolis is an excellent example, occupying homes in order to prevent eviction of foreclosed residents.
 
This Occupy action supplements older actions like Take Back the Land, which since 2006 has been identifying idle bank- and government-“owned” houses and “moving homeless people into peopleless homes”. They call it “liberating homes”. Organizer Max Rameau explains the movement philosophy.
 

In other cases, foreclosed homes that are not yet empty, because the people, the families living there, haven’t been evicted yet. But either way, we’re liberating those homes for families, not occupying. The banks are actually occupying our homes. We’re in there, a liberation. I think this makes for an incredible movement, where we have a one-two punch. On the one hand, we’re occupying them on their turf, and on the other, we’re liberating our own turf so that human beings can have access to housing, rather than them sitting vacant so that corporations can benefit from them sometime in the future…

We have a network of organizations. We’re not a national organization. We call ourselves a translocal network. We network local organizations. We have a nonprofit that allows organizers like myself to go and do trainings in different cities. But really, people are doing this on their own. They’re not doing it because we’re telling them to do it. They’re doing it because we just don’t have any other choice.

 
He explains a typical redemption:
 

There’s a young lady in Chicago named Martha who we moved into a vacant home that had been vacant for quite some time in Chicago. We went there, scouted out the neighborhood—and that’s through the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign—scouted out the neighborhood, looked at the house, found the house in good condition. Then we talked to all the neighbors and said, “Look, this place is empty. We have a family that needs a place to stay. We would like to move them. It will help out the family. It’ll improve your neighborhood, because you won’t have so many vacant homes in the neighborhood. We’d like to have your support for it.” And we held a press conference, moving the family in, and all of the neighbors came out and supported that. And we’re there, and the family is still there. And that’s been three months or so. And the neighbors have signed onto pledges agreeing that if the police come to try to evict that family, they’re going to block the eviction, physically block the eviction there. And that’s with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign in Chicago.

 
These actions are taking place in Chicago, Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, and many other cities. Add the new Occupy surge, and we’re saturating the country with this wave of home liberation. Many citizens already credit these kinds of occupations for gaining them time and concessions, even real mortgage modifications.
 
(None of those reform goals will avail in the long run. Obviously we can’t really “demand” anything of the banksters, who are simply thugs and robbers. We can only abolish them. But direct action is far more important than the currently moderate words and operational goals. Direct action, wherever citizens undertake it, will always radicalize ideas and goals. It will do so as the people see how the system rejects such modest, reasonable demands, responding with lies, lawlessness, and violence. It will do so also because action itself is a democratic tonic, building self-respect, self-confidence, and a growing will to demand nothing less than all that’s ours, and to demand it only of ourselves, instead of demeaning ourselves by “petitioning” the vermin elites.)
 
The mortgage system is based on two basic lies:
 
1. The banks rightfully own the land.
 
2. A housedebtor has an obligation to pay the mortgage.
 
But here’s the truth:
 

1. The banks never legitimately owned the land, we the people own it.

2. Even if they had, and however we look at it, since the Bailout we the people own the banks. So all their “property” including the land reverts to us anyway.

3. Even according to their own rigged “legality”, with the MERS system having dissolved unified ownership and in many cases lost the physical note, the banks have abdicated this ownership, inadvertently dissolved it.

4. As for the mortgage contract, if it’s non-recourse then walking away is a perfectly sound, by-the-book provision of the contract.

5. Since the banks stole everything they have to begin with, since they intentionally plunged the economy into this incipient Depression and used the crash they intentionally caused to loot even more trillions, we also have the moral right to stop paying but stay in the house as long as we want. This is an example of bottom-up direct restitution.

6. Such squatting is actually positive for the community. In many regions the banks simply let the foreclosed or abandoned property rot, to everyone’s detriment.

 
So there’s the basic argument for complete bottom-up debt jubilee. (For an introduction to the technical aspects of how the banks have even legally forfeit their alleged ownership of the land, see here.) I’ve written lots more on the Land Scandal and the redemption we must take.
 
This anti-bank land redemption action, against REO (real estate-owned, i.e. bank-owned) in practice and principle, is where we’re starting out. Where must we end up?
 
