October 21, 2017

The Primal Mammalian Movement


From the smallest beginnings, and the power of a seed.

One of the mainstream media’s primary tasks is to convince each individual media consumer that he’s all alone with any critical or dissenting thought he might have, so it’s best to suppress those thoughts. It’s part of the “softer” neoliberal alternative to fascism: Rather than de jure censorship and violent repression of dissent, get the mass of atomized individuals each to censor himself, use crimestop, never listen to thoughtcrime or entertain any cognitive dissonance.
Hierarchical, professionalized science, including its hyperspecialization, is inherently authoritarian and pro-status quo. This is especially true of the technocracy paradigm under which science is assumed by almost all practitioners and fans to be equivalent to the development of technology. Under this paradigm, science = engineering. Most of all it’s true under the corporate science paradigm where this tech development mission automatically is assumed to be in the service of profit-seeking corporations. Putting that together, we have the modern scientific paradigm where what Kuhn called “normal science” quite simply is what otherwise would be called “corruption”.
I propose to overthrow this scientific paradigm and replace it with a paradigm of science rededicated to seeking knowledge for its own sake and for the well-being of humanity and the Earth. In the same way that every branch of politics must be socialist if it’s to have any legitimacy at all, so all branches of science must become the ecological versions of their respective disciplines. Therefore the ecological sciences, inflected by chaos theory, must become paramount. In the same way, technological design must adhere to the ecology rather than strive for domination and control. In particular, only agroecology offers a way for humanity to restore the soil, avert the worst of climate chaos and all other environmental crises, eat sufficiently and well, and organize society in a way combining the best of reason, humaneness, and ecological holism. This is the vision of food sovereignty.
There’s lots of people already doing good work toward that eventual goal. We need to scale that up, first as a campaign of ideas. As for our personal lives, the Earth’s call to anyone is to commit your life to the cause. That’s a very hard sell in this Mammon theocracy where even among the people who superficially have the right ideas and good intent, most still are objectively Randroids in the way they view the world. Even fellow travelers of the necessary ideas fundamentally don’t understand the concept of having no private existence, existing fundamentally as a political animal, a public citizen. All we can do for starters is to keep propagating ideas which are fundamentally against the whole grain of this theocracy, and try to find fellow atheists versus the superstitions of Mammon, technocracy, scientism, productionism who want to work on that atheism-propagation project. This is one of the basic building blocks necessary to build a true cultural, spiritual, existential movement dedicated affirmatively to the necessary agroecology/food sovereignty transformation, negatively to the total abolition of poison-based agriculture.
That’s the ultimate need. What individuals and small groups can do right now:
1. Take on as much of the propagation work as one can.
2. Become active building up the community food sector as much as one can. Growing some of one’s own food in a garden is a good first step, and the actions quickly scale up from there.
3. In one’s personal lifestyle get as independent of the system, as “off-grid” (using that term both literally and metaphorically) as possible.
4. To the extent one has to remain enmeshed in the system for the time being, at least be clear in thought and word that this is under duress. I still have to drive a car, but I never think or say anything other than that the car as such has to go. This is contrary to the climate crocodiles who wring their hands and then tout hybrids and electric cars (i.e. fracking cars, nuke cars, coal cars) as some kind of answer. No, that’s just a more pernicious form of climate denialism.
5. In general: Do the most good you can and never do evil. I have never once heard of an example of an evil action that was necessary in any way. That’s always a lie.
Much of this focuses on ideas and propagating ideas. I’m forced to be a writer since for now I lack any greater scope for action. In Eric Hoffer’s terminology, I’m an activist by nature who’s been forced into the role of the “man of words”. For now there really is no greater scope for action in America, since the necessary movement doesn’t yet exist in any tangible, coherent form. Or, any rudiments which may be cohering are not yet visible to the general culture of dissent.
So it follows that the first, prerequisite step toward building this movement is to propagate the necessary ideas for this movement. Not even at first to convince people, but to force the existence of truly alternative and practicable ideas into the public consciousness so that, when the cultural tipping point suddenly comes (history demonstrates that we have no idea when it will come or what proximate cause will trigger it) and lots of people are suddenly looking for a new idea, this set of ideas will be one of the sets laying around ready to be taken up.
Toward that great goal, the second necessary preliminary step is to form at least the nucleus of a future mass movement in the form of coherent organizations, of whatever size attainable, which will undertake whatever wedge actions are possible for the time being but whose primary action will be to propagate the ideas as far and wide as possible.
And then all this must take place in tandem with building up the community food sector. We especially need more local retail producers, and processing infrastructure, and political organization against the state’s repressive campaigns. The community food movement already exists as a vibrant movement with great scope for all the action one could desire (in addition to my so far intermittent market gardening, I’ve worked at a farmers’ market, herbal medicine garden, and am director of two community gardens). We need for the whole thing, from organic horticulture to market gardening to abolition of pesticides/GMOs to a global agroecology transformation, to evolve into one coherent cultural force.
Propagate the new and necessary ideas.

