Radio Interview on Keeping Democracy Alive

Today I was interviewed about my essay “American Rage” by radio host Burt Cohen on his live show, Keeping Democracy Alive. It was a lot of fun and Burt is a really knowledgeable guy, with lots of experience in activism as well as being a seven-time state senator in New Hampshire. You can listen to our talk at his website, under the Latest Podcasts headline:

Keepingdemocracyalive.com

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American Rage

 

“The Bonaparte dynasty represents not the revolutionary, but the conservative peasant; not the peasant who strikes out beyond the condition of his social existence, the small holding, but rather one who wants to consolidate his holding; not the countryfolk who in alliance with the towns want to overthrow the old order through their own energies, but on the contrary those who, in solid seclusion within this old order, want to see themselves and their small holdings saved and favored by the ghost of the Empire. It represents not the enlightenment but the superstition of the peasant; not his judgment but his prejudice; not his future but his past…”

-Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon

There is a certain sense of smallness, as well as meanness at the heart of American life. It typically gets projected onto the villain of the day, and for the last two years, it has happened to be Donald Trump. The president’s vile beliefs and behavior are not in question, but what is more interesting to me is just how much Trump has become a convenient scapegoat. There are millions of Trumps in this country, as seen by his approval ratings hovering around 40% through his entire presidency.

The undercurrents of seething rage, anger, racism and sexism are not exclusively a Republican or conservative trait. Millions turned out for Clinton either in spite of, or ignorance of, her bellicosity towards Iran, Russia, and Syria. Clinton’s resentment of the “basket of deplorables” is nothing new, either. Obama admitted as much when referring to voters clinging to their guns and religion. Thus, the polarization of US politics and culture continues, framed as a binary between coastal liberals and heartland conservatives.

This narrative, set by mainstream media, is very convenient for capital. Wealth has skyrocketed for elites yet most people’s economic status has become increasingly precarious. The restructuring of the economy towards the service sector, the internet, and finance, insurance, and real estate corporations has hollowed out the middle classes. Urban cores have gentrified and the rich see or hear little of ordinary people’s problems. As real estate prices rise the working class must commute longer and longer from the suburbs to downtown, increasing traffic, stress, and reliance on cars.

Therefore the petit-bourgeois and white working class have seen either a stagnation or loss in their salaries and wages. Relatively speaking many are well-off (the average Trump voter was above the median income) but many deluded citizens see their conditions as deteriorating and react hysterically. In many ways the Baby Boomers were the original participation-trophy generation: free college from the GI bill, super-affordable housing, the highest relative incomes in US history, and both liberals and conservatives now act like cry-babies when asked to pay higher taxes for universal health care, free higher education, more investment in childhood education, and initiatives for climate change.

Economic prosperity in the US is not linked to “American exceptionalism”: white Americans lied, cheated, stole, murdered, conned, and legislated their way to the top of the global hierarchy. Economic protectionism via high tariffs on imports helped grow domestic companies in industry, agriculture, and other fields. The devastation of Europe, Japan, China, and many other nations during WWII gave a huge advantage to US corporations, with nearly 50% of world heavy industry and manufacturing occurring in the US in the late 1940s through the 1950s, despite America only having about 5% of the world’s population.

These undercurrents of resentment and privilege are not going away. They are the remnants of a white supremacist narrative which either ignores or disputes the impact of how whites have gained economic hegemony on a continent stolen by genocide, its populations fed and clothed by chattel slaves, a land pillaged of resources, its natural beauty desecrated.

The school shooters and mass killers exemplify these sorts of delusions, along with terrorists such as Timothy McVeigh or, in Norway, Anders Breivik. All of these violent thugs see themselves as victims, outsiders, saviors in a world devolving into multiculturalism and hedonism. Just as the poverty-stricken banlieues of France and outside Brussels bred the conditions for the Paris terrorists in 2015, the emptiness and social alienation of life in suburban America creates a backdrop for the attacker’s dehumanization of their victims.

Of course, this rage and hatred of the “other” by no means is confined to America. It is a sort of virulent contagion that has mutated and spread across Europe due to the migrant crisis caused by the US and NATO allies, infecting the minds of such people and parties like: Marine Le Pen; Nigel Farage; Norbert Hofer, the German AfD, Polish Law & Justice Party, Viktor Orban, etc. The creep of conservative nationalism into fascism is also seen in Turkey’s AKP under Erdogan, India’s Modi using the BJP and RSS as his tools to wage war on Muslims, Dalits, and minorities via Hindutva, and the mobster mentality of leaders such as Duterte, Putin, and Xi.

Capitalism has picked up where the feudal system died out, cementing social hierarchies with myths of meritocracy and the invisible hand of the market. Whereas centuries ago feudalism saw petty fiefdoms war with neighbors, now both dictatorships and “liberal democracies” lord over the globe using media brainwashing, gaslighting, lobbying and outright bribery, as well as increasingly coercive and violent police and military forces.

A comprehensive list of people, parties, proxy terrorists and death squads, and social justice groups killed, infiltrated by FBI or overseas by CIA, would fill volumes; and the evidence is in top secret files in the bowels of the J. Edgar Hoover Building and Langley, whatever is left that has not been burned or destroyed, that is.

Insofar as pre-capitalist societies were allowed to choose the duration and time of day when labor was to be performed, now our jobs are surveilled by legions of corporate stooge middle management, over-zealous bureaucrats, and micro-managing business school know-nothings. Both Yanis Varoufakis and Ajamu Baraka have dubbed our system “liberal totalitarianism” for good reason.

This breeds alienation, inequality, and poverty on a scale never seen before. The ruling classes around the world use an updated form of Gilded Age Social Darwinism to maintain and strengthen their own wealth and power. Despite advances in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, the US and EU combined maintain approximately 47% of global GDP and own 57% of the Fortune 500 companies, despite the US plus EU total of 11.1% of global population.

This digital and service-oriented rentier economy, along with the militarization of the globe, leaves US citizens increasingly atomized and yet arrogant regarding their privileged position. The middle classes in the US complain about taxes or the inability to own a second home yet cannot understand that capitalism is leading towards a leveling which is underway, a proletariatization of the world. They cannot do the simple math where under capitalism 7.5 billion people must compete or die for the 75 trillion in global annual GDP, which translates to $10,000 per person per year.

This system of artificial scarcity pits each other as enemies, whether by race, gender, ethnicity, region, or nation, just as modern education forces children into a war for access to higher education and fair-paying jobs. Where Keynes, Gorz and others foresaw a 21th century with shortened work weeks and an end to the drudgery of soul-crushing labor, today the high priests of finance and internet technology subscribe to the ideology of neoliberalism, with a dash of Ayn Rand here, a pinch of Milton Friedman there.