America needs tens of millions of small farmers. This is a physical, economic, and political necessity. The only way we’ll achieve this democratic and food production imperative is to redeem our land on a massive scale from the banks and corporate gangs which have stolen it. There’s several possible ways this can happen. Going with the idea of occupations, we can look to the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) of Brazil and many other countries. The MST provides an ideal we can aspire to everywhere, even in America.
 

In Brazil, according to the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), by 2002 some 8 million hectares of land have been occupied and settled by some 1 million people, most newly engaged in farming. Other countries with escalating land occupations include Paraguay, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Argentina, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, India, Thailand, South Africa, and others.
This tactic of land occupation is one of the central tactics in the contemporary struggle for land reform. The MST has set the standard for other landless people’s movements around the world. They are noted for both their success in occupying land—as measured by the amount of land occupied, the number of people settled, and a rate of abandonment of the settlements that remains well below 10 percent of new settlers—as well as for the sophisticated nature of their internal organization. The MST uses a two-step method to move people from extreme poverty into landownership and farming. They begin by reaching out to the most excluded and impoverished segments of Brazilian society, such as landless rural day laborers, urban homeless people, people with substance abuse problems, unemployed rural slum dwellers, or peasant farmers who have lost their land. Organizers give talks in community centers, churches, and other public forums, and landless families are given the opportunity to sign up for a land occupation.

Step one sees these families move into rural “camps,” where they live on the side of highways in shacks made from black plastic, until a suitable estate—typically land left unused by absentee landlords—is found. Families spend at least six months, and sometimes as long as five years, living under the harsh conditions of the camps, with little privacy, enduring heat in the summer and cold in the rainy season. As the MST discovered almost by accident, however, the camps are the key step in forging new people out of those with tremendous personal issues to overcome. Camp discipline, which is communally imposed by camp members, prohibits drug use, domestic violence, excessive drinking, and a host of other social ills. All families must help look after each other’s children—who play together—and everyone must cooperate in communal duties. People learn to live cooperatively, and they receive intensive training in literacy, public health, farming, administration of co-ops, and other key skills that can make their future farm communities successful. When people used to occupy land directly, they usually failed to stay more than few months. But when they have first been through an MST camp, more than 90 percent of them stay on their land long term.

Step two is the actual land occupation. It usually takes place at dawn, when security guards and police are asleep, and it involves anywhere from dozens to thousands of families rapidly moving out of their camp onto the estate they will occupy. Crops are planted immediately, communal kitchens, schools, and a health clinic are set up, and defense teams trained in nonviolence secure the perimeter against the hired gunmen, thugs, and assorted police forces that the landlord usually calls down upon them. The actual occupation leads to a negotiation with local authorities, the result of which may be the expropriation (with compensation) of the property under Brazil’s constitutional provision requiring the social use of land, or the negotiated exchange of the occupied parcel for a different one of equal value. In some cases security forces have managed to expel the occupiers, who typically return and occupy the parcel again and again until an accommodation is reached.

 
The challenge is how to get from the relatively small-scale housing occupation movement to such a vast land occupation movement. In ideas we can try to engineer and reverse-engineer strategy and tactics for this.
 
One important fact, which goes to the core of how to organize the movement in the first place and what its general philosophy and expressions are to be, is that on every front we’re seeking to organize and render militant the land-beleaguered (the “middle class” now being liquidated), the landless, and anyone who wants to farm, who wants to craft, who wants to break free of their “employment” (or, increasingly, their fruitless search for employment), who wants to break free of the money economy, who wants to break free of all corporate/state hierarchy.
 
The MST recently visited Occupy Wall Street, as part of a communion of the food movement and the Occupy phenomenon. (This was just a few days after I wrote that MST and OWS are on the same wavelength.) This collaboration in spirit promises a galvanizing collaboration in action, as the movement for relocalization, democracy, freedom, and self-prosperity continues to gather. Everywhere we see and feel how we’re on the right track. Our enemies, for all their fearsome firepower, have built their fortresses and prisons on sand. We the 99%, we the people, build upon our rock-solid landbases, the bases of our elemental humanity, which all the lies and blandishments of the rotten criminal age have not been able to efface.
 
We see how, for all the brainwashing, threats, and violence of the system, most people still do what they can to remain human. We see how, the moment coercion is removed, almost everyone becomes fully human again. This proves that humanity shall triumph in the end. All we need to do is fight.

