December 26, 2014

GMO News Summary, December 26, 2014


*Farmers continue to look for ways to switch from GMOs to non-GM agriculture, as herbicide resistant weeds become more intractable and commodity prices slide. It’s sinking in that GMOs are an agricultural and economic bottleneck, a dead end for everyone but the corporations.
*Another reason is fear and trembling over China’s uncanny GMO import restrictions. China apparently has approved Syngenta’s MIR162 Viptera maize, the product which caused all the fuss starting in 2013. China doesn’t import much maize anyway, and the politico-economic disruptions caused by Syngenta were far greater than any reality-based trade effect. As I figured, the confrontation wasn’t really about this GMO but a negotiating ploy vis the US. China has an economic advantage with its non-GM market and isn’t going to compromise this lightly. In the trade wars the US wages China is trying to use import restrictions to force US concessions. In this case, the quid pro quo is said to be US agreement to ease restrictions on high-tech exports to China. Meanwhile, in the latest manifestation of Chinese ambivalence, lawmakers are working on a GMO labeling law to clarify the existing administrative labeling policy.
We must always stress that any such logjam is caused by the aggressive seller, not by the reluctant buyer or anyone else. Viptera, like all other GMOs, is a worthless product. Farmers, consumers, eaters, society would be much better off without any GMOs. That Canadian farmers are reluctant to approve Roundup Ready alfalfa (already contaminating US crops and causing the rejection of US hay shipments to China) while US farmers are switching to non-GM crops like sorghum to meet rising Chinese demand are just two pieces of evidence.
*As if Bt refuges weren’t enough of a scam already, the cartel continues to try to make them even more farcical in practice by claiming (and instituting as regulatory policy) that so-called “natural refuges”, i.e. any adjacent non-Bt crop, and not even the same kind of crop as the Bt variety, should count as sufficient. There’s now a “study” dedicated to this proposition. Yet even it finds the prospect dubious and can only recommend the continued escalation of the Bt treadmill, which of course is the real purpose of all such propaganda.
*I’ve written before about the escalated health hazards unique to “stacked” GMOs, where the unpredictable effects of genetic engineering as such are multiplied by the unpredictable effects of chaotic interactions among multiple transgenes. Now we have the first study confirming that a stacked GMO has unique compositional and metabolic differences from both the original non-GM version as well as the original single-trait GMOs whose transgenes went into the stack. The study found such significant differences as weakened transgene expression, which will accelerate the evolution of weed and pest resistance; changes in overall gene expression; alterations in two major metabolic pathways; and altered protein levels. These significant changes have unpredictable health implications.
*The USDA continues to refuse to test produce, processed vegetables, and other processed foods for glyphosate residues in its annual residue tests. The USDA claims it can’t do so because the tests are “extremely expensive…to do on a regular basis.” They mean politically expensive, as the results would be alarming to the public. This is really an admission that the USDA and Monsanto think our food is heavily loaded with toxic Roundup residues and that they don’t want to know the real levels, and certainly don’t want the public to know.
As for the alleged expense, it’s nothing compared to the government’s Big Ag subsidies, and would merely be another such subsidy. After all, the poison-selling corporations rightfully should be paying for government testing. They certainly can afford it. Which again proves that they live in terror of what the results would show. Otherwise why not pay the pennies involved, if it would give you a clean bill of health? That would be great PR spending.
*Under pressure from civil society, Monsanto requested that the EU patent office revoke one of its patents, and the agency complied. This was a bogus patent for a publicly-bred fungus-resistant tomato variety the company stole from a German seed bank. Monsanto did no work with the variety but sought and received the patent with a fraudulent application. No Patents on Seeds, the group which challenged the patent, is similarly challenging several other illegally awarded patents. The group also calls upon the European Commission to rein in this rogue agency and for a revision of EU patent law to make its prohibitions on patenting the products of conventional breeding more clear.
*Following up victories in 2014 for county-level GMO bans in Jackson and Josephine Counties, Benton County in Oregon will vote this May on their own county-level GMO cultivation ban and on measures to build the regional agriculture and food economy.
*The community rights movement which is fighting GMO agriculture in Oregon is also fighting hard vs. fracking in Pennsylvania, and has been racking up some legal victories. These ballots, laws, and court fights are meant to provide the campaign context for a constitutional renaissance on a pro-community, anti-corporate basis.
*In Belgium, the Ghent court of appeal has thrown out the “criminal conspiracy” charge against the Wetterin Eleven. These defendants were participants in an action by the Field Liberation Movement against a GM potato field trial. A field trial itself is a political action on the part of the corporate system (and this field trial was illegal), and here we had activism vs. activism. They tore out a portion of the trial plants and replaced them with real potatoes. They were originally charged with forming a criminal organization and found not guilty of the strongest charge but guilty of a lesser count of conspiracy. This appeals decision throws out all such politicized charges and reduces the conviction to the actual crimes involved, trespassing and vandalism. Their sentence was reduced to one month suspended, though heavy fines remain in force.
The decision is a setback for the prosecutorial trend of trying to criminalize democracy and political participation as such wherever the people seek to resist corporate aggression.


