Volatility

February 3, 2018

Give My Regards to Billy

Filed under: GMO Corporate State, Scientism/Technocracy — Tags: , — Russ @ 1:17 pm

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(Cornell’s official fight song is “Give My Regards to Davy”, though these days they might want to change it to honor their great hero Bill Gates.)
 
 
A friend posted at Facebook about an introductory level college botany text which according to her is quite GM-centric. She asks:
 
“In this book, you can find the typical test questions for a B. Sc examination. It has questions about biotechnology. Seems to me that the biotech examination questions should be more in depth. Should biotechnology be part of a botany degree? Or should it be totally separate? You can know about botany without genetic engineering, but you can’t have genetic engineering without knowing about botany.[*] Makes me wonder how many other science books include biotech. (My sentiment is that education about biotech should have been a totally separate program with very strict protocols. It is almost as if students had no choice.)”
 
The choice largely existed only at the outset, to embark upon the corporate-technocratic college debt path or not. The whole concept of universal education was designed for capitalist requirements in the first place. It was the banks, railroads, and factory owners who lobbied for universal free public education. Capitalism was faced with an influx of rural men and women newly driven off the land and into the cities, and the factories needed this labor. But this new proletariat was largely illiterate and not especially docile. The employers wanted the state to provide schooling designed to instill basic literacy and the necessary obedience.
 
To this day, these are the two basic goals of system schooling: Instilling the requisite levels of literacy and docility for the workplace. And “science” has long been dominated by the corporate science paradigm. So it’s no surprise that basic textbooks are written from a pro-corporate perspective. By now it would seldom cross the indoctrinated mind of an author to do anything but that. And even if it did, who would write a textbook which omitted key corporate requirements, which then wouldn’t widely be bought? After all, the universities are under corporate control as well, while the professors are dependent on corporate funding and/or revolve with the revolving door. So there’s an overwhelming impetus to purchase only corporate-centric class materials.
 
That’s one of several things to consider when you ponder the value of going into debt servitude to go to college. And when you ponder the value of college as such. That is, assuming you have any higher aspiration in life than to be a corporate grinder. (More and more often, not even that; rather a grinder wanna-be who can’t find a job which doesn’t exist.)
 
 
[*Actually, few genetic engineers know anything about botany, agriculture, or for that matter the science of genetics. They know only laboratory manipulations and despise the underlying physical materials as mere clay. They take pride in their know-nothingism and believe that if they don’t know the biological facts, they can’t be constrained by biological limits. They’re wrong.]
 
 
 
 
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March 16, 2015

The Schools, Agriculture, and Economic Liquidation

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The idea that system schooling is to indoctrinate children into obedience to “authority” and prepare them to become corporate cogs (or, for the growing percentage who have no economic future, to acquiesce in the system and in their own economic liquidation) isn’t speculation. In the 19th century the original advocates of free, universal schooling weren’t progressive pedagogues, but banks, railroads, and factory owners. Faced with the need to rapidly escalate the industrial work force but having to deal with an influx to the cities of uneducated, independent-minded people raised on farms, they wanted the government to take on the responsibility of giving putative workers a basic education and docility training which would prepare them for factory work. This basic purpose of system schooling never changed.
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Today standardized testing and the Common Core are meant to intensify and “streamline” (to use one of the austerians’ favorite terms) this indoctrination/pacification agenda. This piece compares testing to the “duck and cover” drills of the 1950s. It’s a good comparison, although he forgets to mention that such an exercise wasn’t just a part of Cold War indoctrination, but that in the most direct psychological sense such exercises in abrupt terror and disorientation are an essential part of any kind of cult indoctrination. The literal ordeal of standardized testing, and the stress leading up to it, is a similar exercise.
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Of course standardized testing is also designed to fail large numbers of children in order to demonize their schools and provide a formal pretext for stripping these schools of funding, thus setting them up for privatization.
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In all this we see how the system views the vast majority of people as utterly worthless and expendable from even an exploitation point of view. Corporations need only a relatively small number of cadres, so the schools in general can be viewed as nothing but fodder for privatization and profit. If they cease to educate, or if they cease to exist at all, and however many millions of children are sacrificed out of hand, is no ultimate concern of the corporate system. In the same way the system wants to send the vast majority of the people of the global South on one-way trips to the shantytowns, so it’s feeling its way toward doing the same in the West itself.
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It was those same 19th century banks and railroads who originally lobbied for government establishment of the land grant college system, germplasm procurement programs, public crop breeding, and free seed distribution to farmers. Back then there was no Big Ag sector to lobby for its own corporate welfare, but other industrial and finance sectors wanted the government to undertake the project of rendering agriculture far more productive while requiring far fewer workers, since those workers would be needed in the factories and it would be necessary to provide cheap calories to feed them. That was the economic origin of industrial agriculture, which only in the 20th century became a sector in its own right, seeking its own aggrandizement.
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Today agriculture itself wants to shed the great majority of its Southern workers, while the corporate sweatshops are already at saturation. There’s nowhere on Earth where a primary corporate goal isn’t to drive the people somewhere, anywhere, just OUT. Let me stress that this has nothing to do with any alleged absolute “overpopulation”. On the contrary, there’s no chance of humanity reaching any absolute overpopulation level relative to the Earth’s resources. Overpopulation can exist only relative to per capita ecological and resource consumption and destruction, as is the case with Western lifestyles, or relative to politically chosen policy, as is the case with supply-driven corporate globalization. 100% of the social pathology, economic waste, and human misery involved in people being driven off their land is purely artificial and voluntarily chosen by Western governments and corporations (and compliant Southern governments) and forced upon the people.
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This is the same framework as the fact that the world already produces far more than enough food for all the people who exist now or ever will exist, and yet hunger, malnutrition, and other diet-related diseases continue to increase. This is 100% because of the artificially, politically chosen and imposed corporate food distribution system. It’s impossible to meaningfully discuss hunger except by asking the question: How do we overthrow corporate control of agriculture and food?
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Of course education could help with this question, which is why the schools must be completely corporate-regimented or else dismantled completely. As I started out saying, this is in line with the historical purpose of system schooling.
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What humanity really needs are its own democratic participation schools.

