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March 27, 2013

Globalization, GMOs, Democracy

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“Free trade” is a corporate propaganda term which is promiscuously used not only by corporate cadres and media, but among those who vaguely oppose corporate domination. One step toward replacing this vagueness with coherent discipline would be to become more disciplined in our use of language. That means, for example, not using this term, or “free market” and similar terms, other than in carefully calibrated ways highlighting the fraudulence of these terms.
 
The US and EU are negotiating a new globalization assault, but the whole thing may yet fall through on account of an impasse on the key issue, agriculture.
 

European Union leaders don’t want the negotiations to include discussions on their restrictions on genetically modified crops and other regulations that keep U.S. farm products out of Europe. But Obama says it’s hard to imagine an agreement that doesn’t address those issues. Powerful U.S. agricultural lobbies will do their best to make sure Congress rejects any pact that fails to address the restrictions.

 
The US government is in typical Monsanto flunkey mode, raging against EU policies hostile to GMO cultivation, importation, and marketing. (I’ll note again in passing that Obama is the most aggressively pro-Monsanto president yet. This, like so many other things about him, starkly defines the side one is on, for or against humanity, and how Obama’s supporters have sided against humanity.)
 
Although the piece gives the impression that “the EU” is anti-GMO, this is false. European opposition to GMOs is a purely democratic, demand-driven grassroots phenomenon, and EU policies adverse to GMOs are a typical example of how, where a governmental structure feels vulnerable as the EU does, it can be forced from below to do things it doesn’t want to do. But the EU bureaucracy, like all corporatist bureaucracies, is pro-GMO. It’s been searching for years for a way to make an end run around citizen opposition. I wrote about it in 2010, commenting on an NYT piece which put on a clinic in anti-democracy attitudinizing and verbiage.
 
This is a good example of how “free trade” is, by its very nature, a command economy measure. Reading this or any other typical piece on the subject, you can see how it’s a supply-driven policy concocted by elites. Democracy and the good of the people are nowhere to be seen, other than as irritants which are “extremely negative…very difficult”, as an academic is quoted characterizing them. The 1% has the intent of creating forced markets for products which have no natural demand, forcing these markets upon the 99% in defiance of democracy, freedom, the environment, and any rational, demand-based economic policy, crushing all of these if necessary. Indeed, to crush democracy as such is a secondary goal of the globalization planned economy. The primary goal, as always, is corporate profit and domination.
 

Obama, in a talk with his export council this month, suggested this could be a deal-breaker.

“There are certain countries whose agricultural sector is very strong, who tended to block at critical junctures the kinds of broad-based trade agreements that would make it a good deal for us,” he said. “If one of the areas where we’ve got the greatest comparative advantage is cordoned off from an overall trade deal, it’s very hard to get something going.”

 
(I’ve previously mentioned this “export council”, a key group dictating policy for the corporate planned economy. Meanwhile, one wonders if Obama’s stupid enough to believe this “comparative advantage” drivel.)
 
We see the basic bullying arrogance and hypocrisy of the US, which simultaneously pontificates about European agricultural protectionism while refusing to dismantle massive welfare subsidies to its own agricultural sector. This highlights respective places on the totem pole. Monsanto is at the top level and is one of a handful of actors who dictate US government policy. US government muscle is predominant, though the EU has enough muscle that the US can’t use brute force the way it often can with smaller, non-white countries. Indeed the US may have to settle for defeat here, the way it has in the past.
 
I stress that this is all because European citizens have strongly resisted GMOs. They’ve done so primarily on the merits, though also out of distrust of the EU structure as such. In principle, there’s no reason Americans and Canadians can’t do the same.
 
I’ll close with the AP piece’s closing quote, which is just about perfect. I can’t tell if this symbolic revelation of Obama’s evil was conscious either on his part or the writer’s part.
 

Of course, the rhetoric at the beginning of talks might not preclude compromise in the end. In his talk with the export council, Obama expressed optimism. He noted that austerity measures in response to the debt crisis in the EU have caused European countries to look to a free trade deal as a rare opportunity to boost the economy and improve competitiveness.

