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June 29, 2012

The Obama Poll Tax (Part 2)

 
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Margaret Thatcher, like her counterpart in the US, spent the 80s enshrining the neoliberal assault as the new standard for all political and economic policy. It has dominated all government policy since.
 
But toward the end of her reign Thatcher overreached, and this overreach helped bring on her downfall. This was her attempt to impose a Thatcher poll tax, what their euphemism called a “Community Charge”*, on the people of the UK. Since both Reagan and Thatcher agreed that government could borrow all the money it desires, and since they experienced few barriers to cutting taxes on the rich, this poll tax can be explained only as an assault on the non-rich. Like all taxes by now, its purpose is control, not revenue.
 
In one of the few bright episodes of recent decades, Thatcher’s poll tax was defeated by a campaign of mass civil disobedience, and the result was her ouster by her own party. So there we have the precedent which gives modern proof of concept: Refusal to pay an odious tax can achieve the same effect it did in 1765.
 
Today we confront the same thing. Americans remember the “poll tax” mostly as a device to enforce Jim Crow, a nasty disenfranchisement mechanism buried once and for all by the 24th Amendment (and a subsequent SCOTUS decision). But it has a much older, more comprehensive history, as a primary weapon of economic and from there political control.
 
One example is the French taille. Tocqueville describes in his Ancien Regime and the French Revolution (in Book 2, Chapter 12 and elsewhere) how the French nobility steadily shook off or evaded most of the taxes to which they were theoretically subject, while in direct proportion the monarchy came to rely more and more on this head tax, which fell overwhelmingly on the bourgeoisie and peasantry. By the 18th century it and some new variations were the primary tax. This was one of the grievances which exploded into Revolution.
 
That example at least did have an actual revenue motive, though we can say its real purpose was to absolve the rich from having to contribute to that revenue. (It also provides another revolutionary precendent.) But in the case of colonial poll taxes, often called “hut taxes”, there’s no doubt about the primary intent being to force an economic transformation for the imperial benefit.
 

In Sub-Saharan Africa, European colonial annexation in the late nineteenth century molded the multitude of different agrarian, pastoralist, and occasionally even hunter-gatherer groups into peasant producers largely through the imposition of residential hut and poll taxes. This forced rural producers to earn cash for tax payment, generating the foundations for the continent’s agricultural export economy based on the beverage crops of coffee, cocoa, and tea and several food and fiber crops including peanuts, cashew nuts, tobacco, sugar, and cotton……….

The historical motive of acquiring control over tropical biodiversity was a major driver of colonial subjugation of other nations by the Western Europeans. By setting up slavery — and later indentured labor-based plantation systems — a steady stream of tropical goods and raw materials was obtained, both to diversify European diets and clothing, and provide the raw material for new industries.

Moreover most of this swelling flow of valuable goods was not actually paid for since the very same taxes extracted by colonial rulers from local peasants and artisans were used to buy these export goods from them, thus converting a cash tax into a goods tax, while the foreign exchange earnings from selling these export goods to the world were not permitted to flow back to the colony.

 
Here we’re coming closer to the economic control aspect of the health racket mandate. As the corporatist system continues its attempted feudal conversion, economic relocalization is the only alternative we have to total impoverishment and debt enslavement. Post-Peak Oil, there are two possibilities: The full restoration of feudalism under far worse than medieval conditions, in which case the whole democratic movement will be proven to have been a mere accessory of cheap oil. Or, we can choose to take the final step in democracy’s logic and cast off the last authoritarian superstition, “representative” pseudo-democracy. We can relocalize on the basis of sustainable, cooperative and usufruct agriculture. This would be the culmination of human wisdom, all we’ve fought and bled so hard to learn and win. It would render the travails of the Oil Age birth pangs, and render history logical. But neoliberalism intends to confirm the opposite – that the age of cheap oil and cheaper democracy was an ahistorical blip, and all the manic-depressive ups and downs of the Oil Age were meant to simultaneously soften us and soften us up, for the final triumph of the ancient slave system, which will then be proven correct in the end, after all.
 
