Volatility

September 27, 2018

A Cultural Crisis of the Climate Crisis

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Climate chaos promises catastrophe. No one within the system is doing anything and no one will do anything. There is one and only one way to avert the worst of the climate crisis:
 
Stop emitting greenhouse gases; stop destroying sinks; rebuild sinks on a massive scale.
 
All else is a lie. Most of all, the Big Lie is that anything constructive can be done within the congenitally destructive framework of the economic civilization.
 
The understanding that catastrophe is inevitable has long been around among “fringe”, “doomer” types. The fact is so incontrovertible that by now it’s starting to trickle into academia and the mainstream media, triggering much shrill criticism from the climate establishment. These mainstream scientists, even as they sound the climate change alarm, have systematically dampened it.
 
The IPCC has been consistently lukewarm in its projections, which reality consistently has outstripped. This isn’t just because the panel needs to attain consensus on its reports, though this does automatically water things down. It’s primarily because the IPCC, and climate scientists in general, have an institutional ideology and personal temperament which inertially cause them to focus on linear projections, discount non-linear, chaotic effects, and in general water down their conclusions. This is hard-wired into their linear, gradualist ideology. In most cases they’re unable to comprehend evidence against this linear gradualism. And then of course they have venal, careerist interests.
 
All this leads them to sound the climate change alarm, but only in such a way as to set up another propaganda campaign on behalf of productionism, capitalism, the economic civilization. The problem has to be solvable within the capitalist framework. The answer to the climate crisis (and all other environmental crises) has to be: Keep Shopping! Keep Driving!
 
This propaganda is required by their ideological commitment to Mammon, technocracy, and productionism, and it’s required for their career and funding interests. That’s why climatologists and mainstream environmental groups have been so peculiarly ambivalent and lukewarm about the crisis: Sound the alarm, but not too loud. They must reject any implication that the crisis cannot be solved within the framework of capitalism, productionism, the economic civilization.
 
They reject this in spite of the self-evident fact that the crisis cannot be confronted that way, that this framework will never, can never, do anything but drive the crisis unto its ultimate worst. That’s why they howl at anyone who tells the truth: The truth nullifies their entire ideology, their entire corporate-capitalist power agenda, their entire technocratic-productionist religious commitment.
 
They try to conceal this by deploring how publicity of the truth will allegedly sow despair and lead to fatalism. But in doing this they only discredit themselves. Here we have the climate scientists, whose reputation in the eyes of the people was always shaky to begin with, openly saying they lie to us about the real catastrophic prospects, and that all scientists and journalists should lie. No wonder de jure denial is so rife even among those who cannot profit from denial and can only be harmed by it. It’s similar to the cultural reaction which generated the anti-Darwin movement in America: It’s a revolt of the disenfranchised against a faction of openly arrogant, supercilious elites. Much of the vaccine-skeptical fervor also has this root cause, though of course it goes far beyond that: We all know for a fact what congenital liars scientists are where it comes to any corporate product which is linked with the scientism religion. The most world-historical criminal example is the poisoner campaign on behalf of pesticides and GMOs, where literally every establishment word is a lie.
 
These elites claim that telling the truth about climate chaos will cause people to disengage? Their open contempt for the people and falseness toward us causes far more people to disengage.
 
By trying to engender false hope in capitalist-technocratic “solutions” which will enable business as usual to continue (Keep Shopping!), by trying to engender “hope” at all (in this and in most contexts “false hope” is redundant), they’re acting as agents of the climate-destroying civilization, another type of sheepdog. And then many of them are out-and-out corporate shills.
 
Perhaps some of them are sincere in revealing their own personal despair, if privately they realize the entire technocratic and economic paradigm to which they’ve dedicated their lives is a total failure, is purely destructive, and has no future.
 
As for their smug, patronizing pontifications about the alleged despair of the people, we can dismiss this with all the contempt it deserves. We the people don’t need fake hope, and we certainly don’t need lies. We need truth and we need action. The only real climate action is action against the economic civilization driving climate chaos and all other ecological crises. The economic civilization these establishment scientists and NGOs represent.
 
They’re proposing nothing and doing nothing. They’ll never do anything but destroy, since their civilization is capable of nothing but destruction. That’s why all their prescriptions, from industrial renewables to piggy-backing industrial recycling on the regular waste/destruction stream to electric cars to cap-and-trade to carbon taxes (taxes on ongoing waste and destruction), comprise nothing but scams and further environmental insults, in many cases (geoengineering, fracking, the escalation of poison agriculture under the Orwellian “climate smart” slogan, expanding nukes and/or CCS) adding or promising to add new ecological catastrophes on top of the climate crisis and all the other crises.
 
All of this is false and evil. There is one and only one way to avert the worst:
 
Stop emitting; stop destroying sinks; rebuild sinks.
 
All else is a lie. Most of all, the Big Lie is that anything constructive can be done within the congenitally destructive framework of the economic civilization.
 
Where does this leave the civilization consecrated to economic extraction and production? Where does this leave technocracy? Where does this leave Mammon? I think the answer is obvious, and the more people comprehend the truth of the great crisis of the age, the more will awaken to what’s obvious. This awakening is what our “scientists” and “environmentalists” want to prevent. “I shop, therefore I lie.”
 
