May 2, 2012

The Imperialism of GMOs


Star Trek II and its sequel featured a thing called the Genesis Device. It was allegedly to be used to seed barren planets and moons with proliferant life. But what if, instead of deploying it on a barren planet the powers that be fired it into a planet which already had indigenous life? It would be a weapon of planetary genocide and ecocide. The skeptics were right to see it this way. How could power have any other ultimate plan for it? Even if we grant the legendary “good intentions” at the outset, once all the so-called empty space is filled, action demands that the already-occupied space be re-occupied. This is the fundamental logic of power, which history proves can never stop concentrating and aggressing once it’s allowed to begin the concentration process.
Capitalism/corporatism represents the ultimate form of this totalitarian process. It elegantly concentrates all the energies of greed, aggression, powerlust, egotism, sadism, and hatred, placing them all at the service of profiteering. The profit motive is in turn the most purely concentrated sociopathic assault on every value, institution, and physical thing, except insofar as any of these can serve the ends of profit. Profit is the one and only end. All means, literally all of existence, are to be judged instrumentally, relative to this end. Corporations, purely sociopathic in principle, obligated in principle to the profit motive and nothing but the profit motive, are the organizational form of this totalizing process.
Imperialism is “the highest form of capitalism”, as Lenin called it. By this he meant that capitalism/corporatism has no choice but to completely encompass the globe, since by its nature it can tolerate no limit upon its expansion. Up against any limit whatsoever, profiteering immediately stagnates and soon collapses. It must fully reach the extreme limits of the Earth itself, and then dream of going beyond. As Cecil Rhodes eloquently put it, “I would annex the stars if I could.”
But notions of interstellar colonization and asteroid mining are pipe dreams. If there were ever enough fossil fuels to seed such projects, they’ve long since been squandered on more terrestrial luxuries. Alas, corporatism is stuck with the planet it has, and must kill and violently die upon it. Expansion, colonization, financialization, the corporate welfare state, these are all attempts at meta-profiteering (“super-profits”, in Lenin’s term). At the same time the new feudalism is trying to use its globalized phony cash/debt economy to gather all real assets and resources in its hands. But this too has a strict limit. In the end, the Earth is finite, and its most important resources, those of food and water, are renewable. They’re the essence of the globe’s indigenous cycle of life. Humanity is anchored in this cycle, and when the vicious parasite is finally purged, humanity amid nature shall remain intact.
But what if the corporate imperative could find a way to destroy indigenous nature and replace it with a proprietary, enclosed pseudo-nature sufficient to sustain hominid life*? This would, at one stroke, wipe the slate clean and replace a full planet with an empty one, ready to be recolonized and re-enclosed. At the same time it would wipe out the final landbase for any form of independent human existence. Once we’re forced into dependence upon Monsanto for our literal food – first politically, through tyrannical police enforcement of patent prerogatives, and eventually physically, as the seeds will be engineered to render their replanting physically impossible – it will be the end of any human hope whatsoever.
That’s the goal of GMO imperialism. To drive out nature itself and replace it with a corporatized pseudo-flora and fauna. This will be the death blow to democratic resistance, and will open up an entire, literal new world for capitalist accumulation and domination. In principle this process will be infinitely repeatable, as each genetically engineered “order” is superseded by a new one. (Just like how Louis XIV would sell titles of nobility, then declare them void and resell them. Repeat as necessary.) Each time the globe shall be wiped clean, to present capitalism with a blank slate. This will be the final, fullest development of disaster capitalism (which by now is synonymous with capitalism itself). This will be the ultimate harmony of total destructive chaos and total order. This harmonized contradiction is the holy grail of totalitarianism.
*GMOs cannot in fact sustain life, and everything I just described is insane. They’ve done nothing but fail in every way – at yield, at controlling pests and weeds, at meeting environmental challenges – while steadily subverting our physical health and fertility. They can lead to nothing but total biological collapse. It would be a race to see what happens first – a catastrophic crop failure and subsequent famine pandemic, or a non-linear health cataclysm suddenly crippling us after years of ingesting these poisons.
But this is completely irrelevant to the corporate imperative, which cares about nothing but carrying out its power mission for as long as it exists. Think of the Terminator and its single-minded murderous focus. That’s the character of psychopathic totalitarianism. Indeed, this appetite for collapse is a feature, not a bug. The system considers the hyper-vulnerability of monoculture in general and GMO monoculture in particular to be desirable. That’s part of why the system is so unconcerned with the predicted and now documented rise of Bt- and herbicide-resistant superbugs and superweeds. This was always a desired outcome, since it now escalates biological warfare, requiring the purchase of ever greater amounts and varieties of herbicide and ever more expensive proprietary seeds. Each new GMO generation is more expensive than the failed one it must replace. GMOs were the epitome of disaster capitalism from their inception. We already knew that corporate agriculture, contrary to its propaganda, seeks scarcity and disaster, not plenty. Only continuous disaster makes capitalism/corporatism possible at all. Thus we have the preparation of the GMO Genesis Device, whose goal is to wipe out a flourishing living planet and fill the artificial dead zone with its synthesized “life”, whose one and only goal will be to continue the hideous death march of profit.
The situation is untenable and intolerable. We must, with all organized speed, decentralize, relocalize, and democratize food production and distribution, on a truly organic basis.



