Volatility

May 29, 2020

Corona Spectacle Amid the Arc of Collapse

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Ever since I started blogging in 2009 I’ve assumed, based on prior analysis, that the 1% understands that the fossil-fueled economic civilization is tottering and that they need to shore up their power to carry over their dominance through the transition from the extreme-energy age to the impending desert wasteland.
 
That was the obvious interpretation of Wall Street’s deliberate crash of the global economy in 2008 and the 2009 bailout, and it’s even more obvious now.
 
To the extent the elites are rational, they know that the energy and ecological bases of the economic civilization are eroded to near the point of collapse. Thus since 2008 they’ve been on a campaign to secure control of all real assets – land, water, every other physical resource – while 2001 gave the pretext for a great ramping up of the police state, with another great escalation underway now. The goal is to sustain as much of their power and luxury as possible as the civilization collapses, and to replace it with an older form of tyranny and slave state.
 
Meanwhile currently there’s no hint of any revolutionary potential among the masses. But that doesn’t solve the ongoing existential problem which confronts the global elites: There are over seven billion people who the capitalists no longer even want to exploit, but who from the elites’ point of view can only comprise a potentially dangerous waste dump. So far there’s only astroturfing and easily co-opted “reform” scams percolating among these wastes, but that doesn’t mean there never will arise any real threat.
 
So a key goal of the lockdowns is to quash all political organizing and protest, and terminally kettle all political communication online on social media, where censorship will constrict and constrain ever more tightly. In this way the system hopes to use the Corona campaign to permanently eradicate all participatory politics, which means all real politics as such. They’ll keep tightening the screws as long as they can even if it means business suffers. What does business matter anyway, if today the top executives and shareholders can grab bailout checks. Tomorrow means nothing, as far as that goes.
 
Shortly they’ll be left with no extreme economy since there’s no extreme energy to power it and no ecological grounding for it. All talk of “growth” and “jobs” will be defunct. The 1% plans to have attained such complete physical domination of the populace by then that it won’t matter. They’ll be able simply to let everyone starve to death, through more or less active or passive policy, whatever’s necessary.
 
The knee-jerk lockdowns have been on account of a lukewarm flu which, objectively, is not something this society would care much about. The cancer pandemic is worse, and few care. The pandemic of heart disease is worse, and few care. The pandemic of deaths and injuries from The Car is worse, and not only do few care, but Car-worship remains a fundamentalism even among self-alleged “environmentalists” and the climate-industrial movement.
 
All that goes to prove that the top-down constrictions are joining the mass hysteria in an unscientific and irrational way to deploy a prior totalitarian plan.
 
 
 
 
 

April 3, 2020

Note 4/3

Filed under: Bailouts Only Propped Up Zombies, Disaster Capitalism — Tags: , — Russ Bangs @ 1:18 pm

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I started blogging in 2009 based on the principle, derived from prior analysis, that the 1% understands that the fossil-fueled economic civilization is tottering and that they need to shore up their power to carry over their dominance through the transition from the extreme-energy age to the impending desert wasteland.
 
That was the obvious interpretation of the 2009 bailout, and it’s even more self-evident now.
 
As for the masses, obviously there’s no hint of any revolutionary potential, but that doesn’t solve the ongoing existential problem which confronts the global elites: There are over seven billion people who the capitalists no longer even want to exploit, but who can only comprise what from the elites’ point of view is a potentially dangerous waste dump. Just because so far there’s only astroturfing and easily co-opted “reform” scams percolating among these wastes doesn’t mean there never will arise any real threat.
 
So they’ll keep tightening the screws as long as they can, even if it means business suffers. What does business matter anyway, if today the top executives and shareholders can grab bailout checks. Tomorrow means nothing, as far as that goes.
 
Shortly they’ll be left with no extreme economy, since there’s no extreme energy to power it and no ecological grounding for it. All talk of “growth” and “jobs” will be defunct. The 1% plans to have attained such complete physical domination of the populace by then that it won’t matter, and they’ll simply be able to let everyone starve to death, through more or less active or passive policy, whatever’s necessary.
 
The knee-jerk “lockdown” is on account of something which, objectively, is not something this society would care much about. The cancer pandemic is worse, and few care. The pandemic of heart disease is worse, and few care. The pandemic of deaths and injuries from The Car is worse, and not only do few care, but Car-worship remains a fundamentalism even among self-alleged “environmentalists” and the climate-industrial movement.
 
All that goes to prove that the top-down constrictions are joining the mass hysteria in an unscientific and irrational way to deploy a prior totalitarian plan.
 
 
 
 
 

August 29, 2017

Who Are the Purists?

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It is clear that the world’s most fanatical purists are the ideologues of neoliberal corporate globalization. It’s clear that no amount of evidence, no amount of disproof and failure, will ever convince them even to question their totalitarian impulse, their deranged commitment to enforcing the most pure, extreme pro-corporate outcome in each and every situation. Purism never has been more distilled than this.
 
Among these extremists of purism, none is more fanatical and inveterate than the Democrat Party and its cult followers. In the face of the total failure of their entire paradigm they are paragons of purist defiance. They have doubled down, tripled down, have made it crystal clear that no aspect of reality will ever force them to compromise even one jot of their infinite pro-corporate purity. Never in all of history has it been more accurate to say of a group that they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. This is the ultimate measure of anti-reality purism.
 
Let’s survey just some of these campaigns of corporate puritanism:
 
*The purists insist that no amount of proven failure and criminality on the part of the finance sector should ever cost Wall Street one cent, nor should the taxpayers ever be absolved of having to bail out this sector, nor should its power and prerogative and dominion ever be diminished the slightest jot. On the contrary, the theocracy of finance should become ever more total in its domination over every human interaction This pro-finance purism is the most extreme purism possible.
 