 
 
 

December 9, 2012

Movement Focus – Community Food

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I’ve made the strategic decision to focus, for however long the doldrum lasts, on the Community Food movement, “inducing” broader anti-corporate and Food Sovereignty ideas from that, rather than going into every situation calling for the immediate and full Food Sovereignty revolution. This movement has to be built, has to confederate, and has to directly fight the growing government/liberal attempt to repress it through the escalating “Food Safety” assault. (“Food Safety”, as I’ve written many times for years now, has the same character and serves the same purpose as the “War on Terror”. Indeed the two are increasingly intermingled, as in the way the Food Control Act provides for massive shifting over power over the food supply to DHS. More clear evidence for how the military-industrial complex is increasingly a Monsanto adjunct, just like the FDA and USDA already are. We see how liberal fascists are on board with the whole program.)
 
So the basic activity:
 
1. Build the Community Food movement, as a viable economic sector and a political/community manifestation.
 
2. Counterattack industrial ag and the “Food Safety” assault. I think the fights against food corporatism in general and GMOs in particular are not just true and necessary, but are good political wedges, ideological sweet spots. Everyone except the most dedicated liberals fears and loathes these things, even if they passively accept them because they currently see no alternative. Our job is to present the alternative.
 
3. Elaborate Food Sovereignty philosophy, but not as part of the primary publicity campaign (which must focus on community food, food relocalization). This part is for within the movement.
 
4. In the course of these build the movement framework so that when the terminal crash is triggered the movement will be ready to aggressively propagate a philosophical solution and course of action, and be ready organizationally to receive the disintegrating masses.
 
I want to create an Internet forum dedicated to this project. In the meantime I’ll do the best I can with this solo blog, but it’s not the right vehicle, and I can’t do all the jobs myself. (Especially since I’m going to try to become a “professional” farmer in 2013.)

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November 9, 2012

Pollan is Mystified

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Michael Pollan:
 
Q: Are there any positive advances that biotech has made recently in the food industry? Any on the horizon?
 
A: They’ve been on the ever-retreating horizon for a long time. I started writing about biotech in ’98 and I remember being told by executives at Monsanto that Roundup and Bt were just the first chapter in this wonderful story and within five years so many other interesting crops, crops that could withstand saline or salty soil or crops that could withstand drought or crops that might even be able to fertilize themselves with fixed nitrogen, crops with higher yields and for reasons that remain something of a mystery to me, those wonders have yet to appear. I don’t know why, whether they’re proving harder to engineer than expected might be one reason. Or they could tell you regulatory hurdles are standing in the way but in fact there are very few regulatory hurdles introduced in these crops.
 
Allow me to lift the veil of mystery for Mr Pollan:
 
G……M……Os……DON’T……WORK.
 
The fact is that only two things about GMOs ever sort-of worked for a little while: Herbicide tolerance and internal pesticide expression. As predicted by anyone who knows even the slightest bit about how nature works, the weeds and pests which Roundup and Bt expression were supposed to suppress quickly transformed themselves into Roundup-resistant superweeds and Bt-resistant superbugs. Roundup has totally collapsed. (Which is why the next generation of 2,4-D resistant GMOs is in the pipeline. This ever-escalating herbicide treadmill is an intended outcome of corporate/government policy. Otherwise the USDA would admit that herbicide tolerant GMOs don’t work and refuse to authorize any further commercialization of them.) Bt crops no longer work, and ever more toxic pesticides need to be sprayed on them.
 
In fact, we’re left with only two meager things that GMOs do as advertised: Bt crops do express Bt toxin, even though it no longer works. And glyphosate-resistant crops can have glyphosate sprayed upon them without killing them, which doesn’t help because glyphosate also doesn’t kill the weeds it was supposed to kill.
 
That’s all GMOs do.
 
And for that worthless performance, we’re willing to physically poison ourselves and economically and politically enslave ourselves? I think humanity better wake up and abolish GMOs, by whatever means necessary, while there’s still time.
 
But the fact that we’re not likely to do so with any help from liberal elitists is exemplified here: “I await those products and I would love to see this industry make a significant contribution to solving one of the world’s problems. But they’ve been promising that for a long time and have so far grossly under-delivered.”
 
Pollan doesn’t specify which “problems” he means. He knows perfectly well that the only problems with the world’s food are problems caused by corporatism, especially GMO corporatism, and that the only solution is the abolition of food corporatism. But as a good technocratic and pro-corporate elitist he can’t countenance real solutions.
 
Like all liberals, in the end he’s a triangulator in the total war of corporations vs. humanity. He wants to procure somewhat Better Policy within the corporate framework, but also wants to run interference on behalf of corporatism. In the end, when they’re finally forced to choose, most of them will side with Monsanto.

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November 7, 2012

Can There Be A January 1905?

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A core trait of liberals and reformists is to genuflect before power, always looking and begging upward for Better Policy to trickle down from Better Elites. Liberals are basically elitists with some vague hopes for more “progressive” practices on the part of the power structure. They basically dream of benevolent despotism, and fantasize that this benevolence exists in intent, somewhere up there. This benevolence is somehow, mysteriously, prevented from realizing itself. The already classical example is the fundamentalist cult of Obama’s Good Intentions which he mysteriously cannot act upon.
 
Since a cult can’t get by on mystery alone and needs a more tangible explanation, the mystery is sometimes explained in terms of how those nasty Republicans thwart Obama. Of course this doesn’t explain why Obama couldn’t do what he wanted for two years of a veritable one-party dictatorship, when the Dems held both houses of Congress. Nor does it explain how the benevolence has been unable to trickle down through the executive branch bureaucracies, over which the president has vast unilateral power. But then, in the end, it’s all still a mystery.
 