Taking our destiny in our hands will require a broad disengagement from the corporate economy. All the economic trend lines for the non-rich already point toward greater reliance on the informal economy. Relocalized production, growing our own food, barter – these are all things the Depression will be forcing us to do anyway. Whether we turn them into an affirmative way of life and the basis of a healthy, vigorous, joyful democratic renewal is our choice.
 
Today, as the criminals systematically seek to string barbed wire around us, we need to fear this older, broader use of a poll tax. Just as foreign imperialism used it for economic Gleichschaltung of farmers who were outside the imperial commodity crop system, so today’s domestic imperialism will try to use mechanisms like forced purchase of the health insurance Stamp to keep us confined in the dollar-based cash economy. This is likely to be the case with the expensive and odious registration requirements of the Food Tyranny bill and any mandates the goon FDA chooses to inflict. That’s a critical battlefront, but we can look around for examples and see them everywhere. For example, the very provision of finance “reform” which allegedly sought to rein in predatory credit practices threatens also to deny credit to workers in the informal economy even where married to cash earners. It seems someone up there wants to quash familial attempts to transition from cash/debt slavery to self-reliance.
 
Looked at in this perspective, we can see how the health racket bailout is also imposing a kind of head tax. How would someone immersed in a cooperative economy pay for it? (I leave aside for the moment the related question of how the government might seek to legally assault coop arrangements by calling them taxable barter. But that’ll be a subject for future posts. For now I’ll point out the common system goal – everyone must earn cash. Everyone must participate in the corporatized economy.)
 
I wrote earlier about how the Stamp mandate entrenches corporate tyranny, how health insurance can never work in practice and makes no sense even as a concept, how it’s unconstitutional, and how it’s a regressive tax and a reactionary policy. Now I conclude by arguing that it’s also a poll tax. As such it’s an intended weapon of socioeconomic control. This also brings us back full circle to how it’s an entrenchment of tyranny.
 
I don’t agree with economic “libertarian”, i.e. tyrannical propertarian, Murray Rothbard on much**. But his commentary here, directed specifically at Thatcher’s poll tax, is right on:
 

Not only that: but a poll tax is a charge levied on a person’s very existence, and the person must often be hunted down at great expense to be forced to pay the tax. Charging a man for his very existence seems to imply that the government owns all of its subjects, body and soul.

 
And how was Thatcher’s poll tax defeated? Through a grassroots campaign of civil disobedience:
 

The Anti-Poll Tax Unions, as mentioned earlier, called for mass non-payment of the tax. As the amount of the poll tax began to rise and the inefficiency of local councils in collection of the tax became apparent, large numbers of people refused to pay the tax. Local councils tried to respond with enforcement measures, but these were largely ineffective against such huge numbers of non-payers – up to 30% of former ratepayers in some areas refused to pay, according to the BBC.

A Labour MP, and Militant Tendency supporter, Terry Fields, was jailed for 60 days for refusing to pay his poll tax. For this he was expelled from the Labour Party in December 1991. The Labour party refused to support the non-payment campaign, especially amongst MPs – “Law makers must not be law breakers” was Neil Kinnock’s response.

The strategy was threefold. Firstly, non-payers were encouraged not to register. Secondly, they were encouraged to go to court and contest the Local Council’s attempt to gain liability orders and, by doing so, clog up the courts. After a liability order was granted, non-compliance was the next step, refusal of admission to bailiffs, etc. If this led to another court hearing – the first one at which the non-payer could be jailed – the non-payer usually did not turn up. Because of the huge number of non-payers, usual enforcement measures like liability order, bailiffs and even arrest warrants and committal hearings proved useless – there were not enough bailiffs, courts or prison cells to implement any of the orders granted. For example, in November 1990 South Yorkshire police said they were planning to refuse to arrest poll tax defaulters even when instructed to by the courts because it would be “physically impossible for the police because of the large number of defaulters.” The second year of the poll tax saw an increase in non-payment as people who had been wavering decided to join the non-payment campaign.