*The purists will not tolerate the slightest infringement of the prerogative of the private health insurance racket or Big Drug. Although single payer is guaranteed to deliver vastly better health care at vastly less cost to society, and although society pays for all drug research and development, the purist extremists fight single payer and even the most modest constrictions on the Pharma racket with a medieval fervor. Hillary Clinton and her cultists expressed their extreme purist hatred for all rationality and morality in health care even at the cost of the election. This is an extreme metric of purism, where the pro-racket ideal is more important than winning.
 
*The purists insist that society must subsidize corporate industrial agriculture no matter how inefficient and destructive it is, no matter how deficient in quantity and quality of food production, no matter how unsustainable it is known to be, no matter how guaranteed to collapse and bring pandemic famine, no matter how its CAFOs are guaranteed to generate lethal pandemics caused by antibiotic resistant pathogens, no matter how much of a loss to society the operation of agribusiness has always caused.
 
*The purists will never be satisfied until all jobs which can support any kind of tolerable human existence are wiped out. They will never be satisfied until all human communities are gutted.
 
*The purists will never tolerate the existence of any ecosystem which has not been violated to the point of collapse. They will accept nothing short of the complete destruction of Earth’s capacity to sustain life. They intend to colonize other planets, which their purity drive would then also insist on destroying.
 
*The purists will never tolerate any constraint upon the imperial wars of the US government. Their purity will never countenance any limit upon the ramification of the US empire.
 
*The purists regard as anathema even the thought of any limit to corporate globalization, or the very idea that literally anything should be allowed to exist in any way other than as a corporate resource mine or waste dump.
 
*In their infinite purism these creatures are the fundamentalist theocrats of Mammon. Mammon is the totalitarian religion which would reduce all of human existence, literally all human interaction, to money exchanges. Specifically, these fundamentalists want to reduce all of human existence to eternally being forced through a corporate toll booth. This is the theocracy they have been building, and they have been substantially successful for the moment.
 
These most extreme purists of history have no thought and no action other than to continue to escalate the building of this Mammon theocracy, and to ensure that it will be the totalitarian coffin of all human aspiration and hope, for all of eternity. That’s why they’re also purists of eugenics, artificial intelligence, and the fantasy of nuclear war. These extremes of purity in action promise to “purify”, to cleanse and scour and disinfect, everything of humanity and life itself which is in any way diverse or complex or uncontrolled beyond the ken of the purists’ technocratic nightmare of total sterility and control.
 
Humanity and the Earth must fight to help impose reality upon this most impure of all “purism”, this literal cancer of the spirit and body, this infinite purism of evil and destructiveness.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

April 14, 2017

Globalization’s Goal

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Globalization is the fully rationalized and systematic expansion worldwide of supply-driven productionism and the use of economic and military muscle (i.e. racketeering) to bolster it. It has little to do with legitimate demand-based trade. Via the WTO and the even more radical and aggressive ISDS pacts it enshrines the direct political rule of multinational corporations. It tries to maintain political stability among the main powers, like how Cosa Nostra was supposed to maintain peace among rival Mafia gangs. Like what the EU was set up to do, the same EU which enacted the CETA and which currently is trying to enact the TTIP. (The EU is a globalizing venture, and the fact that today’s “leftists” support it and oppose its breakup is one of the many perfect examples demonstrating that “the left” is offering no alternative to corporate-controlled productionism.)
 
This universal corporate capitalist economic alliance is designed to be a more effective totalitarian system than that of competitive and confrontational nation-state alliances under the old balance of powers concept. This original imperial set-up was blown up in 1914 and even more definitively in 1939.
 
The updated neoliberal globalization imperialism is designed to unify 100% of global power on one side, with no “other” side at all, just humanity and the Earth lying prone. That’s how this war is supposed to go. Therefore globalization is not a treaty system to prevent war, but an agreement among militarists on how to wage war. At first, and by preference, the war is waged economically and through environmental destruction (direct destruction as of the rain forests; poisonism; climate chaos) and through the sublimated chemical and biological warfare of poison-based agriculture. But the invaders and occupiers will escalate to de jure shooting wherever they deem necessary.
 
 
We see how corporate industrial agriculture is the linchpin of globalization, both as the most pivotal economic sector (i.e. the most potent vector of economic war) and as the main mode of physical aggression and destruction. Agriculture is the primary physical war going on today, worldwide.
 
Globalization’s primary imperative to maximize industrial agriculture is also the best example of how “comparative advantage” is a lie. If this was real, industrial agriculture wouldn’t exist at all since nowhere does it have any reality-based “advantage” comparative to food-based systems. On the contrary, industrial agriculture invariably requires massive government subsidies in order to exist at all. So it exists only as the ultimate case of powerful countries and corporations seeking absolute advantage, might makes right.
 
The fact that globalization’s forced-trade policy seeks aggrandizement of industrial agriculture as one of its primary goals is proof that:
 
1. Globalization is not efficient in any reality-based sense.
 
2. Globalization has nothing to do with efficiency.
 
3. Globalization is about nothing but power for a handful of kleptocrats and religious zealots, toward however they plan to use that power.
 
 
In spite of how grossly inefficient and destructive of actual food production it is, corporate industrial agriculture has attained domination over most agricultural land. It has been sustained only by temporarily plentiful and heavily subsidized fossil fuels, massive subsidies extracted from Western taxpayers, monopoly muscle, and where necessary direct political and military aggression. Corporate industrial agriculture could never have existed other than as this massive program of central planning and social engineering.
 