I used the “progressive” cult of Obama as a prime example, but we see the same phenomenon everywhere hierarchies and middle classes exist. Middle class liberals and reformists look upward and dream of Better Elites, like cargo cultists worshipping an airplane high overhead.
 
This is an example of how the petty bourgeois mindset is simply an adaptation of the original peasant mindset, just as the modern professionalized and suburbanized petty bourgeoisie is a temporary offshoot of the peasantry. The basic mindset remains the same, and today’s technocratic worship, “if only Obama knew…”, is the same notion as the that of the Russian peasant who sighed, “if only the tsar knew…if only those nasty ministers and officials wouldn’t keep thwarting his benevolent will.”
 
On Bloody Sunday, January 1905, the tsar’s troops fired on a peaceful procession coming to the Winter Palace to present a reverent petition, killing and wounding as many as a thousand people. This instantly broke the spell. It was a mortal blow to the cult of the tsar’s benevolence. Never again would it be taken for granted among any significant portion of the Russian people that the tsar was an essentially well-meaning would-be benefactor who was being misinformed and disobeyed by subordinates. While this change of basic mindset didn’t permanently turn the Russian people into revolutionaries, and the 1905 revolution ended up fizzling out, it was still a permanent change, and a significant milestone on the road to 1917.
 
I wonder now, when we strive for a change in the basic mindset toward corporatism, let alone for a real movement to abolish it, is there any possible event which could strike off the blinders once and for all? We saw the way open police brutality temporarily boosted support for Occupy, but also the way this increased support was more of a mood than a basic shift in the state of mind. Conversely, we see how a historically unprecedented wave of Monsanto-driven farmer suicides in India, upwards of 300,000 by now, for all intents and purposes a mass murder campaign, means very little to Western liberals. So we cannot rely on moral sense to demonstrate to any significant number of middle class Westerners the difference between good and evil. If anything’s to do it, it will be something visceral and horrific, right before their eyes.
 
But by now, can any action, any crime, rise to the level of clarity for such willfully blind masses? Is a sea change in mindset still possible for masses still living within the intact corporate civilization? Or has corporate Gleichschaltung, “coordination” and indoctrination, reached such a terminal point that nothing large-scale will happen until the system starts collapsing of its own diseased weight?

 
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May 28, 2012

African Wannsee Conference; Or, Bono Parties With Monsanto

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The history of corporate agriculture and its “Green Revolution” is a perfect example of the unfulfilled promises, and therefore proven lies, of corporatism.
 
What was the Green Revolution? With a huge one-off injection of fossil fuels, and building upon ten thousand years of agronomy, corporate agriculture temporarily increased yields within the monoculture framework.
 
(This shouldn’t be confused with being more productive than holistic organic agriculture. Agronomy has proven that organic yields, in calories and nutrition, are comparable and often superior to those of industrial agriculture. But this assumes a natural human agricultural economy, not a corporatized one, for naturally local/regional markets, not for artificially commodified and globalized ones. It assumes diversified smallholder agroecology, which is inherently resistant to tyranny, instead of monocropping, which was designed to be dominated by hierarchies, and is inherently hierarchical.)
 
The “green revolution” (literally the first bogus corporate “color revolution”) increased commodification monoculture yields only by building a Tower of Babel. The soil is stripped of all nutrition and zombified by ever-increasing applications of synthetic fertilizer. Monoculture is ever more dependent on the increasing application of ever more toxic herbicides and pesticides. Deployment of GMOs escalates these vulnerabilities. Factory farms can exist only with ever increasing use of antibiotics. All these systems are extremely tenuous, vulnerable, not robust, not resilient. They’re all guaranteed to collapse. Hermetic monoculture, and industrial agriculture as such, is one big hothouse flower which requires perfect conditions to survive.
 
And all that’s before taking Peak Oil into account. The Green Revolution has been the massive one-off application of fossil fuels to agriculture (in the fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides, fuel to run the machinery and globalized distribution networks). With Peak Oil and energy descent, agriculture shall return to its pre-fossil energy baseline. We have the option to apply the right political and economic dispensation, along with the agronomic knowledge we’ve accumulated in the modern era, to produce sufficient food post-oil (through relocalized organic agriculture), and to do so in such a socially and culturally more fruitful way that we end up making a virtue of necessity. This is the Food Sovereignty movement.
 
Meanwhile, given the industrial monoculture framework (but see here for the truly productive and sustainable agroecological alternative), the Green Revolution did temporarily increase yields. The world produces far more than enough food for everyone – over 4.3 pounds per day of a diverse diet for everyone. But this potential food bounty was never used to “feed the world” and was never intended to do so. In reality this alleged increase in the globe’s “carrying capacity” really meant a great increase in the population of the food insecure, while the West temporarily benefited from lower food prices. This was just another aspect of the West’s temporary debt economy which was meant to misdirect middle class attention away from how their ultimate liquidation was being structurally prepared. Today’s food stagflation is a sign that the party’s over.
 
So the Green Revolution was a scam to use cheap fossil fuels to increase monocrop yield, drive tens of millions off the land, and use the stolen land and food to render food temporarily artificially cheap for Western consumerism.
 
