Volatility

May 25, 2018

Death Juice

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Today they cut the coal barges loose. This is to poison the water, poison the river ecology, poison the people’s drinking water. Just as every step of the fossil fuel caldera, from its conception in psychotic minds to the emission of carbon dioxide and toxic air pollutants, is fully toxic in intent and action.
 
“The Department of Environmental Protection said coal does not post an imminent threat to downstream water intake or aquatic life, but it will continue to monitor the situation as cleanup begins. The DEP is assisting local emergency responders in the effort.”
 
We’ve heard that before. Just selecting one of the host of atrocities, they said the same thing about the 2014 coal poison dumping into the Elk River. The immediate result was an epidemic of acute sickness among anyone who drank the water. Months later the water was still so toxic even the government was still calling it undrinkable. The long term health effects can only be the subject of speculation until they manifest. Same for the massive destruction aquatic life, which also began immediately and whose long run ecocide we can only guess. As we know, we cannot look to science to give us accurate projections since establishment science is ideologically committed to productionism and technocracy, as well as absolutely corrupt in all the regular venal ways. For both reasons we know scientists are fundamentally dishonest where it comes to anything which could compromise these ideological and sordid commitments. No, science is no help to beleaguered humanity. Our only options are abolitionist action, or passive waiting for the collapse of the congenitally toxic civilization, tallying the destruction along the way. The one thing which is impossible is to find any sanctuary of health, well-being, peace, and humanity within the framework of a civilization based on total war at every point.
 
 
Back in the old days James Hansen denounced coal death trains. The whole basis of life on Earth is targeted for deportation. He was much lambasted, including among “environmentalists”. Perhaps with the increasingly frequent detonation of oil train bombs, Hansen’s comparison no longer looks so far-fetched even to them.
 
Here too Monsanto’s in on the explosive pyromaniac action.
 
 
What are oil and gas pipelines? To convey the extracted product of massively genocided lands (for example, the Alberta tar sands extraction zone is one of the vastest deathscapes on Earth, a land which not long ago was one of the most bountiful and beautiful bases of life on Earth); to slash through forests, wetlands, communities (including militarized police assaults); then continually to leak with locally devastating effects; and on to the final usage of fossil fuels: To poison farmland and food, continue mass murder on the roads, and drive climate chaos on to its ultimate cataclysm.
 
The tar sands give death in so many ways. They too are dumped into rivers to poison the people and everything that lives in water.
 
 
 
 
 

December 20, 2015

Corporate Fossil Fuel Extraction vs. Freedom

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Three grassroots fights against the water-poisoners and incipient destroyers of our lands and communities. Sometimes with the full collaboration of traitor local “authorities”, sometimes with virtuous local representatives siding with the people.
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In every case – fracking, the tar sands, shale oil – it’s a big lie that the devastation has anything to do with “energy independence”. On the contrary, the fact of this cancerously expanding pipeline infrastructure is proof that the extracted fuels are commodities for export. The communities ravaged by extraction and pipeline or bomb train transportation get nothing. Stability, security, prosperity, happiness can never be found on the path of the relentless, infinite corporate havoc. On the contrary, what little is left of these will only be wiped out completely.
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Note how the Kelo case disproves the lie that capitalism has anything to do with “property rights”. Under capitalism only the biggest, most powerful players have any rights at all, to property, speech, or anything else. Again, freedom, rights, justice, morality will never lie with the corporation. The corporate can never represent anything but the absolute destruction of these.
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July 4, 2014

GMO News Summary July 4th 2014

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

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March 12, 2014

The TTIP and the “Right to Profit” (Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement)

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In 2012 US-based Lone Pine Resources sued Canada in the World Bank’s corporate tribunal under NAFTA’s Chapter 11 process, claiming that Quebec’s moratorium since 2011 on fracking was costing Lone Pine $250 million in lost profits. Lone Pine wants to engage in fracking right under the St. Lawrence River. Fracking is highly destructive, has been documented by the US government to cause earthquakes, poisons the groundwater and wells of whole regions, wastes tremendous amounts of water, destroys farmland where the wells are drilled, disrupts and terrorizes communities, wrecks local economies, and produces little gas. Most wells produce nothing, while the most productive fizzle out in a year or two, leaving nothing but wholesale economic, physical, soil, and water destruction in their wake. The main power function of fracking is as a typical Wall Street securitization bubble. Any sane region or country would ban it.
 