“I think they are hungrier for a deal than they have been in the past,” he said.

 
It would be hard to find a more perfect and vicious revelation of the predatory disaster capitalist mindset than that. It’s a confession that corporate/government-caused economic crashes are intended to help force assaults like these. 

 
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16 Comments

  1. After reading that final quote, the only clear thought in my head was “What a @&%$#*^ Obama is”. But the corporate media doesn’t seem to highlight Monsanto supporting talk, does it?

    Comment by DualPersonality — March 27, 2013 @ 8:28 am

    • Hi DP,

      The corporate media loves Monsanto. If you click on those links above you’ll see me skewering some of their pro-GMO propaganda.

      Previous media watchdog surveys have found that the US media is a monolith on being pro-GMO as such and regurgitating government lies about it (British media is somewhat better), while split on the issue of labeling. In other words, much of the corporate media is so pro-Monsanto it even opposes labeling.

      Comment by Russ — March 27, 2013 @ 11:06 am

      • I was under the impression that many Obama supporters have an uneasy feeling about GMOs, and would be unhappy hearing him promote them. Certainly, most of the people I know who are concerned about industrial food/GMOs would have voted for him, thinking about Mrs. Obama’s organic garden and other good-looking PR moves.

        Comment by DualPersonality — March 27, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

      • Things ought to be like that, but it seems like the dregs of the Democrat tribalists are impervious to evidence, reason, or morality by now. Although I too am prone to focusing on refuting liberalism and support for the Dems, I’m going to try to more broadly condemn the entire system as literally wanting to poison us through industrial food.

        Still, it may be worth educating at least those progressives and Obama supporters who seem ambivalent. While I don’t think this or any other evidence is going to sway the faith-based dregs, it may help intensify and consummate any doubts people have, and perhaps sow the seeds of future doubt.

        (But I think it’s probably more fruitful to talk about this with those who at least aren’t predisposed to support big government in principle. My experience is that these are more likely to also have doubts about corporate power. Liberals are actually the most predisposed to be reverent toward “authority” as such, including corporate power. They may be more likely than generic petty bourgeois types to whine about it in the first place, but they’ll never go beyond whining, including the well-policed boundaries of “petitions” and other pseudo-actions. But once the more normally apolitical middle class types become energized, they’re more likely to follow through more intrepidly.)

        As for “elections”, my challenge is now: Forget voting Rep or Dem and how that’s supposed to make a difference. Forget how it’s supposed to make a difference if you vote at all, as opposed to refusing to vote for evil (which means abstention). Tell me how it would make any difference if they simply canceled the elections completely. So far as I can see, that would make zero substantive difference, zero policy difference.

        Comment by Russ — March 28, 2013 @ 5:11 am

  2. Hi Russ! Keep banging on the truth! I think it would be great if you could pull together all the evils of our current government into one write-up. I will Facebook it. The left/right thing is so prevalent there. Hope you’re well.

    Comment by bloodgroove — March 27, 2013 @ 9:38 am

    • Hi Johnny, how’s it going? I’m OK. Getting the farm plot ready for action. I hope you and yours are well too.

      I’m not sure offhand which single post I’d say most succinctly sums things up, but my four-part New Feudal War series is linked here.

      https://attempter.wordpress.com/series-on-neoliberalism/

      But please feel free to link anything you want at FB. Thanks!

      Comment by Russ — March 27, 2013 @ 11:03 am

  3. Got things going down here on the new farm in GA this spring Russ. Finally got out of Chicago to join the struggle on the front lines….

    “Honeywood Farms is embarking on a mission to transition it’s conventional commercial cattle operation into a sustainable diversified permaculture farm. It’s primary focus is to produce nutrient dense whole food for local communities while improving and enhancing the ecological health of the land. This is a daunting and exciting project that will take years to fully develop. We’d like to encourage as many of our friends, family and members of the local community to join us on our journey to build healthy sustainable people and communities, and build better soils for future generations to come.”

    https://www.facebook.com/honeywoodfarms.GA

    BTW, I got wind today of a bill in Kentucky that finally lifts the silly prohibition of hemp. I’m curious is it is coinciding with the GMOs race to capture control of the product with its usual corporate/govt. assault.