You could feel the seething rage when Reagan spoke of welfare queens, when Hillary Clinton spoke of young black men as “superpredators”, and today, when Trump talks about anyone, well, not white or rich. Trump, like many Americans, loathes any and everyone who is deemed as “weak”, any ethnic groups that resists and protests our immoral foreign policy, our addiction to fossil fuels, endemic police brutality, and our structurally racist criminal justice system.

I have no paeans to offer to any real resistance in the US anytime soon. Dissidents and leftists have been unceremoniously kicked out of any say in determining policy or influencing a mass base. Political paradigm shifts may occur just as in science, where Max Planck noted that: “A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

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What We’ve Been Avoiding: Ramblings on Apocalypse, ’60s Counterculture, Antifa

 “In a society that has abolished all adventures; the only adventure left is to abolish society.” –slogan in France, May 1968

Apocalypse: We can see what’s coming, the Truth will be Unveiled

What we don’t want to face: maybe it is too late. Maybe we are way past the tipping point in a world where global warming, overpopulation, threats of nuclear war, artificial intelligence, genetic modifications, and many more interlocking crises overwhelm us. Maybe the center doesn’t hold after all.

Maybe we should throw an end of the world party. Not that anyone can know for sure what’s going to happen, but maybe for one day it would feel nice to get out of our skin and lose our egos for a change. Considering the almost complete denial of death our culture engages in, seems like it wouldn’t hurt.

Critics of the “radical left” (for lack of a better term) always like to point out that we are great at pointing out the problems in society, but fall short on solutions. Rather, we should consider the inverse: many of us are great regarding solutions yet are at a loss as how to cause problems for the power elite.

What I’m driving at is there’s way too much Vishnu-thinking going around and not enough Shiva-consciousness. The current system must be smashed to bits if there is to be a new world free from racism, sexism, warfare, and capitalism.  This inertia to act stems in part, methinks, from a misunderstanding of what chaos is. For what would the chaos be like in an anarchic, non-statist modern world (we don’t know because it hasn’t been allowed) compared to the structural violence created by neoliberal hegemony via a lawless, genocidal, and ecocidal order of nation-states without any supranational governance?

If mainstream Western Sandernistas and Corbynistas simply want to preserve industrial civilization through higher taxes, adding regulations, universal health care, and a basic income, well, that ain’t going to cut it: this must be expanded worldwide, and energy usage and heavy industries will have to decline to allow for the growth of an ecocentric world culture. Not to mention that renewable energy must not be allowed to operate via a market system dubbed “green capitalism”, or else millions of acres of land will be further bulldozed, blasted, and mined for more “green energy”. Otherwise, the nonsense of voting for Bernie over Clinton or even Trump amounts to a decision of whether our civilization will collapse in ten as opposed to fifteen years, or 20 as opposed to 30, whatever the timeline may be. Paul Erhlich had a good one in The Guardian of all places recently about collapse. Of course, what goes mostly unmentioned is that the developing world has been plundered and has been in a state of collapse for the past 500 years. We must redistribute aid to the Global South now or it will be too late.

Consider Chomsky’s recent comment that the Republican Party is the most dangerous organization in human history. While that may be true, what’s the 2nd most dangerous? The Democratic Party, whose leaders funded the invention and later dropping of atomic weapons, started genocidal wars in Korea and Southeast Asia, as well as numerous proxy wars, coups, and funding of terrorists throughout the Cold War and afterwards. This is a minor quantitative difference, not a sincere qualitative separation between the two parties’ destructive modes of operating.  While Clinton may have been slightly more humane regarding minorities and immigrants, a Clinton presidency would have only embolden the far-right fascists even more. It is the neoliberal Clintons and Obama who help create the conditions for slimeballs like Trump to get elected.

Only an international Marshall Plan to fund a global Manhattan project to create adopt, and promote decentralized, low-impact renewable energy grids will be enough to effectively fight climate change. If the electorate remains insular and uninformed about global issues, then these quasi-progressives will only help build a gilded cage for the West and a continued bleak, Hobbesian state for the developing world via neoliberalism.

It’s time for those who want a prosperous future for our children and grandchildren to get on the damn train together. We can continue to repeat like parrots in our own echo-chambers, preaching to the choir sort-of-way of the vast devastation caused by war, habitat, destruction, global warming, and deregulation of the federal government which contributes to the ongoing immiseration of the world, or we can join forces on the streets and do something about it. “When you get the message, hang up the phone.” (Alan Watts)

Of course, part of the problem with many in our so-called rational civilization is not being comfortable in our bodies, or with the Earth. Go have an encounter with a tree, a lover, a mushroom, work out those muscles, let your twitter-war go. This is where communal agriculture and celebration can help. It is an uniquely alienating time in human existence for each of us to have become our own web-based, individualistic, social-media addicted, wannabe flâneurs.

Not only that, but it’s an internet driven by fossil fuels, where we now are forced to deal with such ridiculous and harmful activities as bitcoin mining and tax subsidies for huge corporations like Amazon, where cities are advertising with arms wide open for developers to build warehouses of servers to “create jobs” for people to watch over computers using vast amounts of electricity, or people worked like dogs on concrete floors for a pittance as they scan, move, and deliver us whatever whimsical nonsense was advertised to us online.

Let me know when a critical mass is ready to organize effectively. Not using outdated models, not glorifying industrial labor, not discounting women’s labor in the workforce or at home, and certainly not marginalizing people of color in favor of overwhelmingly white faux-saviors like Sanders (supports never-ending global war on terror), Corbyn (supports renewing Trident), Melenchon (many comments leaning against immigration).

I’ll be around, though I’ll be outside every day, maybe tending to the garden, or lazing in my hammock, or bird-watching, hiking, or foraging, or some other activity discounted or deemed frivolous by modern consumer culture. I might even venture online now and again and read your hundredth piece on why Trump is an imminent danger to our country. Pretty sure anyone with half a brain already knows this. Let me know when we’re ready to collectively confront our culture of death, however hard it may be to stare down.

Resist rhizomatically people. Use the web, spyphones, and see-eye-androids as needed but be cognizant of what’s coming down: a location on a screen in a “fusion center” for each of us, accessible in real time to authorities, for starters.

Please, be impeccable with your words (Don Miguel Ruiz). If you’re white and middle-class, please stop throwing around the word “fascism” unless you’re referring to the treatment of minorities, immigrants and refugees, or the truly poor in this country. (Umberto Eco’s essay “Ur-Fascism” is helpful for a definition). Liberal totalitarianism seems like a more useful term; both Yanis Varoufakis and Ajamu Baraka have used this phrase recently.