But according to NAFTA, none of this matters or has any standing whatsoever as a basis for legitimate public policy. According to NAFTA, public interest policy literally has no right to exist, wherever it gets in the way of corporate profit. 
 
Also in 2012, US-based Strongpoint Solutions filed a similar suit with the tribunal for $27 million. Although its complaint is somewhat vague, in effect it claims that Canada’s federal and provincial statutes against burglary, extortion, murder, and other acts interfere with its ability to offer such profitable services as contract murder. It claims these laws comprise “technical barriers to trade” and are according to NAFTA an illegal constraint on “investor rights”.*
 
I’ve previously written (parts one, two, three) about the provisions of the TTIP and TPP for regulatory Gleichschaltung (coordination) under corporate rule. While that’s meant to be a longer-term project, a more immediate and direct attack on democracy and politics will be these compacts’ souped-up corporate tribunals called “investor-to-state dispute settlement” (ISDS).
 
ISDS is a way for corporations to directly sue countries over any policy provision which allegedly costs them profit. The suits take place in secret tribunals presided over by corporate lawyers. These tribunals are lawless administrative courts outside of any kind of democratic oversight or accountability. They’re most similar to administrative courts which have been run by secret police organizations like the tsarist Okhrana and the Nazi SS. The process gives oligopoly corporations based in any country which is party to a compact special privileges over the rights of the people or of any legitimate business within any country which is also a party. It exalts the “right” to corporate profit as the supreme imperative of society, lofting it far above all other values, rights, goals of policy and law.
 
If the TTIP and TPP are ratified, their ISDS provisions will follow the NAFTA model for filing disputes. From the corporatist point of view this is an improvement over the older WTO model. Under less rigorous globalization compacts, when a corporate sector based in a country feels hampered by a law or regulation in another participating country, its government sues the other government in a WTO corporate tribunal. When, hardly ever “if” (the complainant almost always wins), the WTO finds the law in question to be a barrier to “trade”, it grants the plaintiff country the right to impose retaliatory tariffs on imports from the defendant country. These so-called retaliatory tariffs themselves are chosen in a way to penalize certain imports in order to support certain exports, so what the complainant wins at the tribunal is not so much a right to retaliate as a right to commit new aggression.
 
But from the point of view of the original surly sector, this is a highly convoluted process which doesn’t necessarily do IT any good. Thus at the behest of the Monsanto the US government sued the EU over its GMO regulations. In 2006 the US won at the tribunal and has since been able to impose tariffs on some EU exports, mainly some peripheral luxuries. This “win” therefore hasn’t done Monsanto and the GMO cartel much good.
 
But under the ISDS provision of NAFTA and the over 3000 multilateral and bilateral compacts based upon it, a corporation directly sues a government at a World Bank International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) tribunal. This tribunal is similar to a WTO tribunal, but instead of rewarding a government plaintiff with the right to impose a tariff, it rewards the corporate plaintiff with a direct monetary award, paid for by the taxpayers of the target country. This is meant to be (1) a direct corporate welfare conveyance laundered as a “judicial” award, and (2) a pretext to gut regulation and law at lower levels of government which isn’t sufficiently pro-corporate, and to impose a chill effect which prevents the enshrinement of such laws and regulation in the first place.
 
Chapter 11 lets corporations complain about any policy, law, regulation, court decision, which in any way allegedly infringes on any hypothetical profit the corporations can conceive. This has nothing to do with uneven treatment between foreign and domestic businesses. Even where the provision applies equally to all, it’s held to strict liability as far as how it impacts any corporation’s alleged ability to profit.
 
This is proof that globalization compacts are not about trade, but about power. If they were about trade, then a law which applied to everyone equally wouldn’t be a problem.
 
NAFTA also prohibits “performance requirements”, such as that in order to receive various permits a company has to commit to a region for a period of time, source local inputs, etc. In every way it seeks to enshrine a regime of 100% “rights”, i.e. license, 0% risks or responsibilities for the corporations.
 
The boorish quotes here exemplify the psychopathy of the concept of corporate “rights”.
 