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November 11, 2011

Globalization, Home Schooling, and Democracy

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Even where it comes to something which sounds benevolent like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, under kleptocracy we can guess the way it’ll really be used. Of course there’s some good things about it, such as bans on child trafficking, which are good where enforced. (Although even those are conceived in a way which avoids dealing with the real cause of things like the sex trade. It’s always the same corporate exploitation which drives people into that kind of desperate poverty.) But that’s not the real purpose of a treaty like this. That’s why I chose to write a post focusing on the malign uses to which even the most seemingly benevolent aspects of corporatism and globalization will inevitably be put. 
 
The basic rule for everything is to relocalize. So even if one granted, just for the sake of argument, good intentions on the part of the drafters and signors, an international treaty is in principle the wrong direction.
 
But we know never to grant these good intentions. In practice all international law is intended to serve the ends of corporate globalization and statism. It will be applied for this purpose, and ignored where it would counteract this purpose.
 
In this case it seems this Convention, since it insists on family rights, ought to support home schooling against corporate-school coercion. But in fact provisions of it are already being invoked by the state against home schoolers in England, Belgium, and elsewhere. Just like with every other aspect of globalization, this “treaty”, really a corporatist contract of adhesion, is a weapon of corporate war on the people. 
 
The basic rule: Never trust such things and never agree that they have authority over the people. My basic rule for all constitutions and treaties and so on is that they’re strictly binding on power structures, loosely or not at all binding on the people. If a national government chooses to dissolve its nominal authority in favor of an international code, then that government has simply abdicated, and we should deal with it as an illegitimate structure. But this does not mean the code has any authority over us. How can an abdicating structure bestow legitimacy upon another? When such a vestigial “government” then wants to use force on behalf of this alien code, that’s nothing but thug tyranny. 
 
As of 2009 this treaty had been ratified by every country except the US and Somalia. It’s not a surprise that Europe is more enthusiastic than the US. As I’ve discussed before, although for the moment I forget in which post, by now corporatism in the US has relegated globalization to a secondary role, in favor of directly using the US government as the preferred thug. This is because “pure” globalization has generated what from the corporate point of view is gratuitous opposition in the US. But the US as an administrative entity is centralized and homogenized enough that it wasn’t really necessary to dissolve US government pseudo-sovereignty in order to impose corporate rule. The government was already powerful and entrenched enough, while the system interpretation of the Constitution already seeks to dissolve all other levels of federalism.
 