A good work that I may get around to if I have time soon is David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs: A Theory. I think it’s fair to say that everyone has had some job with at least a little bit of bullshit mixed in. There’s a decent review in LA Review of Books. The reviewer quotes Graeber- “It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working.” Yes, capitalism seems to do this extremely well, and there’s no conspiracy needed to imagine how this got started. At this point in late-stage neoliberalism, however, I wouldn’t put it out of the question for executives at the large tech companies (Apple, Google, Facebook, Tesla, Microsoft, etc.) to literally, consciously be hiring engineers and computer programmers for just that- to keep them all working, not for the competition, and not working for themselves. It keeps them busy and exhausted so that the workers will not have the time/energy/inspiration to come up with their own ideas/startups/inventions. This is straight up biopolitical capitalism, give the workers just enough carrots to convince them to stay, when on their own or in their own self-made cooperatives the amount of creativity and inventiveness would blow these monopolistic dung-heaps out of the water. Death by a thousand cuts capital.

We have to destroy the super-ego culture which supports this Cruel Optimism, and examine our Ugly Feelings no matter how much it hurts. As Sianne Ngai points out, aesthetic judgement is to some degree responsible for what we choose, and how we choose what we choose. As a reviewer of Ngai points out:

“Usually, we also want to know whether a book is worth our time, how to value it, whether it’s good. By this, we often mean something like “will it be to my taste?”

Substitute the word “book” above with “revolutionary party”, and the question of why real change hasn’t yet occurred becomes slightly clearer. No mass party or group in the West has been able to sustain radical changes to society because they have decayed into bureaucratic nightmares, or let ego or corruption destroy the transformational aspects of the organization. Average citizens ask, “will this be to my taste?” or “is this for me, will it be enjoyable or fulfilling to take part in?” and decide, well, no, even if it will be in their short-term economic interest.

Two things. First, the obvious point that for the majority of people sludging through dense tracts of theory is not, and will probably never be, to their taste, and that spoken word always will trump abstract writing.  The second is that, although the media blackout may be the main reason for a lack of success for a revolutionary party in the US or elsewhere, the divisions between rank and file members and party leaders, the materialist teleology embedded in the high priests of the orthodoxy, even of workers owning the factories is disaffecting and profoundly alienating. Too many weekends (Wilde) and all that. Maybe people actually just don’t want to work in factories? Perhaps the false dualism between work and play itself must be reinvented and overcome, reconfigured as a dynamic work-play hybrid.

Nostalgia for 60s Counterculture and Impactful Works

There are many different ways to start revolutions. Start a community garden, cultivate a mind and body spiritual practice with friends and neighbors. Get a million people to march on DC for an end to war and capitalism. Organize mass wildcat strikes and boycotts. Organize with your colleagues and don’t go to work.

Blaze up that herb of peace cannabis; “Legalize it and we will advertise it.” (Peter Tosh) And we will advertise the myriad uses for hemp as well. Get on the psychedelic bus and let’s take this Furthur (honoring the one decent thing bigoted blowhard snob Tom Wolfe (rip) put out, ok ok, Bonfire was alright too): “Keseyians of the world unite!”

Even Michael Pollan is getting on the bus, he’s got a new book out: How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us about Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. Not that I’ll be reading this seemingly boorish dude’s book, but hopefully a sea change is starting.

It’s really hard dealing with the straight-edge socialists out there, any and everybody’s 2 cents on what an authentic radical movement should look like, and the denunciation of good people by calling them “lifestyle anarchists” or “anarchist liberals.” You know who you are.  It’s a collective endeavor, and all the jockeying, ego, obscurantism, and endless commentary ultimately distracts us from authentic connection with real people and community. “Your politics are boring as fuck” (Crimthinc), and I suppose many do know it, unconsciously or not. I suspect the Situationists would agree. As for the “serious Left”, here’s Norman Mailer, perhaps exaggerating, in an old interview with the infamous William Buckley:

“I’ve always found the left to be as stuffy as the right…in other words the extreme left is as boring as the extreme right…and I think both suffer terribly from this. It’s exactly because their lives [of the Left] are so middle-class and full of propriety…the disease of the Left is excessive obedience to all the small laws of daily life…they think of overturning society because they don’t know how to break a few small rules and mores…”

So, I’ve been getting nostalgic for my 13-14 year old self lately. You know, when you used to read certain mind-blowing stuff and thought to yourself, yeah, maybe just maybe a revolution could happen again like in the 60s. Contrasting with today where teens eat Tide-pods.

Anyways, Wolfe’s death brought me back to reading about Kesey and the Pranksters, and the whole scene back then. Here’s a small slice of what was giving me some hope for the human race in approximately 1999, when it comes to 60s lore: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer, The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley, and The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda.

All of these works are pretty amazing. As a young teen I wasn’t aware of all the horror stories in the authors’ personal lives, to be clear. All of these authors were pretty fucked up people, not giving any of them a pass.

Thoughts on Antifa

So, you may have heard in the last year or so a bunch of “lefties” shitting on Antifa. Their actions “mirror” the hard-right nonsense, blah blah. What a crock of shit. I’m not associated with any Antifa group. But some of us aren’t in, never have joined, but we are still supportive. Because you know for some of us we were born and raised Antifa, in a way. And it’s really hard, and funny in an absurd way laughing not to cry, and downright depressing to see so-called “radicals” denigrating people who are trying to deter violence against minorities from actual fucking Nazis.

You people have no fucking idea. When you’re a kid and you’re told horrible gut-wrenching stories of what happened to your family, you become, metaphorically speaking, a child soldier. Damn, this can never happen again. We will fight and resist. Some of us actually have emotions about actual oppression that happened to our families, friends. This isn’t some ivory tower bullshit about being totally rational and pacifist no matter what, non-violent no matter what. Fighting these jackboots is the last tactic after all the other ways have failed, as many have noted.

In Closing

The sad truth of the matter is that so many of us feel like inmates in a lunatic asylum. Our world is run by insane people for insane objectives. John Lennon said that. And there is no way out at the moment. Huis Clos.

The only way out is to embrace the model of indigenous cultures, “the original affluent society” (Sahlins, countering Galbraith).