Lone Pine claims the Quebec moratorium is an “arbitrary, capricious, and illegal revocation of [its] valuable right to mine for oil and gas.” The firm says the government acted “with no cognizable public purpose,” even though there is broad public support for a precautionary moratorium while the environmental impacts of fracking are studied. Milos Barutciski, a lawyer with Bennett Jones LLP, who is representing Lone Pine in the arbitration, described the moratorium as a “capricious administrative action that was done for purely political reasons – exactly what the NAFTA rights are supposed to be protecting investors against.” It may seem unbelievable but this lawyer may be correct that Lone Pine’s right under NAFTA to make a profit is more important than the right of communities to say no to destructive and environmentally dangerous resource projects.

 
We see again how from the point of view of corporatism politics as such is an atavism, and such values as democracy, public health, environmental protection, are by definition “capricious”.
 
This notion of a “right to profit” is a piece of extremism by any measure. As the provisions are crafted, the “legitimacy” of this hypothetical profit only needs to be confirmed by any friendly government bureaucrat. All that’s needed is for an official with any relevant agency to tell the corporation that he expects it to be able to get a permit, qualify according to a law, etc., and/or that he expects the proposed corporate action to be profitable. No matter how bogus, no matter how suborned, this is enough to establish the profit as some kind of mystical reality. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the accounting regulators then let the company list it as some kind of Account Receivable or other asset.) Needless to say, even now it’s easy for a big corporation to find a regulator chummy enough to give this testimony. It’ll be even easier under regulatory coordination. Indeed, in that case regulators will have a duty to seek such mystical “profit” opportunities on the corporations’ behalf and notify them of these.
 
There’s something Kafkaesque about it – the people comprise the real defendant and will pay the judgement, yet are not allowed any real representation or to observe the proceedings. Their “representatives” are government bureaucrats who are on the side of the prosecutor, and who helped the prosecution prepare its case.
 
Beyond this, the concepts which guide ISDS and globalization and corporatist policy in general – “risk-benefit analysis”, “best practices”, core good regulatory practices”, “Regulatory Impact Assessment”, “market liberalization”, “equalization”, “sound science”, “necessity”, “effectiveness”, and so on set up an adversarial antagonism between corporate profit and human society, with a strong presumption in favor of the corporations.
 
This includes modes of measurement which are automatically in favor of the corporation. There’s nothing scientific or rational about anything like “risk-benefit analysis”, which is on the contrary a purely ideological concept. RBA is arbitrary by definition, in that is arbitrarily enshrines corporate profit as the only value. It can be meaningful at all only to those who adhere to this ideology. If you don’t recognize any right of corporations to a profit, or if you think profiteering shouldn’t exist at all, or if you think the profit motive is only a tool to be used to help increase human well-being, from any of these points of view RBA or anything like it would be absurd and depraved.
 
Humanity must reject the entire concept in principle. We must apply the constitutional corporatism test – do corporations with special privileges legitimately exist at all? We deny the right of corporations to exist at all, and we deny their right to a profit (let alone any other “rights”). Therefore we reject the whole mode of measurement and comparison these compacts fraudulently claim to enshrine. I say “fraudulently” because there could never be any measured result which this regime would consider so little a gain to the corporation as not to be worth the damage it would cause, or too big a loss to the people that it wouldn’t be worth any corporate gain.
 
Thus the goal is to enshrine a guaranteed income for any corporate con artist. If a corporation can envision a profit, it has a right to be awarded this profit in reality. The job of the government and the tribunal is to ensure this profit. This is an extreme manifestation of the fact that corporatism is not designed to provide good products and services, but to guarantee itself a profit and maximize its power. As I said earlier, corporations are not such good/service providers, but power-seeking organizations who hijack and use an economic sector as their base of operations for economic and political domination.
 
Meanwhile the “right to profit” is part of the mysticism of power, and any provision enshrining it is the essence of a command economy.
 
Both Canada and Mexico have lost cases totaling several hundred million dollars in “damages”. That’s in addition to legal costs (which aren’t awarded to the defendant even when it wins) and tribunal fees. Extractive sectors like mining and fossil fuels have been especially aggressive in using these tribunals. Over 50% of ISDS cases have been filed by extractive corporations against Latin American countries. But as the Lone Pine case described above exemplifies, extractors are looking to the CETA and the TTIP to open up Canada and Europe to fracking, and to tribunal suits against any country which tries to protect its people, economy, and environment.
 
