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February 25, 2013

An Example of the Corporate Secession of Power

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By secession of power I mean the way, under the neoliberal corporatist strategy, the 1% transfers power, prerogative, and wealth from nominally “public” government to nominally “private” corporations, while all costs, liabilities, and of course the fraudulent facade of “democracy” and kangaroo elections, remain with government.
 
Corporations, as I’ve written about many times, are created by government and are extensions of government. “Government” and “corporations” are merely different forms of concentrated elite power.
 
Here’s an example. On account of the Bill of Rights and the general indoctrination into ideas of “freedom”, it’s difficult for government to directly require people, as “citizens”, to do things like rat each other out for stuff. But the increasingly common way for the 1% to get around this is by concentrating elite power not in governmental form, but in corporate form.
 
Sure enough, most people think corporations are somehow “different” from government, even though they’re just superficially different forms of concentrated power.
 
Once an individual is part of a corporate hierarchy, there’s now few limits on requiring every kind of behavior characteristic of a totalitarian society, like snitching. But now totalitarianism is imposed, not directly upon the “citizen”, but as a requirement of one’s “job”.
 
(This is also a further refinement of bourgeois ideology and status. It turns out that being a private individual rather than a citizen of a community was only a transitional status. The more refined status is to be a cog within a corporation. Meanwhile to be “unemployed” is to be utterly dispossessed, to be an unperson, a kind of stateless, since there’s no community or even bourgeois “civil society” to fall back upon.
 
It’s just like how GMOs are quashing conventional ag, which has tried to quash organic ag.
 
In both cases, we have to wipe the slate clean, clear our minds completely of all recognition of everything that exists, go back to the beginning and rebuild.)

 
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February 23, 2013

How A “Supreme Court” Should Be (Brazil GM Soy Extortion Case)

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Brazil’s Supreme Court of Justice denies one of Monsanto’s patent extensions. This will help bolster the ongoing “royalty” fraud case where a snowballing alliance of soy farmers has been winning court decisions and favorable supreme court rulings going back two years now. Monsanto’s already on the hook for over $2 billion in back royalties, taxes they fraudulently extracted from indentured farmers. (The term “royalty” is apt. It’s explicitly redolent of autocratic taxes imposed by monarchs. Modern “intellectual property” taxes are just as mystically based, just as arbitrary, just as tyrannical, as the most offensive monarchical extractions which provoked revolutions and beheadings.)
 
The reason the system in Brazil is more responsive to the people is because the people there are aggressive in forcing it to be, for example through the Landless Workers’ Movement.
 
(Not really responsive of course, no centralized hierarchy is. (And humanity should have a much higher aspiration than “responsive” elites anyway.) But more responsive than amid the pits of Western corporatism. We can compare this to the upcoming Bowman vs. Monsanto decision, where 9-0 for corporate totalitarianism wouldn’t surprise me. Of course there’s no anti-corporatists on the court, but only activist and more passive corporatists.)
 
What’s the world status of the aggressive but structurally very weak GMO onslaught? If we can just hold the line in Europe and especially Africa, and start rolling them back in Latin America and India, that might quickly be the end of them.
 
Sometimes I wonder if I should go to Africa, which may be the coming ground zero battlefield.

 
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February 17, 2013

New Study Reinforces the Existing Evidence – GMOs Don’t Increase Yield

Filed under: Food and Farms — Tags: — Russ @ 7:42 am

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Yet another study proving that GMOs do not increase yield, and more often decrease it. This one’s from the University of Wisconsin.
 
For a general audience, or arguing in mixed company, I think the right line of attack on GMOs is:
 
1. Describe how the evidence record proves they’re less nutritious and are poisonous. All independent studies have produced evidence of toxicity. Even industry studies, as rigged as they’ve been, have usually had to suppress their own evidence of toxicity. Meanwhile, although the system has always slandered the real studies, from Pusztai to Seralini, attacking their methodology, it has never cared to repeat these studies using allegedly better methodology. (But that’s the way science works: If you think the study was flawed, you fix the alleged flaw and repeat the study.) That in itself is proof that the biotech corporations don’t really think these studies gave false results.
 