I took a listen to Highway 61 Revisited again recently. I quoted “Ballad of a Thin Man” in my “Something is Happening” essay from last year. It’s got some pretty remarkable lyrics. But my favorite on the album has always been “Desolation Row”. I could go on and on about my interpretation and the works cited within, but I won’t. The last lines have been resonating with me recently:

“Yes, I received your letter yesterday, about the time the doorknob broke
When you asked me how I was doing, was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention, yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces and give them all another name
Right now, I can’t read too good, don’t send me no more letters no
Not unless you mail them from Desolation Row”

I’ll leave you with another slogan from the May 1968 revolt:

“Be realistic, demand the impossible.”

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Global Weirding

Published online at CounterPunch and Countercurrents.org, 4/20/2018

 

Oh, what fun it truly was to experience the “bomb cyclone” in January in New England: the snowfall gave a sense of peace and calm, the winds were less strong than predicted, and the snow, while heavy, was not dense enough to take down trees and power lines in most areas. The following period of intense cold through February and March in the eastern half of the US, on the other hand, seems a harbinger of climate instability which will most likely worsen in upcoming years. As the jet stream weakens and buckles due to climate change, storm intensity and temperature fluctuations are certain to get worse.

The biggest danger for East coasters will remain the hurricane, as September 2017 registered as the most active month in recorded history for the Atlantic.

On the West coast, things are getting a bit Biblical: raging fires alternate with intense flooding and mudslides in Montecito and southern California a few months ago. The 2017 fire season set aflame over eight million acres mainly in the Western states. It’s not just a domestic issue: Portugal faced an epic firestorm in June of last year, killing close to 100, partly due to the monocultures of eucalyptus trees planted across the country. Millions face conditions of famine and drought worldwide.

Sadly, most reporting and discussion of global warming and climate change serves to abstract the issues into a diversionary attitude that the Earth is in crisis. Well, the planet, as a self-regulating super-organism, will do just fine without us, even if it takes millennia to recover from our misdeeds. It is stable and abundance-providing ecosystems that are in crisis, species that are going extinct at 1000 times the background rate, and humanity is the culprit.

Even though man-made global warming is acknowledged by most people, there is still a conflation going on in the West that the all-devouring Earth-mother is out to get us. Rather, it is Western civilization which is stalking any chance for future generations to live and prosper.

Ecosystems in Crisis

In Germany, a study was done measuring insect populations in nature reserves, and it was discovered that there was a 75% drop in total insects collected in only 25 years. Scientists estimate that 30-50% of all species may become extinct by 2050.

Tragically, regarding honeybees, scientists have discovered an important link between fungicide use and the herbicide glyphosate (Round-Up), showing a negatively synergistic effect on bee colonies and resistance to fungal infection. Bees seem to actually prefer honey set in traps with a small percentage of Roundup or fungicides added. Humans are not the only species to enjoy mind-altering drugs, even poisonous ones.

All of our problems involving the destruction of habitat are ultimately bound up in the fact that there are too many of us, conditioned to respond in violent outbursts, consuming too many resources, leading to stress, war, and unimaginable acts of cruelty. These acts are often sanctioned by the state or the corporation or religion or patriarchal vertical hierarchies.

The exponential population growth from the industrial revolution is already slowing and bound to top off at anywhere from 10-12 billion people by 2050-2100, if we manage to avoid the many catastrophes hurtling our way. Thus the growth curve will resemble an S-curve barring unforeseeable circumstances, with small waves and ripples due to the complexities of changing times, food sources, and a multitude of variables. In theory this population model could then lead to a steady decrease in total population due to a voluntary decision by humanity to slowly and carefully have fewer children due to stresses on ecosystems and natural resources. If we don’t convert to decentralized renewable energy and organic, communal-based agriculture, however, there is another model we may follow, and it’s not pretty one. Fossil fuel use is the habit that must be kicked for humanity to help recreate a sustainable world.

One of the most famous examples from studying mammalian populations is the debacle of St. Matthew Island, a warning to humanity. A tiny island located in the Bering Strait, with no carnivores, some lonely US coast guard officers decided to introduce reindeer onto the island. From a starting population of 29 in 1944, the hungry caribou ate through the entire island’s many lichen species, ballooning to 6,000 by 1963. Within two years and no other food source, the die-off was drastic, and only 42 remained in 1965. The entire population vanished by the 1980s. If our coal, gas, and oil run out without a democratic and scientific plan to make the leap to renewables, we are doomed to the same path.

The Unspoken Links

It would be simplistic to relegate these new and unprecedented levels of strangeness to the spheres of ecology and climate science. The deep wounds Western man has inflicted on fellow species and the planet are also inflicted on ourselves. From everything to decreased attention spans, the rise of xenophobia and mistrust towards minorities and immigrants, and billions living in poverty, these are by and large self-inflicted wounds. We must learn to see ourselves in the other, and see the other in ourselves.

Cell phone, TV, tablet, and computer use, dubbed “screen time”, can now be understood to have a net-negative effect on human communities when consumed in vast quantities, as it drives anti-social behavior and isolation from the wider community. A recent study concluded the average screen time for US adults was around 70 hours per week. Keep in mind, that means for every person getting 40 hours of screen time there is another getting 100 hours per week.

The rising rates of cancer, autism, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, heart disease, and many other chronic conditions may be partly due to the stressors and conditions of modern life, including longer lifespans, but they do not account for the majority. Our polluted world and environmental crises play a mostly invisible role in the West, as our federal agencies such as the EPA and FDA have become corrupted by pharmaceutical and corporate interests.

With no way to systemically study or properly account for the rise of ill health and mental stupefaction of the public, medical and health professionals, shackled in their dim caves staring at shadows, have designated the “genetic” component to dis-ease as the Holy Grail. There is some truth to this: undoubtedly certain forms of breast cancer are linked to specific areas on chromosomes, etc. The idea, however, that billions of dollars in research must be shunted into the reductionist model of DNA manipulation and gene therapy is a huge waste of time, resources, and brainpower. (No, I don’t have mainstream “credentials” or a PhD, but I was happy to have my suspicions about targeted gene therapy confirmed straight out of the mouth of a former top researcher at the National Cancer Institute.)

The best way I’ve heard it phrased, regarding chronic disease and our toxified world, is like this: genetics is the loaded gun, and the environment is the finger pulling the trigger. Yes, many people are at risk due to genetic inheritance for many forms of cancers, diabetes, and the list goes on, but magnifying the capacities of the double helix as the primal cause of these conditions is not only dubious, it’s intellectually dishonest and dangerous. One may be at higher risks for certain disorders, but a healthy lifestyle can often slow, negate, or reverse chronic disease.

Many of today’s chemical dangers are invisible and thus fly under the radar of doctors and scientists. Yet, there are visible changes in our bodies that have manifested with the rise of industrial agriculture after World War Two. One change being the rise in obesity worldwide. Yes, we have increased meal portion sizes and live more sedentary lifestyles, and yes, food serves as a palliative for depression and anxiety.