 
So Thatcher can be our model here. Where it comes to the Stamp mandate, the basic action is clear. If you can’t afford a “good” policy, then refuse to buy the worthless Stamp. I’ll grant that one significant difference is that whereas the Thatcher Stamp was to be collected by local “councils”, Obama and his insurance racketeer masters have deputized the more dangerous IRS as their goon. But the principle is the same. (Note also how the “opposition” Labor Party was a willing and eager Thatcher thug where it came to trying to extort the tax. Labor angrily opposed the grassroots campaign, which succeeded only in spite of it. So there’s another parallel for today. Anyone who hasn’t absolutely renounced the Democratic Party is still unfit for the struggle. Such people still understand nothing about our circumstance.)
 
The goal of the Stamp mandate is flatly to steal as much as possible, and also to try to forestall the very recourse to the informal economy which is also the solution to our predicament, the only alternative to mass resistance. If they really try to use the IRS as this medieval-style goon, then mass resistance may be the only way to accomplish this recourse at all.
 
People talk more and more about revolutionary situations. One ingredient which is usually part of the mix is that the system tries to collect a new tax the targets find odious. I mentioned above the Ancien Regime’s increasingly onerous imposition of the taille. We’re all familiar with the Stamp Act. Today, the American people should view this looming gangster mandate as something odious far beyond the Stamp Act. It’ll be far more onerous and have absolutely zero justification (even the Stamp Act did have a “pro” argument, albeit a weak one). Since Obama has chosen to overtly politicize this even in the courts, calling his own mandate a “tax” (after he angrily denied it was a tax, during the political fight), and since this is clearly a political scam anyway, let’s meet that challenge. This is a political fight. Call it the Stamp Tax, the Obama Tax, or whatever’s most powerful.
 
Thoreau went to jail rather than pay an odious poll tax. This was the wellspring for his great essay, Civil Disobedience, a subsequent inspiration to Gandhi, King, and so many others. This is part of the lineage of today’s struggle. Direct resistance to kleptocracy coincides so well with the broader relocalization imperative. This broader imperative is both indirect resistance and the transformation toward the post-debt, post-fossil fuel economy we must reach in the end anyway. In both cases we must rely far more on the informal economy. So for example: Growing our own food is affirmative and creative in itself, and in itself is also an indirect struggle against corporatism. But we must also be prepared to directly struggle against government thuggery on behalf of Big Ag. The same elements are present in every sector.
 
When we look at Stamp resistance in that epochal context, how it would harmonize, how it would take support from existing trends and in turn reinforce them, the case doesn’t look so hopeless.
 
On the other hand, there’s the dismal fact that we’ll increasingly lack access to system health care. But that’s the process they’re already imposing. The whole debacle of this bill proves it. The system, the rackets, both kleptocratic parties, intend to enclose health care so that only the rich have access to it, while the rest of us only pay and pay and pay. That state of affairs won’t change so long as this system exists.
 
So burning our ships at the shoreline of the informal economy would really be only a symbolic act, since the criminals already stole the sails.
 
Health care itself will have to be relocalized for the post-oil age. But our one chance of regaining control over any aspect of the health care system as we’ve known it is successful struggle against kleptocracy.
 
So however one looks at it, we have to resist and reject the Stamp.
 
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*I’m all for communities supporting themselves. Which is precisely why we want parasitic central governments, big corporations, and their taxation out of our lives. How exactly was Thatcher’s centralized poll tax a relocalization measure? Of course, it was no such thing. As always, the central government does nothing but steal, at best then trickling some of the loot back down to privileged recipients only. If the community from whom the tax was extracted ever sees anything but detriment from the transaction, that’s a rare accident.
 
**I’m ready to agree with some of these people on another point. Not long ago I wrote, No Taxes on the Non-Rich. Reading the Rothbard passage linked above helped convince me once and for all of the conclusion I’ve been heading toward: No Tax, period. Let’s demand zero taxation. Not necessarily in principle, but let’s either oppose or remain silent on all taxes. I say we should happily accept a flat rate as long as the rate is ZERO. Let the central government borrow every cent for its malevolent spending. As Bernanke himself admits, they just print however much they want anyway. They’re all closet MMTers.