July 4, 2014

GMO News Summary July 4th 2014


*In honor of Independence Day we celebrate the recent successes and ongoing action of the Community Rights movement. This movement to abolish alien corporate power over communities and regions looks to become a key part of the rising anti-corporate movement. This movement shall be at the core of the second stage of the American Revolution. We’re currently undergoing the oppressions and humiliations of the New Stamp Acts and Intolerable Acts being perpetrated by the corporate state. Here’s a salute to one of the promising new movements seeking to break corporate power.
*In the latest victory, the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled that municipalities have the right to use zoning and land use policy to ban oil and gas drilling. This was only a partial victory within an adverse framework, as the court found that the community has rights which were delegated to it by the state, but reaffirmed the state’s alleged dominion over communities. Therefore it’s not a community rights ruling, and movement work is needed in New York to build the consciousness and resolve among communities to reject the state itself where this becomes necessary. As things are, the court has invited the state legislature to pass a new law overriding fracking bans on any grounds whatsoever. The court’s decision is therefore what I’d call a passive corporatist decision.
But nevertheless the ruling does find that even within corporatism there are grounds for communities to limit and reject the corporate prerogative. It’s a step toward the necessary goal of community rejection of all corporate state prerogatives and “authority” and reassertion of the community’s rightful sovereignty.
*A new report from the EU’s council of environmental ministers surveys some of the environmental effects of the herbicide tolerant GMO genre. It confirms the fact that HT GMOs do not increase yield over non-GM conventional. It confirms the universal pattern, that the introduction of HT crops may (but doesn’t always) cause a brief initial decline in overall herbicide use, but that this quickly reverses. HT GMOs soon come to require greater herbicide use than non-GM conventional agriculture, and this difference increases over time. The report also further confirms the consensus that GMOs yield more poorly than non-GM conventional and organic crops.
The report also finds that HT GMO system is a threat to biodiversity and explores the ways that herbicide tolerance spreads through feral growth of GMOs like Roundup Ready canola and contamination of related wild plants. It discusses the bioweapons arms race as the GMO system causes weeds to evolve greater resistance to an ever-widening spectrum of herbicides. It discusses how herbicide residue weakens the crops themselves.
It makes one mistake, frequently citing the alleged benefits of the “chemical no-till” system without mentioning that as superweeds overwhelm HT GMO systems, farmers return not only to supposedly obsolete herbicides but to tillage as well.
The report finds that for policy purposes the HT GMO system should be compared with low external input agroecology, whose practices and results are superior in every way. The report concludes that from an environmental perspective “Herbicide tolerant crops are not part of the solution, but are part of the problem”.
*The German government (Germany is the EU’s “rapporteur state” for glyphosate) and the EFSA continue to refuse to release to the public the secret toxicity tests which allegedly find glyphosate safe enough that the Allowed Daily Intake should be nearly doubled, as the German government is recommending. This refusal is now flouting a 2013 order from the European Court of Justice that studies relevant to environmental pollutants must be release to the public. The government bureaucracies refuse to give we the people our information on the grounds of “commercial confidentiality”. In other words the corporate bureaucracy doesn’t want the government bureaucracy to publicize how poisonous to human and animal health glyphosate really is. 
What does this prove?
1. Glyphosate is extremely toxic to humans and animals. If the data didn’t prove this, Monsanto and its flunkey governments would be thrilled to publicize the fact.
2. As I’ve always said, government regulators do not serve the people nor are they designed to. They consciously see themselves as serving the corporate “client”, and were designed for this purpose in the first place. What else would common sense expect of a regulator within a pro-corporate government which is aggressively promoting a corporatist economic and political system? It’s quite insane to expect an inherently corporatist regulator to behave in the public interest.
3. Since transparency is a bedrock principle and practice of science, it follows that it’s impossible to support GMOs and other agricultural poisons from a scientific point of view. On the contrary, such support, which must include support for the secrecy policy, is radically opposed to science. 
*The US and other governments will oppose a UN working group dedicated to enforcing a new treaty which would require transnational corporations to abide by human rights and not commit crimes against humanity. It’s easy to see why the US government, dedicated to supporting corporate crime of aggression everywhere on earth, opposes this.
*You can register for a webinar on how the TTIP is being planned as a major weapon in the GMO assault on Europe, and will also be used against rational regulation of GMOs and other poisons in the US.
*China’s food quarantine agency is reported to have suspended import licenses for distillers’ grain solubles (a corn product used in CAFO feed) from the US after a series of rejected US shipments due to contamination by an unapproved GM variety.
*Boycott Coca-Cola and all its brands for its incorrigible and hypocritical funding of anti-labeling campaigns in California and Washington. In Washington in 2013 Coca-Cola and other food manufacturers were too cowardly to openly espouse their anti-democracy position, but instead illegally and cravenly spent the money secretly, through the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto’s group which coordinates the actions of the manufacturers on its behalf.


May 30, 2014

GMO News Summary May 30th, 2014


*The third March Against Monsanto brought together hundreds of thousands of demonstrators  through thousands of actions worldwide. These dedicated days of action are tips of an iceberg which help the billions of dissenters worldwide see their cause out in the open and take heart that all of humanity is with them.
*The Global GMO-Free Coalition has launched. It plans to coordinate worldwide news and facts about GMOs and counteract the canned lies of the cartel.
*Earth Open Source has released a new, greatly expanded edition of its 2012 report, “GMO Myths and Truths”. The original version has been one of the resources I’ve consulted most often, especially where it comes to the health implications of GMOs.
*I’ve long said that when GMO labeling becomes mandated by law, it will still largely be up to citizen groups to be vigilant where it comes to compliance and enforcement. We can see an example of what we’ll be up against, and what’s needed, in a new report from the African Center for Biosafety, which has found a general flouting of South Africa’s GMO labeling requirements across most leading white bread brands. 
*An analysis commissioned by the Chinese Academy of Medical Science has found high levels of glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA in imported soybeans and in food products derived from these soybeans.
*The Chinese study is part of the huge amount of work we need in order to fill in the abyss of negligence and fraud which pro-GMO scientism and regulation has created with its refusal to abide by even the most basic rules of scientific procedure and integrity. The story of how Monsanto’s Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans were approved for importation into Japan provides a typical example of this charlatanism of corporate researchers and regulators.
A research team within the Health and Welfare Ministry was allowed to assess the Monsanto application. It did so under severe time and logistics restrictions. They weren’t allowed to make copies and had to take notes by hand as they worked their way through the mountain of documents. It’s general Monsanto practice to submerge what little content there is in their “safety reports” under thousands of pages’ worth of empty bureaucratic loquacity. The reason for this becomes clear to anyone who does have the opportunity and fortitude to look for the substance, since the actual data raises red flags at all points. The research team found six major problems, each of which proves the claims of Monsanto and the regulator that RR soybeans are safe.
1. RR soybeans are not “substantially equivalent” (as the ideological jargon calls it) to the isogenic conventional variety. On the contrary, RR soybeans had elevated levels urease and lectin when toasted as they would be for food processing. These are respectively a potentially harmful enzyme and protein. Monsanto rigged the test by ordering the soybeans to be heated to ever-higher, unrealistic temperatures until these substances were finally destroyed, then submitted that as its official “result”.
2. Monsanto claimed to have sufficiently analyzed the transgenic soy proteins for allergenicity but in fact analyzed only 3% of the amino acid sequences, and then dogmatically declared that the rest of the sequnce in the soybeans must be the same as the sequence in the bacteria. The “analysis” thus cited the protein of the E. coli bacterial DNA which is inserted into the soybean genome, rather than the protein of the transgenic soybean DNA itself. 
3. Based on this “finding”, Monsanto then used the E. coli-derived proteins for all the animal tests, rather than the realistically relevant RR soybean proteins. This is a standard experimental fraud perpetrated by the GMO cartel and abetted by regulators. This same fraudulent procedure is routinely used for Bt varieties, where the Bt tested is derived from the bacterial source rather than from the actual Bt-expressing crop. One of the main bombshell results of the 1998 Pusztai experiment was his finding that transgenic lectin-expressing potatoes had toxic effects which did not manifest where rats were fed non-GM potatoes which were mechanically injected with the same lectin.
4. RR soybean-based feed was found to have considerably higher levels of residue of glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA than was allowable under the EPA standards of the time. Indeed, in the document’s conclusion Monsanto openly expressed its intention to lobby the EPA to raise the allowable level of residue in order to encompass the levels which RR soy was bound to assimilate. And so the EPA did, and so all regulators always do – they raise the level of what’s called a “safe” poison concentration to whatever the corporate sellers need.
5. Meanwhile the RR soybeans used in animal feeding trials was not sprayed with Roundup! In addition to the other ways in which Monsanto rigs its feeding tests – using an irrelevantly short duration, measuring only industrial parameters like quick weight gain but not looking for symptoms of toxicity, introducing fraudulent “historical” data sets to drown out any evidence of toxicity which is forced upon the experimenters’ attention – this alone completely invalidates the results, since how can a combined transgenic/herbicide-sprayed system be assessed for safety if you don’t spray the herbicide?
6. In spite of all these experimental frauds, the male rat groups still showed statistically significant physical differences, which the regulator dogmatically declared to be of “no significance”. 
This is typical of how every kind of GMO was approved in every country where they have been approved. Never once, anywhere on earth, has any government performed or required a legitimate safety study of any GMO, nor has any corporation ever performed such a study.
(As we also see here, regulation of poisons like glyphosate is also a farce.) 
*Commenting on the people’s vote in Jackson County, Oregon to ban GMO cultivation in the county, Syngenta claims it’ll obey the law. Syngenta leases fields in the county where it grows its GMO sugar beet seeds. Of course this is not the same as pledging not to sue to quash this democratic outcome, and the company is being noncommittal about that.
Meanwhile officials in Josephine County are already talking about trying to weasel out of enforcing the law the county’s people just voted by a wide margin. County officials say they don’t know how to enforce the law in the face of state-proclaimed preemption powers. The answer, of course, is to go ahead and enforce it as written and deal with state attempts to override the results as those come up.
What they really mean is they don’t want to enforce the law, much like Maine’s attorney general openly said she doesn’t want to defend that state’s new GMO labeling law against any corporate lawsuit. She said she agrees with the “corporate speech” position.
So here’s another example of how activists for labeling or for bans will need not only to fight to get the measures legally in place, but will often have to fight to force recalcitrant officials to obey the very laws they’re supposed to represent.