Yet, this does not explain the study (summarized in an Atlantic article here)which concluded that, between 1988 and 2006, a person with the same diet, nutrient and exercise routines would be 10% heavier in 2006. This is a historic finding, and I can find nothing in the literature which reports a change in size of any other species in such short a time frame (18 years), other than weight gain in the abhorrent factory farming conditions of chickens, pigs, and cows.

The problem is, as the authors of the study note, there are so many factors it’s nearly impossible to determine what the culprit is. There are persistent organic pollutants, hormones in our food which act as endocrine disruptors, prescription drug overuse which leads to weight gain, and the possibility of a change in our gut bacteria due to mass antibiotic use in animal produce. In all likelihood, it is a combination of all of these factors that is driving the obesity and cancer epidemics. While many researchers are waking up to effects from increasing use of digital technology and social media, hardly anyone in the scientific community and academia have bothered to think about the huge changes to our bodies in the past few decades.

For every one human cell in our bodies, there are about 10 symbiotic bacterial cells. We are in very real sense super-organisms, and the huge influx of herbicides, pesticides, and antibiotics in our food is forming a negatively synergistic effect on our ability to reason, to exercise, to relax, and to resist these new forms of genetic-biologic oppression.

This comes down to the nexus of corporate agribusiness, complicit federal health “experts”, lack of funding for research and grants for responsible scientists, and a poisoned food and water supply which has hijacked and somehow rewired our metabolism, endocrine system, and immune-response pathways. Have no doubt, this is an uncontrolled experiment being run on us all, without our permission.

The rise in cancer in particular can be tied to the atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1950s, as I and many others have posited. Estimates range that anywhere from 1 million to 50 million or even higher have already died/may die in the coming century earlier than they otherwise would have, because of cancer due to nuclear radiation from these tests.

The chance of getting cancer in one’s lifetime is expected to rise to a 33% chance for women and a 50% chance for men by 2050. This is the microcosm within the macrocosm of a world system based on infinite growth on a finite planet. The ideology of capitalism is death, and there should be no mystification as to why the clear unhealthiness of the hegemonic socio-economic system has been transported into our very bodies via cancer.

A major problem is that modern medicine has become ideological and insular, with predictably deadly results. There can be no patents for plants, herbs, mushrooms, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practices, thus no conglomerate, multinational, corporate money to be made.

If it becomes clear on a mass scale that traditional practices including, but not limited to, herbal medicine, meditation, yoga, holistic traditional healing, Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine has immense value beyond the instrumental rationality of allopathic medicine, the gig is up for mainstream pill-pushers. Most health professionals would be unveiled as the educated fools that they are, drug pushers promoting dangerous drugs for children and the elderly, not to mention endless unnecessary tests and procedures which make billions for Big Pharma and medical technology companies.

Let me be clear here: I am not by any means trying to scapegoat every medical professional, as researchers and people who treat medical emergencies, trauma, surgeons, and doctors dealing with acute medical conditions do amazing work every day. What I’m driving at is the allopathic way of treating most chronic conditions is a farce, and our society should return to promoting preventative, holistic treatments.

Thanato-politics

Sadly, there is a legitimate reason why so much of society is organized around ignorance, fear, violence, denial of the body, and consumption: the death-drive. One does not have to subscribe to Freud’s exposition of thanatos to understand this: the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the desertification of our world, the razing of habitat shows this quite clearly.

Modern civilization does not only lead to obedience, submission, and structural violence, but also to a certain form of captivity. Humans tend to rebel against such a depraved social order, even if only symbolically, with varying amounts of success. Some do so constructively, forming social movements and protests, yet masses have fallen prey to the siren-songs of nationalism, consumerism, addiction, and war. Along with the enclosure of public land and the destruction of the commons (“There is no such thing as society”) comes a culture of fear, cruelty, and ultimately projections of the outer world as scary and downright evil.

Captivity in action: consider the recent missile alert in Hawai’i. Was this not an example of a captive audience, doomed by elites to worry and scatter over a phantom nuke over the horizon? None of us asked for this. Most of humanity simply wants to be left alone from the vagaries of government and corporate rule to live stable, happy lives. Yet the sad truth of the matter is the elites are not going to leave us alone. Their appetite is insatiable, and they will in fact drag down the entire biosphere, because in their current state of mind, they hate life, and want to transcend this world, either to heaven (the Christian fundamentalists) or have their consciousness uploaded or bodies cryogenically frozen for future immortality (the Kurzweillian techno-futurists).

Evil, or rather, a disdain for authentic living, is banal in many senses: one of these is the utter unimaginativeness resting in the dark hearts of our political leaders. Evil is a lack, a poverty of the soul. It is incapacity to create, an absence of imagination, spontaneous creativity, and compassion. You can sense this in our “technocratic” leadership, pushing us ever closer to the abyss of economic depression and ecological ruin.

It often conjures up a chuckle when I remind people of David Graeber’s comments (paraphrasing here) on the elitist corporate/managerial/bureaucratic mindset: “These are the most unimaginative people ever.” This is basically a gallows humor, as the elite are numbing citizens of the will, mental capacities, and physical abilities to organize and resist effectively, and are setting up the masses for collapse of our civilization.

Reclaiming Eros

If there does exist some sort of death drive (most explicitly recognized in Nazi, Italian, and Spanish fascist ideology: “¡Viva la muerte!”) that modern civilization is imposing on us, is there a countervailing force?

Countering the bleak pessimism of Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents, Herbert Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization offers clues. We can extrapolate and widen their focus on libido to consider Eros as an analogy for life-force or life-energy, similar to Eastern notions of prana and chi. If modern society has in fact regimented our lives around a Marcuse-esque performance principle, it does so at the cost of our very souls. It was no mythological coincidence that the ancient Greeks wedded the god Eros in immortal bliss with Psyche. One cannot exist without the other.

Alienation in the workplace is so all-pervasive it often goes unnoticed or unremarked upon. Perhaps this orientation around surplus repression is most visible in leisure activities such as today’s gyms, the insular form of physical exercise for the corporate workers and bosses. Regimenting the mind in the office is not enough: bodies must be splayed across endless rows of treadmills and metal strength-enhancing machines like legions of marching ants, with the requisite phone or Ipod and headphones attached. As for the flabby and out-of-shape, it is once again a lack of discipline and failure to take individual responsibility, rather than any oppressive social structure which is the causal factor.

