Why GMO Abolitionism: The Goal of This Site


From this post.
After years of writing across many topics as a general anti-corporatist, I’ve become a focused GMO abolitionist. How did I end up here?
1. Food production and distribution is the primary economy of humanity. We need to focus ideology and strategy here.
2. Conversely, food corporatism is the core battleground for corporate rule as a whole, where its war to impose total domination will be won or lost.
3. Specifically, the goal of corporatism is to overcome the final limits to capitalism’s accumulation process and therefore the end of its ability to profit. 
How can capitalism overcome the limits of the earth? Only by becoming able to wipe out large swaths of its resources and synthetically replace them with its own enclosed proprietary products. This is the reason for the corporate state’s GMO project. If it works the way corporations and governments hope, the core human economy, physically and organizationally, will become a synthetic corporate product under the total control of the technocratic elites. They will be able to manipulate the entirety of its production and distribution mechanisms with precision control, allowing or denying food to any individual, group, or region, every crumb of it a pure profit-generator (on paper), every crumb of it firmly enclosed within the patent regime, this regime ruthlessly enforced by the full might of the police state.
Best of all from the corporate point of view, since agriculture will be under total technical control, the technicians will be able to wipe the slate clean at will. Is a particular set of GMOs no longer expedient for whatever reason? Discontinue it and replace it with a brand new set.
The ongoing fiasco with herbicide tolerant and Bt-expressing varieties increasingly unable to cope with the superweeds and superbugs they generate against themselves, and the need to add 2,4-D and dicamba tolerance on top of glyphosate tolerance, and the need to stack six Bt insecticides where one used to suffice, is just an early, very clumsy form of this planned obsolescence.
Meanwhile the elites also hope this will eventually allow them to realize the old dream of human domination over nature itself. Although so far GMO contamination of wild plants is happening in an ad hoc, uncontrolled manner, the elites hope someday to strategically inject genetic modification into the environment at large in order to sculpt it the way they desire. This will also further enclose the entire surface of the earth as “property”, since in addition to the legal ownership of land, there will be proprietary control of the flora, as well as the water and air which carry the proprietary genetic material. Wherever convenient for the elites this proprietary control will supersede “ownership” rights. “Libertarian” types gripe about government bureaucracies today allegedly interfering with enjoyment of one’s property, but that’s nothing compared to the control Monsanto has in mind, once everything on your land carries its patented genes.
How do they plan to do all this? No doubt this whole plan is still mostly hazy and theoretical. But the corporatists think that once today’s level of mechanization becomes impossible (on account of there being insufficient economically extractable fossil fuels), they’ll be able to keep industrial agriculture going through the increasing use of slave labor. This is expected to overcome, for a while at least, the declining ability of fossil fuels, aquifers, synthetic fertilizers, industrially mined phosphorus, and the ravaged soil to sustain production. In this way the elites hope to gradually wind down the industrial civilization and return to some de-industrial mode of empire while keeping their power intact and without suffering a non-linear collapse along the way.
That’s the corporate end goal. GMOs are intended to serve as the linchpin holding together and enforcing this system.
This is insane, of course. It’ll never be possible to sustain industrial agriculture this way. But if things continue the way they’re going, the corporate system will push as far as possible toward this goal, causing inconceivable destruction, suffering, and death along the way, and perhaps rendering humanity’s recovery permanently impossible.
4. It’s to try to avert this outcome that I became a GMO abolitionist, and why I think anyone who wants to fight corporate rule, capitalism, statism, elitism, tyranny, should also focus on this fight.
5. In spite of the corporations’ insane plan, and in spite of various utopian notions, industrial agriculture is unsustainable for the reasons I already mentioned above. Post-oil, the earth still can sustain a population even greater than today’s, but only if humanity switches in an organized way from industrial, corporate agriculture to decentralized, low-external-impact polyculture agroecology, along with food sovereignty as the free, rational and democratic mode of political and economic organization. If we do this, we can all feed ourselves well and live prosperously. If we don’t, the collapse of industrial ag will result in mass famine.
GMOs comprise a doubling down on all the worst aspects of industrial ag, as well as the system’s most vicious attempt to forestall the agroecology/food sovereignty solution.
Food sovereignty and agroecology vs. corporate agriculture is the most critical war of ideas humanity has ever undertaken. GMO abolitionism, first to discredit and then to obliterate GMOs totally, is a critically important part of this war.
6. As a strategic matter, GMO abolitionism focuses on a clear, non-negotiable operational goal. Organizational, strategic, tactical questions can then be answered according to this goal.
I think as a general proposition that part of the problem with “the left” has been its focus on excellent but vague aspirations like “social justice”, “ending inequality”, “fighting capitalism”, etc. These are all noble goals, but they’re not very clear, and don’t answer for themselves questions like, “What to do?” “Where should we be heading?” Thus it’s no wonder that so many people do nothing but keep spinning in place on a hamster wheel, or go off on corrupting, co-opting tangents.
But if we commit to a specific operational goal and then measure our activist lives according to what we’re doing toward that goal, we have a much better chance of getting somewhere. I’d recommend this to anyone. The core conflict of our age is humanity vs. corporatism. Since the corporate assault cuts across all pre-existing definitions, identifications, dichotomies, rendering all of these obsolete, where they weren’t scams from the beginning, it follows that all meaningful action must be one form or another of corporate abolitionism. Corporations themselves must be abolished completely.
Therefore, we must all, in our own ways, seek such abolitionist goals, wherever these are possible.
7. One of the great advantages of fighting food corporatism is that here we can actually build our own alternative right here and now. We can grow our own food, economically and politically support our local farmers, build our own local/regional processing and distribution infrastructure. While where it comes to other sectors it’s often hard to figure out what we can actually DO, here the work is obvious, it’s everywhere around us, and we can achieve great results immediately. Here, far more than in any other sector, we can vigorously build the new within the old, in the process making ourselves politically and economically stronger, more politically self-confident, building our movement as a general fortress of communities, a strong point for all counteroffensives against corporate rule.
Community Food and Food Sovereignty are the currents which comprise this great affirmative movement. GMO abolitionism is its great and necessary negative corollary.
8. Finally, we must shed belief in the false dichotomies – left/right, public/private, science/religion, liberal/conservative, socialism/”free market”, protectionism/”free trade”, republican/democrat, many others. These are false spectra and need to be replotted along the real spectrum of our time, humanity against the corporations. To what extent is one for or against corporate domination? Today all political questions boil down to this one, or are superseded or rendered obsolete by it.
Concern over our food (and water, air, etc.), corporate domination of our food, and in particular GMOs being forced into our food, is a concern that cuts across all identifications. Therefore these kinds of issues, and GMO abolition in particular, can serve as a potent wedge slicing through lots of calcified dogmatic structures, perhaps breaking them open completely. This is an ideological sweet spot.
Since one of the worst problems we face is every kind of calcified, sclerotic division which doesn’t reflect any sort of reality but serves only the divide-and-conquer purposes of the corporations, anything which helps slice through these divisions is a potent weapon. I think GMO abolitionism can serve as such a wedge.
9. All GMOs are probably poisonous, Bt-expressing ones certainly are (by definition), and they’re designed to cause a massive escalation in the use of horrific environmental poisons like glyphosate and 2,4-D.
We also face the contamination crisis and the crisis of the destruction of agricultural genetic diversity. GMOs in the economy will continue to drive the narrowing of the agricultural germplasm, GMOs in the environment will continue to contaminate crops and wild relatives, with dire consequences for the future of agriculture and ecosystems. Nothing short of total abolition can prevent the worst.
Nothing in humanity’s history has been as insane and evil as this plan, undertaken by the mainstream of modern elites, to undertake the wholesale poisoning of our food, water, soil, and environment. Nothing in history has even come close to the insanity and evil of this.
So those are the reasons I became a GMO abolitionist, and why I call upon others to join in this work.