When we consider the proven failure, wastefulness, and destruction caused by poison-based agriculture; and we consider these in combination with the proven history of the eugenic religion and political totalitarianism; and we place these in the context of the radical aggression of today’s corporate globalization, we gain a clear picture of the trajectory and the goal of corporate/technocratic domination.
 
This is what humanity and the Earth must overcome.
 
 
 
 

October 19, 2016

The Reason: Health Insurance Reform

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We come to what is, for me, the most pure, emblematic example of the depravity of liberals and the fact that voters are liars. Without further ado…
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If everyone who claimed to want a health care system that provides much better and less expensive care were to refuse to vote for anyone who supports the private health insurance sector, a purely wasteful and destructive evil, America would have single payer.
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The reason the US government instead bailed out the health insurance racket and now imposes a poll tax on its behalf while continuing to preside over an ever-worsening, ever more expensive system, is not because of those who openly support the insurance sector. It’s primarily because almost all who claim to want a better health care system are frauds who really oppose this. Their vote proves it.
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Indeed, it was during the controversy over the Obama/Heritage Foundation insurance bailout that some senator uttered one of the most perfect and true lines ever, which ever since I’ve used constantly to describe crooks in all sorts of contexts: “The reason I can’t support single payer is because people like me aren’t supporting single payer.”
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“People like me”, that is, those who oppose single payer and any kind of better health system because they exalt the health insurance racket. Like anyone who supported the health racket bailout.
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See here for all my posts on this way back when.
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Meanwhile those who voted for the health racket bailout also vote for war, corporate agriculture, Wall Street, and to escalate the climate crisis.
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October 12, 2016

The Reason: Wall Street

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We continue a periodic series written in the spirit of electoralism and assuming the premise of this religion, that the voters control all, freely choose all, and therefore are responsible for all. Previous installments demonstrate that the voters vote for war and corporate industrial agriculture, in spite of the lies many tell about this.
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The voters of the US have freely enshrined a one-party system, the Corporate One-Party. At the level of the central government this one-party system holds major plebiscites every two years. The participants vote Yes to the continued dictatorship of the Corporate One-Party.
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Therefore, if you vote Yes, you have no right to complain.
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For example your Yes vote for Wall Street:
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If everyone who claimed to deplore the purely parasitic and purely destructive domination of the economy and politics by the finance sector would refuse to vote for any lackey of Wall Street, America would liberate its money system and set it to its rightful purpose of encouraging real economic productivity and general prosperity.
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The reason the US government aggrandizes Wall Street’s power, excuses all its crimes (legalizing most of them), and bails it out every time it’s about to self-destruct, most despicably from 2008 onward, while this sector systematically destroys the real economy, imposes “austerity”, and is economically liquidating the people in favor of a fraudulent “growth” economy based purely on fraudulent accounting and other unproductive, destructive cons, is not because of those who openly champion Wall Street. It’s primarily because those who claim to oppose all this and to want to restore the real economy and general prosperity are frauds who really support Wall Street’s devastation. Their vote proves it.
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This is a criminal system, a kleptocracy, and it has only criminal factions within it. So it follows that anyone who’s capable of discerning a difference for their own interest between one faction and another must himself be a criminal. An honest citizen, a decent human being, would see nothing but a blood-drenched monolith.
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October 3, 2016