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February 13, 2012

Regressive Attitudes in the Food Movement

Filed under: Food and Farms, Reformism Can't Work, Relocalization — Russ @ 3:18 am

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Even among those who understand and care about the basic issues, there’s a common way of looking at things which combines reformism, appeasement, historical ignorance, and acceptance of Status Quo Lie brainwashing. Here’s a typical example.
 

From my experience in reading extensively about raw milk, visiting raw milk farms, and listening to a wide variety of viewpoints, I can see benefits to supporting at least two levels of raw milk accessibility.

1) The foundation should be small to medium sized farms that either operate herd shares or sell and distribute directly to consumers. These farms need little or no regulation in my opinion because if they want to stay in business, they have to please their customers and cannot afford to provide an inferior product. At this level, the scale of risk is small because each individual farm has a relatively small consumer base. Voluntary certification would likely work well for these operations and their customers.

2) I would also like to see support for medium to large operations that maintain pastured herds that are primarily or exclusively grass-fed and can potentially supply retail sales of clean raw milk for large markets. At this level, the scale of risk is large, certification is critical, and regulation is inevitable. However, the regulation needs to be realistic and efficient for the goal of minimizing health risk without incurring unnecessary burdensome costs.

I’m hoping that RAWMI will be able to support both of these levels of operation as much as possible. The political climate is different in every state, so the efforts need to be customized and optimized to seek the greatest benefit for the least expenditure. I believe both of these levels of operation are mutually beneficial and can work together well to satisfy the full range of customer demands.

I’m afraid we are stuck with the industrial food supply system that has been built over the last 50 years by consumers voting with their dollars to buy cheap convenient food that tastes good, even though it may not necessarily be healthy. The best we can hope is to maintain an alternative local and direct farm to family food supply, including raw milk, for those who want it. I’m encouraged that a lot more people seem to be voting with dollars to support farmers markets, raw milk, organic, non-GMO, and local food production. We need to encourage this trend, though I don’t ever expect it to return to what it was a 100 years ago. Too many people will continue to buy cheap convenient low-quality food for us ever to end the dominance of the now well established industrial food supply system. Our best hope is to carve and keep a strong and viable though likely niche market.

 
1. We already know that if you have (2), it will see itself as pro-corporate, pro-big operation, and will act as a weapon vs. (1). We already know this, yet everywhere you look you see people like this who want to keep trying the same thing which has already failed over and over, expecting a different result. Talk about the definition of insanity.
 
The fact is that a conservative (he may be a “progressive” conservative) who can think only of clinging to what little crumbs he has left completely fails to understand the situation. He thinks we can stand still where we are, gnawing those crumbs. But the fact, proven by all the events of the last 60 years, is that we’re on a vector here. What little is left of this center cannot hold. There’s only two possible outcomes, two “strange attractors”: total fascism, or full-scale revolution. Expressions like this comment end up supporting the pro-fascist vector.
 
2. There was never any such “consumer vote”. Our food system is the result of 60 years and more of aggressive top-down planned economic policy. Consumers never “voted” with dollars or anything else. There’s never been a real democratic election on this or any other aspect of neoliberalism any more than we ever really voted for the two-party sham system itself. Again we see the fundamental dishonesty and cowardice of the conservative and “progressive” conservative outlook.
 
They’re also completely ignorant about energy and economics, and how on both points the “growth” system is unsustainable and doomed to collapse. We may soon collapse to totalitarian feudalism, but the sort of “capitalism” these conservatives worship as a cargo cult will cease to exist. Only the simulation of it still exists even now.
 
The only solution is the full relocalization of our economies and polities, and therefore building a direct action movement toward this goal. Nothing else will suffice, nor is anything else worthy of us as democratic citizens and human beings.

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February 12, 2012

It Follows from the Premise

Filed under: Reformism Can't Work, Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: , — Russ @ 3:24 am

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A typical example of the “campaign finance is hard to figure out” genre:
 

The outcome of the Citizens United ruling is to make each dollar equal in the political process. Those who have most dollars can determine who runs and on what platform. In extreme cases one person could bankroll a candidate, as seems to have happened with Newt Gingrich.

Anyone who cares about democracy should see why this is undesirable. But what is more undesirable is the difficulty a candidate would find in receiving funding if his or her platform does not cosset those rich corporations. Getting the money from thousands and thousands of twenty dollar contributions takes time and effort and can only be done by one or few candidates at a time.