  1. Oh, How I look forward to discussion of #9!!!
    I can see already that you are going to need to be a website soon. Even silly Radical SAHM is already too much for a blog.
    You are doing a good thing here. I appreciate you efforts.



    Comment by juliet — April 1, 2009 @ 4:57 pm

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Juliet! I hope I can eventually accomplish something here.
      I hope you’re right about more people finding this place interesting.

      Regarding efforts at different scales, although I haven’t fully worked out my ideas yet (that’s in part what this blog is for), I think it’ll end up being a primary focus on personal/community reloc efforts, while on the level of national policy we’ll need to choose our fights, maybe having to make some hard choices in coming up with a tight, coherent agenda.


      Comment by Russ — April 2, 2009 @ 2:40 am

  2. Russ,

    I found you through your comment on Wilkinson’s article on Baseline Scenario – I told a friend that you really call a spade a spade. I wish you all the best in your endeavor to understand what is going on – I followed a similar trajectory before burning out this past May. You might want to read up on right wing populism – Chip Berlet has written a very good book on the subject. I have quite a few links on my blog that you might find interesting.

    Comment by Jeff — July 26, 2009 @ 8:44 am

  3. Thanks so much, Jeff. I hope to see you again around here, and I’ll be checking out your blog.

    I’m not familiar with Chip Berlet, but I’m familiar with Thomas Frank’s work on the subject.

    There’s an earlier post from months back,


    where I touched on the subject, but in light of the Sarah Palin phenomenon I’ve been meaning to revisit it.


    Comment by Russ — July 26, 2009 @ 9:36 am

  4. Your comments in reply to the August 9th article in the NYT(see link at bottom) were spot on.

    At the end you say, “There can simply be nothing done so long as this cadre continues to exist in any postion of power and influence.”

    What comes to mind is the old saying, “possession is nine tenths of the law” along with Mayer Amschel Rothschild famous quote, “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes her laws.”

    Is there ANYTHING that could cause this “cadre” not to exist?


    Comment by John — August 9, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

  5. Hi John,
    The only things I think could dislodge this obstruction are either revolutionary action by the people to take back what is after all their own wealth and power, or such a complete politico-economic collapse that “wealth” itself would be liquidated and power would lie everywhere in shards like broken glass.

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with Peak Oil, but the social/political part of the theory offers some possibilities for breaking up this logjam.

    You’re right to think of those quotes regarding the laws, which are by now nothing but reflections of who possesses the power. I’ve written a few posts here on the subject and plan to visit it again.

    Comment by Russ — August 9, 2009 @ 4:46 pm

  6. Hi there Russ,
    I got linked to your blog via BaselineScenario.

    Don’t you think that the exploitative path in #7 has already been going on in the way you describe for centuries? It is sad that we haven’t developed greater collective consciousness (and analytical and legal capacity) to recognize that the typical violations of human rights that too often accompany economic exploitation, however “well intended” in the name of development, too often harbour a dimension of criminality.

    You pin-point consumption as a driving force. This is not only a lifestyle choice that people make, but it is also one that nurtured and demanded of people as a result of the current intellectual leadership of economic thought. Us humans tend to have to change our thoughts before we can change our actions.

    Your blog is definitely leading in the right direction!