May 26, 2014

The Underground Memorial


This is a day where everyone’s talking about those who fought for freedom, which is odd because officially it’s a day to celebrate those who fought for empire and power. However that may be, I’m grateful for the reminder to celebrate the domestic activists – abolitionists, anti-corporate dissidents, community rights activists, farmer organizers, labor organizers, environmentalists, civil rights activists, suffragettes, civil liberties defenders, and others – who are the true fighters for freedom and democracy in American history. It’s lean times for us these days.
For the moment we still live in a society where as a rule one won’t be arrested and disappeared for saying something in opposition to the government. Nevertheless, the more I think about it the more it seems to me that the situation of real dissidents against the corporate state today is more like that of the illegal, underground Russian movement under the tsar’s regime than that of, say, the decriminalized and openly legal German socialist party under the kaiser.
True, unlike the Russian socialists we can openly and freely disseminate our blogs and social media presences and, if we can afford them, our newspapers. We can call public meetings and talk about whatever we want if anyone shows up. But while we won’t be arrested for this, we will be utterly swamped by the corporate noise machine and ignored by the inertia of the mass society. Wherever we become recognizable at all, we’re targeted not for direct repression but for misdirection and co-optation by a propaganda and organization machine of unprecedented skill and professionalism. This campaign is more insidious even than that of the tsarist secret police, which also had its wiles in addition to its brute violence.
Unlike the German party, which was massive, with its ideas and influence ubiquitous, or similar American mass movements, we struggle to consistently even recognize one another and communicate, let alone organize and carry out action.
If this assessment of true anti-corporatist dissent (as opposed to the innumerable forms of reformist compromise with evil, and the innumerable forms of de jure scamming and selling out) as a kind of de facto persecuted underground movement is correct, then what organizational, strategic, and tactical conclusions would follow?


May 23, 2014

GMO News Summary May 23rd, 2014


*Congratulations to the Community Rights movement and the people of Jackson and Josephine counties in Oregon who voted by wide margins to ban cultivation of GMOs. The initiatives also declare seed patents invalid. These defensive measures are part of an affirmative effort to rebuild local food sovereignty.
Benton County will vote on a similar measure in November, and several other Oregon counties are in varying stages of preparation to launch their own initiatives.
*As the Russian parliament ponders a bill which would effectively ban cultivation of GMOs, the non-profit Genetic Safety Public Association is enlisting researchers and raising funds to perform what it says will be the “first-ever independent international research on GMOs.”
*A new meta-analysis further confirms the link between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is especially prevalent among farmers and agricultural workers.
*European Commission bureaucrats are plotting to evade enforcement of a law passed by the European Parliament which would effectively ban for most uses endocrine disrupting poisons like glyphosate and neonicotinoids. The EFSA and DG SANCO (the EC’s chemicals regulators) have been dragging their feet and missed several legislatively mandated deadlines for presenting plans to enforce the law. Sweden has announced it will file suit in the European Court of Justice to force EC bureaucrats to obey the law.
A memo from an EFSA cadre to DG SANCO proposes that the two bureaucracies team up to evade the law by expanding a narrow exemption for uses that create “negligible exposure” for humans into a giant loophole. The mechanism presumably would be the normal one wherein the bureaucracy simply raises the level of exposure which it dogmatically declares to be “safe” or “negligible”. This has been the pattern of US and EU bureaucracies all along – allowed levels of human exposure to any agricultural poison are set not according to any scientific standards based on health evidence, but instead are set at whatever level the corporations desire. The bureaucracy then declares this level to be “safe” in doctrinaire fundamentalist fashion.
The memo also delves into EFSA philosophy. It objects to the law in principle on the grounds that the law would restrict what the government bureaucracy sees as a corporate right to profit. It’s easy to see why the EC is so ardent for the TTIP, with its “Investor/State Dispute Settlement” (ISDS) provision, to be concluded and forcibly imposed on Europe. Only this can maximize the ideology and enforcement of a corporate license to seek profit regardless of any and all other values.
*New Zealand’s High Court has overruled a ruling by the NZ Environmental Protection Agency that a “genome editing” technique being used by the country’s publicly funded corporate research group Scion does not qualify as genetic engineering and therefore does not need to be regulated as such.
This is one win amid a general trend in the US and elsewhere to try to remove new kinds of GMOs from any regulatory oversight at all, meager as this oversight is.


March 29, 2014

The Community Rights, Anti-Corporate Movement, and its Liberal Pro-Corporate Detractors