    Comment by Pete — March 27, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

    • Congratulations on Honeywood Farms, Pete. It sounds great, I’m sure you guys will do well with it, and I look forward to hearing more about your progress.

      Comment by Russ — March 27, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

    • As an architect, I have heard of a product called Hempcrete which is apparently a carbon reducer as well as readily affordable material that will cut down on our carbon footprint. There is a firm out of North Carolina(?) that has one product using this material and they are trying to cut through the bureaucracy. Farmers, as some can relate to, are hesitant to participate because authorities would step in very quickly?

      Which sort of gets me back to policy and the way our government works. The financial sector gets a big shot in the arm dealing with large corporations that use labor overseas. Shipping via container ships is bigger than ever so much that the Panama Canal is being widened. Shipping goods and products is easier than driving a truck across a state! Along with this fact was how Hillary Clinton was the biggest supporter of American corporate sponsorship during her time at the State Department. ( Inc magazine article, 11/12?) And everyone seems to forget about the man behind the curtain; Joe Biden. Biden provides access to the corporations and always has. Biden’s connections are as important to Obama as Cheney’s was to Bush.

      Russ, keep up the excellent work. Understanding how the global economy is being controlled is very hard to comprehend; let alone rationalize and then exist within it. It all gets back to local survivability. We are all essentially peons and dependent upon large food outlets for sustenance. I can only hope that enough citizens will by that time of had enough and demand accountability and local sovereignty.

      Comment by Lady Ruthwood — March 28, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

      • One of the Community Food’s aces in the hole is that citizens don’t have to make fruitless demands of the system, or wait in vain for it to do anything. Here, unlike with other crises and evils, we can take huge amounts of direct action immediately, by growing and preparing our own food, saving and controlling our seeds, and supporting local farmers, processors, infrastructure, and distributors.

        Comment by Russ — March 29, 2013 @ 1:35 am

  4. Russ,

    As long time reader of your blog who hardly ever comments, I apologize for being off-topic here, but thought you might find this interesting.

    I don’t know if you ever followed Chris Floyd’s blog Empire Burlesque or not…..anyway, I thought he’d given up writing after Obama’s re-election, but this weekend I found out he’s now a regular columnist for the new Counterpunch monthly magazine (print version)
    Here’s an excerpt from his first column for Counterpunch, “The Whole Damn Camel: Rethinking Dissent”, where he puts the last nail in the coffin of the “progressive” blogosphere:

    “Surely the re-election of Barack Obama has, at long last, put the kibosh on the hoary notion that the “Professional Left” poses any kind of threat or counterbalance to the malignant spread of empire, within and without. Slice the timeline any way you like –10 years, 20 years, 30 years – and you’ll still come up with the same sad salami: a political world shifted so far to the right, so deep in the pockets of Daddy Warbucks, General Ripper and Elmer Gantry that even Boss Tweed might blush for shame. This is what the Prof-Left has to show for its decades of working diligently within the system.

    Of course, America’s hard-right turn (or reversion) to militarism abroad and Hobbesianism at home is not solely the result of the Left’s egregious failures; far from it. It’s a brew made up of many poisons. And yes, failure can be honorable at times. But there is nothing honorable about what happened to “progressives” in Campaign 2012. After years of consciousness-raising – unmasking atrocities, tracking corruption, decoding propaganda, speaking truth to power, etc. – where did the Prof-Left end up in November? Supporting a lawless, cynical, corporate-coddling warmonger who has taken the tropes of imperial sway to their logical conclusion, their final solution: the arbitrary, unchecked power of life and death, not only over the grubby barbaroi but even over his own subjects. As the scripture saith, our professional progs strained at a gnat – but swallowed the whole damn camel.