 
Well, yeah. If you’re going to support capitalism, concentrated wealth, and “representative” government, then the campaign finance issue becomes difficult to solve indeed.
 
I’d go so far as to say it’s impossible to solve given these premises, and that I don’t understand why liberals keep whining about Citizens United. It’s in the mainstream of their logic, and follows logically from everything they support.

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February 10, 2012

Where Credentialism Gets You

Filed under: Food and Farms, Freedom, Law, Neo-feudalism, Reformism Can't Work — Tags: — Russ @ 9:10 am

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I haven’t yet fully collected my thoughts on the organic food credential, and how we need to get “beyond organic” as Joel Salatin and others insist. (I fully agree, of course.)
 
For today I’ll just make a brief observation on credentialism in general, and the mechanism by which it destroys democracy and imposes oligopoly.
 
Today’s example is the American Dietetic Association, a corporate front group funded by the likes of Coca-Cola, Merck, and the National Dairy Council among others. It’s now seeking to achieve monopoly over nutrition counseling at the state level, by the device of state laws restricting market access.
 

Have you ever wondered why much of the food served to patients in hospitals is highly processed and unhealthy? Or why school lunches at public schools are often loaded with refined flours, sugars, and other toxic ingredients and additives? The American Dietetic Association (ADA), a junk food- and drug industry-funded organization composed of “food and nutrition professionals” that hold heavy influence on the nation’s dietary habits, is largely to blame — and this group is now actively trying to legislate its way into having a complete nutrition monopoly in at least six U.S. states and counting.

The Alliance for Natural Health – USA (ANH-USA) says that proposed bills in California, New York, Indiana, New Jersey, Colorado, and West Virginia seek to restrict nutrition counseling and services only to ADA-registered dietitians. This means that qualified nutritionists, many of whom are far more educated than many RDs, would no longer be allowed to become licensed, which means they would no longer be able to provide nutrition counseling.

 
[Several of these bills have apparently already been shot down, but for as long as the rackets exist the bills will keep coming back until they pass.]
 
Nutrition counseling is a transitional stopgap at best; the goal is for eaters of food to become fully educated and responsible food citizens. A nutrition counselor with integrity looks to the day he can help abolish his own job. But given the overwhelming propaganda of the current system, all the Big Lies about food which constantly bombard us, it’s understandable if lots of people are confused and seek advice from outside the system. The purpose of these laws is to criminalize such advice, instead legalizing only system-approved, system-credentialed “advice”.
 
This brings us to a general observation. There’s lots of areas where formal credentials are in principle a good idea (that is, given system premises and technology; but we don’t actually need, for example, pilots or planes to exist at all). But in practice the goal is always the following motion:
 
1. Convince people, through arguments like “safety”, “quality of work”, etc., or various criteria like those which constitute the USDA organic credential, that a credential regime is necessary and needs to be mandatory. At first pretend this regime is to be non-ideological and in accord with a free market. (But in practice these are always compromised from the start.)
 
2. Once the credential regime is entrenched, once people are at least psychologically dependent upon it, then the system moves to turn it into a corporate enforcement mechanism. We’ve been seeing how the USDA organic credential is under constant assault, and the recent “co-existence” campaign even envisions rendering GMOs as qualified for organic certification. At that point truly organic farmers would be destroyed, as they’d be unable to differentiate themselves from bogus “organic” operations. To some extent this is already true. The organic credential is completely insensitive to fossil fuel use in general (it cares about fossil fuel only where it comes to some direct farming inputs), and therefore in itself tells the citizen little about the food’s sustainability, or its place in the struggle of globalization vs. relocalization, its place in the big economic and political picture.
 
The same gambit is being tried here with this nutrition counseling credential. People are induced to believe one needs a formal credential to dispense good nutritional advice. Then the credential is restricted to those who will do nothing but propagate the corporate party line, and otherwise conform to the system’s demands. The result is that credentialism becomes a weapon of corporate tyranny.
 
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I’ll add as an appendix that the modern economy imposed a similar, but far more vast and cataclysmic, pattern with the “employment” model. Here the pattern has been:
 
1. Impose the employer-employment model (something completely new in history) as the norm. Everyone has to get “a job” working for “a boss”. This way of doing things is allegedly permanent.
 