As the community rights and anti-corporate movement gathers momentum, it will increasingly strike fear in mercenary minds, and in the minds of all who remain stagnated in the obsolete ideologies of “left” and “right”, “liberal” and “conservative”, let alone the cretins who remain partisans of either the Democrat or Republican halves of the one-party corporatist state we now have.
At a website which claims to stand for a “participatory society”, and which likes to affect some radical-chic vibes, some members recently outed themselves as just another gang of masked liberals with an ethically and intellectually challenged hatchet job on the CELDF movement. Evidently when they say they want participation they don’t really mean participation, heavens no. How silly of us to misunderstand that word and think it means we the people politically and economically rule ourselves.
The fact is that this entire critique is from the point of view of statist, corporatist, pro-Democrat liberalism. It’s therefore irrelevant in principle, since the community rights movement cherishes participatory democracy and economic self-determination and rejects the legitimacy and authority of corporations and centralized states. The piece is also forced to lie at every practical point, since nothing has been more completely proven to be an historical failure than representative liberalism, insofar as it ever actually wanted to improve the lives of regular people and prevent concentrated power from preying upon the people. Of course, if it ever did want to do any such thing, it has long since ceased from any such intention and become a pro-corporate scam.
I’ll just make a few general replies to the piece.
1. It engages in bourgeois quibbling about what is and isn’t “constitutional”, what does and doesn’t derive from the Declaration of Independence in some sense a duly certified law professor would agree with, etc.
But citizens of a democracy care nothing about any piece of paper, except insofar as it expresses and helps realize political and economic democracy and freedom. Today we must care only about what’s effective toward anti-corporate abolitionism. The fact is that none of these documents has any eternal meaning at all, except to antiquarians talking about what they meant at a particular time in a particular context hundreds of years ago. Anyone who claims to think the Declaration of Independence, for example, has any ineffable “nature” other than what the people of a time are willing to fight to make it mean is a liar or is being completely ahistorical. (I’m not sure which of those a system academic is more likely to be.) But the only way these documents matter to modern abolitionists is in how they can help attain the abolitionist mission.
Of course, these liberal scribblers agree with me. Throughout the piece they repeatedly assert that what’s “constitutional” isn’t anything stable, anything based on principle, but is merely whatever the bourgeois courts say it is. The constitution is nothing but what Monsanto’s Clarence Thomas says it is. This is one of their core points.
Let’s correct a few historical facts obfuscated and falsified in the piece. In reality, the Declaration of Independence was not an affirmative statement of synthesized laws, but a rejection of illegitimate, usurped, and therefore tyrannical “law”. Therefore when we reject the legitimacy of the “laws” and rule of corporations, globalization tribunals, and the centralized governments who serve them, we are taking exactly the same stance as the signers of the Declaration. And when we cite it as precedent, we are using it in exactly the same way its original promulgators did. The dispute here is over whether the rule of Monsanto, the CAFOs, the frackers, Wall Street, is legitimate. We say it is not. The authors of this piece and their ideological ilk say it is. So it’s clear that there’s no common ground here, and that these scribblers are simply perpetrating a fraud when they claim to be arguing from some common principle, and that therefore people should listen to them and turn away from the anti-corporate struggle. But to be for or against corporate domination is the only meaningful demarcation today, which cuts across all other issues and gives them their true character, as opposed to the false divisions which system ideologues and partisans struggle to keep in place.
Similarly, the notion of constitutionalism propounded here, that “the constitution” is whatever is written and called a constitution, of course as interpreted by a handful of elite legal priests, is historically false and tendentious. On the contrary, one of the fiercely contested political controversies of the era leading up to the first stage of the American Revolution was the question of whether or not there’s an underlying sovereign constitution, of which even a written constitution is only a provisional expression, its legitimacy contingent on the institutions it establishes continuing to act in accord with the underlying people’s sovereignty. The gradually-adopted decision of the rebels that this sovereign constitution precedes any written one became a basic principle of this first stage of the Revolution. But this philosophical development was also an extension of the long evolution of the logic of political thought. When today a US liberal takes up the old British/Loyalist position, that the constitution is whatever a piece of paper (and really a handful of corporatist judges) says it is, and pretends this is “the” position, he’s simply trying to lie this controversy and this history out of existence. He’s probably totally ignorant of this history anyway.
So there’s our basic conflict over what is or isn’t constitutional: We say that this can only be decided through political struggle. They say it’s a purely elitist determination and decree. And there we see the basic difference between democratic philosophy and liberalism, which is inherently hierarchical, authoritarian, elitist. According to them, the courts and by extension the government are legitimate, the people are not. This is the basic liberal elitism. We see the basic contempt for a community-based organization daring to lay claim to constitutional interpretation, filthy peasants having the temerity to contradict Our Betters in the courts, academia, and of course among the professional liberal NGOs. 
2. They seem to have basically liberal-reformist objections to a more anarchistic philosophy. That’s irrelevant since the anti-corporate movement is, of necessity, both ideologically and on a practical level, anti-liberal. That’s because liberalism is inherently pro-corporate and pro-centralization, and also because it’s a proven failure at everything except helping to increase corporate power.
They also engaged in smear tactics, fraudulently seeking to conflate explicitly anti-corporate movements with, for example, racist “states’ rights” movements. This demonstrates their bad faith and their conceptual idiocy, since “states’ rights” makes no sense as a concept, while community sovereignty obviously does. It comes much closer to humanity’s natural and rational political and economic state, as well as being in much closer accord with the principle, paid lip service to even by today’s statist/corporatist tyrannies, that sovereignty can repose only in the people themselves, and that political power can only be conditionally delegated to any kind of hierarchy.
By now we know that these hierarchies, and the political philosophies which sought to justify them, including liberalism, were always frauds which have not improved the happiness, prosperity, and freedom of the people. At most they were able to use the age of cheap oil to build mass middle classes in the West. Here isn’t the place to debate whether or not this Western middle class existence is the highest utopia humanity can aspire to, the way liberals would have it. (I’d say the record shows that middle class existence, even where it was temporarily stable, didn’t seem to make people happier, and in many ways left them less content.) But I will stress the fact that as we reach the end of the Oil Age, this middle class is being ruthlessly liquidated, and the system is clearly headed back, as fast as it thinks it can politically get away with, to some pre-fossil fuel form of economic tyranny: Some kind of feudalism or debt slave society which will be much worse than even the medieval variety.
There’s no disputing this basic trend toward increasing corporate domination and the destruction of the economic middle class as well as the destruction of the Bill of Rights-based system of civil rights/liberties. All this is inherent to the system. Today liberalism, as an ideology and as a set of political prescriptions, is a massive scam meant to help this corporate domination plan along. That’s the basic aspect of the term “neoliberalism”: Liberal terms, concepts, forms like representative government, etc., have been completely harnessed to the goal of shifting all real power and control to corporate bureaucracies while maintaining nominal government as corporate welfare bagman, thug, and the impresario of circus “elections” and “representation”. I defy anyone to give me an example of any significant government initiative of recent decades which transcends those three basic categories.
(Obamacare, for example, is really a corporate bailout and a poll tax. It has no public weal character, but is a combination of corporate welfare conveyance (its main proximate goal was to bail out the financially beleaguered health insurance sector; from there it’s simply meant to keep this worthless corporate sector in profitable existence), political circus (it poses as a big public-interest program), with a thug element as well (the poll tax is meant to help force people who are trying to break free of the corporate cash economy back into it). Anyone who had really wanted a government program to provide better health care to the people would have demanded Single Payer, which would have been vastly less expensive for the people and would actually have helped people. But that’s not what government does any more, and that’s not what today’s liberal and conservative supporters of big government want to do. They want nothing but to aggrandize corporate power.) 
3. According to the comment thread, they’re the types who accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being a “troll”. But as I said in points (1) and (2), they themselves are technically trolls in that they’re pretending to be making a critique of participatory democracy and natural real economies, based on some alleged common ground, when really there is no common ground between anarchism/mutualism/positive democracy and centralizing corporatist bourgeois liberalism. There’s no substantive common ground, just some vague alleged affinity of ideals. But as we’ve seen, liberalism has been nothing but the ongoing betrayal of these ideals, and is a definitively proven failure and/or treachery.
I will agree with one strategic point. My understanding of the CELDF strategy is that it seeks to use the concepts and rhetorical forms of constitutionalism and of the first stage of the American Revolution in an innovative and tactically effective way, to help organize modern anti-corporatism and rational economic tendencies toward building a coherent movement. But so far it seems pretty vague on what the next steps are, once organizations dedicated to fighting for these ordinances have been brought into existence.
But the hatchet job I critiqued here clearly has no goal other than as typical liberal gatekeeping. They’re trying to distract attention from the complete failure of their own scam and discourage people from taking up new ideas and new forms of activism and organization.
I especially like their horror at the prospect of communities fighting to resist interstate highways or fracking pipelines. And you always gotta love when so-called “leftists” take up the canned Frank Luntz term “patchwork”. Bush consultant Luntz called this one of his “words that work”, and we see how this term has indeed worked, to the point that it’s now a staple of alleged “left” discourse as well, wherever our pseudo-radicals are opposing the people where the people are trying to fight back at the community level, which is after all the natural level of human existence. Because liberals and authoritarian leftists have no such human basis for their existence, but are only synthetic products of mass society, they could never understand this kind of humanism.
(“Conservatism” is another part of the overall corporate propaganda scam, but in this case we’re concerned with a liberal and/or radical chicist attack, so I focused on that.)
In the end, the only meaningful diagnosis is that corporations are the overwhelmingly dominant form of economic and, increasingly, political tyranny today. Corporations are totalitarian, and are the radical enemy of all human values, as well as of our physical basis for existence. It follows that the only meaningful prescription is to commit to the clear goal of the total abolition of the corporate form.
This is not only the only meaningful analysis and goal, but has the virtue of presenting a clear goal, unlike the vapid “anti-“s of reformism and pseudo-radicalism. These clearly just want to talk and do nothing, which is why they intentionally claim to be for high-flown principles but offer only the most vague objections to “capitalism” or whatever in place of a clear prescriptive goal.
The community rights movement doesn’t have all the answers yet, but it does understand three basic facts which no one else seems to understand: The people and only the people are sovereign, corporations by definition are illegitimate and have no right to exist, and corporations are actively destructive of all human values and needs, and must therefore be fought to the end with all means at hand.