    Nowhere was this betrayal of principle more naked than in the very arena which, we were told, had “transformed” politics forever, shattering the old paradigms and giving unprecedented voice and power to reform and resistance: the progressive blogosphere. Yet here the cognitive dissonance was so jarring that it hurt just to look at it. (God knows what it must felt like inside those conflicted craniums.) Here you found stern denunciations of White House death squads, drone wars, whistleblower persecutions, corporate whoredom and other outrages standing cheek-to-cheek with gushing paeans to presidential cool, testy rebuttals of Tea Party attacks, minute nit-pickings over polls and soundbites, and sage tactical advice to ensure victory for … the same man they were simultaneously slating for murder and repression. For all their “savvy” caveats and subtle nuance, their Chomskyean parsing of narrow moral choices in a brutal power system (Democrats, said one prominent progblogger, are “2% less evil,” so one must support them), in the end, the netrooters were as avid as David Axelrod in their partisan plumping for more drones, deaths, deportations, drilling, drug warring and all the other draconia wielded happily by Obama in his first four years.

    This is a “movement” that has finally collapsed beneath the weight of its own incoherence. You cannot denounce state crime while supporting its perpetrators. Or rather, you can – but you will look like a fool. You will look like someone who has nothing to offer beyond a pallid, unprincipled tribal loyalty to a clapped-out party of bloodstained bagmen. And all the “ordinary people” out there whose consciousnesses you are trying to raise will sense this hollow core, this estrangement from reality. They will know you have no answers for the suffering they endure in a heartless system, that you can provide no understanding of what the system is doing to them – because you are part of the system, you speak its language, you play its games, you support its crimes, you cheerlead for its criminals. Why should they listen to you? And so the people you seek to help and enlighten turn away – to those whose certainties, however false, seem more coherent; or to ever-more frantic, frenetic diversions; or to a grim, ground-down, burnt-out , grudging acceptance of a system that seems inescapable, more like a natural order than a hell of our own making.

    “… Decades of dissent – not just pallid progblogging or Beltway-liberal lobbying, but the real deal, down in the trenches, courageous, unsung, dedicated – has not slowed the imperial juggernaut, whose depredations are more brazen, more entrenched and more accepted, even celebrated, than ever. Something ain’t working. The tongues are all broken. The message is not getting through.”

    http://www.chris-floyd.com

    Comment by Claire — April 1, 2013 @ 7:17 am

    • Thanks Claire. Sure, I’ve read Floyd, especially some years back when I used to write about the wars. I didn’t know he was now at Counterpunch.

      This is all true. Supporting evil is supporting evil, and therefore to be evil oneself. No ifs, no ands, no buts. Those who have any integrity left must face the fact that this is a criminal system, and that to support it, even as an alleged “reformer”, is to be a criminal oneself. We see the full current apotheosis of the old mentality: “I joined the Nazi Party because I wanted to be a moderating influence from within.”

      But it was crystal clear that it was impossible to be such a moderating influence, and very few of them really ever intended to try. So it is with today’s liberals and radical-chic-ists. (I can picture some good examples of who Floyd’s talking about, those who would accurately analyze the crimes of Obama and the Dems, but then still vote for them. Or even worse, and to add contemptibility to crime, would have a finicky strategy for whether or not you could vote for an “alternative” candidate, or had to support the Dems, based on which state you were in. Some even offered to “trade” votes with each other. The first time I saw people talking that way I thought it had to be joking sarcasm. But nope – they were serious. What contemptible fools.)

      As I’ve written before, it’s clear what’s going on here.

      https://attempter.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/the-temporary-resumption-of-petty-middle-class-faith/

      The “progressives” and radical-chicists considered their own little crumbs, their meager share of the criminal loot, and decided they too had to support the continuation of corporatism and globalization (pretty much all system crimes can be boiled down to this).

      The corporate liberals, meanwhile, have found their true being as unconflicted, aggressive supporters of organized crime. One of Obama’s main tasks was to lead the way to liberals finally, after nearly two hundred years of ambiguity about their criminality, openly embracing their criminal nature. We can now say with no exaggeration at all that liberalism is just a version of conservatism, identical in temperament, mentality, and policy prescription, different at most only in some tonal aspects.