Black Horse Chronicle, October 3rd

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1. The black horse bears its balances across a blasted, haunted landscape hung with the night of ignorance. You stare hypnotized at the scales as they seem to weigh all love and food in exact proportion to a cairn of coins, and don’t see how the whole world comes unbalanced, tips and turns over.
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2. Break free, shake off, lift your eyes and look! The world is upside down. The world – the great trinity, God, Humanity, Earth – is sprawled in devastation. All degree is disrupted, all balance is lost. The black rider is the master of illusion and the propagator of conceit.
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(3. We see why the devil’s most cherished playthings are not even the material products of technology but the propaganda chimeras of scientism, the things which barely exist at all except as fantasies and delusions and lies, such as genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, space travel, or the peaceful use of nukes. This especially resides in anticipation of the all too real use of them in war.
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4. But we see the great confluence of fantasies of Mammon as the economic golems, the government’s corporate persons and the Fed’s money and Wall Street’s securities and the devil’s own “intellectual property” clasp and fuse with the technological golems of the scientism cult. If the term “seeds” may be used to encompass the Satanic patenting onslaught upon life itself, literal life enclosed within the false and fictive slave bounds of patents, then we can take the longstanding political acronym FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, as the first three great horsemen of the apocalypse of the false, self-cannibalizing meta-economy) and amend it to the FIRES sector. Verily it does describe the great bonfire of all human productivity, prosperity, happiness, and hope. This tyrannical economy of Babylon is based upon literally nothing but fictions and lies.)
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5. Thus Belial once again earns his title, Lord of Lies. The devil wouldn’t stand a chance without the multitudes who yearn to believe his lies. He’s not even a good liar, and his worldly minions are pathetically incompetent. But with the sinful credulity of masses, all things become possible.
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6. As the legion of corporate demons rampages over the earth and throughout our minds and souls, as the black rider of Revelation brandishes the scales as broadcast by the book, the book’s descriptions of the churches of John’s time still reverberate. The divisions are timeless. Thus book still sends its word to the Ephesians: You’ve worked hard, “not fainted”, supported the true activists both of radicalism and of reform, and rejected the explicit corporate liars. But you still dream of a solution within the corporate Babylon and even contemplate the “leaving of your first love” to the corporate demon state’s control. Thus it is with anyone who still yearns to place the business of the ecotrinity of God, Humanity, and the Earth under the domination of the corporate state; they all leave and lose their first love. Co-existence is impossible and such surrender will never be anything but complete and forever. “She that hath an ear, let her hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”
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7. To Smyrna goes the exhortation to keep fighting as you have, and continue your works, in spite of the tribulations you must face. “She that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death”, but “shall receive a crown of life”. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.”
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8. Pergamos endures amid a bedeviled circumstance and has “held fast” and “not denied faith” while Thyatira demonstrates exemplary “charity, and service, and faith, and patience, and works; and the last to be more than the first.” But they are spiritually confused and prone to backsliding, as their affinity with Babylon and yearning for compromise and co-existence blinds them to the ultimate impossibility of their path. Worse, their blindness and corruption extends to toleration and embrace of idolatry and superstition toward various corporate hoaxes and civics textbook lies. “You suffer that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”
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9. Today’s Sardis “has a name that you live, and are dead.” Indeed we endure daily an invasion of the undead hordes, dead names which still find sinfulness and credulity with which to conjure among the masses. Today the very word “politics” is the deadest of names and most virulently mesmerizing of zombies. The true politics of life is a fully participating way of life and is as growing food and pumping water. And so every idea of the mind and vibration of the spirit may proceed along the line of life, which leads resolutely away from Babylon forever, or down the pit of death. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.”
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10. The good word hails the stalwarts of Philadelphia. Especially across the bright crest of the Earth the faithful and courageous fight with clear minds, brave hearts, pure souls.
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“I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it…Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth…She that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and she shall go no more out: and I will write upon her the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon her my new name. She that has an ear, let her hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.”
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11. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, the lukewarm Laodiceans are still with us and still seek to smother all sparks which bring fire and life. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Jesus deplores the lukewarm and prefers to them even the cold, not because he endorses the cold, but because recognition of the cold and confrontation with it is necessary for the hot to attain its full flame and spread its sparks to all possible tinder. We need the great conflagration, we need the majestic speedy wildfire. But the lukewarm, falsely in the name of warmth, want to dump the swill to douse all sparks and preempt all future life.
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Let Jesus make it clear once and for all: “How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but has an end.” (Mark 3:23-26)
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This ultimately shall be part of the downfall of Babylon and the corporate dominion, as there is such division among its constituency. But a faithful few forced into dissidence and exile do not have the luxury of dividing against ourselves. We haven’t this luxury in mind, where so many divide a corporation, or a government bureaucracy, or a technology, or a propaganda campaign, or Babylon as a monolithic whole, into a schizophrenic duality and seek to find the devil to love and cherish amid the devil to oppose. We haven’t this luxury in action, which follows divided on account of this duality, derelict from the great need and necessity even as it acknowledges the need. We haven’t this luxury in spirit, where every sign in heaven and earth calls us to a triune ecological holism, God and Humanity and Gaia, unbroken, seamless, One.
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April 29, 2016

GMO/Poisoner News Summary April 29th, 2016

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*Whistleblower Ray Seidler, formerly of the EPA, condemns the EU’s imminent approval for import in food and feed of two types of soybeans engineered to be tolerant of glyphosate plus, respectively, dicamba and isoxaflutole. These pesticides are at least as toxic as glyphosate and inflict the same severe health detriments on humans, animals, and the ecology. Both are genotoxic and are endocrine disruptors at low doses. Both are organically toxic and cause birth defects, neurodisease, and cancer
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These “second generation” GMOs (exactly the same in every way as the old GMOs) are destined primarily for European CAFOs. Much of what drives the pesticide and GMO machine, in terms of “demand”, is the factory farm system which in turn is sustained by the demand among consumers for cheap meat. The vegans are right that this consumer demand is not a law of consumer nature, but has been instilled by propaganda and indoctrination. It follows logically that there’s the possibility of a strong alliance between poison abolitionists and vegans who want to abolish CAFOs. Factory farms themselves are major poison sources and destroyers of public health (via their systematic creation of antibiotic resistant bacteria and the rampant water and air pollution they generate), while any knowledgeable vegan would know that CAFOs exist in large part to serve as a consumption maw for the productionism of poisons and monoculture grain, and therefore one can’t target just one link in the chain of industrial agriculture, but must target the whole evil structure for abolition.
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CAFOism is the best direct refutation of the “Feed the World” Big Lie, with its strange notion that the way to produce food for people is to take 10 calories of grain and turn it into one calorie of meat. This seems to be a convoluted way of destroying food instead of feeding people. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to engineer the crops to spontaneously combust in the field prior to harvest? It also provides a window on the alleged intellectual prowess of our scientists and engineers. With that grasp of arithmetic, how did they ever get out of kindergarten, let alone attain doctorates? I must question the integrity of our the entire educational system.
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*The UK government has approved the field trial of GM camelina engineered to produce extra Omega-3 fatty acids. Ravaged butterflies demonstrate how toxic this false crop is. As with every other GMO, it’s a false pretense for a false purpose. It’s meant to be fed to factory farmed fish. These diseased fish (also soon to be genetically engineered, if the FDA and AquaBounty get their way) consistently escape from their pens and contaminate the wild populations the fish CAFOs are supposed to be sparing. Massive, concentrated waste from factory fish farming also pollutes the water and aquatic ecosystems. It all goes round and round. It’s clear that industrial fishing as such is unsustainable and anti-ecological.
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As per the law of “product quality” GMOs, there’s no need for this product even if it did work and wasn’t toxic. As with golden rice and other such worthless products, the main purpose of fish-oil GMOs is a propaganda purpose, to tout the idea of GMOs which are something other than poison plants and which would do something other than maximize the use of agricultural poisons. Of course in practice any of these GMOs, if they were ever commercialized, would come only in Bt and/or herbicide tolerant forms. They would have the exact same socioeconomic and ideological goals as bad old Roundup Ready corn and soybeans.
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Each high-profile field trial, no matter how pointless in itself, is a propaganda exercise. It’s meant to continue to normalize the GMO ideology as such, and is also meant to continue to impress upon the people the sense of the alleged inevitability of GMO domination.
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*I’ve long argued that from a business point of view Oxitec looks more like a stock pump-and-dump scam than anything else. Analysts and investors are now drawing the same conclusion.
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*I’m hearing the sirens already: The DARK Act will be up again in July or sooner. Aren’t people getting sick of this? Meanwhile with each iteration of the alleged crisis I become less convinced of the substance of the labeling idea as such and more convinced that for too many people the very idea of “labeling” is becoming a fetish which doesn’t need to have any substance, much like the idea of GMOs is for the techno-cultists. How else does one explain the disregard most people have for the actual content of any prospective labeling policy, how little they care about the inherent weaknesses and likely frauds in the way any labeling policy would ever be enforced, or the continued desire on the part of many for the aggressively pro-GMO FDA of all things to be in charge of labeling? To say the least, there’s an extreme dissonance between claiming to be against pesticides and GMOs but for increasing the power of the FDA which is pro-pesticide and pro-GMO to its core. (In a similar outbreak, all the “food safety” NGOs supported Big Ag’s “Food Safety Modernization Act”, which does indeed seek further to entrench and empower modern corporate notions of “food safety”.)
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The only way to explain it is to theorize that many people think there’s two different FDAs and can conceive one or the other as the situation calls for. But in reality there’s only one FDA and it’s pro-GMO. There must be a manifestation of state-worship at work here. Two opposite FDAs at once: The irrationality of this indicates it’s a religious phenomenon. But the government and its corporations hardly comprise a proper object of worship, if worship is what one feels the need to do.
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January 19, 2016