2. Describe how every claim made for GMOs is a lie: They don’t increase yield; they result in more, not less, herbicide and pesticide use; they inevitably generate superweeds and superbugs against themselves; they inevitably contaminate the environment; they economically harm, not help, farmers.
 
3. As for the “Feed the World” Big Lie, this is disproven by the fact that we already produce vastly more than enough food for everyone, enough right now for over ten billion people. Yet two billion are food insecure or flat out hungry. This proves that industrial ag cannot feed the world because it doesn’t want to feed the world. This proves that all hunger issues are purely artificial, are purely about depraved distribution systems, and never about insufficient quantity. GMOs, of course, represent a doubling down on industrial ag.

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February 15, 2013

GMO Labeling and Movement Strategy and Goals

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There’s a growing ambivalence among we who oppose GMOs where it comes to GMO labeling. Most obviously, it implies the continuation of industrial agriculture and food commodification, and globalization as such. It merely seeks Better Consumerism within that framework.
 
If people saw labeling as a temporary measure within the framework of an ongoing movement to abolish industrial ag and build Food Sovereignty, that could be good. If people saw the campaign for labeling as primarily a movement-building action, an occasion for public education, for democratic participation in a grassroots action, and to help build a permanent grassroots organization, that would be good. (POE as I call it – Participation, Education, Organization.)
 
But many of the advocates seem see it as a panacea. They at least claim to expect miracles from it: Labeling = the end of Monsanto. This is highly doubtful. Just because a labeling initiative or law is passed doesn’t mean it will be enforced with any alacrity. It’s still the same old pro-Monsanto government which would be in charge of enforcement. That’s why I always said getting the California initiative passed was just the first and easiest step; then the real work of vigilance, forcing the enforcers to follow through, would begin. That, too, was a reason why the campaign needs to be, even more than just an intrinsic campaign, the building ground of a permanent grassroots organization.
 
Then there’s the fact that most if not all of these initiatives and laws are riddled with loopholes, categories of food which don’t need to be labeled. That almost always includes GMO-fed meat and dairy. Actually, labeling would apply mostly to the same corporate-manufactured processed foods we ought to be getting out of our diets and economies regardless.
 
When we combine the picayune content of these labeling proposals with the fact that their advocates do often call them a self-sufficient panacea, and with the fact that the California effort was designed like a one-off electoral campaign rather than as a process of building a permanent grassroots organization, we gather a sinister picture of what’s going on here. Namely, GMO labeling often looks like another kind of liberal fenceline patrolling, meant not so much to fence GMOs out as to fence anti-GMO activism in.
 
States like Vermont and Connecticut have previously been the scenes of a scam. Facing a groundswell of anti-GMO verve among the citizenry, the state government hijacked this groundswell by going through the motions of proposing labeling legislation (which is conceived and drafted in a lame way), then saying, Br’er Rabbit fashion, “please Monsanto don’t sue us!” When Monsanto then made this briar patch threat, the governor, crying crocodile tears all the way, rued how “we can’t pass this law because mean old Monsanto will sue us.” The legislature then quashed the law it had never intended to pass in the first place. The whole thing was just a pantomime. It was the same basic briar patch scam in both cases.
 
In reality it’s doubtful that Monsanto, 100% government-dependent, without even the slightest iota of a natural base, would actually sue a government that really intended to make life difficult for it. (Although a lawsuit the government never really intends to fight could be the occasion for a different form of the scam.) Regardless, it’s the duty of a government to fight for the public good (so the good-civics textbooks tell me), even if the going gets tough. So no matter how one looks at it, these state governments have abdicated, and intend to continue doing so.
 
So it follows that getting legislation introduced, and getting initiatives on the ballot, are just part of the time-dishonored, field-failed, disproven set of within-the-system tactics, alongside petitions, “voting” etc. The liberals will keep saying, “that doesn’t work, so let’s try it again, and again, and again, and again, forever and ever!” The goal is to ensure that nothing is done until we’re enslaved once and for all.
 