  1. This is a most eloquent post, Russ. It says it all 🙂
    I always felt uncomfortable about space exploration ,but only recently realized
    it’s because already humans display a woeful ignorance about “our own” planet without invading others. Most importantly, I now know it is another plundering destructive attack to feed greedy appetites.

    Comment by DualPersonality — May 2, 2012 @ 6:24 am

    • Thanks DP. 🙂 The self-indulgence of space exploration* is a good example of how ultimately frivolous the totalitarian “striving” (ironically mundane, materialistic, mechanistic, claustrophobic, given the high-falutin “spiritual” rhetoric which usually accompanies it; cf. Arendt’s essay on the moon project) is.

      *I like the way the success of space exploration is measured in patents. It’s also ironic how this allegory of human striving for the infinite is measured by how much corporate enclosure it achieves, i.e. how much it diminishes the human domain.

      Comment by Russ — May 2, 2012 @ 9:48 am

  2. Wow…
    This post is almost as good as my quote from Descartes’ “Discourse on the Method”.
    Take a quick look at how the Genesis myth structures the paradigm, just like in Descartes. The GMO model you’re talking about is pure Descartes, by the way…
    On the subject of modern capitalism, though..
    In Genesis there are two major incidents which suggest that predatory capitalism had got out of hand before we got our hands around pencils.
    Noah’s flood, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Only puritan Americans imagine that sex was the reason Sodom and Gomorrah got wiped out…)
    What is “neat” is how we manage to resurrect this paradigm time and time again…(“People” find God, people lose God, people get whittled down to size, people find God again, until next time…)
    IT never dies…
    Denis Duclos, a French sociologist, wrote a book about 15-20 years ago about American Götterdammerung (twilight of the Gods) fantasies.
    A cross between Genesis and Beowulf ? Neo-paganism ?

    Comment by Debra — May 2, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

  3. This morning I thought of you…
    Jean-Guilhem Queyras is a top notch French cellist who lives in Fribourg, in Switzerland.
    All day our national radio which the rapidly shrinking “elites” who still have a semblance of general culture listen to, hosted a special day for him.
    He made it a point to mention that the Société Générale, you know, one of them thar big bad banks, with big bad banksters, GRACIOUSLY arranged for him to have the cello which he is currently playing.
    No way in hell could he afford to pay for that cello with what he is making as an artist.
    The Société Générale contacted him, and told him that THEY would put the cello he wanted into his hands.
    He doesn’t OWN it… He just.. USES IT. But, frankly, would you want him to own it, and pass it on to his little family, when other cellists could get a crack at it ?
    I cross my fingers and pray that SOMEONE is going to have the filthy lucre to GRACIOUSLY offer the upkeep on our national monuments.
    You know… the ones that people come from all over the world to look at. The ones that take your breath away, that’s how beautiful they are. Not… practical, or functional for two cents, as we say here. Certainly not in conformity to any safety norms.
    The ones that cost a fortune to keep up, and that are at serious risk, now that the State is busy.. going bankrupt, and has pulled down its pants, and handed over the whip to ? I don’t know…
    Let’s hope that some of those multinationals will develop some.. NOBLESSE, so that our HISTORY does not get sucked down the toilet.
    And I’m not praying for a revolution.. the monuments would probably get destroyed…
    These days it looks more and more like France, in its rush to imitate the worst aspects of American culture, is going to start pulling down its.. PAST, and putting up cheap Wall Mart shopping malls…And calling it “progress” too…
    Makes me lose all faith in humanity..

    Comment by Debra — May 2, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  4. […] Wednesday’s post sums up my thesis: Capitalism/corporatism must reach its fatal limit at the limits of the Earth […]

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  5. […] law and the ”intellectual property” regime are being taken. This is one example of GMOs as the ultimate corporate frontier. GMOs are critically important to corporatism in themselves, as well as […]

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  6. […] is to lay the philosophical groundwork. We need to explain the structural context of GMOs as a linchpin of corporatism, and prove the need for their abolition, first in the broadest sense of this need, as key to the […]

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