These are the pod people, exemplified in a New York Times piece about a former Nike exec and artist who has refused to watch or read any news since Donald Trump became elected, who even goes to far as to use noise-canceling headphones blaring white noise in coffee shops to not overhear any chatter about world affairs. Why not just play music? “Stray conversation can creep in between songs.” The same game goes for the power elite: stray news about the poor and oppressed, and any possibilities of social transformation, are simply shushed away.

Thus, when the business and political elite blurt the snide “Be reasonable!” they are at the same time using the cynical trope of “no grand ideologies” (read: Marxism) which, of course, hides behind the moral relativism and lack of conception of the good life which liberal democracy has always played at, which is ideology at its purest: “the end of history”, “there is no such thing as society”, “there is no alternative”.

These people, whose ideas simply parrot the cultural hegemonic ruling class framework, are asserting the “logic of domination”. Drawing on Arendt and Orwell, Alexander Stern has dubbed this “Bingespeak”. Following Marcuse:

“Reason is to insure, through the ever more effective transformation and exploitation of nature, the fulfillment of the human potentialities. But in the process the end seems to recede before the means: the time devoted to alienated labor absorbs the time for individual needs- and defines the needs themselves. The Logos shows forth as the logic of domination. When logic then reduces the units of thought to signs and symbols, the laws of thought have finally become techniques of calculation and manipulation.” (1)

This corrupted Logos seems to have pushed aside Eros in the modern world. Nietzsche would call it Apollonian overtaking the Dionysian. As the socially-constructed ego has developed under patriarchy, civilization, and capitalism, it has done so with the fear of the maternal-based clan, and the Earth-based tribal modes of life. Returning to Marcuse:

“The Narcissistic phase of individual pre-genitality ‘recalls the maternal phase of the history of the human race. Both constitute a reality to which the ego responds with an attitude, not of defense and submission, but of integral identification with the ‘environment.’ But in the light of the paternal reality principle, the ‘maternal concept’ of reality here emerging is immediately turned into something dreadful, negative. The impulse to re-establish the lost Narcissistic-maternal unity is interpreted as a ‘threat,’ namely, the threat of ‘maternal engulfment’ by the overpowering womb. The hostile father is exonerated and reappears as savior who…protects the ego from its annihilation in the mother.” (2)

Does this fear not play out between the lines of today’s discourse around the environment? It cannot be the patriarchal, murderous version of global capitalism which is at fault, but rather, an all-consuming mother planet bent on destroying us all (even though it’s all our own fault due to rampant fossil fuel use). In fact, the father figure of global capital now swoops in to act as a savior for everything he has destroyed.

Contrast, for example, the rush to space and immortality that the Silicon Valley techno-utopian folk seem to prefer, or even the “pragmatism” of Steward “we are as gods and have to get good at it” Brand; with the ecocentric approach of Lynn Margulis and James Lovelock, co-creators of Gaia theory. Corporate funded mainstream environmentalists would have us geo-engineer the planet and proliferate dangerous 5G technology via an internet-of-things around the globe. Rather, we should convert to small scale, decentralized renewable tech, and attempt to live in harmony with the biosphere by adhering to an ecological precautionary principle.

Thus, the “primal father” version of the future which Brand and his “green capitalist” (an oxymoron) acolytes believe in necessarily involves sacrifice of the masses and more exploitation of natural resources. We are told this everyday: “austerity” is needed for economic recovery; delay gratification to pay off debts; foreigners must be killed and are simply collateral damage to protect the world from terrorism, public land is off-limits or only for recreation, not sustainable agriculture and agroforestry; etc.

Reconciling Apollo and Dionysus, Logos and Eros, a less repressive society would not simply focus on what we must sacrifice, but allow space for passion, imagination, and desire. A democratic society would allow for collective decision-making regarding the scale and scope of a host of socioeconomic issues, including sustainable agriculture, genetic research, preventative medicine, animal testing, as well as chemical use in farming and industry.

With a healthy balance between Logos and Eros, we can transcend the deadly framework of instrumental reason and positivism to build a livable future. Some like to call this a “supra-rational” outlook, a transpersonal and holistic view of the world, where emotional intelligence is blended with the analytic, intuition with abstract logic.

What lessons can we draw here? There must be a concerted effort to blend work and play, especially in regards to communal farming, collective homebuilding, and low-scale renewable energy, to create the grounds for authentic liberation from capitalism.

Sustained and coordinated efforts to build autonomous zones free from governmental and hierarchical organization are paramount: indigenous movements throughout South America and worldwide, the mass strikes in France, Christiania in København, freedom fighters in Chiapas and Rojava, and the MST in Brazil offer models of resistance.

We are going to have to adopt a type of bricolage (Levi-Strauss) culture, scavenging what has not been absorbed by global capital, to create beauty in the ruins of empire. Thus, we can begin the Herculean effort to deterritorialize (as in Deleuze and Guattari) and thus reassemble a heterogeneous, co-evolving, transformational commons; to decolonize our minds from a simulated, mechanical mode of life; to detach from the Spectacle; to unlearn and deschool ourselves (Illich) from the oppressive social systems designed to rob and eventually destroy everything we know and care for.

 

Notes:

  1. Marcuse, Herbert. (1974) Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud. Boston: Beacon Press. Originally published 1955. pp. 111-112.
  2. Ibid., p. 230.
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Review of “The Great Unraveling” by Jean-Paul Baquiast

Journalist Jean-Paul Baquiast has reviewed my essay “The Great Unraveling” for the French website Mediapart.fr as well as his own site Europesolidaire.eu

Here is the link: https://blogs.mediapart.fr/jean-paul-baquiast/blog/261217/planetary-vision-par-williams-hawes-livre-electronique-2017 (It is in French but Google Translate does a pretty good job converting to English)

Baquiast points out some of the legitimate problems with implementing my ideas presented in my essay, such as redistribution of wealth, medical and health initiatives, and technology being co-opted by local elites in the Global South. This is a great point, and any solution would of course require a robust internationalist organization to combat such deleterious effects, to promote decentralization, and to evenly distribute and counteract elitist greed and power disparities.

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Review: Humanity: The World Before Religion, War & Inequality

Originally published at NYjournalofbooks.com, March 20, 2018, also at Countercurrents, Dissident Voice, and Counterpunch

In this groundbreaking work, author Barry Brown has managed to definitively prove humankind’s natural tendencies to be peaceful, cooperative, and egalitarian. Barry takes the reader on a tour de force through humanity’s prehistory as well as providing detailed evidence for his assertions about mysteries such as ancient artifacts like the Venus statues, the original meaning of the swastika, his theory about the location of the Garden of Eden, and the real purpose of the Gobekli Tepe site, an enigmatic archaeological site in southeast Turkey.