      What’s to be done? Part of the problem is accepting, in a sense, imperialism as given and then trying to combat it directly. But this brings up the problem of what to do. How do you directly try to end the imperial wars? I don’t know, and it seems like no one else does either. No one I’ve read, at any rate.

      But one of the many advantages of starting with a Community Food movement combined with a movement to abolish industrial agriculture is that there’s lots of things people can do immediately as individuals, groups, communities, toward building a real movement organization and culture. We can directly build the Community Food sector and reject the corporate sector. When the food police try to repress us, we can directly resist them with far better political prospects than many other kinds of practitioners of civil disobedience. This oppression and resistance can then be an excellent educational and organizational tool toward rejecting corporatism as such. (And the CF sector automatically encounters lots of structural bottlenecks – credit, land, etc. – so it automatically educates and radicalizes itself vis these as well.)

      Once it gets rolling such a movement can then expand to become a receiver for many other kinds of anti-system feeling.

      Comment by Russ — April 1, 2013 @ 9:47 am

    • Russ,

      Thanks for your response, and also for linking to that post about the resumption of petty middle class faith. I had overlooked that one before.

      [In your earlier post]….You wrote: “as we see all over the blogosphere, presented with a clear structural critic and a troll, your aspiring do-gooder ignores the critic and tries to reason with the troll…”

      Yes, that’s exactly it, in one sentence you managed to describe what’s wrong with the blogosphere.

      You wrote: “Just like political blogs almost all suck, so food blogs almost all suck, while the only real action was at the econoblogs.)

      As for econoblogs, I think the key word here is WAS, as I’m unaware of any that don’t suck now.

      Looking on the bright side, since I stopped reading corporate media a long time ago, and for the most part, stopped reading blogs after the 2012 election, that gives me a lot more free time to learn about things like Community Food and anti-GMO.

      Thanks for this blog, Russ, and I hope you’ll continue posting.

      Comment by Claire — April 1, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

      • Claire,

        Thanks. You inspired an encouraging word from me to Chris over at his blog. I have no illusions that such is worth the electrons it ephemerally occupies, but it is good to see anyone questioning his dogma as such. The lesser of two evils is still evil.

        I am forced every day to reconcile what I believe in with what I do. The fact is that it is easy to do so when you only consider the people you know and work with, but it is much harder– if not impossible– to do so when you factor out the people and think in terms of faceless institutions. Chris has made a critical first step by thinking macro (institutions) instead of micro (people he knows).

        The reality is that we are all forced to support a criminal system, whether we abhor it or not, because that system has made itself a fundamental part of how we interact with each other as members of society. We can only attack the criminality of the system by insisting on high integrity transactions, however you define such.

        Comment by Tao Jonesing — April 2, 2013 @ 1:53 am

      • Thanks Claire. I’ll certainly keep posting, and will probably be doing so more regularly and systematically soon.

        Comment by Russ — April 2, 2013 @ 6:50 am

      • It would be harder with the people I work with and like on a personal level if they talked much about system politics. But although they’re basically Dem party supporters, they don’t talk much about system politics, but focus mostly on community projects. What they do in practice is much better than how they vote and what they inertially advocate in theory.

        Best would be to do the best we can in practice as well as think the best we can in principle. Renounce the system in principle, and then do the best we can to break free of it in practice. However small the steps seem to be at first, stay always on this vector of practice.

        Most of all, we need new organizations which, even if they can’t openly declare full opposition to the system to begin with (not out of fear, but out of the possibility that it may be impossible to get enough people together on that basis, initially), would agree to be firm and uncompromising on particular affirmations (for example, fighting for Community Food as a distinct economic sector which has to be maximized) and/or particular negations (for example, the total abolition of GMOs), and would commit to zero compromise on these vectors. (By that I mean, every action must, considered holistically, be firmly on the vector toward the goal.)

        Comment by Russ — April 2, 2013 @ 7:01 am


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