February 14, 2014

GMO News Report 2/14/14


*A victory for democracy in Benton County, Oregon. The Benton County Community Rights Coalition, a local group affiliated with the nationwide Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), has won a court ruling enabling it to get its food sovereignty and local rule measure on the ballot for 2014. This bill would ban GMO cultivation in the county and affirms the sovereign right of communities to rule themselves on food issues. It declares itself against the tyrannical prerogative of corporations and alien central governments to force their power upon democratic communities.
It therefore directly contradicts the corporate tyranny preemption law the state passed in 2013 in direct response to similar ordinances passed in other counties.
In the end none of this will be settled in courtrooms or legislatures, but on the ground in our communities, in our neighborhoods, at our homes, and through our will to unite with all others who are fighting it out on their ground. Courtrooms and legislatures will either eventually ratify what the people enforce, or shall continue to ratify what corporate power can enforce, if the people don’t rise to defend their own lives, freedom, and future.
*A similar win for local rule in New Zealand. The country’s Environmental Court has ruled that local councils have a right to place restrictions on GMO cultivation. 
A central bureaucrat has already promised to try to suppress the court ruling by autocratic fiat. Again, court rulings like these are great, but in the end we the people will never enjoy any freedom, liberty, or prosperity which we don’t seize and enforce on the ground.
*New film “Ten Years of Failure: Farmers Deceived By GM Corn” details the agricultural and socioeconomic disaster of widespread adoption of GM corn in the Philippines. As elsewhere, the crops yield poorly, the herbicides and insecticides fail to work as weeds and pests deliver resistance. Meanwhile seed and poison prices skyrocket. Farmers are driven off the land and into shantytowns. The farmers still on the land are unable to escape from the GMO treadmill because of debt and the unavailability of non-GM seed, which Monsanto systematically drives out of the market.
*The European Council has voted against approving the DuPont/Dow stacked maize variety 1507. But the vote didn’t achieve enough of a supermajority to be binding, so in the end the European Commission will dictatorially make the decision. It’s under strong bottom-up pressure to adhere to the Council vote and the earlier, much more lopsided Parliamentary vote.
The wild card is Germany’s abstention. If Germany had joined France in voting No, it would’ve been difficult for the Commission would override the Council. But with Germany abstaining, that makes such an autocratic override conceivable.
Several pro-GM governments, such as Portugal, Belgium, and the Netherlands, also abstained, though Britain and Spain (by far the largest cultivator of MON810 in Europe) voted Yes.
We can see a clear hierarchy of lessening democracy and intensifying corporate rule: The people oppose GMOs; the Parliament strongly votes against 1507’s cultivation; the Council votes against it by a lesser margin (with several pro-GM governments abstaining; because of political pressure from below?); the Commission and its EFSA certainly want to approve it.
If the TTIP is ratified this will impose an even more purely corporatist layer on top of the Commission.
There’s the hierarchy of corporate totalitarianism. 1507’s “approval” process is a good case study.
*French legislators are proposing a new law to ban all GMO cultivation, in response to the an attempt by the country’s high administrative court to overturn the country’s democratic ban on cultivation of MON810.
*The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) has announced it is releasing four types of GMO brinjal (eggplant) seedlings. These are engineered to produce Bt insecticidal toxin. This will make Bangladesh the 29th country to approve GMOs for cultivation.
*The latest “biofortified” GM hoax: Flax allegedly engineered to produce higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. It’s the standard drill with these hoaxes (the most famous is “golden rice”). They don’t work, and are unnecessary anyway. In this case, Omega 3 is easily found in a healthy diet. Not to mention all the supplements already on sale.
In this case, unlike with golden rice, the flacks can’t even make the false claim that this is meant to help the poor of the Global South. In principle it’s basically just another one of those nutritional supplements I just mentioned, and will be used overwhelmingly for CAFO feed.
As usual with these hoaxes (see last week’s “purple tomato” for another example), the goal isn’t necessarily even to commercialize this product. Rather, the idea of it does propaganda work. Again, golden rice is the best-known example. The purpose of these GMO media hoaxes is to distract attention from the fact that in reality GMOs do only two things, both involving poison: They’re engineered to allow one or more herbicides to be sprayed directly on them, and/or they endemically produce one or more endotoxins, usually Bt toxins. In both cases they become literal poison plants, all their cells suffused with endotoxin and or herbicide residue, which then becomes endemic in our food. GMOs literally poison our food.
That’s in addition to the health hazards of genetic engineering as such.
*A new analysis by Testbiotech finds that DuPont’s 1507 stacked maize, which currently has an application for cultivation within the EU before the European Commission (the Parliament and the Council already voted it down), has widely varying levels of Bt toxic expression in individual plants. This is contrary to its application, which claims a stable level of expression of the Cry1F endotoxin.
This is not, however, contrary to the record of other GMOs. Indeed, every GMO which has had the genomes of field-grown crops comparatively assessed has turned out to have wildly varying genomic characteristics. Such unstable GMOs are illegal under European law, but have been allowed for cultivation and/or in imported food and feed anyway. These common GMOs include MON810 maize, MON863 maize, GA21 maize, Bt 176 maize, Bt 11 maize, Liberty Link maize, Roundup Ready 40-3-2 soybeans, and GTSB77 sugar beets. Nowhere but in their regulatory applications do “the” genomic versions of these crops exist. This everyday extreme variation is proof of the instability of transgenic genomes, their propensity for ongoing mutation, and their changeability in response to environmental factors.
In every way, we see how the promises that genetic engineering was a precision technology whose effects could be predicted were all lies. The only thing predictable about GMOs is how chaotic their existence and effects are.
*Mexican honey contaminated with GM material from GMO soybeans grown nearby. The latest of thousands of examples proving that “co-existence” with GMOs is impossible, and that those who support them are totalitarians who claim a total right to trespass on the land of others and damage and destroy their crops and agricultural products. Speaking of whom…
*More on the lawsuit of Australian former organic farmer Steve Marsh against a GMO farmer whose false canola contaminated Marsh’s land where he grew oats and wheat, costing him his organic certification and the revenue from his crop.
Marsh chose not to challenge Monsanto’s non-liability contract which it forces farmers who buy its seed to sign. I guess this is because he felt he couldn’t afford the suit and might lose in a corporatist court, even though such a contract is clearly invalid.
Instead he sued the individual farmer, which is something which ought to be done more often in contamination cases. This is trespass and destruction of property, plain and simple. But with GMO contamination it’s interesting to see the way pro-corporate types, who often fetishize “property” rights in other contexts, are forced to openly proclaim that a GMO grower has the right to trespass on the property of other farmers and damage or destroy those farmers’ property.
The moral fact of this issue is clear, and if we had any such thing as the “rule of law” then the law would be clear as well: Anyone who manufactures, sells, or grows any type of GMO has strict liability for all contamination resulting from that type. This strict liability is necessary because it’s seldom possible to trace the exact source of the contamination, yet everyone knows that contamination is inevitable. Therefore everyone who sells or grows GMOs contributes to the ongoing contamination onslaught.
Meanwhile this case is putting Australia’s strong organic standards in a quandary. If Marsh loses his case, there will be strong pressure for the standard to be watered down, in the name of “co-existence”. Which is exactly the line Monsanto, the USDA, and industrial organic have been pushing for several years in the US.
As I wrote here:
GE alfalfa was fiercely resisted by farmers, eaters, scientists, environmentalists, and civil society groups. For years the USDA was thwarted by lawsuits in its attempts to fully unleash the product. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s 2001 “Governor of the Year”, and frequent traveler on Monsanto’s corporate jets) got together with the luminaries of industrial organic – Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield, Organic Valley, and others – to formulate an attempted compromise with Monsanto. The notion was that industrial organic and Monsanto would agree on “partial deregulation” of RR alfalfa (toward total deregulation somewhere down the road, of course), and the USDA would make a sham promise to really truly honestly enforce the partial regulations, including compensation for alfalfa farmers whose crops were destroyed by the inevitable contamination. This would be accompanied by a propaganda campaign which would lie about the contamination potential. They called this “co-existence”.
Why did industrial organic want to make this “compromise”, and why did the USDA want to broker it? Both the USDA and the industrial organic sector have always wanted to bring GMOs under the umbrella of organic certification. Only massive consumer resistance forced the Clinton administration to back down on this when GMOs were first commercialized in the mid 90s. Today, they want to accomplish this through a combination of contamination and propaganda. They hope GE alfalfa deregulation will lead to a broad pollution of the general alfalfa crop, which will render the current meat/dairy certified-organic sector (which must use non-GMO feed) untenable. In this way the USDA and the Whole Foods contingent dream of making ”certified organic” safe for GMOs. The intended goal is to be able to call GMOs “USDA organic” and still extract the premium from the “organic” brand. It’ll be difficult for them to do this, but we mustn’t underestimate the power of inertia and apathy. If the message seems overwhelming – “GMOs are safe, are perfectly compatible with the Organic concept, Organic is still good if it’s GMO, and everything is GMO anyway so There Is No Alternative, unless you want to go all the way to really knowing your local farmer or growing your own food, and we’ll do our best to stamp that out.” – many who vaguely oppose GMOs can be expected to surrender.
Meanwhile in Canada the GM alfalfa struggle continues.
*To close with some good news, Monsanto’s proposed pesticide seed factory in Malvinas, Argentina has run into further legal barriers as the provincial government has found the company’s environmental review to be inadequate. Monsanto will now start over again. A new review may take two months. (An absurdly short time.)
This factory is slated to produce maize seeds infused with multiple insecticides and fungicides and is likely to produce a constant emission of toxic waste in the air and water. It would be a further affliction upon a region already physically devastated by Roundup spraying on the omnipresent soybean plantations, and economically devastated by this same commodified agriculture system. The factory, intended to further concentrate economic power, would be a further self-cannibalization for the country.
The only reason it hasn’t already been built is that the citizens of the region have physically blocked the construction, persisting and enduring in the face of police and thug violence. Only this community of resistance and freedom has forced the government to take any semi-real regulatory action at all.
This reinforces the lesson of the community rights struggles I led off with. As all the news in between demonstrates, we’re up against a totalitarian assault upon all human values and our right to exist as a people at all. Governments and regulators are part of the assault.
In the end, we the people directly shall organize and act to defend and assert our freedom, liberty, and prosperity, or we’ll let ourselves be enslaved and destroyed.