    Comment by MC Morley — October 20, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

  7. Thanks MC. You’re right, there’s nothing new about exploitation in itself.

    Actually, what was new was how fossil fuels afforded enough cheap wealth and imperialistic opportunity that in the rich countries the economic elites could afford to co-opt part of the working class by not behaving in such a predatory fashion toward them.

    This led to the rise of the Western middle class, as well as to liberalization as far as civil liberties and civil rights.

    All of this assumed an ever-growing economic pie.

    But now that “growth” has reached its physical limits, the pie will keep shrinking. The oil platform is no longer there to prop up everything.

    We’ve been seeing the socioeconomic result since the 70s: wage erosion, job protection erosion, safety net destruction. Only exponential debt was able to temporarily prop up a zombie middle class. And now that debt bubble has collapsed.

    So what I say will be “new” is how, so long as these rackets are empowered, they will increasingly cannibalize America itself.

    All the ravages of globalization on the world’s poor will increasingly be brought home. Neocolonialism in the Global South will be accompanied and replaced by internal colonialism.

    That’s what corporatism, led by the banks, enabled by the government, is trying to do.

    Since it was kind of depressing to write that, I’ll end with something a little brighter, this link:


    discusses some possibilities for political change.

    Comment by Russ — October 21, 2009 @ 5:25 am

  8. Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.
    Quotation of Plato

    Comment by vigrx — December 8, 2009 @ 8:47 pm

  9. russ, i tried to work out some of the dilemmas you mention above years ago, and could find no human solution; i wrote about it then, and finally got an abbreviated version online this year:

    Comment by rjs — January 10, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

  10. Please don’t try to derive fundamental conclusions about the world from vaguely outlined scientific principles, especially when it’s clear you don’t have formal scientific training.

    Comment by Teddy — March 13, 2010 @ 5:55 am

  11. Furthermore,

    Point 5 isn’t really a point and Point 1 is ridiculous. “Photosynthetic inputs” … wow. Did you even take a single college-level science course?

    Comment by Teddy — March 13, 2010 @ 5:57 am

  12. Glad I could offend you, cornucopian.

    I think the term photosynthetic – sun, fresh water, and soil – is clear enough to anyone not brainwashed into the fossil fuel ideology.

    I evidently understand science far better than anyone who believes in eternal, infinite “growth” on a resource-limited planet. Since that would be most “credentialed” scientists, I reckon I’ll have to remain confident that formality isn’t everything.

    I might also cite the evidence of a formally-trained economist or two. (I guess you would find this scandalous as well, but I’m not “trained” there, either, thank god.)

    Comment by Russ — March 13, 2010 @ 7:09 am

  13. Just found your blog via NakedCapitalism…


    This is good stuff.

    I believe there are problems in the fundamentals of economics that come with scale that must be addressed but that’s going to be very difficult… not impossible… but very, very difficult.

    A few of my blog posts are beginning to lay this out… though it’s likely necessary to pull the pieces together into a more concise picture. And nothing is set in stone. But we need to re-examine some basics…

    Some Background:

    On Social Energy, Enterprise & Expanding the Technology of Money

    How would hunter-gatherers run the world? (pssst… They Do!)

    The Foundations of Authoritarianism

    Bottom line…

    It’s our decisions, whether individual or collective that will determine our survival…

    And it’s the systems and paradigms that form and channel our decisions that most urgently need to be addressed.

    Comment by Tom Crowl — March 26, 2010 @ 8:54 am

  14. Thanks, Tom. Congrats on your blog too.

    In a nutshell I think the end of large scale is necessary (though probably not sufficient, but the most important start) for taking back our freedom and power and redeeming our humanity.

    I don’t think direct action can accomplish this where up against an intact imperial structure, but I do think that both energetically and economically this structure is collapsing of its own monstrous top-heavy weight.

    In the meantime we can try to start building human-scaled structures from the bottom up.

    Comment by Russ — March 26, 2010 @ 9:51 am

  15. Firstly; most “credentialed” scientists do not believe in eternal, “growth” on a resource-limited planet. I’m studying geology and geophysics at Imperial College and I tell you now, all I ever hear is doom and gloom.
    Secondly; as long as intellecual people eat McDonalds, etc. and don’t have the balls to stand up for them selves then nothing positive will happen.

    Comment by Sam Davies — April 22, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

    • Glad to hear it, Sam.

      I hope to see more of them out in public standing up for themselves.

      That sure is what we all need to do.

      Comment by Russ — April 22, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

  16. Hi Russ,

    Also just found you through Naked Capitalism. Are you familiar with the “Charter Cities” idea? If not, I think it’s an emerging idea that’s right up your alley.


    An idea endorsed by Harvard Business School, so you know it’s got to be, um, good…


    Transor Z

    Comment by Transor Z — May 8, 2010 @ 1:55 am

    • Thanks, Transor Z.

      I’ve heard of the broad idea but don’t know much about the details. It sounds like you’re right, it should get more air time, if people are going to talk about reform at all.

      To me, though, that’s the problem. These liberal ideas for “reform within the system” all sound naive at best, and more likely pernicious scams like globalization itself.

      “Unoccupied land” – That’s already an Orwellian term in this context, all too familiar to e.g. Kenyan tribesmen driven off their land (“unoccupied”, according to the Gates-Soros-Bono types) to make way for biofuel plantations. Pseudo-green feudalism.

      I’m not saying that’s necessarily the conscious intent here, but it works out that way in practice with sickening regularity.

      And of course, the whole thing, as they explicitly say, requires big capital, and is based on the concept of “reforming” capitalism.

      I’m convinced that’s impossible, and that attempts in that direction are as I said quixotic at best and more likely veiled gangsterism.