2. Once everyone has internalized this notion, then systematically degrade and destroy the jobs. Permanent employment becomes, increasingly, permanent unemployment for an ever-larger mass.
 
3. Amid this atmosphere of desperation and confusion, re-establish the old forms of feudalism and antiquity – debt indenture, serfdom, and eventually, if necessary, formal slavery.
 
Regardless of the magnitude of the example, “jobs” or credentials, the pattern is the same: We’re brainwashed into believing that something superfluous and usually destructive, something which was politically chosen by elites and then artificially imposed on us from the top down, is some kind of law of nature or reason, something we need, something which at any rate allows us no alternative.
 
But there’s always an alternative, usually a simple, straightforward one, as soon as we take the blinders off our eyes. 

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February 9, 2012

Food Sovereignty, Raw Milk, and the Commerce Clause

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I’ve written previously about the totalitarian implications of the central government’s commerce clause power.
 
To review, the government claims a prerogative to impose any and every kind of regulation and mandate upon so-called interstate commerce. “Interstate commerce” can mean any activity which crosses state lines, but it also means, according to SCOTUS rulings, any activity which by any stretch of the imagination could be said to affect this cross-border commerce.
 
Thus in the case of Wickard v. Filburn, among others, the court found for the government that not only selling something into the commerce stream, but withholding something from it, falls under the government’s power prerogative. This logic has recently been extended further. Since the passage of the health racket bailout, there have been several court challenges to the poll tax it imposes in the form of a mandate to buy worthless insurance policies. There have been conflicting decisions in the lower courts, but those who found for the rackets did so on the basis that the commerce clause power extends not just to activity withheld from the economy, but to inactivity, to mere existence itself.
 
We see how the term “totalitarian” is not hyperbole. According to the system’s laws, courts, and constitutional interpretations, there is literally nothing the government cannot order us to do or not to do under the commerce clause, as long as the activity or inactivity can by any stretch of the imagination be linked to the economy. Obviously, anything can be so linked.
 
(Of course commodification and globalization, chosen and imposed by government policy, render all activity “interstate”. We also see how the existence of the states themselves, which are for the most part arbitrary according to any geographic or political measure, is used to aggrandize central government power. Federalism was never anything but a scam. The goal from the 1788 start was centralized empire. So we see how the commerce clause was a ticking time bomb from day one. It’s now being exercised according to its full tyrannical logic.)
 
I’ve written before about how this weapon can be used against Food Sovereignty:
 

Revolving door corporate bureaucrats could issue fiats banning medicinal herbs or vitamin supplements, while requiring all growers right down to the backyard gardener to use any kind of synthetic fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide, hormone in an animal, or GMO seed. As always in this connection, let me remind the reader that if Obama’s health racket mandate is allowed to stand, that will provide another precedent for any and every corporate mandate. The exact same logic will allow the FDA or even the WTO to “constitutionally” force us to buy, for example, GMO seeds.

 
A more “conventional” use of the power, meanwhile, is the FDA’s claim that it can criminalize individual consumption of raw milk (that is, milk) if the citizen crosses one of these phony borders in the course of getting the milk.
 
Under pressure of direct action by the Raw Milk Freedom Riders, who have publicly and defiantly crossed state lines with their milk, the cowards at the FDA have announced, in all their elitist magnanimity, that they won’t seek to prosecute individual citizens for such acts, for now.
 
But the government continues the assault on dairy farmers, as in the persecution of Amish farmer Dan Allgyer for running a milk buying club, many of whose customers cross a bogus state line to get the milk. And this persecution in turn maintains the principle of total prerogative, as a federal judge just stipulated in a ruling permanently forbidding Allgyer to sell milk to any citizen whose “state” status is from outside Pennsylvania.
 
The judge stipulated that the FDA can and should prosecute individual citizens as well.
 

14 A provision of the FDCA, 21 U.S.C. § 321(b), defines “interstate commerce” to mean “(1) commerce between any State or Territory and any place outside thereof, and (2) commerce within the District of Columbia or within any other Territory not organized with a legislative body.” Courts have interpreted the purpose behind the FDCA’s interstate commerce regulation to be to “safeguard the consumer from the time the food is introduced into the channels of interstate commerce to the point that it is delivered to the ultimate consumer.” United States v. Wiesenfeld Warehouse Co., 376 U.S. 86, 92 (1964).