This puts in perspective the new GMO colonialism planned for Africa. Africa has so far been relatively unpenetrated by GMOs, except for cotton in South Africa which has already proven a socioeconomic and declining-yield disaster. For some years now Monsanto, its flunkey Bill Gates (via his Association for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)), and the US government via its political aggression arm USAID, have been scheming to launch a full scale GMO invasion, replicating the 19th century colonial onslaught which submerged and devastated the continent. The people of Africa, subject to every kind of political and economic assault, kept as weak and divided as possible, considered culturally and racially inferior by Western elites and elitists, will always be a prime target.
 
So it is with the GMO Master Plan (the “New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security”) unveiled at the recent G8 “Global Agricultural Development” forum at Camp David (after it was chased out of Chicago), held at the same time as the NATO summit. (Why does NATO still exist? If the system doesn’t disband the army when the external threat ceases to exist, that can only mean it’s meant to be turned within, as an instrument of internal aggression and domination. Meanwhile to this day “national security” types struggle to come up with a pseudo-plausible “mission” explaining why NATO still exists.) This elite conclave basically validated the agenda already presented by its host, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
 

In March, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a white paper calling on the U.S. government to make global agricultural development and food security a priority agenda item at the G8 Summit. The white paper, developed by a bi-partisan working group, recommends G8 members spur innovation and engage the private sector by reducing regulatory barriers, building capacity, strengthening intellectual property protections and adopting and implementing policies to increase trade in commodities and food.

 
They basically set out to list every policy which is evil in intent and a proven failure in practice, and call for doubling down on it. This kind of Food Austerity is parallel to finance austerity. Every crime must be continued, escalated, accelerated, intensified. Everything proven to fail must be continued. Everything proven to humanly work must be suppressed.
 
The plan calls for billions in “public-private” investment from GMO rackets Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta, along with affiliated assaults like a massive synthetic fertilizer factory to be built in Africa. Of course, the money for all this will come directly or indirectly from governments, i.e. the people. That’s the “public” part of the public-private scam, while what’s left “private” is all the profit and power. The people of Africa will be left to suffer the main physical and socioeconomic devastation.
 
The basic Big Lie is perfectly summed up by Obama hack Rajiv Shah, head of USAID:
 

We are never going to end hunger in Africa without private investment. There are things that only companies can do, like building silos for storage and developing seeds and fertilizers.

 
We know that this is a proven lie in every sector. There is no sector, including food, where corporatization doesn’t bring deteriorating results (and ever more frequent disaster) while our prosperity, freedom, democracy, and happiness are destroyed. In this case, we know that organic production and distribution bring better practical results than the corporate system, we know that only it can sustain the environment, we know that ALL innovation in agriculture throughout history has been the result of cooperative action in the public domain, while corporate enclosure like the intellectual property regime has functioned only to smother innovation, we know that the industrial system in unsustainable in terms of energy consumption, we know that even in the West it’s no longer keeping prices down, and we know that at every point it diminishes our freedom, autonomy, and community.
 
(Needless to say, cooperative and autonomous farmers have developed seeds and fertilizers for ten thousand years with no help from “companies”, although in recent decades companies have been great at stealing this heritage. We’ve also been building our own silos for awhile now.)
 
Meanwhile the real plan for African agriculture, prosperity, and democracy, based on agroecology and Food Sovereignty, is already functioning. Here’s just two proven examples, part of what could be a vast beneficial revolution:
 

19. Sometimes, seemingly minor innovations can provide high returns. In Kenya, researchers and farmers developed the “push-pull” strategy to control parasitic weeds and insects that damage the crops. The strategy consists in “pushing” away pests from corn by inter-planting corn with insect-repellent crops like Desmodium, while “pulling” them towards small plots of Napier grass, a plant that excretes a sticky gum which both attracts and traps pests. The system not only controls pests but has other benefits as well, because Desmodium can be used as fodder for livestock. The push-pull strategy doubles maize yields and milk production while, at the same time, improves the soil. The system has already spread to more than 10,000 households in East Africa by means of town meetings, national radio broadcasts and farmer field schools.

20. Agroecology is also gaining ground in Malawi, a country that has been at the centre of attention in recent years. Malawi successfully launched a fertilizer subsidy programme in 2005-2006, following the dramatic food crisis due to drought in 2004-2005. However, it is now implementing agroforestry systems, using nitrogen-fixing trees, to ensure sustained growth in maize production…By mid-2009, over 120,000 Malawian farmers had received training and tree materials from the programme, and support from Ireland has now enabled extension of the programme to 40 per cent of Malawi’s districts, benefiting 1.3 million of the poorest people. Research shows that this results in increased yields from 1 t/ha to 2–3 t/ha, even if farmers cannot afford commercial nitrogen fertilizers…An optimal solution that could be an exit strategy from fertilizer subsidy schemes would be to link fertilizer subsidies directly to agroforestry investments on the farm in order to provide for long-term sustainability in nutrient supply, and to build up soil health as the basis for sustained yields and improved efficiency of fertilizer response. Malawi is reportedly exploring this “subsidy to sustainability” approach.