Similarly, although Monsanto and the GMO cartel have had little to complain about in the US or Canada so far (Mexico may be a different story these days), they’re eager for the TTIP to give them the power to sue the EU over the many regulatory and political hurdles Europe poses to the GMO assault. Such suits would be win-win for Monsanto, since they’ll either win money awards, or better yet the existence of the ISDS tribunal will give the EC the final inducement it needs to jettison all concern with European democracy and directly approve many or all GMO applications, the way it has always wanted to.
 
The possibilities for lawsuits and extortionate “damage” awards are limitless. Eli Lilly is suing Canada for $500 million for what it views as an insufficiently strong patent for anti-depression drugs. Renco is suing Peru for $800 million over extraction permits. Canada is suing the EU over the European Fuel Quality Directive, which disadvantages its filthy tar sands oil (the same which is slated to be conveyed through the Keystone Pipeline in defiance of US law). Today there are over 500 suits pending before the World Bank tribunals.
 
Civil society, democracy advocates, real businesses, farmers, scientists, public health professionals, environmentalists, and many others, every part of human society and the human economy, have long pointed out that there’s no conceivable public need for this form of extra-constitutional, supra-legal form of tribunal. For any and all actual needs, existing national and regional law is more than sufficient. As in so many other cases, the reform point of view and the abolitionist position agree that ISDS and these tribunals shouldn’t exist at all and serve no purpose other than to aggrandize corporate power and domination.
 
This may bode well for the future of the TTIP in the European Parliament.
 

In June 2011 a European Parliament resolution on the EU–Canada negotiations stated that, “given the highly developed legal systems of Canada and the EU, a state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism and the use of local judicial remedies are the most appropriate tools to address investment disputes.” In July that year, the Commission’s own Sustainability Impact Assessment of CETA came to the same conclusion, recommending a state-to-state dispute process only.

 

 
The ISDS provision is so clearly hostile to democracy and economically bad for the people of any country that its inclusion in the TTIP has become a major rallying point for the opposition in Europe. It’s so inflammatory that in January the EC felt the need to retrench. It announced it would issue a public “consultation” in March, followed by a three month public comment period.
 
We already know this “consultation” will be a scam, since we’ve already been through a similar consultation on ISDS with the EU-Canada trade compact (CETA), set to go into effect in 2014. CETA is evil in itself, and is a forerunner of the US-EU TTIP. The Seattle to Brussels Network was able to see a leaked copy of the secret CETA negotiation text on “investment protection” and ISDS and compare it to the public “consultation” note. The public note is just a propaganda document which is much weaker and loaded with anodynes than the real text. It has boilerplate about a theoretical “right to regulate” and misleading definitions and depictions of the scope of the corporate powers being conferred.
 
The main point is that the real text gives coordinated regulators and tribunals vast discretionary power to interpret the provisions and their own powers to act on behalf of corporate imperatives. Much of the language is vague and meant to preserve this discretionary power of bureaucracy, much like with the regulatory coordination provisions. Also like those, it’s meant to postpone specific harsh measures for the subsequent administrative process, rather than daring to run the political gauntlet by including them formally in the compact.
 
The public CETA consultation note promises certain limits on the right to profit, on concepts like “fair and equitable treatment” (FET), on what constitutes an “investment”, a code of conduct for the arbitrators on the tribunal, a promise of transparency, and other anodynes. But the actual negotiation text is significantly different in each case, and in each case what the note says or implies is much weaker, or is mere vague boilerplate with no corresponding provision in the real text. The actual text also contains all sorts of preemptions of the constraints alleged in the note, such as “most favored nation” and similar clauses. Even if constraints on ISDS were initially to be encoded, these would be subsequently subject to “equalization”, “harmonization”, and other modes of destruction under the permanent ongoing regulatory coordination process.
 
We can expect the upcoming TTIP public “consultation” to be a similar propaganda ploy.
 
Meanwhile, as the EC negotiators made clear, it’s only the ISDS provision which is being delayed at all, and only this may in theory be changed. The rest of the TTIP – the negotiations over the sectoral assaults and the regulatory Gleichschaltung plan are at full steam ahead, and these will not be ameliorated one bit.
 