January 20, 2014

Corporate Agriculture is a Birmingham Jail


In April 1963, Martin Luther King and many of his fellow Birmingham direct actionists sat in jail. They had expected such a response from the segregationist power structure. Unfortunately, it was also predictable that they’d be hearing criticism and condemnation from most of the people who in theory should have been on their side. King seems to have anticipated this, as he was able to respond immediately with an eloquent refutation and exposure of this collaborationist position. This was the great Letter From Birmingham Jail.
Here MLK faces those who object to demonstrations, to boycotts, sit-ins, civil disobedience in general, indeed to anything but the most tepid (and “civil”) criticism which is guaranteed to remain impotent. He opens up with their immortal objection to any real resistance, that it’s “unwise and untimely”. Today this could be the signature of every media hack, Democrat partisan, and lukewarm “progressive”.
But the unfortunate truth, as MLK knew, is that true protest is always timely and wise in the broadest sense. As for the specific timing, a human being who wants humanity to have a future must recognize when the time has come, and when today is the day. Our task today isn’t exactly the same as that of the Civil Rights Movement. They sought a specific set of reforms. They were up against an obsolete set of attitudes and practices which were mostly an embarrassment to power, and which weren’t germane to power’s propagation. (Indeed, as we’ve seen, the end of segregation was put to good political use by corporatism; it has helped render racially astroturfed divide-and-conquer even more insidious and harder to counteract. This is of course the crime of the corporations and the rich, and the fault of malingering racists themselves, not of desegregation. But we should still be aware of this history of corporatism.)
Today we need nothing less than to abolish GMOs, which comprise a technological and organizational offensive against humanity. We need to build the alternative to the corporate agriculture and food system, counter to it where possible, in resistance to it where necessary. This is a permanent necessity, whose goal is the eventual complete replacement of this world of crime and malice by a world of democracy and universal prosperity. Judging from his activist trajectory, we can justly expect that if MLK were here today he’d see the need for this movement. Before his death he was already seeing the need to expand the civil rights movement to encompass labor issues in general and the war. I doubt it’s a coincidence that after all those years of death threats, they actually killed him only when he wanted to make the movement more comprehensive, more of a fundamental criticism of the basic structures themselves.
We’ll constantly be expressing the need for total abolition, and along the way we’ll probably encounter many opportunities for the kind of direct action and civil disobedience campaigns King so masterfully led. Two examples are direct action against GMO plantings, and civil disobedience on behalf of the Community Food movement which the corporate system is trying to repress as an economic and political threat to its domination. Up against these, we’ll no doubt also often encounter the same sort of opposition, including the liberal opposition he specifically addresses in this Letter.

I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.

That could be the response to every apologist for the crimes of every system, including the extra crimes it commits trying to preserve its ill-gotten wealth and power. It goes for everyone who thinks a paper cut suffered by an elite criminal is worse than the robbery and murder of thousands of innocents.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham.