21…One key reason why agroecology helps to support incomes in rural areas is because it promotes on-farm fertility generation. Indeed, supplying nutrients to the soil does not necessarily require adding mineral fertilizers. It can be done by applying livestock manure or by growing green manures. Farmers can also
establish a “fertilizer factory in the fields” by planting trees that take nitrogen out of the air and “fix” it in their leaves, which are subsequently incorporated into the soil. That, in essence, is the result of planting Faidherbia albida, a nitrogen-fixing acacia species indigenous to Africa and widespread throughout the continent. Since this tree goes dormant and sheds its foliage during the early rainy season at the time when field crops are being established, it does not compete significantly with them for light, nutrients or water during the growing season; yet it allows a significant increase in yields of the maize with which it is combined, particularly in conditions of low soil fertility. In Zambia, unfertilized maize yields in the vicinity of Faidherbia trees averaged 4.1 t/ha, compared to 1.3 t/ha nearby, but beyond the tree canopy. Similar results were observed in Malawi, where this tree was also widely used. The use of such nitrogen-fixing trees avoids dependence on synthetic fertilizers, the price of which has been increasingly high and volatile over the past few years, exceeding food commodity prices, even when the latter reached a peak in July 2008. In this way, whatever financial assets the household has can be used on other essentials, such as education or medicine.

 
These demonstrate what organic agriculture can accomplish in Africa. (The Malawi fertilizer subsidy also demonstrates, for any “sincere” supporters of industrial ag, that if one wanted to continue with food industrialization, the way to do it is with the old public-interest agricultural investment model, which worked well, given industrial premises. That’s why the IMF set out to eradicate all such programs. But Malawi proves that if elites wanted to preside over it, they could reinstate the old public investment model. So even given the industrial premise, there’s definitely no need for corporatism and the “public-private” scam.)
 
They also demonstrate how the method of propagating this knowledge and political consciousness must be decentralized, through truly democratic networks which involve small farmers as full participants. The most glaring symbol of the bad faith of this elite gala is how, even as it mouths platitudes about improving the condition of Africa’s small farmers, particularly women (that part’s a sop to Western liberal feminists), it included exactly zero legitimate representatives of these groups. On the contrary, the list of participants – corporate rackets, government elites including Obama, corporate liberal front groups, and useful-idiot celebrity tinsel – reads like a Tom Friedman dream guest list. it includes every illegitimate elite alien to the Earth, and excludes every part of humanity. Just like corporatism in general, and GMO imperialism in particular.   
 
The fact is that there’s no yield issue as far as feeding the world. We produce far more than enough food. The only problem is with the corporate distribution system. Anyone who truly wants to feed people has to want to change the distribution of the food we have, not struggle to produce “more” within a framework which has already proven it won’t distribute that food to humanity.
 
Anyone who truly wants to feed the world must want to abolish food corporatism, abolish food commodification, restore natural food markets (local/regional), and build the Food Sovereignty movement based upon truly organic agriculture.
 
Meanwhile anyone, like these elites in Chicago, who claims to want to “feed the world” but wants to do so by doubling down on the proven failure of a “Green Revolution”, is really a liar and a criminal.
 
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I won’t waste space writing here about my subtitle, but anyone who wants a rundown on how our liberal “celebrity” scum have been operating under Obama fascism, check it out here.

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May 17, 2012

Liberal Foodies and Work

Filed under: Corporatism, Food and Farms, Reformism Can't Work — Tags: — Russell Bangs @ 2:28 am

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It’s well known that corporate liberals, even though they mouth lots of pious reform platitudes, support extractive hierarchy because they too want to live as leeches on the work of humanity. Liberal foodie types who gush endlessly about how much they enjoy working in their gardens are no exception.
 
As typical corporatists, they see their (chosen) garden work as at an opposite extreme from the agricultural work people are economically forced to do. They see such work as unpleasant and far too arduous, and they’re determined to avoid any such “necessary” labor. That’s what their liberal ideology is dedicated to, maintaining people of a certain class and educational background in a parasitic position even as they soothe their guilt feelings.
 
The ironic thing is that if we abolished corporatism, economic hierarchy, and the whole “job” model, and lived according to the principles and practices of Food Sovereignty, then everyone would get the same enjoyment and fulfillment from agricultural work as the foodies get from their hobby gardens, and this work would be far more productive for all of us.
 
But there I go calling for democracy, which is odious in the eyes of all elitist ideology, including liberalism.
 
 

May 15, 2012

Useful Idiots – Food Sovereignty Case Study

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While looking for some information for another post, I ended up reading some older posts at Marion Nestle’s blog. It was as annoying as one would expect, reading a corporate-state-reformist who thinks Better Hierarchy will solve the problems created only by corporatist hierarchy as such. Here’s a good example (which also includes some pro-Democrat Party tribalism).
 

On Monday this week [July 2009], Michael Taylor began his new job as special assistant to the FDA Commissioner for food safety. He will be in charge of implementing whatever food safety laws Congress finally decides to pass.

I know that what I am about to say will surprise, if not shock, many of you, but I think he’s an excellent choice for this job. Yes, I know he worked for Monsanto, not only once (indirectly) but twice (directly). And yes, he’s the first person whose name is mentioned when anyone talks about the “revolving door” between the food industry and government. And yes, he signed off on the FDA’s consumer-unfriendly policies on labeling genetically modified foods.

But before you decide that I must have drunk the Kool Aid on this one, hear me out. He really is a good choice for this job. Why? Because he managed to get USDA to institute HACCP (science-based food safety regulations) for meat and poultry against the full opposition of the meat industry — a truly heroic accomplishment. His position on food safety has been strong and consistent for years. He favors a single food agency, HACCP for all foods, and accountability and enforcement. We need this for FDA-regulated foods (we also need enforcement for USDA-regulated foods, but he won’t be able to touch that unless Congress says so). So he’s the person most likely to be able to get decent regulations in place and get them enforced.

