July 31, 2018

Strict Mores


The record is clear that the USDA and EPA intend and desire all the harms and failures of poison-based agriculture. Pretending to deal with the dicamba crisis the EPA explicitly endorsed part one of my corporate template with this quote: “We’re committed to taking appropriate action for the 2018 growing season with an eye toward ensuring that the technology is available, number one, to growers but that it is used responsibly.” Throughout the crisis the agency has provided Monsanto with its imprimatur, as per part three of the template. The EPA itself refused to perform or require volatility testing in the first place. Therefore both Monsanto and the EPA strictly admit the volatility of Monsanto’s XtendiMax. Such an admission is always implicit where those with the resources and responsibility to test refuse to do so and work to prevent anyone else from doing so. In the broad sense this is Strict Proof that the corporations and governments know or believe pesticides and GMOs to be harmful to human health. If they didn’t believe this they certainly would have performed legitimate safety tests instead of promulgating the religious lie of “substantial equivalence” along with a passel of methodologically fraudulent tests and rumors of “secret science”, a contradiction in terms. We know that the worst we can speculate is in fact true. The corporations and governments themselves admit this, proven by their consistent pattern of action.
In the same way, any consistent course of action on the part of those who can choose a different course proves their Strict Intent to cause all the consistent significant effects of their consistent course of action. Here we see the intent of Monsanto and the US government to wipe out all non-GM soy, as much of any other kind of farming, gardening, ornamentals, and wild plants as possible, and along the way to poison the soil and environment as totally as possible. Whatever human and animal health effects soon arise from the atmospheric suffusion of the dicamba zone also have been intended by these organizations.
Monsanto and the US government want to maximize dicamba use. The corporations of course want to maximize sales, from a mundane profiteering point of view. But far beyond mundane profits, maximal poison deployment is intended to masximize monoculture power and control. The corporate-technocratic system seeks this regardless of destructive effects, and intentionally to maximize the destruction. By Strict Intent there’s no practical difference between willful premeditated nihilism and the active will and premeditation to destroy. Therefore there is no moral difference, and there should be no difference from the perspective of the law or policy. This doctrine is necessary especially in a case like poison drift where it’s difficult to impossible to pinpoint responsibility for specific damage and where, even if this circumstance of non-responsibility hadn’t been anticipated and pre-planned, all the perpetrators rush to take advantage of it in a deliberate, systematic way.
Therefore it follows that abolitionist doctrine must be to impose Strict Liability upon all participants in the poison racket, from developers to sellers to users. It’s the same principle as for any other criminal conspiracy: The guy driving the getaway car is just as guilty of murder as the robber inside the bank who pulls the trigger, even though he never left the car. Everyone knows how toxic and destructive all these chemicals are, the corporations and regulators most of all, so no one can claim innocent ignorance. This is a core movement principle and the movement must promise to put this into effect wherever it gets the power. This principle follows practically from the principles of Strict Proof and Strict Intent.
The same principle applies to all programs of ecological and social destruction, all the actions of the economic civilization. If there was ever a time when anyone could claim to be innocently mistaken about the consequences of Mammon, of capitalism, of empowering corporations, most of all the consequences of treating our only home the Earth as a resource mine, waste dump, and subject of sadistic vandalism; if there ever was such a time (I doubt it myself), that time is in the distant past. No one has been innocent for a long, long time. Most of all, it’s beyond any dispute that the cadres of government, corporations, academia, and media are fully conscious, or willfully ignorant, of all the primary consequences of the system’s anti-ecological and anti-human assaults. They are all Nuremburg criminals to their rotted soulless core. We can no longer think in terms of questions or doubt. The crimes and the culpability are existential.
Everyone, abolitionists and reformers alike, should take up these doctrines, make them mainstays of philosophy and political communication, and promise to make them the law of the land.
To prevent confusion, I’m not saying there’s a master cabal somewhere consciously plotting out all the evils, though for example in the case of poison agriculture Monsanto certainly is conscious of much of it. I’m describing an existential inertia and a biological campaign. Therefore we’re only dealing proximately with conventional moral philosophy. Rather, we’re dealing with an elemental process whose morality we must view more primally in terms of its consistent action rather than foolish speculation about the “consciousness” of the creatures driving it. You might as well speculate about the consciousness of corporations, patents, and dollars while you’re at it. Anyway, in this case the primary organisms involved are Agrobacterium tumefaciens; soybeans, corn, and cotton; weeds like Palmer amaranth; pathogens like salmonella and botulins. The humans involved behave according to the same patterns. The technocratic propagandists who exalt corporate personhood, artificial intelligence, and robots are similarly disparaging their own role on the other, “post-human” end.
We see how inadequate conventional moralizing is to the crisis. Rather we need the strict morality of Strict Intent, Strict Proof, Strict Liability. We must apply it to the corporations, the regulators, the scientific establishment, academia, the mainstream media, the technocratic political class in general.
Adapted from part four of my series on the dicamba crisis.