April 20, 2010

What if the Volcano Erupts Forever?


Watching animation of the ash dispersal from the Eyjaffjollajokull volcano is mesmerizing. The chaotic turbulence seems an apt image for the chaos spreading over the world today. The last three times this volcano erupted it triggered a greater eruption by its neighbor Katla. These are synchronized parts of a system. The greater eruption may come within the week.
I wonder if anyone’s trying to generate a similar graphic to depict the turbulence of the bailout; the now zombified, insolvent, yet ever more intense global finance casino, the Tower of Debt Babel becoming more top heavy by the day even as it totters more dynamically.
More and more criminal energy keeps being pumped into the system, accompanied by more and more fear, despair, and rage on the part of the victimized peoples of the planet. Non-linear jumps are inevitable.
This volcano, arising in Iceland of all places, the one place where people are showing any sign at all of being willing to fight back and say No, seems eerily symbolic.
If I were a mystic I’d think it’s no coincidence at all…..
By now we’re so used to the pulse of globalization and its mechanisms like cheap, on-demand air travel that it seems an odd interlude for so many planes to be grounded. (My fellow Naked Capitalism readers are familiar with how Yves Smith has been trapped in England for days now.) It’s especially unfathomable and infuriating that there’s no easy way to cast political blame for a volcano, though some are trying, and of course everyone’s looking for how to turn it into a scam. The system being what it is, the airlines are already whining for a bailout. The response to yet another shot across the bow from the uncanny orb itself is to try to build the Debt Tower higher, add another layer to the pyramid scheme, double down and compound the crime.
The system has literally zero ideas beyond theft by now. The hubris of kleptocracy has become extraordinary. Since the Greek meltdown has transfixed all us  perplexed commentators, we’ve grasped at the imagery and morality tales of Greek mythology. Today the story of Icarus seems apropos. Full of irrational exuberance, Icarus defied his father’s warnings and flew too close to the sun, which melted the wax of his wings and sent him plummeting into the sea.
Today the planes want to fly into the ash. Every flier wants to fly ever higher into what he thinks is the sun of infinite greed and power satiety. As Lloyd Blankfein and others have said, they consider themselves gods. But they are not. They’re louts and thugs who managed to strap on the artificial wings of cheap oil and a phony economy based on a fictive fiat dollar and exponential debt. That sun toward which they fly, into which they want to drag us all, is actually their hell on earth. But it shall be the furnace of their own immolation.
Just as a flight of fancy (though no more fanciful than the flight plan of infinite globalization itself), we can see the volcano as a parable. The flight gods now rescind our wings, which took us too close to the sun.
We face the impending economic and energy descent into the Second Great Depression, this one permanent by our measure of time. If this is to be what most would experience as a new Dark Age, what might be the effect of a physical blast out of Katla? A new, quickly-descending physical, literal Dark Age, including the mass failure of crops and subsequent famine? Yet this would not be a wild card, like the asteroid which mortally wounded the dinosaurs. It would just be an acceleration of everything that’s fated anyway by Peak Oil. The failure of globalization, of industrial agriculture, of consumerism, and the acceleration of every pathology, and of the system’s eventual collapse.
What if the planes were grounded forever? We see how the system’s already pushing back against reality. They’re already saying European transportation ministries overreacted and should lift the restrictions. Everyone was too hysterical about the threat of the ash. That you can fly through it just fine. Let the “free market” do its thing. There go those pointy-headed safety freaks again. All the same arguments which have worked out so well with the finance sector, and at every single other point they were deployed against reason, common sense, and reality.
But just as a thought experiment, what if the planes were grounded forever right now? The reality is that they will eventually be grounded forever, and any grounding today only lessens the finite number of flights left in our future. Man cannot fly forever on renewable energy and biofuels. You can’t have cheap globalized flight without cheap fossil fuels. As the oil depletes and becomes impossible to extract except at prohibitive costs, we’ll face a choice about flight. We can allow “essential” flight to continue. In practice this will mean elites, the rich, and the military get to fly, while the rest of us are permanently grounded. This particular technological stratification will be a stark milestone on the road to our impending enslavement, as we look up in wonder at the alien things in the sky in the same way a South Seas islander once did.