 
(This also sheds some light on Taylor’s liberal fan club in general.)
 
It’s typical of reform-corporatists to seek further concentration as the solution to every problem generated by concentration. This exactly parallels the Tower of Babel of corporatism in general. Every crisis must be met, not by ending the malevolent and destructive practices which create the crisis, but by doubling down on the evil, adding another layer to the already tottering tower. Reformists are either imitative parasites on the monster, or an indelible part of it.
 
It’s also typical that they fail to recognize the difference between a systematic corporate totalitarian and a yahoo, and that there are sometimes disagreements between them. Consider this tableau: In the Reagan administration there were lots of deregulation zealots who had come to see deregulation as an end in itself. They lost sight of the overriding profit imperative. At that time Monsanto had settled on its master strategy, which included going all in on riding the government thug/bagman to profit victory. So they wanted a full suite of regulation, but of course pro-corporate regulation. They wanted government proclamations, certifications, PR campaigns, corporatized public-funded research, globalization assistance, aggression against small competitors, an escalated intellectual property regime, and of course monumental amounts of corporate welfare.
 
But on account of the fact that the administration had come to see “regulation” as bad, Monsanto had to request a meeting with VP Bush and lecture him like a small child on how “regulation vs. deregulation” is meaningless in itself, but rather that the right policy is regulation and/or deregulation, depending on whatever will increase corporate enclosure, concentration, domination, profit, power.
 
Similarly, Taylor had to overcome some opposition from yahoos in the meat-packer sector who were too short-sighted to see that the HACCP, while nominally representing increased regulation, was really designed to increase sector concentration and power. It has since had that effect.
 
But corporate liberals like Nestle see only the more scabrous bad guy who opposed something, and assume this must mean the thing is good. But that doesn’t follow at all. (There’s where we see the parallel with “progressive” tribalism – wherever a Republican opposes something, it must be good. And since Taylor was nominally a Clinton cadre, and is now an Obama cadre, it must mean he’s good. Um, no.)
 
(For another example, that’s how the national Sierra Club happily jumped into bed with Chesapeake Energy and fracking, as soon as Aubrey McClendon bad-mouthed the coal rackets.)
 
Similarly, the real world effect of HACCP is meaningless to a useful idiot reformist. All that matters is that Democratic administrations support it, while some bad guys oppose it. (Though how Nestle wrapped her mind around the fact that Big Ag supported the Food Control Act she’s shilling for here, so that there is no “bad guy” from the liberal point of view, I don’t know. I guess Party tribalism trumps all in the end.)

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April 26, 2012

GMO Labels and Corporate Liberals

Filed under: Corporatism, Food and Farms, Mainstream Media — Tags: , , , , — Russell Bangs @ 12:23 pm

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Why Not Label GMOs?, asks this not-untypical editorial. (Studies of the media have found near-unanimous support for GMO commercialization, but a split on mandatory labeling.)
 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already requires food manufacturers to list ingredients, nutrition facts and common allergens. Why make an exception for genetically modified ingredients?

 
It’s obvious, isn’t it? Sunshine is not only a basic principle of democracy, which everyone at least claims to respect. It’s also a bedrock premise of consumerism and the “free market” ideology. So how could anyone legitimately oppose it? I think we’ll find that GMO labeling is a handy litmus test to differentiate real believers in democracy from those who lie about the way they actually hold it in contempt. Without exception, all arguments against mandatory labeling boil down to “the people are too stupid to understand such labels.” Of course, even if that were true it wouldn’t make a difference – if you support democracy you have to support its practice, taking the bad with the good. But in truth the people understand GMO labels perfectly well. Humanity has always rejected GMOs on the perfectly sound, rational ground of the precautionary principle. We don’t know if it’s safe, there’s good reason to believe it’s not safe, we don’t need it in the first place, on the contrary it’s the escalation of a food system already proven to fail according to all its promises, so a rational person would reject it.
 
One place where this issue helps flush out the traitors is among the “food safety” groups. The Center for Food Safety, in spite of some pernicious positions like its support for the Food Control Act, has been strong on GMOs. By contrast the so-called “center for science in the public interest” (CSPI), in direct contradiction of its name, its alleged principles, and its advocacy at every other point, has been implicitly pro-GMO (no doubt only cowardice keeps it from making its support explicit; but it does regurgitate corporate propaganda at its biotech page (several links at the post I just linked)). Its executive director went so far as to personally vouch for the career of Michael Taylor, one of the most notorious corporate thugs and corrupt revolving-door transitors. (“Corrupt” by liberal good-government standards, that is. By that standard the CSPI is similarly corrupt.)
 
The CSPI’s advocacy is all about labeling. This is its default prescription for pretty much everything. That, plus the general default in favor of democratic transparency, ought to mean that if nothing else it should be at the forefront of advocating mandatory GMO labeling. That renders its absolute silence on the issue all the more glaring. (I guess they’re too cowardly to actually oppose labeling, so instead they go silent.)
 