But globalization has been more important for the Europeans, who needed to undermine the existing menagerie of polities, cultures, sovereignties, in order to achieve economic centralization. (Of course, they were only ever to partially achieve this. They achieved a monetary union but were had to stick with the dreaded “patchwork quilt” of fiscal policies still in the hands of rump countries. They’re been trying to dissolve fiscal policy independence by force, via “austerity”. But the euro and the EU itself are doomed, and good riddance.) 
 
So we know the context in which to place all internationalism, including even the best-sounding. Something like the Convention sounds good on paper, but no one ever intends to enforce it against economic coercion. Just like with everything else, no one assaults children more systematically and viciously than corporations, yet the few attempts to invoke treaties like this against globalization assaults have been laughed at and ignored. Nor was such a treaty ever intended to be used in such a way. Like with everything else, it’s meant to be used by the global power structure as a weapon against “rogue” countries, but to not exist in any meaningful way where it comes to members of the fraternity or their hired thugs.
 
That’s the common nature of all these things – freedom, government, law, rights, property, constitutions, democracy, public morality – they’re all intended to be used only as weapons on behalf of power. No one among the powerful considers any of these to have any meaning or value in itself. You invoke and apply them where convenient, distort or ignore them where convenient. It’s heads-I-win-tails-you-lose. The FDA’s peculiar notions of “science” and “precautions” are good examples of this double standard.
 
Just as we see with US “food safety” policy, which has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with empowering corporations and assaulting independent farmers, so the Convention on the Rights of the Child does nothing to protect children against their great corporate enemy, but will on the contrary assault them on behalf of those same corporations.
 
By contrast, home schooling and true community schooling are what are what true democracy advocates want. Anarchism means simply to oppose large, alien structures and to restore all power to the people at the natural, relocalized level on a true democratic basis. Although many have an aversion to the term, even many who ought to be friendly toward it, it’s really synonymous with democracy, meaning true participatory democracy, self-rule by natural communities.

April 26, 2011

What’s Our Affirmative?

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In my last post and the subsequent comment thread we discussed how our scattered blogs may be able to coalesce, and what the preliminary basis of such a coalescence may be. The consensus is that people want to write about actions we can start to undertake now. So I figured I’d jot down a list of some of these relocalization actions and ideas, as well as a few notes on the underlying philosophy which will encompass them. We’ll need to share our expertise and experiences with all these things. In most cases we’ll be sharing during the act of developing this expertise through experience in the first place. I’m sure no expert yet on any of it. To most people all this stuff is pretty new.
 
1. Food Sovereignty: This is the philosophy that we have a human right, not just to food but to the land to grow the food, and to a polity and economic structure which supports and enhances this right. Then it’s also the practice of this right, including the political struggle to attain it.
 
There’s the core of my whole program. Agricultural science has proven that medium and small size organic agriculture is more productive than corporate monoculture. This fact will become ever more critical for our physical survival as we enter the post-oil age, since industrial agriculture is overwhelmingly dependent upon fossil fuels for fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides, mechanical harvesting and processing, and transportation. So this agricultural transformation is a physical necessity. 
 
I add that this transformation to a nation of tens of millions of small and medium-sized individual and cooperative producers is the only thing which can provide the basis for full employment on an autonomous basis. This then can be the foundation for economic and political democracy. Making a virtue of necessity, we can transform our current travail into the full triumph of the democratic movement. We can simultaneously save our lives and conquer our freedom, or else we can do neither. 
 
So where do we start toward this great goal? We start at the start, with the simplest and most broadly accepted actions – planting gardens, saving seeds, establishing farmers’ markets, and similar deeds. From there we elaborate these into a comprehensive plan for food relocalization, with personal production supplementing (or even being supplemented by) localized food distribution networks which bring together a coalition of regional farmers and regional buyers, all of whom achieve a much greater resiliency and security for themselves and for all the people of their communities. We enlist the mythology of history by resurrecting old heroic names like Victory Gardens and coin new ones like Freedom Seeds. We accompany all this activity with an educational program which puts it all in our current political and economic context. We gradually propose that common sense prevail, that none of this will work in the long run if we allow the potentially productive land to remain uselessly enclosed. (Not to mention that those who enclose it are those who stole it.) We study successful examples of land redemptions like the Landless Workers’ Movement of South America. 
 
This can then be tied in with parallel efforts at community education on the Land Scandal, which would include organized land redemption among its proposed solutions. 
 
2. Alternatives to money: Since I’m soon going to devote a separate post to Time Banking, I won’t delve into this one here. But I’ll just mention the many alternative currencies and exchange structures which have already been tried out, often with considerable local success. 
 