Concentration in the Poison Sector (Dow/DuPont; Syngenta; Monsanto)

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The year 2015 was a year of concentration in the already uncompetitive poison sector. For many years the pesticide and seed markets have become increasingly dominated by a small handful of corporations – Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont, and a few others. The GMO phenomenon has greatly accelerated this trend, as the world’s most powerful governments and corporate sectors have boosted biotech worldwide as capitalism’s last great hope to break the bonds of physics and biology. This has profound religious, economic, and paramilitary implications we’ll discuss in depth as we proceed. For today we’ll stick with the proximate phenomenon of sector concentration.
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First came Monsanto’s bid to buy Syngenta, which Syngenta rejected with some disdain. Most onlookers thought it looked like a good fit – Monsanto’s seeds and traits to complement Syngenta’s more diversified pesticide line. But Syngenta evidently was not as interested in Monsanto’s GMO line as conventional wisdom thought it should be. In August Monsanto gave up for the time being after Syngenta had rejected at least three Monsanto bids. As the year wore on Monsanto announced two major rounds of contraction. In October the company announced it would cut 2600 jobs (12% of its work force), buy back stocks (down 30% since February at that time), and undertake a “restructuring” including cutting research and development spending. (Around the same time Syngenta and DuPont announced more modest contractions.) Later that month the company said it would close three R&D centers which focus on genetic engineering and breeding development, cutting another 90 employees. Both GMO and Roundup sales are down compared to the previous year. The new year looks no less bleak as Monsanto announced a third contraction. The company announced deeply depressed Roundup and GM maize sales, larger than expected losses, and will cut another thousand employees. Monsanto’s fundamentals are not looking good.
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In November the Chinese conglomerate ChemChina made its own bid for Syngenta. The company rejected this first bid, but is now said to be in “advanced talks” with ChemChina. Its chairman now says Syngenta is merger-minded, but continues to disparage a potential Monsanto deal. When the music stops Monsanto’s going to be left without a chair! In December Monsanto also announced it would not proceed with projected construction of a seed factory in Iowa. DuPont also cancelled three Iowa projects. The climax was the announcement that Dow and DuPont will merge and then split into three companies including one dedicated to agrochemicals. The proposed agrochemical spinoff would represent $19 billion in combined sales from the two companies. This would make it the largest GMO/pesticide company in the world. The Dow/DuPont deal evidently spurred Syngenta to enter the final round of negotiations with ChemChina, in part because of the increasing unease of Syngenta’s shareholders. The company’s chairman has hinted that he thinks Syngenta could become China’s primary supplier of GM technology and primary Western partner for China’s long-planned attempt to build its own GMO/pesticide conglomerate and assert itself globally in competition with the US-based cartel.
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According to the business papers, the proximate reason for the woes and tensions disturbing the sector has been the prolonged sagging of agricultural commodity prices. The downturn has caused many farmers to cut back on their high-input, highly expensive commodity crop production, and this in turn has been affecting the profits of Monsanto and others for a few years now. This in turn makes them disreputable on Wall Street. It’s great to see agribusiness hurting under the same vicious circle of high input prices, low harvest prices, and the imperative to “Get Big or Get Out” they help force upon farmers. (Roundup Ready crops, for example, were specifically designed to accelerate Get Big or Get Out. They were never seriously claimed to increase yield by the acre. Rather, they were supposed to make it easier to cultivate a greater acreage. The farmer would allegedly “make it up on volume”. Thus they were intended to accelerate farm consolidation.) And this increasing sector consolidation will just squeeze the oligopolists further and render all the economic pathologies worse. The fundamentals look bad.
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As a rule mergers among oligopolists are the sign of a superannuated, calcifying, decadent sector. It means companies are running out of ideas, losing confidence in the sector and in themselves. It’s the most extreme version of buying your ideas, patents, and products rather than being an innovator and entrepreneur who develops these yourself. Dow and DuPont believe they’re reaching dead ends and each needs to buy what the other has. Dow needs Pioneer germplasm*, DuPont needs Dow’s genetic engineering expertise and patents. Everyone recognized how Monsanto was trying to achieve this with its Syngenta bid. But Syngenta seemed not to want any kind of deal at all with them. Evidently Monsanto has nothing it wants, at least not at the price Monsanto offered. Meanwhile a few years ago BASF’s GMO operation was driven out of Europe completely. Those two may end up having to get together.
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[*Dow’s germplasm situation is interesting. If you look at ISAAA data, it looks like prior to the Enlist system Dow’s only solo commercialized GMO line has been some varieties of Widestrike cotton, while their other projects have involved contributing transgenes to joint products with DuPont and Monsanto. If you look at Dow’s seed company holdings, they’re relatively meager compared to those of DuPont and Monsanto. I’ll suppose that for those joint projects Dow had to rely on the other company to contribute not only transgenes of its own but much or all of the genetic framework.**
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Then there’s the curious fact that for several years running Dow’s been surprisingly willing to sit quietly for regulator-imposed delays. First there was the USDA delay while the agency ran a full Environmental Impact Statement. Then came the EPA’s imposition of various restrictions on Enlist commercial plantings in 2015, and most recently EPA’s temporary revocation of Enlist Duo’s registration. It’s almost as if Dow is nervous about its own product for some reason. It’s not displaying much of the aggressiveness we’re used to from the GMO corporations. Do they doubt some fundamental of the product, like perhaps the quality of their own seed genetics? That would be part of the explanation for why Dow was so ardent for this merger.]
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Another force driving the sector toward trying to diversify through consolidation is fear of the political countermovement against agricultural poisons. Monsanto is especially vulnerable, dependent upon Roundup for about 70% of its revenues. Roundup accounts for half its sales, while GMOs dependent upon it make up much of the rest. This is why Syngenta had little interest even in Monsanto’s GMO business. In 2015 the entire world learned for keeps what campaigners, Monsanto, and regulators have long known, that glyphosate causes cancer. With the WHO’s announcement the clock is now ticking, counting down the rest of glyphosate’s legal life. The people will now slowly but surely force the complete banning of glyphosate-based poisons. The bell is tolling for Roundup, Monsanto knows it, and so they must find new products or die. They’re hyping everything in sight, from slapping new ad slogans on old, pointless, narrow-market products to touting the idea of RNA interference GMOs. But if these ever came to market they’s still be the same kind of shoddy insecticidal GMOs which in Bt form are already a failure with a gradually diminishing market.