Why would an outfit like the CSPI be such ballbreakers where it comes to labeling every other kind of additive, demanding nutrition labels on fast food, etc., but omit labels for this kind of adulteration? This provides a clue to the real nature of GMO imperialism. For savvy corporate liberals like this group, it’s the difference between wanting some regulation of things like regular additives, which are just details of secondary importance, as opposed to regulations which would compromise the integrity of the structure itself. It makes little big-picture difference whether a particular additive is subject to labeling, or is even banned as a carcinogen. But GMOs as such are not a structural detail. On the contrary, they comprise an attempt to replace the entire existing food structure, and beyond that vast swaths of Gaia’s biological structure, with themselves. Therefore any regulation which would compromise the general freedom of the GMO imperative is taboo. Here corporate liberals join hands with regular conservatives. The CSPI provides an example of where the boundary of regulation-seeking lies. This is a good example of the role of corporate liberal cadres in general, and in turn their role within neoliberalism provides insight into the basic scam of neoliberal tyranny itself.

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March 28, 2012

Liberals and Lies

Filed under: Reformism Can't Work — Tags: — Russell Bangs @ 1:54 am

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Liberals have long been notorious for considering empty words, lies, “a seat at the table”, and other such nonsense to be actions in themselves.
 
Thus, for example, if Obama were to say something mildly critical of the 1% (a rare enough occurrence), and then commit a typically extreme pro-1% action, the liberal view wouldn’t be, “He lied.” It would be, These are two actions, one good, the other not-so-good.
 
(I’m talking here about the “progressives”. Of course, by now there’s no lack of brazenly pro-corporate liberals who would openly support the pro-corporate action. These corporate liberals are at least somewhat more honest, intelligent, and coherent than the “progressives”.)
 
These two alleged actions are implicitly equated in principle, and in practice the empty words (that is, the lie) are trumpeted as the more important action. “Obama and the Democrats mean well. They’re somehow forced against their will into these not-so-good [i.e., evil]* actions. Never mind that for two years they had a de facto one-party dictatorship.”
 
It goes deeper than this. The liberal ideology is so morally deranged, it actually converts lying into a virtue. When a malefactor lies the lie is taken, not as further evidence of malignity, but as the opposite, evidence of an underlying goodness. To a liberal, if a con man lies to you in order to steal your money, you should take the lie as a counterbalancing good action, to weigh against his bad one in stealing. Thus the lies of Obama, of all other Democrats, of liberal media and academic hacks, and of the Leadership of liberal corporate front groups, are all reinterpreted as Good Deeds.
 
Again, this bizarre “morality” is a conscious corporatist scam on the part of the corporate liberals, a real piece of idiocy and depravity on the part of the “progressives”. Either way, it’s one of the many proofs of the malevolence of liberalism. It’s one of the many proofs that the neither liberal cadres nor liberal ideology can play any constructive role in the movement to eradicate corporations and build positive democracy.
 
[*Even someone I know who seems basically anti-fascist, in discussing the savage police assault on Occupy Oakland, referred to a “mayor who’s acting against her principles”. I said “She did?” Everything I saw from the Oakland administration was exactly what I’d expect from any Democrat in power.
 
What is progressive ideology? First and foremost, it’s pro-capitalist and pro-government. That’s all you need to know to predict outcomes. In the end, the only difference between a liberal and a real fascist is willingness to follow through on the basic logic of one’s ideology. If he wouldn’t go as far as a fascist, that simply means a liberal adds cowardice and contemptibility to the fundamental evil of his “principle”.]

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February 21, 2012

Corporate Liberals for Monsanto (the CSPI, et.al.)

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Not that I have much use for petitions, other than as educational media. But this one, calling for the removal of Monsanto cadre Michael Taylor as government “food czar” (which the Food Control law empowers him to be), has a simple, benevolent demand. It fits the definition of a worthwhile “demand” on the system in that it would be easy for the system to comply, yet the system will refuse.
 
But this benign simplicity is far too much for our corporate liberal front groups. The so-called Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI – but they’re actually anti-science and most definitely against the public interest; but they certainly do support Centralism, so that part of their name is accurate) is leading the counterattack of a bunch of typical myopics, in the form of a pro-Taylor, pro-Monsanto and pro-GMO “Open Letter” asking MoveOn to back off. (To be sure, this petition is rather daring by MoveOn standards. So maybe some blowback from colleagues among that rancid system-liberal class might persuade them.) 
 
The CSPI has been notoriously soft on almost all of the most critical food issues. If you go to their website you’ll look in vain for much concern with workers, citizens, democracy, environmental destruction, CAFOs as pandemic vectors, animal cruelty. As for GMOs, they were pushing the “co-existence” scam even before Whole Foods took it up. One might think they’re just focusing on the nutrition issue, but no – they aggressively attack broad-based citizen activism, as we see here. They’re at best “useful idiots”, objective corporate front groups. More likely they intentionally chose this deal with the devil.
 
This is well-demonstrated at CSPI’s Biotechnology page, which is straight corporate propaganda.
 

That unique technique for manipulating hereditary traits can provide significant benefits, but also raises environmental, food safety, and societal concerns. Genetic engineering has the potential to decrease adverse environmental effects of conventional agriculture, increase yields for farmers (especially in developing countries), improve the nutritional quality and taste of crops, and contribute to sustainable agriculture.

 
These touted “benefits” have all been disproven, and are now flat out lies on the part of anyone who spews them, for example that GMOs increase yield (disproven by the Union of Concerned Scientists, among others). Meanwhile the brochure also expresses support for the continued enslavement of small farmers, especially in non-industrialized countries, to corporate commodity agriculture. You’d think the historical record would already have proven the evil of this, but that can’t stop our CSPI technocrats from continuing to call for what’s already been proven not to work, if the definition of “working” is the betterment of humanity and democracy.
 