Brown’s background as a journalist is his greatest asset, as he manages to make connections that are seemingly overlooked and/or downplayed by the world’s leading archaeologists, historians, and even evolutionary biologists.

One of Brown’s main supporting arguments can be found in a Scientific American essay which elucidates the nearly completely non-violent behaviors of chimpanzees and bonobos, our closest living ancestors, as well as the early fossil record of hominids, where no group warfare among masses of people is found before the advent of agriculture, cities, and hierarchies. This indicates that our biological nature is peace-loving, and that our tendency towards group violence has become normalized due to propaganda, socialization, and cultural factors. Although small cases of individual killing did occur in hunter-gatherer societies, these are outliers, not the norm. The first ninety-nine percent of human history was peaceful, without organized warfare.

Brown starts off documenting the evolutionary history of our primate ancestors, exploring the possibility that having a better sense of balance with a more complex inner ear, and the consciousness of having a center of gravity, is what differentiated Homo sapiens from other hominids. With the tenacity of an investigate journalist, Brown offers unique insights into the mysteries of the ancient world, including that: Venus statues were the world’s first book, an object for reflection and to stimulate insight regarding anatomy, culture, psychology, and femininity. Also, Gobekli Tepe was the world’s first university, as it shows no permanent signs of settlement or religious use, where people from all over the region could come to learn farming techniques, animal husbandry, and share culture. The swastika was a symbol of peace and friendship, a signpost for travelers of welcome and to encourage newcomers that friendly human settlements were nearby.

Barry’s Brown is the first of its kind to look at humanity’s history before and after the advent of warfare. His central argument is that warfare started approximately 4000 BCE in India, which is documented in the epic Mahabharata, of which a small part is documented in the Bhagavad Gita. Brown also notices a possible correlation in the Old Testament, where it is his interpretation that the Hebrew people descended from Eastern India, near the Ganges River, which was the original “Garden of Eden.”

Social divisions were the precursor to war, as the forming proto-caste system in ancient India bred alienation, vertical hierarchies, patriarchy, wealth inequality, and families and clans demanding blind loyalty and obedience from their followers.

Brown’s contention that the war between the rival clans, the Kurus and the Pandavas, was the first war in history, which fractured social relations in India and spread suspicion, fear, and hatred throughout the premodern world. Divisions and hierarchical relations in ancient India were exacerbated to such a point that no person or group dared to challenge to reconcile the two clans. Elaborate musical and gaming events, clan rivalry, and mass religious rituals most likely were the precursors to the actual war, devolving into war games designed to let off steam and social tensions, which further devolved into actual warfare.

After this first great war, much of advanced Indian society shifted west to the Indus Valley civilization, where a democratic, egalitarian society flourished from about 3000-2000 BCE. However, the dark forces of empire, organized violence, and social hierarchies spread to Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, where they eventually gave rise to monotheistic, dogmatic religions, fear, insecurity, and permanent wars.

Brown explains how the wounds of ancient violence, strife and fear, this turn towards warfare and discord, remain with us to this day. When security is traded for liberty, where “freedom from” hunger, tyranny, and poverty is replaced by a selfish creed of “freedom to” do anything one likes with their time, private property, and money, humanity as a whole suffers.

The roots of global conflict go back to this change in our shared history, a shift from helpful, friendly, cooperative communities to fearful, divided, traumatized nations who now threaten the entire world with the crises of global warming, habitat destruction, and nuclear war, just to name a few. Barry Brown’s revelatory work shows us a clear path in how to return to our natural, peaceful state of being.

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Ode to America

Published on Countercurrents.org, and CounterPunch, March 9 2018,

Dissident Voice March 10 2018

“My own little world
Is what I deserve
‘Cause I am the only child there is.
A king of it all
The belle of the ball
I promise I’ve always been like this.
Forever the first
My bubble can’t burst
It’s almost like only I exist.
Where everything’s mine
If I can keep my mouth shut tight, tight, tight.”

-Guster, “Center of Attention”

So much for the city on the hill. Narcissism has changed to nihilism and solipsism: “climate change isn’t real”, and the ravages of history continue down the rabbit hole of memory.

Take another look. Genocide and chattel slavery. The war against Mexico, the quite uncivil war, the Spanish-American war, the massacres in the Philippines, the two World Wars. Dust off a book and check out the post-WWII carnage. Three million dead in Korea, three to five million dead in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. A million or more in Indonesia where our CIA handed out kill lists to Suharto’s regime. Untold atrocities in Nicaragua. Juntas and death squads covering South and Central America, trained at Fort Benning, Georgia. Hundreds of thousands dead in Afghanistan, a million or more in Iraq. Refugees numbered 65 million last year, with 20 million worldwide at risk of starvation.

Welcome to America, where minorities are killed for loose cigarettes or burned-out taillights. Where kids are shot up in school after warning of the madman dozens of times. Where we are chided to “support our troops” as they massacre, where we’re told “blue lives matter” as black men are murdered in cold blood.

The only solution is to abolish the military and the police. There is no reforming to be done. Likewise the nation-state and the corporation must be banned as well. Banish capitalism to the dustbin of history. The neoliberal globalizers (yes, Trump, that means you too) have got to go.

This is the fourth world war, as Subcomandante Marcos explained brilliantly. Billions of people now are no longer needed in the global economy and form the reserve army of temporary, part-time, and seasonal laborers. This is the new precariat, which along with the ever exploited proles constructs and maintains the property of the oligarchs in our new gilded age.

The risks from global warming, nuclear war, industrial pollulants, new pandemics, and food and water shortages from drought, floods, and extreme weather all should remind us that we are constructing our very own abattoir as well. Seven and a half billion of us fighting and scrambling over the scraps and dregs of our fossil fuel age doesn’t paint a pretty picture when you step back and look at things with a global perspective.

There is an absolute nothing at the heart of Western life. This gets touched up in media and the arts, when terms like “Spaceship Earth”, “The Big Empty”, and “Lonely Planet” are used in a playful way, masking our sorrow. Projecting our own isolation and alienation onto the world, we anthropomorphize features and creatures around us and thus imagine that everyone and everything else must be feeling as helpless, bleak, and disturbed as we are.

Yet, it is just not so. Just because the universe is kind of a lonely and scary place does not give us the right to destroy the planet out of fear of our own mortality, our own sense of meaninglessness.

While our foreign wars mutate and mushroom out of control, domestically, America today is increasingly provincial and insular. Like many subcultures, the political realm is dominated by nostalgia, a return to a so-called Golden Age. From “Make America Great Again” to Bernie Sanders’ New Deal/Keynesian/Social Democratic promises, they are all based on delusions. These are delusions of isolationism, delusions that we can use a Scandinavian blueprint onto a population of 320 million, delusions of American exceptionalism, being the indispensable nation.