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The Obama Poll Tax

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I’ve said my piece about the health racket bailout and Stamp mandate. I don’t have anything to add, except that I’m pleased to see how the SCOTUS punted on the most totalitarian interpretation of the commerce clause, instead choosing to validate the mandate as a constitutionally allowed poll tax.
 
(This was a slightly less bad de jure corporatist enshrinement, since politicians have a harder time defending corporatism via a tax than they do where they can use subterfuges like “the commerce power”. Not that it makes a big difference as far as what’s actually done, but it does provide more opportunities for political wedges. Plus, the joke’s on the liberals as they have to keep flip-flopping to follow their Fuehrer’s party line on this – It’s not a tax! (Political/legislative stage); Yes it is a tax! (Judicial stage.) It’s always amusing to see liberals having to defend increasingly regressive taxation while out of the other side of their mouths they beg for more progressive taxes. It’s also good to get lessons in how, for the 99%, all taxation is regressive and will remain so, until we abolish it completely.)
 
For the occasion, I’ll repost my essay on the Stamp mandate as a poll tax, and how in the past mass civil disobedience has defeated similar assaults. One thing which is beyond any doubt is that this mandate is not only a mechanism for propping up the health insurance rackets, but to force people trying to withdraw from the cash economy back into it. That’s always the purpose of any poll tax, the most radically regressive tax of all.
 
Some basic talking points. I elaborate on these in the posts linked above.
 
1. The Obama Tax is a bailout for the health insurance rackets, which are purely parasitic and could not continue to function without a government mandate for their “services”.
 
2. “Private health insurance” makes no sense even in principle. Normal health care isn’t about catastrophic accidents, but about regular maintenance. Does auto insurance cover oil changes and tuneups? Imagine how much those would cost if that were the model. But that’s the model government has imposed upon us with health care. That’s why it’s so insanely expensive. Obamacare is intended to further entrench and intensify this insanity.
 
3. The Obama Tax is an austerity program designed to help employers liquidate employer-provided health plans and drive us as atomized individuals into the individual market. This individual market (where groups can’t negotiate better deals for themselves) is far more expensive and provides far worse services. Compare this to the ongoing liquidation of union pensions (even as Social Security and Medicare are slated to be gutted) and their replacement by individual responsibility for “retirement”. (AKA, if you’re not rich, then freeze and starve.)
 
4. As part of Obama Austerity, Obamacare is also a union-busting measure. Obama gleefully demonized the relatively good health plans negotiated by some unions as “Cadillac Plans”, and Obamacare has special provisions to penalize workers who benefit from such plans. He took this term directly from his proclaimed hero Reagan, with his “Cadillac (welfare) Queens”. This affinity has also been rampant in the implicitly racist propaganda about “free riders” in the emergency rooms, which white liberals have repeated with gusto. We know what race those free riders are.
 
5. Obamacare, by Obama’s own proud admission, is a Republican plan. The basic idea goes back to Republican think tanks in the 70s, it was fully formulated by the Heritage Foundation in 1994 as a corporatist plan to compete with Hillarycare corporatism. A modified version was enacted in Massachusetts as Romneycare, and Obamacare is in turn a modification of Romneycare.
 
6. In Massachusetts, medical-related bankruptcies have continued to increase since Romneycare was imposed, and in general people are paying more for worse “policies”. In 2010 non-binding ballot measures directing state legislators to fight for single payer in Massachusetts won by large margins in every district where they were on the ballot. The people of Massachusetts hate Romneycare.
 
(This will be some election – you can vote for either Obamaromneycare or for Obamaromneycare.) 
 
7. Single Payer would provide vastly better care at vastly lower cost. Everyone in America would greatly benefit, except for the insurance and drug rackets and their political flunkeys.
 