Here the basic medium-run goal is to extricate ourselves from the globalized economy and the cash economy as much as possible. The main vehicle will probably be some form of cooperative organization, since this looks like the best way to overcome the challenges of both being cash-poor in the first place, and of running a functional local economy without incurring the full tyranny of bureaucracy and taxation. I’ll have lots more to say about that. 
 
3. Energy: We’ll have to relocalize it as much as possible. I don’t know much yet about the full potential and the limits. I’ll leave that to others. 
 
The main thing I’m personally interested in is on-farm biodiesel generation to run the tractors and other equipment and the trucks to locally/regionally distribute the produce. I haven’t read studies yet, but I suspect that where rational farming practices prevail (where the manure and/or crop waste generated by the farm is recycled back into the soil), sufficient fuel could be produced to close this farm-to-eater loop.
 
4. Transportation: This one looks trickiest. We really are slaves to the car, and most of us have to use the car for almost everything. As much as possible relocalization will have to strive to minimize the need for driving.
 
5. Health care: The existing system is heavily dependent upon fossil fuels, and would therefore be unsustainable even if it were equitably organized. As we know, it’s also organized in a predatory, profiteering way. Since the goal of the health care system is not to care for health but to generate profit and be rationed by ability to pay; and since the people are now being economically liquidated; it follows that fewer and fewer of us will have access to care. We’ll need to turn to alternatives. Living in a healthy way to begin with is now paramount. We see another linkage with a redeemed food production system, since organic food is far more valuable in terms of nutrition and lack of unhealthy inputs. We’ll also need to learn about herbal medicine and tend herbal medicine gardens. That’s one example of an alternative. 
 
Lots more about the malevolence of the health system at my health racketeering page. 
 
6. Education: The gutting of school budgets and the pernicious character of the curriculum and socialization at our “public” (that is, increasingly corporatized) schools, means that we’ll be turning to educational alternatives like home-schooling, including on a cooperative basis, more and more. 
 
This schooling will become more and more entwined with the practical education of learning to grow food, produce manufactures without fossil fuels, salvage materials from obsolete items, etc. 
 
That leads to the whole panoply of relocalized crafts, manufactures, reskilling in the pre-oil ways. 
 
All of this will take place in an environment where we’ll have vast opportunities and responsibilities to educate a broader public and bring it into these activities. This environment will also contain many risks and dangers, as our enemies try to block us and, failing that, repress us. We’ll have to fight back through direct action, evasion, passive resistance, appeals to that broad public, and anything else called for by circumstance. So the strategy and tactics of the struggle against oppression is also part of our project.
 
And what’s the principled basis of all this? The same simple, wholesome beginning we made in 1776: We want to build a society which exalts life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The economy and the polity, which today so aggressively seek to destroy all of these, must be liberated and rebuilt toward maximizing these. This means we seek economic and political democracy. 
 
So there’s an overview of the challenges we face, the goals we seek, and therefore the affirmations we must write about.

April 15, 2011

Where Will We Find the First Wave?

Filed under: Internet Democracy — Tags: , , — Russ @ 1:48 pm

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In his book The True Believer, Eric Hoffer postulates that a mass movement cannot spring into being solely of its own accord, but that the road must be prepared by the steady, corrosive educational work of “men of words” who are alienated from the existing regime and have broken with it completely. Conversely, where all intellectuals and writers support the regime, the movement will never rise.
 
Today in America there’s no such alienated faction among the various groups of publicly visible writers. In the MSM, in academia, among established NGOs, the communicators are overwhelmingly flunkeys of the corporate regime. Whether out of real belief, or cynical careerism, or cowardice, they’re all public lackeys. Offhand I struggle to think of even individual exceptions, let alone discernable groups.
 
It looks like the alienated men of words and revolutionary writers exist only here in the blogosphere, a place isolated from the public and whose very existence is tenuous. How do we break out to reach the mass consciousness? To ask a more specific question, with whom should we start as a target audience? The answer seems obvious.
 
One of the most extreme examples of this regime’s short-sightedness, and one of the real reasons we have for optimism, is its disregard of the same intellectual-literary basis of its support I just mentioned, one of its main bulwarks against an adverse movement’s rising.
 