As for the claim that doubling down on GMO monoculture, the ultimate oil-dependent and biologically vulnerable hothouse flower, makes for “sustainable agriculture”, the CSPI’s idiocy and malevolence speaks for itself.
 
Meanwhile, the CSPI is all about food labeling, so they must be for GMO labels, right? “Providing consumers with better label information”, as their Food Labeling page says?
 
On the contrary, few things could be more eloquent than the CSPI’s absolute silence on the GMO labeling efforts citizens are launching all over America. Just look over this list of “press releases and resources” going back to 2008. 
 
At best, CSPI is a statist “reform” organization. All its policy advocacy involves begging government for better top-down regulation. Corporatism as such, and corporate domination of our food, they take as normative. They just want it better regulated. They don’t call upon us to take back our food as democratic citizens and human beings. At most they make the meager suggestion that we be Better Consumers, to pay more attention to the nutrition labels on processed “food” in the big box aisle. The big box, and processed food in general, they represent as normative and desirable.
 
So it follows that whoever is in power, like this Taylor thug, they’ll look to as their Master and grovel before him, begging him for Kinder Gentler Tyranny. They’ll demonstrate their obedience and loyalty by attacking anyone who wants to abolish tyranny as such and create democracy.
 
This fundamental difference between the appeasement and collaboration mentality, vs. the human citizen mentality, is demonstrated in this amazing statement from the Open Letter:
 

Frankly, the petition represents the baldest sort of character assassination and plays right into the hands of those who are bent on convincing the public that all government officials are corrupt.

 
That all government officials are, not “corrupt” but pro-corporate and anti-democratic by their very nature, is a self-evident truth. But to the corporate flunkeys who signed this letter, to state such truth is “bald character assassination”.
 
Here we see an unbridgeable divide between those who would live as free, prosperous human beings and citizens of a community, and those who are dedicated to our terminal atomization and enslavement. There can be no compromise across such an infinite abyss. 
 
The letter is loaded with concern trolling. “Some of us” oppose this or that, are concerned about this or that. But the letter’s real message is that its signers oppose democracy and are concerned about citizen action. If they’re so upset about a picayune petition, imagine how they must get the vapors over anti-GMO direct action, or the Occupy movement, or any other real activism.
 
Monsanto has “some bad policies”? I challenge anyone to name a single good one. The fact is big corporations as such are evil, the corporate form as such is evil, the revolving door as such is evil. To stick up for them is to side against humanity and the earth, and to side with our enemies.
 
This is a lie:
 

It is far more relevant that in the Clinton Administration he headed the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he stood up to the meat industry and fought for strict controls that help keep E. coli and other pathogens out of meat and poultry.

 
On the contrary, the Clinton administration sought to increase concentration in the meat industry. The HACCP has had that result. Since it hasn’t been revoked, and was instead extended to produce in the recently passed Food Control law, proves that such concentration and domination was its real intent. Corporate food outbreaks, meanwhile, have increased.
 
This is an Orwellian statement:
 

Since joining the Obama Administration, Taylor has been working extraordinarily hard to transform the FDA from a reactive agency that chases down foodborne‐illness outbreaks after people fall ill, to a proactive public‐health‐based agency focused on preventing foods from becoming contaminated in the first place.

 
What this really means is that the FDA will handle Big Corporate producers with kid gloves while aggressively “policing” (i.e., acting as a corporate goon against) small producers, for example real milk dairies. The Food Control law seeks to empower the FDA to escalate this war on the small producer.
 
We see here that part of the motivation is astroturfing for Obama:
 

While the Administration has not accomplished everything we food safety advocates would like to see done, Mike Taylor, along with President Obama, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen, and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, have made great progress on food safety in a rather short period of time. They deserve the chance to keep on doing it, despite the conspiracy mongering to which Mr. Taylor is now being subjected.

 
Yes indeed, in just a few short years Obama and his thugs have accomplished more on behalf of GMOs, CAFOs, ethanol, Big Drug (as pusher of hormones and antibiotics), corporate concentration, and Big Ag monoculture as such, and against small farmers and the food relocalization movement, than George Bush did in 8 years. That’s an accomplishment indeed, and we see the record of what the criminal signers of this letter consider “accomplishments”.
 
(I’ll remind the reader, however, that the petition itself is to Obama. So to some extent this is a squabble among those who claim to consider Obama a decent citizen and Better Leader rather than what his entire record establishes him to be, a criminal against humanity.)
 
If this is shaping up to be a fight to the finish (and it is), I want to obliterate everything obscuring the line of fire. We have two trenches, and between them should be nothing but no-man’s-land. But front groups like the CSPI want to run interference, obstruct our shots, and help the corporate assassins fire from cover.
 
Nor am I much interested any longer in the difference between premeditated front groups and stupid liberal myopics who are “just” objectively pro-corporate tyranny. If anything the latter are even more destructive.
 
The petition points out that one constant throughout Taylor’s career has been his aggression against transparency and consumer information, one of the fundamental elements of democracy and true food safety. So he fits right in with the Obama administration’s vicious hostility toward transparency and whistleblowers. Meanwhile we see what kind of citizen information the CSPI and allied groups support, and what they really mean when they use the Orwellian term “food safety”. They, just as much as Monsanto, mean safety for corporate profits and state power. That’s what this ironically titled “open letter” is all about.
 
 
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