      Sorry to be so suspicious of your idea, but that’s the record of these things so far.

      But I won’t hold the Harvard endorsement against it. 🙂

      Comment by Russ — May 8, 2010 @ 3:35 am

  17. Russ,

    Sorry that my snark wasn’t made clear.

    I think this is a completely despicable idea and had a strong intuition that you would hate it also. Guy’s got a bwana complex on steroids IMO.

    Not a huge fan of Harvard B-school.



    Comment by Transor Z — May 8, 2010 @ 9:06 am

    • Oh, OK. Yeah, it’s tough to tell sometimes when I don’t know somebody well and I’m trying to be a good host. 🙂

      Plus, that’s the way those kind of green cornucopian proposals are – they’re meant to sound virtuous if people don’t know the record of those things.

      I talked about that (among other things) in the other day’s post, “Renewable Democracy?”


      Comment by Russ — May 8, 2010 @ 10:29 am

  18. Interesting website, this, with lots of intelligent comment. Pleasantly surprised to find my grandson, Sam, has made a contribution to the discussion. Hi Sam, how ya doin? Grandpa vaguely attuned to all this debate – and in a funny way 70 years attunes you to an endgame scenario. And it looks like an endgame scenario for the species that highly intelligent lunatic Gulliver denominated the most contemptible race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth. Hope I got that quote right. Also the counterquote from the guitarist Segovia, who said he didn’t particularly want to go to heaven after he died, when life on earth was so sweet…. Enjoy, while you can, guys…

    Paul aka Pablo aka Geriatrikiter

    Comment by Paul Davies — May 20, 2010 @ 8:07 am

    • Thanks, Paul. Yes, we could’ve been humans but chose to be Liliputians instead.

      I didn’t know the Segovia quote, but when you can play guitar like that it makes sense.

      Comment by Russ — May 20, 2010 @ 9:25 am

  19. It appears that several of us have come to your site via naked capitalism.

    I was very impressed by these comments: http://alturl.com/giw5, http://alturl.com/tawa, which were sandwiched between remarks that took the notions of debt and growth, as they’ve be practiced, as givens. Oh, la, la.

    My internal voice jumped for joy: ‘yes!’, ‘limpid reasoning’, ‘finally!’.

    I look forward to peering into your archives and to following your blog posts.

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Comment by Dana — June 17, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

    • Thanks so much, Dana. I hope the stuff here lives up to expectations.

      I also just posted a third comment on that thread, replying to my detractor.

      Comment by Russ — June 17, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

  20. Russ,
    As a retired engineer and CEO I particularly like the clarity with which you state the challenge and your objectives. We are in complete agreement through your first six points. We part ways on the last three points, but for me it is an educational parting of two people who see things from different perspectives.
    I see the current trend ― to concentrate wealth, education, and politics into the hands of a few families and subsequently pass it on by heredity instead of merit ―as a default condition of all economic systems, much as the default condition of a building is a pile of rubble unless it is continually maintained, rebuilt and adapted. Look around, it is the historic condition of all socio/economic systems prior to the Industrial Revolution and of most of today’s world. That default has geographically dispersed decision making bottlenecks which compress the intrinsic conflicts between political power, economic power and religious power, into small groups or individuals who chose the priorities of one field over the other two and operate from there. These bottlenecks reduce adaptability and economic flow to a trickle which can only support a fraction of today’s population, at best 1 billion people globally: a handful in relative comfort and the vast majority in grinding poverty. The “natural” process of increasing entropy will also result in a localization, much as you suggest in item 9, although your vision is for more egalitarian pockets which are probably not sustainable in that form regardless of how they start out.
    As I see it, the underlying forces are like gravity: weak but omnipresent, impersonal and relentless. This degeneration is not driven by organized groups of malevolent or selfish people, although there are such groups who help things along because they benefit. Were that the case, we could focus on the villains and replace them. Although upgrading leadership is a necessary and never ending part of the maintenance process, it is not sufficient. It is social entropy that drives cultural and economic decay, entropy that the Industrial Revolution temporarily overcame.
    Are we therefore doomed to the default condition? At some time in the future for sure, just as all of us will die and the human species will become extinct for the same entropic reasons. But, we can incorporate some of the constructive elements of the Industrial Revolution (such as universal education…which is the key to sustainable regulation) and we still have much to learn from the process of Evolution itself, which faced and “temporarily” overcame the challenge of growing and sustaining the web of life with the same resources and limitations that we have.
    What I see in some of your essays is a tendency to throw out useful tools of the Industrial Revolution with the bath water. One I’ve mentioned is universal education (however, we are already limiting stratifying education on the basis of family wealth rather than relative competence), another is pooling of distributed “private” wealth to tackle large and/or long range projects. The problem, as I see it, is that we have not educated ourselves about how to use the tools properly, and we need them to sustain a global population of perhaps 2 billion people in egalitarian societies that compete with each other, not against each other.
    I recently posted an article along this vein which compares the economic system and the transportation system, or more specifically comparing the roles of education and regulation to sustaining the smooth operation, sustained flow and cultural acceptance of each. Both must be highly regulated to work at any reasonable level of flow… but 99% of the regulation is homeostatic and results from educating, conditioning and training drivers before they take to the road… the other 1% is external such as lane markings, traffic lights, police, traffic courts, and jails…. But that 1% is absolutely vital.
    I’m concerned with overemphasizing things like “the existing power structure” because it is so seductive and ultimately inadequate. It is seductive because of how our brains operate to resist changing our personal beliefs and actions. (Beliefs come in interconnected systems, much like New York city, not in isolated ideas.) In resisting personal change, which is energy consuming and uncertain, our brains have evolved a series of biological filters, unknowingly uncovered by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross when she studied patients who were told they had terminal cancer and only months to live: 1. Denial, 2. Anger and Blame (“the existing power structure”), 3. Bargaining (let me change one little thing and continue on as before), 4. Depression (don’t know if I can live without the beliefs that define me to myself), and finally 5. Acceptance: operating with a new reality. Getting through our internal filters is a dance of Shiva, not a march.
    The preceding comments are intended for further dialog to the degree it is mutually agreeable and fruitful. I will study your ideas and comment on them from time to time. You can read more of my own struggle to find useful solutions on my business web page at http://www.elew.com and my blog at http://www.dismountingourtiger.com