The TTIP (and TPP) as a whole is an assault on freedom, democracy, economic prosperity, and human happiness. It’s to be a major escalation of corporate tyranny, a major step toward corporate domination. As we should have abundant experience by now, all of its promises are lies, and none of its promised benefits will come true. It’ll only accelerate the corporate destruction of the real economy and what’s left of democratic politics, leaving behind only austerity, serfdom, hunger, disease, and an ever more severe police state.
 
We need to reciprocate the EC’s political ploy by seizing the opportunity of the sham “consultation” to expose the overall sham of the TTIP and engineer its political defeat. This is likely to be the last chance the politics of representative democracy gets.
 
[*Actually, that case is a rumor and may not really exist. But even if no such suit has been filed, I defy anyone who supports ISDS to tell me by what logic it shouldn’t be able to succeed at the tribunal if it was filed.]

 
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December 18, 2012

We Need the Abolition of GMOs

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1. Did the colonists Ask the British to rescind the Intolerable Acts, lift the Boston Port closure, take back the Coercive Acts? No, it only took them a few years from the mid 1760s to early 70s to comprehend that Asking the British for Better Policy doesn’t work, so they stopped doing it. They knew the only options were servitude, or to get the British OUT.
 
2. Today we’ve had far more than a few years to comprehend the same fact, that Asking the British doesn’t work. (It’s a sad fact of history that no one learns lessons from history, but must learn the same lesson from experience, over and over. So be it – our own experiential evidence is conclusive.) We’ve had over a century of experience with the elemental viciousness of the corporate domination imperative, which is totalitarian in the most basic and literal sense of the term – the corporations will NEVER stop short of total enclosure and total domination. This was common sense from the beginning, and it’s been proven by the evidence. The evidence of our own lifetimes is the most decisive of all.
 
3. We know that Asking the British doesn’t work. Those who tout modern versions like “writing your congressman”, “petitioning your president”, and of course “voting” (I mean those who tout these as the only, or primary, courses of action*), we must classify as modern versions of loyalists. Corporate Loyalists. These include all system NGOs, liberals in general, and conservatives too.
 
4. GMO labeling, where it’s seen as the goal rather than a step toward the goal, toward the total abolition of GMOs, falls into this begging-for-Better-Policy category.
 
5. In response to the lousy campaign and stolen vote in California, and belated analysis of the inherent flaw of the Labeling idea (as the end goal), some people have moved on to calling for a ban on GMOs. This is a step forward, but is still mired in system consciousness. Even if a legalistic ban were possible (which it’s not, at the central or at any state level, not right now), it would still be operating within the same corporatized framework where Monsanto operates. By making a fetish of “the law” and considering it magically endowed with active power, it implicitly concedes the legitimacy of existing law (for example the very intellectual property regime which props up Monsanto) and the central government itself. But we must, as an element of our political education, reject all such alleged legitimacy, in principle.
 
Here’s some typical examples of how the law really works: CAFOs, fracking, and mountaintop removal mining are exempt from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. And of course the just-passed (by a bipartisan consensus, as all these examples of corporate lawlessness are held) Monsanto Rider to a typical corporate welfare law would exempt GMOs from all regulatory control or judicial review. That’s the way “the law” works. Remember that the next time you see anyone blabbering about “the law” and “petitions” and “voting”.
 
6. Food Sovereignty rejects the notion that an alien central government can ever play any legitimate or constructive role in food production and distribution. The sector is naturally local/regional. The only thing centralized hierarchy can do is use massive top-down power to force agriculture into the commodification strait-jacket. This command economy, and the massive corporate welfare and thug apparatus which props it up, is the basic activity of the US government. It will never do anything significant which runs counter to this corporate commodification imperative. Therefore, the people’s only constructive course of action is to build a grassroots political movement to meld with the Community Food sector which is already surging as a vibrant economic movement.
 
7. Therefore, the basic nature of the anti-GMO movement, as with the entire liberation movement, has to be direct action, self-management, civil disobedience – in our minds, in our words, and as much as possible in our actions.
 
8. That’s not to say legalistic actions, where immediately possible, aren’t worth doing. Any town council with the votes to ban GMOs, ban fracking, ban corporate personhood, declare local food sovereignty, should do so. But no such votes exist at the central government level. So those who propose a “ban” on GMOs are really proposing that we build a political campaign centered on this kind of legalistic advocacy (and without even building an underlying movement structure and culture first). This is as quixotic and utopian as an idea gets.
 