The real answer is that we need to build a true Food Sovereignty movement, which is also an abolition movement. No goal short of the total abolition of GMOs will suffice. We know that GMOs cannot be prevented from contaminating other crops and the environment at large. We know that GMO corporations and their government thugs are totalitarian in intent. It’s proven that neither organic agriculture, nor the environment, nor our political and economic freedom, can co-exist with GMOs. But labeling, in itself, is another version of the “co-existence” scam.
 
I’m not saying all this to oppose labeling activism. But I would be suspicious of anyone who’s implying that it’s a panacea. I’d say, “If we get this passed, then what’s next? How will we organize the necessary public education and government pressure work? How do we prevent ourselves from being co-opted and corrupted like the anti-tobacco groups?” If they have no coherent answer, you know it’s a scam. In that case the goal is just to go through the motions. Even if the thing passes it’s meant just to be cosmetic. In that case the corporate liberals would then say indefinitely, “we got the law passed, now you have to be patient and give it time to work.”
 
I’d be suspicious of anyone viewing, running, organizing things like an election campaign. I’d say, “First of all we need to use actions like this toward movement-building. In what ways are we building permanent organizational and publicity structures? What underlying principles dictate our support for labeling, and how are we working to propagate those principles?” If they have no coherent answer, or directly say “this isn’t movement-building, this is a one-off campaign”, you know it’s a scam, or at any rate that they have in fact no coherent principle or strategy, just a vague feeling and a handy tactic. Needless to say, this mindset will never win the war of attrition it will take to bring down Monsanto’s tyranny.
 
Most of all, I’d want clarity on the ultimate goals. Do labeling advocates really support Community Food and Food Sovereignty? Do they really oppose food corporatism? Do they really seek to constitute an abolition movement vs. GMOs and industrial ag as such? Nothing short of this will work for humanity.
 
Does labeling have a coherent rationale at all? We mentioned how, in itself, it still rationalizes industrial ag, food commodification, unhealthy processed foods, passive consumerism, and the “co-existence” scam. In the end, it still rationalizes food corporatism and “market solutions”. These are all unsustainable evils, politically, morally, and practically. But in itself, the kind of solution labeling purports to be sees these evils as normative.
 
Once again we see how corporatist “solutions” cannot solve problems generated by corporatism, and are not intended to. If taken as a self-sufficient panacea (and as I said, the evidence is that most of its advocates and organizers see it that way), GMO labeling is part of the same instrumental, non-holistic NPK thinking which is destroying humanity.
 
The organic place of labeling activism, as part of a movement to restore the primacy of organic agriculture, would be as a movement-building opportunity. It would provide the occasion and the practice to build a permanent movement structure. It would also provide the forum for movement and public education about not just labeling, and not just the evils of GMOs, but about the evils and unsustainability of the entire corporate food sector. It would bring home the need to build Community Food as a full-scale economic and political movement.
 

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February 13, 2013

GMO Action Imperatives; Lessons of the Wetteren Case

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A judge in Belgium has convicted the Wetteren 11 of charges related to a non-violent action where they dug up a GMO potato field trial and planted real potatoes. The judge agreed to the prosecutor’s characterization of the political demonstrators as having formed an illicit conspiracy. The defendants refused to attend the proceedings after the judge refused to convene this as an actual trial, instead letting the prosecutor run it as a purely administrative, technical, “civil” matter.
 
The public prosecutor and the research consortium (Flemish Institute for Biotechnology, University of Ghent, HoGent and the Flemish Agency for Agriculture and Fishery) chose to have this debate in court via direct summons and civil proceedings.

The group of activists had prepared a thorough defence. This was based on calling up expert witnesses, video testimonies from scientists, and video footage from the action in order to prove that 1) the action was covered by the principle of freedom of expression, and 2) that action was necessary in order to protect the precautionary principle. The action in Wetteren was carried out to protect the environment, public health and small-scale farming.