1. There can be no doubt at all about the injustice.
There’s many reasons to fight to abolish Monsanto and GMOs. They’re agriculturally and environmentally totalitarian. They inevitably contaminate all other crops and the environment, and accelerate soil, water, air, and habitat destruction. They accelerate the same climate change which is cited as one of the reasons corporate ag must allegedly provide “new technology”. The more that GMOs are field tested and commercialized, i.e. the longer they exist at all, the worse this contamination shall become, and the more we’ll pass points-of-no-return where the contamination shall become significantly malign and irreversible.
They’re economically and politically totalitarian. The GMO cartel is increasing what’s already a non-competitive monopoly concentration in the seed sector. It aggressively uses this position to build horizontal and vertical monopoly power, enforce its dictates up and down the food production and distribution chains, drive non-GM seed varieties out of the market (and, more and more, out of existence), greatly jack up seed prices, force obscenely lopsided “contracts” upon farmers, persecute farmers with harassment, thuggery, and lawsuits, and get governments to enact repressive seed laws intended to escalate and accelerate this whole process.
That’s just one way in which the GMO cartel has seized control of governments around the world. While governments are naturally controlled by corporate power, the kind of control being exercised by the GMO corporations, and the unique threat to humanity and the Earth posed by such corporate control over agriculture and food, render this form of corporate control over government particularly nefarious. People can try to argue about the implication of corporate power where it comes to other sectors, but there can be no argument here – humanity must purge this clear and present danger to our freedom, our democracy, and our literal survival.
GMOs also present a clear and present danger to our health. All independent studies, and even almost all of the corporations’ own rigged studies, find reason for concern or alarm. The genetic engineering process itself, and the massive glyphosate residues in our food and water, wreck our microbiome (our internal gastrointestinal microbial community with which our bodies cooperate for mutual health), cause gastrointestinal inflammation which leads to every kind of disease, trigger escalations in allergies, asthma, autism, and every other kind of autoimmune disease, cause cancer, organ damage, infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects. These are just the best documented effects. Glyphosate-tolerant crops are also nutritionally denuded, and eating the processed foods made from them merely adds to the nutritional deficiency already inherent in diets centered on such “foods”, and the many diseases this can cause or exacerbate.
The most amazing thing is how all this is over such a pathetic, worthless product. GMOs are crap products which don’t work for any purpose which could actually help people. Their yield is poor, no improvement over non-GM conventional agriculture; they require far more pesticides than conventional ag; by helping weeds and insect pests build resistance to pesticides, they generate superweeds and superbugs against themselves, uncontrollable by the same poisons which were supposed to be the reasons for having these GMOs in the first place; the ”special” GMOs – those for drought resistance, vitamin fortification, nitrogen-fixing, etc. – are all media hoaxes.
All these factors build the despair, anger, and sense of social, political, and economic cramp which are driving the March Against Monsanto, and the vast global movement of which it’s a part.
The trenchline runs across the global South, while here behind enemy lines in the West we are rising to take back our corporate-invaded land and agriculture.
2. Not that we the people owe it to those who are in principle our public servants to negotiate with them, but nevertheless we have done so ad nauseum. For decades now, starting before GMOs were ever commercialized, scientists and public health advocates have called for mandatory long-term safety testing of GMOs and actual regulation. (I don’t say “better regulation”, since there was never ANY.) Citizens have fought for labeling in all the states of the union. Citizens have fought for and passed anti-corporate legislation at the local level. Citizens and farmers have filed lawsuits like OSGATA vs. Monsanto. Almost everyone involved with the rising Community Food movement has wanted to do so with the blessing of the power structure and has been appeasement-minded about it.
No, we’ve done all we can to negotiate. The fact is, representative democracy itself, the periodic elections, were supposed to constitute such negotiations. But we see that this was always a sham. System politicians have never done anything but lie to the people, and have never felt the slightest obligation to live up to their promises after the election. Indeed, many ideologues of pseudo-democracy (if not the practicing liar politicians themselves) have explicitly argued that the “representative” has no obligation to his constituents at all after the election is over, but is free to “vote his conscience”, conscience here being a euphemism for corrupt personal interest.
Reasonable people have to concede that the “negotiation” failed. We can never have a responsible, responsive, legitimate government in its current form.
In his own context, MLK came to a similar conclusion.

As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community.

All that was left was self-purification, and then you go out there and do it.

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

This is a direct rejoinder to those who want to keep the people kettled within a polity-wide “free speech zone”.
King goes on to discuss the change of governmental administrations which never constitutes a structural change. He agrees with the anarchists: Only direct action ever accomplished anything, and it did so with nonviolent force.

My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have not only the right, but the obligation, to disobey unjust laws:

One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

All this is morally and intellectually clear. Genetic engineering, “intellectual property”, property in land, the corporate-held agricultural system, segregates we the people from our work, from our land, from our food, from our own bodies. The whole ideology of scientism, technocracy, instrumental reason, arises out of a fundamental self-loathing and hatred for the physical earth and the physical human body.
The I and Thou also signifies the human affinity with the earth, the soil, the crops, the food, and especially our human labor which indelibly interacts with these. The I and It demarcates our sundering from all that makes us human, our forced exile driven by corporate agriculture. Alien, anti-human corporations and all that is of them renders human society a destructive and self-destructive parasite squatter on the surface of the earth, but no longer a constructive part of it. With every action agricultural corporatism expresses its contempt for the earth. It insults the soil as the cradle of all complex life, treating it as nothing but an inert medium. It insults the seed as the universal embryo, treating it as a commodity to be painted, pimped, and most of all controlled. It adds the obscene injury of its wholesale poisoning of the soil, air, water, crops, and environment.
Legally and ideologically also this is a surface squatter regime, and an obscene alienation of humanity. The land, the soil, the very seed are “owned”, which word we must render in all corporate contexts as controlled and dominated, by an alien, anti-human entity. Indeed, a patent on a seed is alienation squared, since the patent is an abominable segregation and sundering of we the people from our common heritage, and it’s “owned” by an alien, anti-human entity whose very existence is also such an abomination.
Economically also this is a surface squatter regime and an obscene alienation from humanity. Growing our food is the essential human labor, the core human economic activity, the primary economy, and a deep spiritual endeavor, the main form of our communion with the earth and our thread of its harmony. We’re now to be alienated from this, driven off the land. For the Western middle class, into spiritual ghettos. For the Global South, into physical concentration camps called shantytowns. (This bell tolls also for us in the West, as our economic liquidation proceeds and the capitalist era reverts to a more feudal or ancient mode of tyranny.) 
We’re all too familiar with this type today:

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Except that today the “moderate” isn’t an outsider with a shallow understanding, but either a predatory collaborator or else part of the prey herd himself. His moderation and lukewarm state are homicidal and/or suicidal. He sides with the oppressor against those who would fight.
King describes how the inertial mass deplores those who fight as “extremists”, as instigators of violence, and as being too impatient. But these charges are false. It’s the enemy who’s extreme, it’s the enemy who’s violent, and we’ve been far too patient for far too long.
But in all the things we do, we aren’t the ones generating the “tension” so unpleasant to conformists. Where it comes to that, we’re merely symptomatic:

Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

This is the only path forward.
King describes how the early Christians were sustained by their faith and their relentless will against long odds.

Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.

That’s the hardest thing, to have to sometimes overcome the feeling of astronomical intimidation. The mission is daunting, and existing institutions are unlikely to offer any support:

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world.

This will also ring true for us today wherever we transpose it to representative government.

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands…

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: “My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.” They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

In this piece King discussed the controversy over “patience”, which is also a controversy over the nature of time itself.