    Ed Lee

    Comment by Edwin Lee — June 22, 2010 @ 11:53 am

  21. Thanks for your comment, Ed. I’ll check out your blog too.

    I think egalitarian communities can be as sustainable as they choose to be. It’s historically false that gangster heirarchies are the inevitable natural way of things. Plenty of tribal societies were stable and sustainable on an egalitarian basis or the basis of traditional, non-exploitative quasi-heirarchies. It was only force from outside that destroyed them. Such destruction was usually preceded by lack of vigilance on the part of those communities.

    The more I think about it the more I think it can’t be done just along the lines of the thinking we have today. There will have to be new foundations, new foundings, new bases for legend and eventual tradition. But there are vast possibilities for establishing new legitimacy, new social authority, on grounds radically different from the Hobbesian gangsterism which has become near-universal today.

    You imply that I’m mired in the “anger” stage of the Ross scale, and if that means I refuse to “accept” the existence of thugs and protection rackets as the rulers of pseudo-civilization, I guess that’s right.

    Except that the “cancer” in this case isn’t necessarily terminal, but purely voluntary, as the result of a political choice. Here the tumor will become benign the moment we choose to remove it.

    Let me suggest that you sound like you’re “bargaining” 🙂 , when you suggest the key is to find all these ways to preserve parts of the Industrial Revolution and private wealth concentrations in forms which would be non-malevolent.

    I do agree that education for cooperation rather than competition would be a great goal.

    Comment by Russ — June 22, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

    • Russ:
      If one is reduced to tribal societies of hunter gatherers, for which our brains are evolved, then human population will necessarily fall below 500 million, an implosion with horrific implications. Also, tribal societies that overlapped often served to trim one another’s excess populations. I suggest a great book on this: The Science of Fear by Daniel Gardner. In it he cites data which suggests tribal societies are inherently less safe than modern societies, which with all their defects are safer and supportive of longer life spans and greater populations than anything before them. I know some of that is unsustainable, but there is a pony in there somewhere.

      Once we throw agriculture into the mix, then the concepts of personal property (not communal property) and personal property rights become the dominant source of personal security; then the centralization and hierarchy process begins. Hierarchies are one extreme way to manage systems, the other extreme is homeostasis. Nature uses both and in varying combinations, but emphasizes homeostasis.

      Also… warfare between groups contesting for property..drives societies to converge into larger and larger groups managed by a centralized hierarchy. The principle that sold the majority of States on our Constitution (see the Federalist and Anti Federalist papers) was to become large and cohesive enough to avoid the divide-and-conquer politics of Europe, particularly England, France and Spain. For mutual defense the states sacrificed much autonomy and we began our westward expansion.

      I do not intend to suggest that there aren’t thugs and protection rackets, those will always exist and at a low level provide some benefits, however their number and impact are way beyond that and we would do well to understand and mitigate the causes rather than simply take the militaristic idea of kill the bastards; many of whom should be removed from society in one way or another. If you read my blog, you’ll find that I too rail against the same things you do, but I try to see beyond the immediate to pro-active means of minimizing them and their negative consequences to correcting those processes which produce and harbor them.

      You may be right about my “bargaining” stage…however I see no simple answers nor any permanent solutions. Science and technology may buy some time, but can’t solve the problem. I also know that fixing “them” is not enough.

      Comment by edwinlee37 — June 22, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

      • Ed,

        Yes, there are no easy solutions, and we need both affirmative plans as well as purgatives.

        I do think many of the premises which obtained during the ascent of fossil fuels, for example that everyone had to centralize for the sake of self-preservation since potential aggressors were doing the same, won’t necessarily apply post-Peak Oil, at least on the North American continent. (Eurasia will probably always face the problem, though.)

        That’s why I’m not willing to accept the existing mindset regarding all sorts of pernicious practices that “it was always this way and people had no choice to do it this way, and therefore it will have to be done this way in perpetuity.”

        As far as hunter-gatherers vs. agriculture, we know that agriculture was the beginning of division of labor, “property”, social stratification, heirarchy, surplus wealth extractions and concentration, and a military class.

        Meanwhile anthropological data demonstrates that hunter-gatherers were physically healthier – taller and with better bone structure. There’s also strong evidence that they worked far less and it’s self-evident that they were far more free (by “free” meaning they had a high level of negative freedom and free time, and at least in theory space for positive freedom, though perhaps most such communities hadn’t yet developed to the point that they provided sufficient foundation for real positive freedom).

        Thanks for the reading suggestion; I wrote the title down. I’m not sure what “safer” is supposed to mean, and of course longer lifespans in themselves have no value. Where a system acts to dehumanize and enslave us, nothing else can be worthwhile.

        It’s what we as humans do with our lives, and how much space is available for positive freedom, that matters.