Without any further discussion, the judges refused to hear these testimonies or to view the video footage. The testimonies, however, were crucial to emphasise the political nature of the action. The judges therefore denied the defendants their legal right to an appropriate defence, as well as the opportunity to question the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture.

 
This, of course, was tantamount to finding the defendants gulity before the trial began. As the Red Queen put it, “Verdict first, trial afterwards!”, and if the accused never commit the crime, “That would be better!” The judge refused to hear evidence on the substance or merits of the issue or of the action, even though it’s a well-established principle of law that the people mustn’t obey unjust laws, and have the right to break the law in extreme circumstances. Thus, in a rare example, an English jury found Greenpeace demonstrators not guilty on the grounds that their “illegal” action was a necessary response to a clear and present danger. Historically, juries have a good record of acquitting direct actions when the judge informs them of their options. In the Kingsnorth case the judge said the action could be found justified if the trespass on a corporation’s “property” was necessary to defend the property of people.
 
Where it comes to GMOs, this imperative couldn’t be more clear-cut: The USDA itself admits that once GMOs are in the environment, contamination of related crops, including those of organic farmers, is inevitable. That’s why the USDA promulgated the doctrine that GMO corporations and tenders have a presumptive right to trespass upon and destroy the property of others (organic growers and many others with an interest in not being contaminated), cannot be sued for this or otherwise sanctioned, and that on the contrary the burden of the full cost of trying to defend oneself is 100% upon the victim. Indeed, when this inevitable and intentional contamination occurs, Monsanto is allowed to sue the victim for patent infringement. In 2012, when a broad alliance of farmers and Food Freedom groups sued Monsanto and the government to turn this abominable policy right side up, the system judge rejected the suit, ridiculing the damaged plaintiffs in the process.
 
What could be more clear, that we shall never achieve justice, reason, safety, or simple human decency within this system, and shall have to seek it outside? 
 
Getting back to the Belgian case, the prosecutor and judge also refused to charge a large number of “voluntary defendants” comprising a list of civil society organizations from farmer groups to trade unions to consumer and environmental groups to some politicians and professors, who called themselves co-conspirators after the fact and demanded to join the defendants in the dock. The people recognize that the prosecution here was not just of this particular democracy action, but intended to set a precedent vs. all direct expressions of democracy.
 
The defendants have explained (to the people, not to the court, which has refused to listen or to allow any substantive defense) how the secretive and unaccountable machinations of the “regulatory” system do not serve public health or democratic accountability, but only the corporate imperative. We can add that the mainstream media is in fact a corporate propaganda ministry which systematically propagates Monsanto’s lies and suppresses the facts and truths about GMOs, and about food corporatism and industrial agriculture in general. It also systematically neglects and, increasingly, slanders organic agriculture, which is the only solution to humanity’s artificial food crisis.*
 
Groups have been calling for a democratic debate about the introduction of genetically modified crops for years. Environmental and agricultural organisations including Friends of the Earth, Landwijzer, Greenpeace and the organic Bioforum have been campaigning constantly for sustainable agriculture and emphasising that GMO’s cannot be a part of this. They objected to the potato field trial which they described as unwanted and useless. Above all, they highlighted the environmental risks involved in such an experiment. Three experts from the Biotechnology Safety Council gave negative advice regarding the potato trial. They emphasised the environmental risks linked to the trial and pointed out that it was scientifically ungrounded. In August 2012 a judge in Ghent ruled that the GM field trial itself was actually illegal because there was no justification for the fact that the ministers in charge did not allow for objections or for minority positions on the Biotechnology Safety Council to be considered.

The action took place after all these other attempts from people to express their views had been systematically swept aside. The structural problems in agriculture, and the consequences of the use of genetically modified organisms have still not been openly discussed in Flanders, and public debate about the issue is systematically avoided.

 
Nor can “reform” be accomplished within “representative” electoral channels. We know that our elections are frauds. In the US or Canada, one can vote for Monsanto or Monsanto. (Meanwhile in the Wetteren 11’s European Union, there’s an “elected” parliament which is purely advisory with zero actual legislative power. It’s more purely cosmetic and fraudulent than the tsar’s early 20th century Duma, and has far less power than the kaiser’s Reichstag.)
 