  1. What is the role of divine grace in your world view, Russell? Do you believe in forgiveness and redemption? In a case of universal complicity, is there hope beyond perdition?

    Comment by VernonHuffman — July 31, 2018 @ 9:01 am

    • I don’t go in for that kind of religion, and I don’t really believe in “morality” either, as some kind of real spiritual ether. There’s actions within the flow and balance of the ecology, and actions which go berserk against it. When the latter happens, Gaia eventually imposes a correction, one way or another. Within our human/microbial context (i.e. the symbiotic organisms we are), our brains have invented concepts like morality and pretended to use such concepts as guides to action. In practice this has usually been hypocrisy, though rarely humans have actually taken moral precepts seriously.

      At any rate, these notions of the inflamed brain also are ultimately part of the ecology, and have meaning only insofar as they encourage ecological action or anti-ecological berserking. It’s best to look at morality biologically, though in a way exactly opposite of the upside-down notions of the sociobiologists like E O Wilson who want to “biologize ethics”. By that they mean eugenics and every anti-ecological assault. I mean the exact opposite: If it harms the ecology it’s immoral, if it helps it’s moral, and let that be the whole of the law.

      I didn’t say there’s universal complicity. Most people are far more targets and victims than perpetrators. I do say universal complicity among the system cadres I listed in the piece – government, business, academic, media. Redemption? That could come only with a 180 degree change of word and action. Not seeing any of that yet, and I don’t expect to see it. They’re hunkered in the bunker like a bunch of mini-Hitlers, and evidently like Hitler they intend to kill and destroy as much as they can before they’re finished. No, I see little chance of any redemptive action coming from them.

      Comment by Russell Bangs — July 31, 2018 @ 10:00 am

      • Are not voters complicit in government, consumers and investors complicit in business, students and teachers complicit in academia, and readers, listeners, or viewers complicit in media? Doesn’t that pretty much cover all of us? Seems to me that we all choose some compromise of conscience. Everybody I know, no matter how deeply complicit, can point to others as a greater source of the problem. Of course, blame rarely does anything to facilitate solution, in my observation. It is an ugly quandary about which it’s very challenging to express hope.

        Comment by VernonHuffman — July 31, 2018 @ 8:20 pm

      • Of course, all the supporters of the system are complicit, as I’ve said many times. Incorrigible voters, absolutely, as I’ve said many times. And all those student grinders bucking for corporate stripes. They’re all criminals against humanity and the Earth. I was merely focusing on the leadership cadres (I should’ve included all professional groups as well). If by “us” you mean Westerners, yeah it’s most of them. Feel free to include yourself if that’s how you feel, but there’s also those of us who reject it all and want to abolish it all. I’ve burned all my bridges. Though according to your comment on the renewable energy post you still dream of powering the productionist nightmare, the consumption maw.

        Comment by Russell Bangs — August 1, 2018 @ 1:05 am

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