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The fact is that the structural reason driving the current consolidation is that GMOs are a shoddy product and don’t have much of a market or a future in themselves. On the contrary, there’s a growing consensus inside and outside the sector, including on Wall Street, that the pesticides remain primary, with the GMOs being secondary to these and dependent upon them. Their fundamentals are bad. In other words the finance sector now agrees with what GMO critics have said from the start, that GMOs in the real world are nothing but pesticide plants, poison plants. (As opposed to GMO hype and hoaxes of the pro-GM activists and the corporate media.) Although Wall Street is poor at acknowledging its own pyramid schemes, it knows how to call them out in other sectors. GMOs are a scam.
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None of this is a surprise and confirms what we critics said all along. These are poison companies, their number one activity and goal is to manufacture and sell poison, therefore the primary proximate goal of GMOs must be to sell more poison. It’s actually astonishing that anyone was ever willing to believe such a self-evident absurdity as that the likes of Monsanto or DuPont would ever market a product which would cause them to sell less of their primary products. Yet that’s what the peddlers of the “GMOs lessen pesticide use” lie would have you believe.
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Sure enough: 1. With the deployment of GMOs, pesticide use always increases.
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2. It has to, since these are poison plants and are designed only to sustain poisons being sprayed upon them (in the case of herbicide tolerant GMOs), or to handle only certain “target” pests (Bt products). The rest must still be met with sprays and seed coatings. Bayer and Syngenta didn’t participate in GMO deployment and support the GMO idea in general because they thought they’d sell less neonics.
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3. Both of these GMO genres, the only ones which exist and the only ones in the pipeline, are failures. They can be called “successful” only according to the Failure is Success form of planned obsolescence and the ever-escalating, ever more expensive stacking-and-pesticide treadmill.
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GMOs have a tenuous future. Everyone knows that herbicide tolerant and insecticidal GMOs are running out of room. Once SmartStax, 2,4-D, and dicamba fail, what then? That’s why there’s such a propaganda campaign touting CRISPR, “gene editing”, RNAi. The sector is trying to convince itself, Wall Street, governments, commodifiers, food manufacturers and retailers, and the world at large that there’s a whole new GMO frontier to be opened up. To be sure, elites everywhere want to believe this, since capitalism as such badly needs it. But so far this is all in the realm of fantasy, and there’s no reason to believe it will ever break free of the land of lies, where the “first generation” of GMOs remains to this day.
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The media claims GMOs mean gene editing for agronomic and product quality traits? I’m afraid not. Today’s GMO reality is the collapse of the Roundup Ready system and the sector’s reactionary, luddite answer: To double down on proven failure by regressing to GMOs tolerant of older, even more destructive herbicides. This is the context in which the evolution-denialist system is promulgating the backward, luddite “solution” of corn and soybeans engineered to tolerate the retrograde herbicide 2,4-D, one of the two primary components of the chemical weapon Agent Orange. This is one of the dark age poisons which Monsanto and the US government originally promised would be permanently relegated to the scrap heap by the Roundup Ready system. Dicamba is another such regressive chemical being poised by Monsanto for a comeback.
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There’s the real GMO future as demonstrated by the actions, rather than the media lies, of the corporations and regulators. And this bears out the fact that, contrary to the moronic techno-hype and fundamentalist cultism of GMOs, the real fundamental of corporate agriculture remains the most regressive, stupid, blunt-instrument, flat-earth technology of all, pesticides. The best irony since the IARC finding has been the spectacle of our intrepid futurists, who always tried to hold aloof from the dinosaur pesticide technology while exalting their idolized space-age GMO technology, having to reduce themselves to the level of Roundup shills. This too proves something we always said about them, that for all their high-flown scientism pretensions, they’re really nothing but gutter Monsanto bootlicks. This is the real character of the GMO sector – antiquated, backward, an economic and innovation bottleneck, shoddy, tawdry. This is borne out by one consistent thread which runs through all the sector consolidation events. Monsanto’s contractions, Monsanto’s proposals to Syngenta, the Dow/DuPont merger (see several of the links above) – all involve cutting research and development spending. In other words the sector has reached the point where it thinks more in terms of stock buybacks and scrounging whatever technology and patents it can buy rather than developing anything on its own. To some extent this is inherent to any big corporation and any oligopoly sector. But it’s especially congenital to the agrochemical sector, which was always based on accelerating planned obsolescence toward its inevitable culmination in the complete exhaustion and obsolescence of the entire paradigm.
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The sector faces another problem – GMOs are reaching market saturation. The cartel won’t be able to force a market for them in Africa unless it can either grab the land to turn it into vast industrial plantations to grow CAFO feed for Asia, and/or convince enough smallholder farmers to fall for the same scam Monsanto used on cotton farmers in India. (But Bt cotton has already been tried and rejected in three African countries, and the word is out.) But can the several African governments play the same carnival-barker role the Indian government did? This is the Monsanto/Gates Foundation “New Alliance” plan, with massive corporate welfare to be financed by the taxpayers of the US, UK, and Africa, geared to the complete subjugation of African agriculture to land-grabbing and monoculture production for commodity export.
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Even if the sector can overcome the stiffening political resistance and inherent agronomic resistance (pests and diseases which flourish) to this scheme, how much and how long can the Asian middle class prop up its demand for this forced supply? The agribusiness sector is the most supply-driven of all and is 100% dependent on forcing artificial markets into being, for example convincing people to whom it never occurred before that they want to eat a lot more factory farm meat. Obviously a sector whose entire existence is based, not on real demand, but on puffed up fictive “demand” which can dry up at any time, and which will dry up as the masses lose the capacity for luxury spending, is built on sand. Here again, everyone recognizes the basic bubble, pyramid scheme character of the whole sector. It’s ironic that GMO jargon uses the term “pyramid” for another of its scams.
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China’s stock and real estate bubbles are cruising for a big fall. With any significant Asian recession, the whole Africa plan collapses for lack of even a theoretical market. Or if by then the sector has already forced full-scale commodity monoculture upon Africa and is generating huge amounts of GM maize and soy there, they’ll have to dump it on the rest of the world and further crash those commodity prices.
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Meanwhile, unless the cartel can seize control of the land in India they’ll soon be run out of the country. Anywhere on earth there’s still a large mass of small farmers, corporate agriculture is in a race to grab the land before their products are worn out and cast out. Although the sector’s propaganda continues to flog the long-debunked lie that GMOs can be good for small farmers, in reality only where the land is concentrated into vast commodity plantations can the sector maintain its GM seed sales. Soon this will be true of pesticides as well.