        While I’m not calling for a return to hunting-gathering as the socioeconomic unit, I’d say agriculture needs a different guiding vision, smallholder stewardship, if it’s to prove able to meet the physical challenges of post-fossil fuel cultivation and do so in tandem with the establishment of true participartory democracy, which I regard as not only a personal core value but the only system which could possibly preserve and empower freedom, justice, and human dignity, since all others including representative democracy have been proven to destroy those.

        Comment by Russ — June 23, 2010 @ 3:02 am

  22. I enjoy following your thinking. I am a layperson, the proverbial mushroom. I follow a few ideas around the web, and in doing so bump into ever increasing number of provocative and exciting ideas posted by intelligent people. I have linked your blog. Thank you.
    I am wondering, when trying to prescribe a way forward into our dimly lit future, if you consider work done by others in the field of systems dynamics. I am thinking of the work of people like Stewart Kauffman, Thomas Homer Dixon, Kevin Kelly, Stephen Wolfram, to name but a few of my personal favorites among the hundreds (probably thousands) working in the field.
    This latest comment by Ed Lee evoking “social entropy” as the driving force, rings flat the bells and whistles in my head. Seen through the lens of complex systems, “evolution”, social or otherwise, seems to me bound by different rules. Rules also omnipresent, impersonal and relentless, yet leading to ever increasing diversity. Self-organized complexity happens. It is born of simple rules practiced by agents locally anywhere and everywhere they can. Such local rules give rise to the global order. Seen in this light we can expect a future incorporating the best and worst of human expression.
    “A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.”
Martin Luther King.



    Comment by iy9g86 — February 1, 2011 @ 6:52 am

    • Thanks, 1y9.

      I haven’t read those particular writers, but I agree completely about self-organization. We’re seeing such a wonderful example of it in Egypt right now.

      We’re now undergoing the revolution in values King hailed. It’ll be a long process that’ll take a tremendous amount of work, but we’ll get there. I feel more confident all the time.

      Comment by Russ — February 1, 2011 @ 7:29 am

  23. Dear Russ,

    I have recently visited your site and wanted to get in touch as i work for the website OilPrice.com and was hoping to speak about the information you are currently showing.

    Our team has spent the last 3 months creating some excellent free financial widgets and after looking at your content and style our designers think they would be a great fit for you.
    (There is no charge for using them and at present there is nothing else like them available.)

    The widgets cover almost all energy and metal sectors: Gold, Silver, Crude oil, Coal, Nat Gas, Copper, Aluminium, Solar Energy, etc… There are also government and consumer debt tables and charts.

    All widgets are interactive and are constantly moving – which adds to their interest and value to visitors. They are superbly designed and the data provided would normally be very difficult to obtain and especially difficult to package into meaningful charts and graphs.

    To see what we have please take a look at: http://oilprice.com/free-widgets.html

    The widgets focus on:

    Gold holdings by country (US, China, UK, Switzerland. Constantly updated and moving.
    Precious metal production (Gold, Silver, platinum, copper, nickel, aluminium, etc….)
    Worldwide energy consumption (by country – figures updated every second)
    Worldwide energy production (Crude oil, coal, natural gas, solar, wind, updated every second.)
    Alternative energy production (by method: Solar, wind, hydro, etc..)
    US Debt clock (National debt, debt per citizen, debt per taxpayer)
    US Debts (National debt, household debt, mortgage debt, consumer debt, etc….)
    World debt clock
    Crude oil clocks
    Oil & Gas news
    + More…

    Installation is incredibly easy as you just take the code by the side of the widget and paste it into your site. There is also an installation guide to the right of the screen.

    Hopefully you’ll find them interesting and valuable – and if you have any questions, problems or would like us to tailor make one for you please do let us know how we can help you.

    Best regards,

    James Stafford

    Comment by James Stafford — March 1, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

    • Thanks, James. I’ll check it out.

      Comment by Russ — March 1, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  24. Hello Russ,
    I have stumbled upon your blog in a quest for answers. I continue to be baffled by our current state of affairs and how one can just stand by and do nothing. Change for the sake of change is not always appropriate, but in this instance change is becoming ever more so a requirement. Yet the key factor/problem remains, the very reason I have reached this page: How and where to begin?
    One factor I have tossed about is the implication of American youth, the long term determinants of our society. At 26, and having young children, this becomes a grave concern: Successful attempts have brainwashed and misappropriated individuals, particularly the youth. Youth often tend to believe we are headed in the right direction. I am not sure we are headed in the right direction? Government secures interests in collaboration with the financial sector. Together, as corporations, they make investments in sustaining their future, not our future, by instilling artificial promises. In this sense Democracy has become a powerful vessel making way for capitalism, an ideal as undemocratic as oligarchy. The youth of our nation has known no other way. The current state of affairs has become naturalized and acceptable as long as these artificial promises continue to be reinstated. I like to refer to our state of democracy as a “Fiat Democracy”. Epicurean ideals are the lifeblood of this monstrosity.
    If we could just realize we are all atoms within this thriving universe, then maybe we could reflect on our perceptions and realize it is not that we seek different ends but rather we continue to disagree upon means. In a true democracy it would be better for all to have some of what they want, rather than the cliché: to have “it” all or nothing at all.
    I should like to return here as you have intrigued me with you position. In many respects we share common perceptions. I applaud you for your stance and your attempts to discover the truth. May you continue to share your wisdom…


    Comment by Katie — April 17, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

    • Thanks Katie, I’m glad you think this is a place where we might be able to find answers and figure out a way to uphold truth. I think you describe the challenges well.

      I’ll keep sharing what I hope is wisdom!