9. History and today’s evidence prove that nothing will work but to relocalize our economies and particularly our food; to build the consciousness of our economic need to do this; to build a cultural and intellectual movement around this new way of life; to build upon this a new democracy consciousness; throughout all these actions to learn from the enemy’s assaults upon us, the true nature of the corporate tyranny we struggle against; and from there to politically organize to resist, reject and abolish this enemy, through rejecting its legitimacy, refusing to cooperate with it, refusing to participate in its systems, and wherever possible to take local direct action against it. Combined, this movement can preserve itself through the trials ahead, maintain the health and happiness of its people, help bring down the corporate tyranny, and lead humanity through to a new freedom and prosperity.
 
10. As with every other anti-corporate struggle, the struggle vs. GMOs is an abolition movement.
 
[*The title of an upcoming food book by a leading system liberal: Eat,Drink,Vote. Yes, that sums up passive consumerism in its most profound form. A real citizen’s book, meanwhile, would be entitled: Eat, Drink, Grow, Organize, Fight. But the job of system reformists is to fence in dissent, keep it domesticated and system-coordinated, and fence out the real time-tested ideas of action.]

 
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September 7, 2012

Food is Dead

Filed under: Dance of Death, Food and Farms, Land Reform, Neo-feudalism, Nietzsche, Peak Oil, Relocalization — Tags: — Russell Bangs @ 5:04 am

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When Nietzsche wrote “God is dead”, he didn’t mean that if you polled people they wouldn’t avow belief in god, or that they don’t consciously think they believe in god when it occurs to them at all.
 
He meant that in people’s regular lives, their day-to-day actions, their day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute thoughts, god and religion play no role. God is no longer a significant part of the lives of people in general, as a guide to action or as a feature of our inner lives. Modern Westerners live as atheists, they think as atheists, so they actually are atheists. The fact that upon request they’ll consciously “believe in god”, like a dog salivating when it hears a bell, doesn’t change that fact.
 
We have the same decadent* phenomenon with food. Where does food comes from? Does it come from healthy soil and a stable farming culture, organic within a healthy ecology and socioeconomic environment? Or does it come from the supermarket? Most people, if specifically asked, would consciously agree that food comes from farms. But that’s not what people really think and do. In people’s regular lives, their day-to-day actions, their day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute thoughts, farms play no role. The possible existence (or extinction) of farms is no longer a significant part of the lives of people in general, as a guide to action or as a feature of their inner lives. People think and act as if food comes from the supermarket. The imminent lifting of New York’s fracking moratorium is a perfect example. Forget the committed fascists like Cuomo and Bloomberg – for people in general to have any doubt about fracking’s evil is to demonstrate their disbelief in farms and their compensatory faith in supermarkets.
 
We should see supermarkets as cult shrines. At the moment they do indeed seem to produce food (at least for those who can afford it and can physically get there). But to believe, in direct defiance of all the evidence of physical energy and the environment, that these totem plots will continue to bring forth food once the farms hidden behind them perish, is a nadir of pseudo-religious compensation for people’s lost connection with the Earth.
 
Cults have often called upon their believers to relinquish all their earthly possessions and gather passively awaiting the end. In this case, we’re to relinquish all human responsibility for our very food, its production and distribution, our human right to the land, our very presence on the land, and gather passively awaiting our next feeding.
 
But while the promised end never came for other cults, the promised bounty of the supermarket cult will indeed come to a brutal end. The common thread is the failure of the cult promise. This is because food does not in fact come from the supermarket, or from the car, or from wars for oil, or from government, or from the corporate form, or from “property”, or from any of the other things people try to psychologically and spiritually substitute for the farm. I fear that many will have to learn this the hard way, since for Western humanity at large, Food is Dead.
 
That’s why the Food Sovereignty movement must be, in all ways, a completely new beginning.    
 
[*This blog’s not about religious matters, so for now I won’t elaborate on what I mean by religious decadence. I’ll just say that part of the human condition is a spiritual and cultural life, which has to be an organic part of a human community. The mass functional atheism characteristic of modernity is inhuman. We see how desperately people strive to fill the void, with everything from consumerism to pseudo-religious ideology.]