We’re already enshrining our own version of cargo cults, as we keep absurd faith in things like consumerism, what the elites call “capitalism”, the “ownership society”, the monetized version of the “American dream”, even as these have been proven to be Big Lies. So we may even tolerate the dear, slave-extracted oil being used to power luxury jets that hop among fortified elite compounds while we grovel in the mud. So far that’s been our response to things.
Or, we can make the choice, find the resolve, to say the oil, like every other resource, belongs to we the people, and we’re going to take it back to use for the public good. In the unlikely event of such morality and wisdom prevailing, we will indeed ground the planes as a stupid luxury which under corporatism produces almost nothing but generates enormous waste and pathology.
The reality is that the fossil fuel economy will be grounded. Financialization will be grounded. All the volcanoes are rumbling. The only one we’re not sure about is the political volcano. There too, only in Iceland have we felt some slight shaking of the earth.
Meanwhile the whole airline fiasco is being derided as yet another EU failure. Just as they thought they could have their monetary union cake but eat their sovereign fiscal policies too, so it turns out their parochial transportation ministries don’t know how to coordinate responses to things like volcanoes. Following the eruption it took five days for the ministries of the whole gaggle of countries to even get together. After the disparate, nationally based responses to the financial crisis, to the Georgian war, and the feckless pseudo-coping with Greece, this is yet more evidence of the absurdity of “Europe” as an entity and as a concept.
Once again I’m reminded of how the “EU” like every other aspect of globalization and financialization, is in itself a bubble phenomenon. It looks good and functions well only on the upswing, only when things are going well. But the moment things go wrong, having to mark it to market becomes a disaster.
(And with something like a volcano, there’s no craven FASB to cave in and let you cook the books. You fly the plane or you don’t.)
And what about that Greek bailout? After all the tedium and angst of the protracted negotiations toward a bailout, everyone has concluded almost immediately that this bailout won’t work. Greece may still default in 2010, 2011 at the latest. And the wobble in Portugal’s debt tower is becoming more pronouced.
(At Zero Hedge they joked that the Greeks should still sell islands like Santorini. There’s another volcano, which leveled the Minoan civilization at Thera and gave rise to the legend of Atlantis. So where to for today’s Atlantis? It’s the same flagitious pseudo-civilization, the same crime and depravity as in the original legend. Once again we see how symbolic this volcano is.)
One last rumble which some are claiming (or hoping) to detect is that the SEC’s suit against Goldman will open the floodgates of a general offensive against this particular hedge fund, and against the whole compass of the TBTFs. Since Friday several other actions against Goldman have commenced. We’ll see what happens.
My position has long been that on the longer, more ponderous curve, this is the downslope of fossil fuel globalization and the financialized pseudo-economy, and the pseudo-civilization which by now is a diseased vestige. But politically there’s no linear reform curve here. The only linear political curve heads down as well – to neo-feudalism, neo-medievalism, serfdom.
Only a non-linear political break, seizing an opportunity opened up by some stumble along the vaster economic curve, can flip the political trend over to a different strange attractor. The two attractors are fascism or revolution (I take solace in the fact that either way corporate liberals are doomed). By “revolution” I mean the people transforming themselves back into a true constitution the way we once were, when we still lived according to the values of freedom, justice, morality, and community. The great volcano of the age already casts its pall over modern “civilization”, which was really just an oil- and debt-fueled blip. All that must choke and die.
But it’s our choice whether we die with it, or whether we use the surge and winds of our own spiritual volcano to loft us above the ashes of the burning neoliberal world, where we can again soar the currents and breathe the clear, bracing air of our redeemed humanity.
They flew into their false sun of greed, war, destruction, despair. But they and their gaslight sun will now crash to the inexorable earth. Will we fall with them? Or shall we seek the old, and what can again be the new, light? Humanity never had a sunset, only a light blotted by the smog of crime. Our sun can still be rising, if we rise to meet that dawn. It’s a choice of volcanoes.