8. The health insurance model is not intended to provide health care. It’s intended to maximize profits. Any insurance CEO who actually wanted to provide good insurance would be fired and sued by the shareholders, and rightly so. That’s what corporatism is in principle. It’s a fundamental contradiction to want health care, but want corporations to be involved in its provision. This kind of policy is a form of insanity.
 
It all boils down to: If you’re not rich, don’t get sick. If you get sick, then die.
 
History will spit on Obama, the Democratic Party, liberal NGOs, and “progressives” in general, for this infinitely vile reactionary sellout. 

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June 27, 2012

GMOs Can’t Feed the World and Don’t Intend To

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As the GMO rackets and the corporate media collaborate in pushing a GMO domination strategy for Britain, we’re again hearing the “Feed the World” Big Lie, and arguments about GM yields. But anyone who starts with the question “which yields more?” is already surrendering vast ground to corporate agriculture. He’s probably running a scam. The real first question is:
 
Does corporate agriculture have any intention of feeding the world? Even better – Could it feed the world even if it wanted to?
 
We already know, from fifty years of experience, that the answer is No. That food corporatism can feed the world has been empirically proven to be false.
 
(And why would the answer be yes? Corporatism’s goal is artificial scarcity, since only this makes profit possible. Anyone who actually wanted to feed people wouldn’t put the food system in the hands of profiteers. It takes a very strange kind of mind to say, “we need to make food more universally available, so let’s organize it according to a system which needs to make it more scarce!”)
 
Therefore, questions of yield are moot compared to questions of systemic ability and intent. Organic agriculture can feed the world and wants to. Corporate ag doesn’t want to and therefore, if only for that reason, cannot.
 
The terms “intrinsic yield” and “operational yield” are often used to denote, respectively, how much of a crop can be grown in theory, under optimal conditions, as opposed to how much is actually grown in the real world.
 
Here too, the concepts are hermetic and therefore meaningless until we include the limitations of politico-economic systems. Today’s operational yield really means, intrinsic yield under corporatism, or corporatism’s political intrinsic yield. This is far more than enough to feed the world, but since corporatism artificially restricts access to food, the political operational yield, i.e. the amount which actually gets to the people as a whole, is much less. (Meanwhile the physical intrinsic yield is a meaningless abstraction and distraction.)
 
Meanwhile, with a system based on Food Sovereignty, the physical and political operational yields would be identical, while the physical intrinsic yield would stand as the aspiration for a much higher actual distribution of food to the people.
 
Even if it were true that industrial ag technically outproduces organic, its actual, i.e. politically distributed, yield is vastly lower than what organic ag would produce under Food Sovereignty.
 
So the supporters of industrial and corporate agriculture systematically suppress the fact that the question of food is first of all a question of political/economic systems. They try all they can to frame the questions in order to rig the answers for corporatism and against the truly organic.
 
That makes it all the more impressive that organic production, even in spite of all the real-world political and economic barriers to it and assaults upon it, and in spite of the conceptual elisions and suppressions and riggings in the data, has been proven to be at least as productive as industrial, and often more so, even under adverse status quo conditions.
 
 

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June 25, 2012

The Spirit of Science

Filed under: Corporatism, Food and Farms, Mainstream Media, Scientism/Technocracy — Tags: — Russ @ 3:42 am

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Science is a tool intended to help humanity, to increase our prosperity and enhance our positive freedom. The spirit of science is the mindset which seeks to use this tool this way, and which admires and respects it where it serves humanity.
 
True science is the province of the active people, especially where we engage in our own democratic work, toward our own individual and community weal, unalienated by any anti-human system. The vast majority of science is done in the active labor field, usually by regular people without any formal, specifically “scientific” training. The best example of this is ten thousand years of practical agronomic science performed by regular farmers, as part of their day-to-day work. In modern times this scientific foundation has been supplemented by a great amount of more formal scientific work, with the result that the science of agroecology and organic farming now stands as the most fully researched and developed, demonstrated, and ready-for-deployment science of all. Organic agriculture stands ready as science at the pinnacle of potential human benefit. It was built primarily by the people, it’s the province of the people, and it shall be deployed by the people, from the bottom up, in accord with the need of the people. 
 