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October 4, 2011

Colorado, Cantaloupes, CAFOs, and Property

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A few days ago I described how “property” is a creation of the government and therefore always will be viewed by the government in an instrumental, i.e. pro-corporate, way. Your rights here like everywhere else will extend only as far as is convenient for the big corporate prerogative. This fact of corporatism has been on public display in the government’s war on raw milk, which is the template for a broader war on food freedom in general.
 
I mentioned how this Humpty Dumpty interpretation of property operates in tandem with the complete Orwellian inversion of the Constitution itself.
 

But for the time being we can formulate a transitional doctrine to accompany our constitutionalism. The right view is that the Constitution must be interpreted strictly where it comes to government/corporate power, loosely where it comes to the power and liberty of the people. This is truly its Original Intent, as is made clear by the original philosophy of the American Revolution.

Similarly, since “property” could only ever be valid if it referred to the rights of real people living and working within a community, so it follows that if we’re to recognize property rights at all our priority must be rights that involve constitutional liberties, rights that involve local/regional business and residence, rights that involve actual work and eating. Meanwhile the concentrated “property” of the alien rich shouldn’t be respected at all. Corporations, not being persons, can’t own property in the first place.

 
I quoted from the FDA’s brief in one of the raw milk freedom lawsuits pending against it. But I didn’t give the quote which most clearly crystallizes this inversion:
 

5. FDA’s Regulations Rationally Advance the Agency’s Public Health
Mission.

Because the interests asserted by plaintiffs are not fundamental rights, FDA’s
regulations are not subject to strict scrutiny. Instead, plaintiffs have the burden of
showing that the regulations do not bear a rational relationship to legitimate
governmental interests.

 
As I remarked in one of my food tyranny posts discussing this brief:
 

It’s not we the people who have to prove the government is wrong, but the government, in theory our “public servant”, which has to prove it is correct in any given case. But that inversion of truth and lie, morality and immorality, is all too typical of today’s kleptocratic government.

 
In this Wisconsin case it’s the state thuglets walking point for the feds. This is a common pattern. I previously mentioned a Colorado assault whose constitutional logic seems to have been received from the top down.
 

Patti Klocker, assistant director for the Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability for the Colorado DPHE, told me, “A number of things were going wrong here (at Haynes’ stores), so we did collaborate on this” with county public health authorities in going after Haynes.
As for Erickson’s raw dairy, she said Colorado’s law allowing cow share operations only sanctions fluid milk. “It does not allow access to raw milk products.” She said three dairies have been asked to “please discontinue this practice” of making other raw dairy products available to their shareholders.

 
Hmm, Colorado, Colorado, that rings a bell. Oh yes, Colorado was the geographical origin of a recent deadly outbreak of food contamination. The vector was cantaloupes. But what was the source? Everyone’s playing dumb so far, but our attention is immediately drawn to the fact that Prowers County, the location of Jensen Farms to which the outbreak has been traced so far, has an “extreme” concentration of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
 

“Filthy runoff from confinement operations can contaminate water used in irrigating crops,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. “We hope that public health officials will include irrigation water and waste water lagoons in their investigations of this tragic outbreak.”

 
This is the most likely source of the pathogen, just as CAFOs have been the source for innumerable previous outbreaks. (We’ll see how interested the food police are in tracing the source prior to Jensen.) If so, as I’ve said many times, the executives, major shareholders, government flunkeys and media and academic flacks are all guilty of murder. And I remind again that it’s not a question of “if” but of when a CAFO shall be the source of a lethal pandemic.
 
So does that mean the license (AKA “freedom”) and “property rights” of these operations will immediately be revoked by a sane society acting in clear self-defense? Don’t answer that.
 
Meanwhile, will those who refuse to take action here at least have enough shame to leave off their assaults on the freedom and rights of innocent and benevolent raw milk producers and drinkers? We can guess the answer to that one too.
 
I hope this example makes clear what I mean when I say that “rights” including property rights, and “freedom” in general, are just infinitely malleable empty words in the hands of a government which is run completely by a small extension of itself, corporations. I hope this makes clear that no freedom and no rights can have any real existence at all for as long as corporatism exists. It’s a zero-sum war between them.
 
(BTW, Colorado was also an original proving ground for fracking, another ongoing lesson in corporate power and what “rights” truly mean in the face of power.)