This is the way the regime is proceeding, for nothing but the sake of short-term bankster profiteering, to liquidate the job prospects of the newly educated, even as it saddles them with undischargeable debt. It’s doing this even as it continues to exhort and practically order everyone who can “afford” it to go to college. In this way the regime will produce an ever-growing logjam of unemployable, financially pre-crippled intellectuals. History proves that there are few social bottlenecks which are more explosive.
 
It’s clear that here, among these unemployable college graduates and permanent debt slaves, their entire lives ruined before they’ve even begun, ruined by an intentional government/bank/university scam, is where we must seek the intellectuals of the movement and the first big wave of its real cadres, to join the handful of us who are now trying to pioneer this movement. Once this is achieved, we’ll have the manpower to make a mass appeal.
 
So one of the first tasks is to figure out how to attract this Internet-active audience to our websites.
 
 

November 21, 2010

Student Loan Indenture

Filed under: Civil Disobedience, Freedom — Tags: — Russ @ 6:11 am

 

This morning at Naked Capitalism Yves asked the question, Is Student Debt the Next Front in the Consumer Debt Crisis? I’ve been meaning to write something about this, and the comment I made there is a good summary of my thoughts, so I decided to reproduce it here:
 
I’ve already heard of a few cases of law students suing their law schools for having fraudulently represented the value of the degree and the jobs that would be available to them, and inducing them to take out student loans on that fraudulent basis.
 
The moral soundness of such a suit is clear. This is a clear-cut case of predatory lending. You fraudulently represent an expensive asset as being an investment which will always appreciate in value, and induce the mark to take out a usurious loan in order to purchase it.
 
The parallel with housing is clear, and the fraud is even more direct. In the case of mortgage lending fraud, the seller was usually technically the previous homeowner, with the banks and their flunkeys managing the sale (and the government only propagandizing for it).
 
Here the school and the government themselves, along with the banksters, are active participants in the loan fraud.
 
It’s even worse in this case because there are no non-recourse student loans. There’s no house collateral to repossess. There aren’t even recourse loans which can be discharged in bankruptcy. Instead the “repossession” on a default can be nothing other than indentured labor. Legally, there’s no walking away from a student loan. Once the distressed student borrower can’t pay, he’s placed in the Hobbesian state of nature vis the indenturing system. The 2005 bankruptcy law has only made this worse.
 
Then there’s the fact that many of those who went on to post-graduate study did so expecting to be hired at asset-appreciating rates by the very educational system which was making these promises for these assets. Yet everywhere today we see the schools themselves failing to hire in sufficient numbers, and low-balling those they do hire, and seeking neoliberal structural adjustments for professors and teachers at every level.
 
It’s there that the loan fraud is most stark, direct, palpable.
 
So I’d love to see class action suits against the universities by the distressed student debtors, and a parallel political campaign unmasking this systematic lending fraud on the part of the schools and the very government which makes it impossible to discharge the debt, but wants to turn it into indentured servitude.
 
While here it’s not legally possible to jubilate the debt from the bottom up (the way it is with e.g. mortgage debt), it’s possible to politically demonstrate it to be predatory debt, the victims being the children (and by extension the parents who have to keep financially helping them) of the very middle class who would be the target audience. And this way may lie some kind of political relief, some kind of top-down acquienscence in the demanded jubilee.
 
(Meanwhile, I don’t know how legally viable such lawsuits would be. The law is no doubt rigged against them, and even if not it would still depend upon non-corrupt judges, judges who aren’t pro-bankster. But I think the main point of such suits would be political. Money shouldn’t be a problem, if we have all these unemployed lawyers. All you need is enough of them who recognize that the most likely  path to relief is political, and that such suits can be part of that political campaign even if they don’t prevail in the proximate legal sense.)
 
Beyond that, this is yet another stark lesson in the fact that the government and system institutions have become on the whole enemies of the people. What other conclusion can be drawn from the fact that they’ve taken the education aspiration itself, something which throughout history was the shining emblem of socioeconomic advancement, always right at the core of the work-hard-and-play-by-the-rules propaganda (and let’s recall how just a few years ago the likes of David Brooks were trumpeting the notion that America needed to aspire to universal college attendance), that they’ve taken this and turned it into another malevolent dead end and debt trap.
 
We know what Hobbes said the person who has been cast out and placed back in the state of nature should do, what he’s morally entitled to do, if the sovereign unilaterally breaks the social contract. The student debtor, the victim of top-down loan fraud and the target of indenture, should recognize that the existing system first lied to him and then unilaterally declared war upon him. He should regard it in kind.