But the corporate/government system says science only trickles down from formally accredited cadres. Only such credential-holders can participate in scientific analysis, from which all political policy must then flow, in the form of technocracy. Anyone outside this system process who disagrees with this and rejects it is by definition acting against science.
 
The truth is the opposite. True science, practical science, starts with experimentation which leads to empirical success. Thus for ten thousand years farmers have proven themselves by far the most successful scientists of the human project. Meta-knowledge of empirically established truth can then follow. Therefore in science induction leads the way, with deduction then later building upon that. Those who deny this, like the “pure” (i.e. pro-corporate) scienticians of today, are merely engaging in a version of being born on third base and claiming they hit a triple.
 
So science starts with and builds upon what works. At every point it follows the empirical evidence. By contrast, today’s corporate scientism (including the vast majority of credentialed technicians) starts by deducing from corporatist ideology and the profit imperative, pre-emptively promulgates “conclusions” like “GMOs are equivalent to regular crops and are therefore safe”, and then denies all the contrary empirical evidence that follows. Publicity of the evidence is left to un-credentialed citizens, who of course have already been disenfranchised and relegated to the official unscience and anti-science category.
 
This remains true no matter how much the evidence and therefore science itself reject lies like “GMOs increase yield” or “GMOs reduce pesticide and herbicide use” or best of all “GMOs are needed to feed the world”.
 
Thus we have a final conflict between true, human science, and prostituted corporate anti-science. As I said, most of the professionals are on the side opposed to humanity and the earth.
 
This struggle between science and anti-science is in turn one of the array of battlefields comprising the final war between humanity and neo-feudal corporatism.

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June 24, 2012

The “War on Terror” Is No Joke

Filed under: Global War On Terror, Mainstream Media — Russ @ 7:39 am

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I’m reading how a member of a local school board opened up his speech at the graduation with some jokes about snipers and explosives. Everyone’s now professing to be shocked and traumatized, every political enemy is oozing smarm about how inappropriate it was, and he’s falling all over himself with abject apologies.
 
Certainly the jokes were stupid given the cultural environment, and this guy’s no comedian anyway. He agrees with the whole “war on terror” charade, so he was ill-advised to be irreverent toward it. (Someone who really despises it, and especially someone who’s actually funny, might have done better.)
 
But the part I’m chuckling over is everyone’s reaction. I bet they’re upset, not because they’re really scared of “terrorism” and that he poked such fears with a stick, but because these “fears” are by now part of their cultural identity. On some level they understand how bogus the whole thing is, but they’ve accepted this mode of social and psychological domination. So they take it as deeply insulting and threatening – not that someone made them think of terrorism, but that someone said something which sounded like mocking those fears. That in turn makes them uncomfortable over the whole unreality of it, what a lie it all is. The more dubious the reality basis of a tribal identification becomes, the more people need intense propaganda conformity in order to feel at home with that identification, and the more they lash out at anyone who breaks reverence ranks in any way.

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June 23, 2012

Disproven In Real Time

Filed under: Disaster Capitalism, Food and Farms, Scientism/Technocracy, Tower of Babel — Tags: — Russ @ 1:12 am

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“Mother Jones” sometimes prints real pieces on food. But as part of the liberal media, it feels compelled to give the pro-corporate agriculture party line “equal time” (that is, to add to the overwhelming pro-corporate preponderance).
 
This is likely to lead to embarrassment, however. Sure enough, at the exact moment MJ’s hack was touting the “reduced pesticide use” lie for Bt crops, we have the results of India’s recent conference reviewing Bt cotton’s history at the ten year anniversary of its full commercial deployment. This conference included Monsanto/Mahyco and such pro-GM cadres as the aptly-named Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), and was therefore by no stretch of the imagination any kind of intentional public arraignment. Yet even they couldn’t agree on whether Bt cotton ever reduced pesticide use even in the short run. And even its pro-GM participants conceded that over the longer run (the 10+ years of the massive, uncontrolled experiment) pesticide use has gone back up to exceed the pre-Bt status quo.
 