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Meanwhile, as we discussed earlier, the seeds accelerate the obsolescence of the pesticides, which then also renders the GM seed lines obsolete. This has been a campaign of planned obsolescence; the sector wants to force farmers to buy ever higher stacks and deploy an ever more complex multiple-pesticide choreography. But at the same time this accelerates the discrediting of the whole pesticide plant concept at the same time that it renders GMOs and pesticides less and less affordable. Sector oligopolists are in a race against time and resistance, and they’re not getting ahead as fast as they’d hoped. Monsanto originally expected to have attained near-complete monopoly for the sector by sometime in the first decade of the century. Obviously they’re falling well short and very late of that goal. Thus the oligopolists are reaching the point where they have to consolidate among themselves.
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The fact is that both the GMOs and the pesticides are ill-conceived, ultimately self-destructive product types. It’s not just that many of the products, such as most of the GMOs, shoddily constructed. The basic idea underlying all the products – using poison against agricultural weeds and pests, and synthetic inputs including transgenes to meet other agricultural challenges – is bad in principle. The entire agrochemical sector is built on sand. The fundamentals of all these companies and their sector as a whole are bad.
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What’s going on is more profound than the superficial accounts of the business section, focused as it is on stock prices and quarterly “earnings”. The sector is following its destiny in accord with the Poisoner imperative, a structural economic, political, religious, and biological campaign. Although Wall Street and politics are forcing these companies to make certain accommodations with reality, such as recognizing the primacy of pesticides over GMOs on the most reality-based level, nothing has changed for them ideologically. They are committed to the total domination of their program of eugenics via genetic engineering. They’re just in an ever more pressing race against time, as the ecological resistance, expressed biologically, economically, and politically, is becoming stronger by the year.
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Although the companies of the GMO cartel grudgingly recognized their need for high-quality agricultural germplasm such as could be bought through Pioneer, their original disdainful arrogance was no accident, nor has this fundamental ideology changed. Reality may have forced itself upon Monsanto when the company finally bowed to the need to put its transgenes into good crop varieties (and thus it embarked upon its odyssey of buying seed companies – as always, Monsanto never innovates anything, just steals or buys the work others have done), it did so under duress and to this day doesn’t really believe in it. Deep down any techno-cultist, for example a GMO fanboy, thinks the technology he idolizes is the only meaningful reality and has nothing but contempt for everything else. That’s why pro-GMO activists are so ignorant of every branch of science – genetics, biology, ecology, botany, entomology, agronomy, physiology, medical science, you name it – and have such contempt for knowledge as such. They spew the word “Science” but take great pride in knowing nothing about it, its content or how it works. No one becomes a religious zealot of genetic engineering because he has respect for natural or agroecologically bred genetics. He does it because he has fear and loathing for anything which is not under the control of high-technology engineering. To be precise, their idolatry is for the idea of such technological control. The fact that in practice GMOs are such an imprecise, stupidly executed, shoddily performing product doesn’t matter to the cultists, only their shining idea. Which is good for them since by now they have no choice but to be shills, not only for the mythically “hi-tech” products of genetic engineering, but for what until not long ago they themselves sneered at as dinosaur technology, sprayed and slathered pesticides like Roundup.
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The history of genetic engineering displays a level of combined ignorance and arrogance on the part of its practitioners and controllers which is astonishing. Monsanto started out thinking they’d take their Roundup Ready gene and their Bt gene, stick them into any old public domain maize variety, and then just mass produce it for every farmer the world over. Robb Fraley’s notion, which the company tried to follow at first, was that they’d do exactly what Microsoft had done with software, their transgenes being the Windows-type “software”, with the crop and its genetics being the basically stupid, meaningless “hardware”. This is typical of the delusion that on the one hand things like computer software, patents, corporations, money, are real things, while on the other something like agricultural germplasm is mystical “information”. They simply tuned out anyone who tried to tell them agriculture doesn’t work that way. This delusion is endemic to scientism and corporatism and is connected intimately with the monoculture mentality those cults also share, in agriculture as well as every other realm of thought and action.
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But in fact the ecological reality is the only reality, and agroecological ideas are the only ideas that can truly work for agriculture as well as ecology, and for a healthy economy and polity as well. But nothing about Monsanto, Roundup, or GMOs – corporate control, profits, patents, the idea of precision control and manipulation of physical genomes – touches reality at any point, while the poisons can only destroy, never create or sustain. The fundamentals are bad. From the most hermetic, short-run Wall Street preoccupations to the most profound intellectual and ecological arcs, the fundamentals are bad.
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This is the real reason the poison sector’s confrontation with nature, its attempt to subjugate the ecology by force, only drives itself further into no man’s land. Today the GMO cartel feels insecure enough that it must retrench the only way it knows how. Tomorrow it will perish completely.
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**Charles Benbrook’s “Free Pioneer” idea would be good if there was a way to do it. In spite of Breen’s assurances that the new agricultural spinoff won’t cut productive jobs at Pioneer, just “middlemen”, that’s often not the way it works. Pioneer could still be worth something to agriculture, whereas the rest of DuPont, and all of Dow, is worthless and destructive. That in itself usually means the worthwhile, constructive part gets gutted.
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Pioneer is still part of unsustainable commodity agriculture, but it is an important repository of germplasm and breeder expertise, and in theory it could be refurbished for a mission more in line with agroecology, if it could be liberated from the corporate clutch.
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In the meantime, Benbrook is right, the one thing guaranteed is that this merger will further squeeze farmers and reduce their seed choices. Which will be a further opportunity for we who are exhorting GMO farmers to switch to non-GM, and industrial farmers in general to switch to organic.
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Food and Water Watch has a petition to the Justice Department urging them to block the merger.
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Monsanto really is in some serious trouble with its Roundup vulnerability. With glyphosate on the ropes politically, Monsanto could go down quickly if there were a domino effect of bans. If people wanted to get together to focus on getting glyphosate banned everywhere possible, it could become a permanently crippling blow.
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January 14, 2016