I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

Time itself is neutral, and the flow of time itself has no characteristic independent of what we choose to do with it. Abolitionism is a way of life. It’s not just labor toward a goal, let alone the ideas contained in the goal itself. Most of all it’s a way of life. The goal is most realized in the here and now, every day. This way of life means not only exercising democracy in any way we can but also fighting for it everywhere we must. This adds to the challenge and striving, but this challenge is the challenge of being human at all. The essence of humanity is to take responsibility for oneself, to achieve power over oneself, and then to exercise one’s responsibility, combining one’s personal strength in free cooperation with others to build a free and prosperous human community. Only in such a community can we then create the space for the essence of humanity, positive freedom. This is spiritual freedom, creative freedom, political freedom, participatory freedom. All can exist only on the basis of the cooperative prosperity which affords the time and opportunity for this freedom. Only this deserves the name democracy, and only this can be called in the most profound sense civilization.
Today corporatist barbarians seek to destroy democracy, civilization, and humanity itself. These barbarians are the opposite of the original tribes raging out of Central Asia. Those were the vigorous barbarians of ascent toward a richer civilization. Today’s barbarians of decadence are rotted and malevolent, ugly and stupid, but infinitely wicked. Their technology and wealth renders them the most powerful ruling class in history, at the same time that their utter lack of any redeeming quality whatsoever renders them history’s nadir, history’s most degraded, nihilistic, parasitic, and worthless ruling class. They represent not a stage of Western Civilization but its final self-cannibalization. This is the end of this pseudo-civilization, for better or worse. The corporate barbarians certainly intend the worst – the full reinstatement of a slave economy, through the vehicles of debt indenture and corporate domination of agriculture and food.
But we can defeat this satanic plan if we redeem from the wreckage of the corporate industrial agriculture system the greatest treasure we’ve won: The consciousness that we the people can rule ourselves. That we can maximize our happiness and prosperity through full political and economic democracy. That we don’t need “elites” for anything, and that elites are never anything but parasites and criminals.
All we need to do is accept this fact, believe in it, and take responsibility for it. The true Human Renaissance beckons. This is the same human evolution and salvation for which Martin Luther King fought, for which he sat in jail, for which he wrote a letter from that jail.
We shall live up to the standard he and so many other great fighters for humanity have set for us. It’s a very high standard, and the forces ranged against it are formidable. But we can do it. Freedom is ours wherever and whenever we want it. The time is ours whenever we choose it. Our freedom will assert itself as soon as we freely choose to fight for it.


January 10, 2014

Malvinas Poison Factory Halted


Great news from Argentina. The construction of the Monsanto poison factory at Malvinas has been temporarily halted by the combination of a physical blockade at the construction site and legal action. The Chamber of Labor just issued an injunction ordering construction to halt until the required environmental impact statement is completed. It also recommended that a referendum be held among the people of the region. Previous polls have indicated that most of the people who would have to live in the vicinity of the factory oppose it. These, of course, are the only real, legitimate stakeholders where it comes to approving such a project, while no one who would not want to live next door to it has any right to support it. Hypocrites have no rights. 
The blockade has been in place for nearly four months. It has withstood threats and violent assaults from police and goons. Activist Sofia Gatica received death threats and was beaten up by thugs. But none of this diminished the resolve of the people to prevent this invasion and toxification of their land and homes.
The Malvinas plant is slated to produce seeds which will endemically express their own Bt poison and will be coated with multiple neonicotinoid insecticides and fungicides. So it’ll be a veritable chemical weapons factory, with a constant influx of poison deliveries and a constant production of toxic waste, in addition to the inevitable spills and wind drift of poison dust and gas. Anyone who has any doubt about the likely safety procedures at the plant need only consult the record on how meticulous about safety and drift the glyphosate sprayers have been on the surrounding soy plantations, and what the result has been.
While the future is uncertain, the more we can slow down the onslaught, the better a chance we have of halting it completely and causing it to collapse. That’s what this exercise in democracy and direct action is doing so far at Malvinas. No matter what lawyers argued in court, the factory would already be underway to the point of being an accomplished fact if the people hadn’t physically stopped it. It’s a lesson for all of us, that legal action by itself accomplishes little or nothing, but must accompany direct action, wherever this is possible at all. By contrast, in the West we tend to complain and sometimes sue while the physical crime proceeds unhindered. But as a form of possession, physical facts (on the pro-corporate side) are also nine-tenths of the law.
These protestors understand this well. They vow that they’ll continue to maintain the blockade until the threat of the poison factory is removed once and for all. The courage, fortitude, and persistence of the blockaders sets an example for us all.


November 27, 2013

Saluting Sofia Gatica


I won’t try to do so with any high-falutin’ rhetoric. I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.
Sofia Gatica is a regular Argentine working woman who lives amid the soy plantations. For years her home has been bombarded with Roundup on a regular basis. Her three older children all suffer from illnesses related to this poison. Her fourth died as an infant of kidney failure. These diseases and deaths are common in Argentina’s GMO soy country. This is why Argentina has become ground zero for scientific research on the health effects of glyphosate. Clinical and epidemiological studies have established that glyphosate causes miscarriages, birth defects, cancer, and child mortality. The experience of Gatica’s family is typical. The evidence is so complete that the Cordoba province was moved to pass laws strictly regulating the application of glyphosate. Although there’s been some improvement, these laws are seldom enforced.
Her family’s suffering, and her will to ensure that future families won’t have to endure the same tragedies in order to feed the profits of a handful of corporations, is what’s motivated Sofia Gatica to become an activist. She and many others started out lobbying government for reforms, including the Cordoba laws. When they saw how this doesn’t work, they moved on to direct action. Today they’re engaged in the occupation of a site in Malvinas where Monsanto plans to construct a massive seed processing factory. Gatica and others manning this blockade have previously been beaten by the police.
Throughout, Gatica has been a cogent spokeswoman for this movement, proving the need for it and its moral authority though her words and what she represents, the nimbus of how her family has been assaulted.
This is why Monsanto has targeted her. After the typical smear campaign failed to work, the criminals have moved on to violence. A few days ago Gatica’s life was threatened by a man holding a gun. Two days later, she was beaten up outside her workplace. She’s reported both of these crimes to the police, but no one expects much police action, since they know whose side the police are on. Not that of the people.
Gatica went to the hospital to have her injuries treated, but within a few hours she returned to the occupation site to continue sharing direct action with the many farmers, democracy advocates, and regular working people who have had enough of they and their families being poisoned.
This kind of violence is nothing new for anyone who questions GMOs in the global South. In 2010 Andres Carrasco, the scientist most publicly involved in the research I linked above, was assaulted by a gang of thugs and had a public presentation broken up. The same kind of violence is rife around the world.
While in most parts of the West we’re not yet up against this kind of direct violence (except from the police at demonstrations, of course), the vicious tone of GMO flacks clearly portends violence. The kind of person who launches a vicious personal attack on anyone who even questions the Monsanto imperative certainly will not shrink from violence if he thinks its necessary to enforce his criminal prerogative. The violence in Argentina demonstrates this. There’s a clear continuity from the technical hacks and professional trolls who infest Internet comment threads and the thugs who physically use fists and guns. Abolitionists must think this through and be ready.
I salute Sofia Gatica and her comrades for their courage and perseverance under such harsh conditions and against such long odds. A tragedy like she suffered would reduce most Westerners to passivity, and often to apologizing for the corporations attacking them. But she and the millions like her show the best of the human spirit and the human potential. I thank them, and will do my best to support them and conduct the same abolition fight from within the West, however that can be done. 


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