Thus, the purchase of raw milk by one who traveled between states to obtain it, or traveled between states before consuming it or sharing it with friends or family members, implicates “commerce between any State . . . and any place outside thereof,” see 21 U.S.C. § 321(b), “introduction of [raw milk] into the channels of interstate commerce” before delivery to an ultimate consumer, see Wiesenfeld Warehouse Co., 376 U.S. at 92, and “the interstate flow of goods” prior to delivery to an ultimate consumer, see United States v. Sullivan, 332 U.S. 689, 696 (1948). Such conduct plausibly involves “causing [raw milk] to be delivered into interstate commerce.” 21 C.F.R. § 1240.61.

 
So here we come back to the totalitarian commerce clause ideology.
 
We must be clear that this jurisprudence is not “radical” by the measure of the system courts. Few judges disagree with it at all, and those who do tend to do so only in partisan contexts. (Thus the judges who reject the health racket Stamp mandate tend to be Republican judges who have it in for Obamacare. But they don’t reject Wickard in principle.) The courts are loaded against the 99% and against any attempt by the people to take back our economies and polities. Needless to say, the same goes for the executive and legislative branches.
 
Trying to reform the system, or to beg for better outcomes within it, won’t work. We see the system’s terminally tyrannical and criminal intent. The commerce clause is just one example. If we want our freedom, our prosperity, our democracy, our citizenship, our human birthright, we’ll have to seize them ourselves. We’ll have to do so in spite of the system, in evasion of it and resistance to it, and where necessary in direct conflict with it.

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February 8, 2012

Agent Orange and the GMO War

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Agent Orange is a weapon of war. In Vietnam it was used to destroy the environment, in order to help the aggressors better destroy the people. (Environmental domination is always intended to render social domination more effective.)
 
Now, in the guise of the USDA, the government and corporations are literally waging war on the American people, using the same iconic weapon.
 
The USDA is in the process of approving a GM corn variety resistant to Dow Chemical’s 2, 4-D herbicide, a poison derived from Agent Orange. This product is in response to the collapse of Monsanto’s Roundup as an effective herbicide. There are now dozens of superweeds which are resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.
 
This is proof of the Big Lie of GMOs. In the case of herbicide-resistant varieties, the promise was that use of Roundup Ready crops would simplify the application of herbicides and result in less overall use of them. This should have seemed suspicious from the start, since the business model of Monsanto and others was to sell as much herbicide as possible.
 
Regardless, this lie has been completely exposed. Everywhere the use of RR crops has led to increased Roundup use, as weeds have become more and more resistant to it. In recent years farmers have had to resort to other herbicides to control these superweeds. So, predictably, the result of using GMOs has been to place farmers in an even worse weed position than when they started, while they’ve added their self-enslavement to proprietary GMO seeds.
 
This is also proof of the malevolence of the government. If the government really believed what it’s said about GMOs, then the collapse of the RR model should have caused it to jettison GMO advocacy completely, at least where it comes to herbicide resistance. The failure of GMO-as-weed-control is empirically proven.
 
Instead they’re doubling down, escalating the assault. Since Roundup no longer works, it’s time to escalate to Agent Orange, and Vietnam-level attacks on the environment. We already know this won’t work, but will fail the same way Roundup did. This proves that the USDA doesn’t care about weed control (any more than it or the FDA care about food safety), but cares only about aggrandizing the GMO rackets.
 
So here, as everywhere else, we see that this government is nothing but a thug and bagman for big corporations.
 
(In this case for the immoral and unconstitutional “intellectual property” regime. We must always be conscious that IP itself is an assault on freedom and innovation, while patents on plants are particularly irrational and immoral.)
 
This sequence of events places the issue beyond any doubt at all – GMOs are a fraud and a weapon of control. They comprise war being waged upon the environment, farmers, and the people. It’s no longer possible to support GMOs as anything but an enemy of humanity.
 
But we see the seeds of the system’s destruction. As demonstrated by the failure of glyphosate, nature is fighting back ever more aggressively. Nowhere is it more true that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. By now the sum of the 1%’s evil and destructive actions has become monumental, while the sum of potential reaction trembles on the verge of infinity. Soon it shall become fully kinetic.
 
This and every other corporate/government escalation is really just building the Tower of Babel ever higher. Soon it shall fall, once and for all.
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