      Comment by Russ — April 17, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

      • Russ,

        I have returned to your blog many times today. In a positive sense you have doused my fire with fuel. After reading, re-reading, and analyzing I have come to the conclusion that at some point thoughts must become actions otherwise they are merely opinions. I realize the first and foremost perplexing step is difficult because we do not always know which direction we will end up in. It is also difficult to take this step when the amount of concerning factors become vast and at times overwhelming. Questions, such as what should be addressed first and how should it be addressed, rattle the mind. However, I feel as though the first step has already been taken. Acknowledgement is the first critical step: how can one reflect on an issue they are not yet aware of? It is obvious some of us already question the state of affairs. Others may notice concerns but choose to take the path of convenience, regardless what the outcome may be. Some refuse to acknowledge any concerns for fear of losing what is held at stake. And of course some tend to disregard concerns presented by means other than an immediate threat, and therefore believe there is no threat or concern. We must remember we are not other than this world, but of it. I believe there are grave concerns for all of mankind. Just to name a few; climate change, geo-engineering, drought, peak oil, globalization, the ever growing wealth gap, political corruption, and one of the most troubling comments I have come to heads with “Control the oil and you control the economy. Control the seed and you control the population.” Once we acknowledge these concerns we may hone in on those concerns and seek information.

        Education then begs to be the next step. Here in lies the problem. The systems that have been created are so complex and perplexing that many of us could run in circles all day and never get anywhere. I believe you do an outstanding job in attempting to decipher the vast amount of euphemistic jargon presented by politicians, corporations, the media and so forth. I also believe the educational perspective requires an examination of basic principles: the government consists of those who hold the capital currency and the people consist of those who hold the social currency. It is the people who should be acknowledged and educated. It is true for the most part that human nature desires to be led rather than take initiative. In this respect people may want to help, but may be unsure how they can help. Here is where the social currency becomes of intrinsic value: those that wish to help already hold the power to do so, with education great feats can be accomplished. It must also be acknowledged from the premise that any education will not reap immediate benefits other than a sense of awareness. Once we build a foundation of basic knowledge then we may proceed to the next level, action. I believe you have already done an extensive amount of homework and have been working hard to share your insight with others. At this point we may begin to ask what exactly we are trying to accomplish.

        Creating a central hub of communication amongst those who share common perceptions and concerns will allow an advance in action. There are many of us out there who seek real reform. I realize we may all have a different perception on how things are and how things ought to be, but at the end of the day we all seek a form of Justice, and are faced with the central question: How can we create a contemporary form of Justice for all?

        Comment by Katie — April 17, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

      • Katie, that sums it up well.

        In trying to help foster a democratic relocalization movement I’m necessarily trying to start by assembling those who want to lead by doing. This doing includes trying to educate a broader mass who are more inertial. Then as the movement coheres and becomes more visible everywhere, more and more of those who prefer to “be led” will find their way to it.

        Trying to form sites on the Internet into a communications hub is one of the first-stage tasks. I’ve brought up the idea before, though I haven’t started trying to do this coordination work yet.

        Comment by Russ — April 18, 2011 @ 6:02 am

  25. Russ, I will be following along and am eager to read more. In the meantime I continue to seek answers myself. Thank you for all the time and effort you put into this work. Most people go through life taking in other’s opinions as their own. It is reassuring to find another who challenges the status quo, and seeks solutions when things go awry. Know you are not alone as we continue to seek out those solutions.

    Comment by Katie — April 18, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

    • Thanks Katie. Glad to have you aboard.

      Comment by Russ — April 18, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

  26. great blog, are you on Twitter?

    Comment by Nate Hornblower — May 22, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

  27. Some really good stuff here, Russ. Thanks.

    Comment by Richard H. — August 2, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

    • You’re welcome, Richard. (Sorry I didn’t see this comment earlier.)

      Comment by Russ — September 10, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  28. Thanks for posting your website. I scan NakedCapitalism for your comments and I love the patient way you try to poke holes in our social and economic myths. I will try to figure out how to register as a user on WordPress.

    By the way, I am on a very limited bandwidth satellite service and I need to use Firefox with adblocker during the limited hours from 7am until 2am. Is that a problem for you? Yves Smith is very upset with me for doing that. You might ask people who are adblocking to consider a monthly donation and I would be willing to do that.

    Comment by Ellen Anderson — September 10, 2011 @ 8:35 am

    • Thanks, Ellen. I suppose not many people would agree with your characterization of me as patient. 🙂

      The adblocking is a moot point since I have no ads. I suppose I’m not adequately “monetizing the site”, but I can’t imagine the hassle would be worth the few pennies I’d get.

      Comment by Russ — September 10, 2011 @ 10:51 am

  29. I thought you did a good number on Philip Pilkington at NC.

    He was a real pissy-pants, too.

    Comment by kackermann — September 12, 2011 @ 10:38 am

    • Thanks. He’s evidently exasperated with me by now, to the point that my comments are even disappearing. Too bad I didn’t do screen captures.

      Comment by Russ — September 12, 2011 @ 11:48 am

  30. Greetings Russ,

    I am managing e-promotion for the symbolic novel, Nine Inch Bride, literary fiction set in the near future in which a uniquely talented revolutionary pairs up with a fallen Wall Street analyst to fuel a bonfire of contemporary American political culture. Volatility came up in a search for writers interested in the novel’s political consciousness and peak oil themes.

    We thank you for Volatility and invite you and your contributors to read and enjoy a complimentary copy of the novel in pre-publication release at nineinchbride.com. Short and long book descriptions, excerpts, reviews and comments are also available there, along with book downloads (and e-readers) in your choice of format.

    We’d be keenly interested in your impressions.