The macro data shows that pesticide consumption in different states has not declined but is either the same or is on the increase in different states except in the case of Andhra Pradesh (Directorate of Plant Protection & Quarantine Services data). Several micro-studies however show that pesticide use has decreased especially for bollworm control initially, while it is on the rise again now, for other pests as well as bollworm including newer cocktails of toxic chemicals (Gujarat Institute for Development Research, for instance)…

On pesticide consumption data, some micro-studies seem to indicate pesticide use reduction initially, with use on sucking pests and other pests increasing, with per acre pesticide usage increasing in the past and a dangerous cocktail of pesticides on the rise, while others indicate a steady increase. However, official data on pesticide consumption in India does not reflect any decline, except in Andhra Pradesh, where large-scale adoption of Non-Pesticide Management (NPM) is being followed.

 
So we see how GMO ideology is so contrary to reality that it can seldom remain plausible for even the length of time to commit a sentence to a computer screen. It’s disproven in real time.
 
(NB that in a place like MJ, the best food pieces are still reformist and therefore at least implicitly pro-capitalist and pro-state. So real equal time would have to mean pieces advocating true economic and political democracy.) 

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June 22, 2012

Activists and Professional Cadres (GMO Example)

Filed under: Corporatism, Food and Farms, Reformism Can't Work, Scientism/Technocracy — Tags: — Russ @ 2:21 am

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Reformists are ecstatic that the AMA has changed its position on mandatory pre-market safety testing of GMOs, now supporting it. I agree that this is a positive change, since it shows how it’s getting harder and harder for the system to deny reality and the evidence. But let’s get it right – the AMA is acknowledging reality only under duress, and only partially.
 

After the policy was announced Tuesday, Consumers Union senior scientist Michael Hansen released a statement saying: “We wholeheartedly commend AMA for coming out in support of mandatory pre-market safety assessment of (genetically engineered) foods, but are disappointed that AMA did not also support mandatory labeling. … Studies in the scientific literature have suggested that genetic engineering could introduce new food allergens, increase the levels of known allergens, raise or lower nutrient levels and have adverse effects on the animals that eat such foods.”…

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents hundreds of the nation’s biggest food companies, released a statement Wednesday that focused not on the recent changes to the AMA resolution but rather on what hadn’t changed: the AMA’s continued stance that labeling genetically engineered foods is unnecessary because it considers them not to be materially different from other kinds of food.

“We commend the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates for its vote in support of the continued use of genetically engineered ingredients in the food supply,” the statement said.

 
So even as it now calls for safety testing, the AMA continues propagating the ideological fundamentalist dogma that GM crops are equivalent to real ones. In other words, it continues to assert dogmatically the very thing the testing is supposed to find out. That’s the intellectual coherency and moral good faith of the system for you.
 
Meanwhile, contrary to one of the foolish quotes in the piece, it’s citizen activists and nobody else who are “taking the lead” in fighting GMOs and corporate agriculture in general. A system cadre like the AMA is just grudgingly taking some hesitant steps toward following us. But that quote is a good example of how democratic citizens must never trust NGO-“leadership” types. We see how, at best, they’re always desperate for system approbation and long to be hierarchical followers instead of democracy leaders.
 
 

June 20, 2012

British GMO Corporatism

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Just as Britain previously served as US corporatism’s poodle in Iraq, so it’s increasingly acting as GMO flunkey. I previously mentioned Britain’s domestic GMO-based “sustainable intensification” scam, a variation on the same old “sustainable growth” oxymoron.
 
The government has now announced a major pro-GMO spending escalation. The equivalent of $250 million in corporate welfare will be spent mostly on propaganda for a “second Green Revolution” in Africa, and to promote GMOs amid the resistant people at home.
 