Of course, this case is a good demonstration of what we can usually expect from the system courts, in procedure and outcome. The fact is that the system comprises organized crime, and that corporate and government agencies are criminal gangs. They automatically view any kind of democratic combination as an affront to their sense of entitlement and a threat to their prerogatives. Their goal will always be to use their illegitimate power to criminalize any manifestation of democracy, and of any human value.
 
Conversely, citizens must start by recognizing the elemental illegitimacy and fraudulence of all system institutions, and the folly of trying to achieve real change by working through system channels. As today’s defendants pointed out, they and their allies did all they could to get action within the system where it came to the pointlessness and likely harms of this GMO potato trial. (We can say the same of the Rothamstead GM wheat trial in Britain – totally worthless, gratuitously harmful, done only as a corporate welfare handout and as a political exercise in the alleged ubiquity and irresistability of GM crops. These field trials often serve the same purpose as the aimless marching of SA formations in Weimar Germany – they usually had no particular destination, but were merely for intimidation and propaganda purposes. So it is with most GM trials today.) It was only when the system made it clear that there was no process, but only the fraudulent simulation of one, and that the system viewed its task as to serve the Monsanto imperative no matter what, that these activists decided their task was to serve the freedom imperative no matter what. So they undertook non-violent direct action and pulled up the crops, in the same way that anti-Nazis in the Weimar time tried directly to challenge the Brownshirt domination of the streets.
 
The message: We reject the legitimacy of Big Ag and GMOs, and we don’t believe there’s anything necessary, fated, or irresistible about them. Some criminals chose the pro-GMO policy, the people can make the opposite choice, whenever we want. This action was a counter-demonstration on the part of those who value freedom, democracy, and natural economic autonomy, vs. a propaganda event set up by the corporate planned economy and its political Big Government flunkey regime.
 
So we have procedural disenfranchisement, political dispossession, media blackout and slander. What’s left for us to do? What can we do?
 
The primary task is to organize a coordinated Community Food movement, with a generally agreed upon set of principles and strategy, while tactics would be decided upon at the local level. (Operational goals and publicity** might be partially standardized and partially vary locally.) One advantage such a movement would have over the 19th century Populist movement would be that the Farmers’ Alliance comprised cotton farmers who were necessarily participants in commodification agriculture (and therefore had no choice but to seek to revolutionize or “reform” it), while we not only can but must desire to dispense with industrial ag (a completely separate and alien sector from Community Food) completely. An aggressive abolition campaign against GMOs and CAFOs could be part of this movement.
 
Meanwhile, propagating the more revolutionary ideas of Food Sovereignty (as defined by Via Campesina and other Southern indigenous farmer movements; the term’s already somewhat obfuscated in North America) might be, for the time being, the province of individual writers or a separate organization. The idea would be that the experience of fighting for Community Food against the corporate state’s increasing repression would make the CF movement an educational vector of radicalization, in addition to its inherently positive actions and results.
 
This will be the only way to systematically propagate a disciplined set of ideas, truths, and facts about food corporatism and corporatism in general, and about the need to rebuild our polities and economies on a natural, rational, resilient local/regional basis. 
 
*There is no natural food crisis. Today’s agriculture produces far more than enough food for everyone on Earth, although much of it is toxified and of inferior nutritional quality. Meanwhile even today organic agriculture could produce more food than Big Ag, of vastly higher quality, under much healthier physical, environmental, socioeconomic, and political circumstances. This margin shall become infinite with the end of the fossil fuel age, as industrial ag becomes physically impossible.
 
**The reproduction of Field Liberation’s press release at GMWatch is given a headline regurgitating the prosecutor’s slander. Why anyone would want to do this is a mystery. But it’s a typical example of the current lameness of our movement. It’s a good example of the elements of publicity which will need to be standardized and applied in a disciplined way. You know, NOT regurgitating system propaganda, terminology, framings?
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