    James Lesni
    Web Manager

    Comment by James — June 1, 2012 @ 10:45 am

  31. NY

    Comment by Casey — August 5, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

  32. Hi Russ, I greatly appreciate the work you are doing here. You might also enjoy Toby Hemenway’s lectures and writings on this topic, available on his website: patternliteracy.com

    Specifically, this page: http://www.patternliteracy.com/videos/redesigning-civilization-with-permaculture, but also many of his other writings

    Frameworks such as yours, the Deep Green Resistance, Underminers, and the work of CELDF and Toby Hemenway are all vital pieces to the puzzle.



    Comment by ozob — August 16, 2013 @ 6:24 am

  33. SX

    Comment by Sylvia — September 28, 2013 @ 10:30 pm

  34. […] within that framework. . If people saw labeling as a temporary measure within the framework of an ongoing movement to abolish industrial agriculture and build Food Sovereignty, that could be good. If people saw the campaign for labeling as primarily a movement-building […]

    Pingback by If the DARK Act Passes, What Then? | Volatility — July 25, 2015 @ 2:11 pm

  35. […] as by far the number one emitter of greenhouse gases and destroyer of carbon sinks. Therefore an overriding operational goal which can be accomplished prior to the complete abolition of corporations as such is the abolition […]

    Pingback by Climate Change Requires Change of Consciousness | Volatility — July 27, 2015 @ 2:03 pm

  36. […] . 6. So where we talk about labeling, and where we support and get involved with labeling campaigns, and where we oppose measures like the DARK Act on behalf of the idea of labeling, our goal has to be to encourage the latter mindset and oppose and discredit the former. The goal is to use the idea of labeling, and the example of its suppression by Monsanto’s system, to move the discussion and consciousness along the vector from “better consumerism” and “coexistence” to abolitionism. […]

    Pingback by The DARK Act and Going Forward, Labeling and Beyond | Volatility — August 1, 2015 @ 5:48 am

  37. […] is tolling for all of us, everywhere, as we face the same assault wherever we are, whatever we eat. We must abolish corporate agriculture. . . […]

    Pingback by Maize in the Labyrinth | Volatility — September 16, 2015 @ 9:41 am

  38. […] public consciousness. (Although even during this stage there’s great potential for effective political wedge campaigns which can directly advance the movement toward its goals while serving as recruitment drives.) . […]

    Pingback by Anybody Want to Do Something About Climate Change? | Volatility — October 1, 2015 @ 12:22 pm

  39. […] . The three anti-scientism pieces are part of this site’s ongoing project to bring about the abolition of corporate agriculture, so there’s no special need to summarize them here. Click the links to read the word. . But […]

    Pingback by The 2015 Blogging Year, and An American Revolution Reprise | Volatility — December 31, 2015 @ 6:43 am

  40. […] like to contribute to building a new movement to rebuild community food and agriculture, and abolish corporate agriculture, organized in a way similar to the Populists. We’d have the advantage of trying to build […]

    Pingback by Adapting the Populist Lecture Series for Today’s Food Sovereignty | Volatility — January 14, 2016 @ 7:13 am

  41. […] within that framework. . If people saw labeling as a temporary measure within the framework of an ongoing movement to abolish industrial agriculture and build Food Sovereignty, that would be good. If people saw the campaign for labeling as primarily a movement-building […]

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  42. […] developed and coherent strategy which I’ve seen for how to accomplish the necessary goal of abolishing GMOs and pesticides. Meanwhile I’ve seen nothing but magical thinking from label advocates regarding how labeling […]

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  43. […] this luxury in action, which follows divided on account of this duality, derelict from the great need and necessity even as it acknowledges the need. We haven’t this luxury in spirit, where every sign in […]

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  44. […] we can chalk up another one for reformism within the corporate framework, and implicitly against the necessary call to a fully committed abolition movement. Reformism is the call to “co-existence”, something we all know is impossible in the […]

    Pingback by The Abolition Movement is Needed | Volatility — December 21, 2016 @ 9:04 am

  45. […] cultural movements. I’ve dedicated my life to sowing the ideas for a movement dedicated to the abolition of corporate agriculture and the global transformation to agroecology and Food Sovereignty. Until these movements rise and […]

    Pingback by Sample Party Program | Volatility — February 26, 2017 @ 5:21 am

  46. […] politically totalitarian. For both these reasons humanity cannot co-exist with them, and therefore they must be abolished completely. And because industrial agriculture also is physically unsustainable and is guaranteed to collapse […]

    Pingback by Non-GM Supply Chain Reforms, Their Potential and Their Limits | Volatility — May 2, 2017 @ 8:28 am

  47. […] is tolling for all of us, everywhere, as we face the same assault wherever we are, whatever we eat. We must abolish corporate agriculture.                 […]

    Pingback by The Corporations are Driving Forced Migrations and Genetic Contamination | Volatility — May 13, 2017 @ 8:14 am

  48. […]   Each time this is a call for reformism within the corporate framework, and implicitly against the necessary call to a fully committed abolition movement. Reformism is the call to “co-existence”, which we all know is impossible in the long […]

    Pingback by Abolitionism Part One – The Need for the Movement | Volatility — May 29, 2017 @ 11:12 am

  49. […] and who are committing their lives to fighting for these ideas. I’ve committed my life to abolishing corporate agriculture.   I’m not saying “MY writings = abolitionism”, in the sense that I […]

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  50. […] humanity can organize to build a cultural, spiritual, economic, eventually political movement to abolish corporate rule and deploy food sovereignty.             […]

    Pingback by The “Green Revolution” and the Food Weapon | Volatility — October 19, 2017 @ 8:02 pm

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