When you read the blog post at the link, written by a leading GMO lackey, you’ll see how by now GM proponents are reduced to straight Goebbels-type Big Lies repeated ad nauseum – “feed the world”, “second green revolution”, “sustainable growth”, all of it without a single fact or piece of logic to back it up. That’s because by now GMOs, which science and reason always viewed suspiciously, have been empirically proven to fail in every way except in extracting profit for a handful of corporate rackets, and have been empirically proven to be a disaster for human and environmental health.
 
GMOs have already lost all the reality-based battles, and still maintain their political position solely on account of Might Makes Right. Only massive corporate welfare, media lies, and government thuggery keep them in existence at all. The Earth already rejects them, and the people everywhere want to reject them. Our immediate task is to counter the demoralizing effect of the propaganda (people don’t believe it, but are numbed into passivity by the volume and omnipresence of it) by giving the facts and moral truths of GMOs. The more people understand, not just in a vague way but with precision and clarity, the failure and evil of GMOs, and how simple and pragmatic the organic alternative is for truly feeding the world and redeeming the environment, the more self-confident they’ll be about taking action to reject GMOs and the corporate system itself. 

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June 17, 2012

What’s Normal

Filed under: Food and Farms, Reformism Can't Work, Relocalization — Russ @ 1:53 am

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Many who deplore the cutthroat, dog-eat-dog treadmill of competition and “growth” in our community-level economic activities (for example, in our individual lifestyles, or running a small business) still implicitly concede this grim path as being normative, as being some law of nature. They may plead for a more laid-back way of life, or a “business model” which seeks to stabilize at a certain size and symmetry, as merely a viable alternative which has a right to co-exist with the corporatism death march. They may represent their ideas as comprising some kind of alternative lifestyle.
 
But this is the wrong way to look at things, and the wrong way to express these ideas. It complies with the party line of government and corporate media, which would represent, for example, corporatist agriculture as normal, reasonable, in accord with the laws of nature, while something like Polyface farm is represented as a fluke. (Although recently the corporate media has moved from ridiculing it to fighting it, which is a positive step.)
 
To act naturally and rationally is to act toward a well-contemplated goal in terms of size, symmetry, sustainability. The only normative, normal act is the act in harmony with nature. To the extent that any aspect of human affairs can be called a law of the universe, it’s only this naturalistic imperative. Capitalism, corporatism, power concentration, top-heavy hierarchy, infinite “growth” – these, on the contrary, are insane, irrational, abnormal by any natural or historical measure.
 
So when we call for rational degree in things, when we laud the vibrant life of human communities, and the human scales and speeds of relocalized human economies, we’re not positing some exotic “alternative” in reaction to a normative baseline of bigness, breathless pace, and infinite, totalitarian goallessness. On the contrary, we’re reasserting the claims of sanity, rationality, sustainability, and nature, against the temporary derangement of the human project on account of a handful of maniacs and criminals.

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June 13, 2012

The Real Purpose of Svalbard

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What’s the real purpose of Svalbard?
 
1. For the short to mid-run: Monsanto and the other rackets chuck a few bucks into the kitty funding this effort, while the vast majority of the funds come from the public of countries around the world. (As the Global Crop Diversity Trust chirps, this is a “public-private partnership”, and we know what that means.)
 
The Trust (a corporate front group which is simply a conduit for US govt, CGIAR globalization cadre, and biotech racket lies and policy) then uses the people’s money to do the work of collecting and assembling the seeds.
 
Then, as per the membership agreement, Monsanto, Dupont, and the rest can use the seeds for their proprietary research. Any patented product they develop out of this biopiracy will then be used as a weapon against the farmers and people of the region where the original variety came from and anywhere else it can be deployed.
 
If you doubt this, or if any hack defender of the program denies it, simply ask why Dupont, Syngenta, and other biotech corporations “donate” to it. It’ll be cute to hear the hacks at the Trust say they do it out of the kindness of their hearts.
 
2. Over the long run: When/if corporate agriculture catastrophically fails (it will, but those within the system probably have lots of different levels of consciousness vs. delusion on this), they can use the seeds to have food grown for themselves.

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