Adapting the Populist Lecture Series for Today’s Food Sovereignty

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Here’s some basic information about 19th century public and farmer education through public lecture programs, as conducted by the Grange and especially the Populist Farmers’ Alliance movement. I’d like to contribute to building a new movement to rebuild community food and agriculture, and abolish corporate agriculture, organized in a way similar to the Populists. We’d have the advantage of trying to build outside the commodity system, rather than being in a race against time to reform it from inside, which is what ultimately undid the Populists.
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For a great book on the history and handbook for true democratic organization, see Lawrence Goodwyn’s The Populist Moment.
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Once upon a time I thought of adapting this idea to what I called the land scandal involving systematic property fraud on the part of the big banks. Did you know that, strictly speaking, most alleged bank-owned residential real estate is arguably not really owned by the banks at all, but rather their claim is an imposture? In 2009-10 many bloggers and commentators thought this fact, if effectively propagated, could become a major political theme. Well, that never happened, and it seems like the whole idea fizzled out. Probably both too “fringey”-seeming, even though legally it’s true, and too abstruse to boot. I ended up moving on from the idea to the more down-to-earth matter of food. Of course there’s plenty of policy mysticism here as well, such as patents, which I’ll soon be discussing in depth. That’s why I’ve long referred to the FIRES sector, adding “Seeds” (i.e. intellectual property in them) to Finance, Insurance, Real Estate. And of course corporate agriculture is more than the physical phenomena of land-grabbing and poison. Under the neoliberal globalization regime it’s also a sham campaign trying to reify fictive numbers – commodity pricing, profit, GDP, trade balance, “growth” in the biotech, agricultural, food, and finance sectors – and induce worship of these, or at least surrender to their domination. One of the greatest evils of corporate rule (the most mystical, bizarre fiction of all is that of the corporate person) is how it has made our literal bread hostage to the insane rule of these pure fictions and superstitions. We intuitively know a few basic principles for the counterattack – all commodification of food and critical natural resources is illegitimate, there can be no patents on life, and a “corporation” cannot own or control land, especially farmland. My background writing about Wall Street will come in handy for all these elements.
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