There is also a delusion regarding the “living wage”. There can only be a living wage coinciding with a radical restructuring of the economy towards sustainability and ecological living. Without this, what would happen? A wage hike to $15/hour would encourage everyone to spend more, consume more, go on more trips and use more fossil fuels. This would not help any single living thing on the planet, as our economy is built to destroy and degrade the Earth’s natural resources and ecosystems.

Comments on US Left Radicals, with Respect

I also sense a split between two strains of Leftist radical thought in the US: the activist/socialist Left and what one might call the counter-culture/spiritual Left. Turns out, each has much to offer the other.

The activists/Marxists will be instrumental in breaking the passivity, new-age hedonism, and tendency to harp on conspiracy theory of the spiritualists. Organization and discipline on the strategic and tactical levels are in short supply, and here socialists have a lot to contribute to the conversation.

As for the counter-culture/spiritual types, they have much to teach the social justice activists and socialist/communist organizers and academics as well. In a very practical sense, those in the counterculture who have “dropped out” are doing a great service by not contributing tax money to our war machine. Those who squat and occupy public land responsibly should also be applauded, not ignored, by the academic Left. The growing movement in permaculture and homesteading also is uniquely absent even in alternative media (is too much patchouli and yoga a repellant for otherwise intrepid journalists?).

There is also an idea as old as time, summed up by the saying “Man does not live by bread alone”. The constant focus of some on the socialist Left on only materialistic problems and solutions (exemplified by some Marxist and lefty economists, among others) and inequality does not give enough weight to questions of inner life in modern society.

Many of the activist/socialists cannot even be counted on to support full drug legalization. Additionally, many ignore the issue of, or are scared at speaking out in favor of, the responsible use of cannabis and psychedelics, even though study after study confirms their beneficial effects. Of course I’m not trying to inflate the heads of the credentialed experts, as any hippie on Haight-Ashbury or Rasta in Kingston could have confirmed this 50 years ago.

Speaking of the 60s, 50 years ago the French managed to scare De Gaulle out of the country, with an alliance of students, workers, feminists, artists, Leftists, and citizen protestors. Union workers in the US should be supporting high school students’ calls increased legislation to halt gun violence, as well as college students’ call to end student debt, creating free higher education for universities and community colleges, etc.

Then there are people who fit neither category, including environmentalists, peace activists, anti-nuke and GMO protestors, dissidents, anarchists, etc. For many here, the Greens are simply not anti-capitalist enough, and the socialists do not put enough emphasis on environmental concerns and ecology.

I have offered a respectful critique of one of the main Left parties, Socialist Alternative, in a previous piece, especially their call to “democratize the Fortune 500 companies”, instead of breaking them down to human-scale anarchic cooperatives and inherently questioning the nature of the consumer goods and production model, which contribute to pollution, misery, disease, alienation, and global warming.  Also, their call for a living wage without structural transformation of the industrial system falls flat, for reasons mentioned above.

Last year, Alan Jones wrote a pretty epic essay dismantling the faulty thinking going on in the leadership of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) in an essay here.

What is needed among radicals is more guts, and more imagination. We need more people like SPUSA 2016 presidential candidate Mimi Soltysik who called for the military and the police to be disbanded in the LA Times.

What is necessary is to become more grounded in speech and action. Technological utopianism has to be replaced by scale-appropriate bioregional and eco-centric Earth-based production techniques. To accomplish this, we will need to reorient our culture and pay respects to the main keepers of this wisdom, the First Nations of Turtle Island, the land we know as North America.

Visioning

What anyone with a heart wants is a rainbow nation, not in terms of a country or nation-state with borders, but groups of interdependent communities, aka intercommunalism as the Black Panthers called it, where our brown, black, white, yellow, and red sisters and brothers can live and thrive in a veritable kaleidoscope, a mosaic of multicultural and intergenerational cooperation and beauty. To live in cooperation with each other and live close to the Earth, we will have to learn from and adopt the rejuvenating and conflict-avoidant cultural practices of indigenous communities.

Land and property reform are at the center of this agenda, as is instituting a universal basic income. We must utilize the burgeoning fields of biodynamic farming, permaculture, and agroforestry to feed ourselves. We must decentralize…Small Is Beautiful, as Schumacher explained.

Over the course of human history, the village was the central unit of society, where bioregional production, markets, and trading dominated. This is how unique culture is formed, where syncretism and blending is encouraged, not denigrated by xenophobic bigots.

The modern city is completely unsustainable as well as uniquely alienating as it divides citizens by class, race, as well as in the more subtle realms of social and cultural capital, as Bourdieu foresaw.

Holistic, ethical science can be used in tandem with decentralizing farming practices and renewable energy infrastructure. The dream of the primitivist, anti-civ, and “green anarchists” (funny how somehave tried to appropriate this term, which can apply to a wide spectrum of theory) to go without any modern technology is ridiculous. Sustainably made labor-saving devises should be encouraged, not denigrated, and applied science based on the precautionary principle must be upheld.

Also necessary will be deliberative councils based on merit, publicly broadcast to stimulate citizen input and education, where scientists can openly debate and plan for strategies to mitigate global warming, industrial pollution, medical and psychological epidemics of suffering (drug abuse is rampant in this country and largely attributable to loneliness and alienation, as the Rat Park study showed), etc. Imagine how much more enlightening and interesting watching the top researchers in their fields resolve crises would be, compared to the absolute shit on CNN, CSPAN, FOX, or MSNBC.

Meritocracies are not utopian, and flourish in scientific research, in spontaneous social situations, as well as for open-source coders, engineers, and technologists. Arthur Koestler sketched this idea out a bit in his book Janus, dubbing it “holarchy”.

Global warming continues to be the number one threat to the planet. By opting out of the Paris Accords (a pitiful excuse for a climate agreement, but better than nothing), the US government has very clearly shown itself to be very clearly at war with the world.

Yet “America” does not exist. Borders do not exist. We must become ungovernable, semi-nomadic if need be, like many of our multicultural, cosmopolitan ancestors were. We should re-wild and reinvigorate our natural surroundings through sustainable communal-based agriculture.

This does not mean consigning every family to peasant-level subsistence farming, as likely only 10-15% of the population would need to work in a food-production based capacity and would be compensated for their hard work and dedication compared to our mass society, compared to the 1-3% in our mechanized agro-business model where laborers and seasonal workers are ruthlessly exploited. There must be a mind-shift from a culture based on scarcity to a culture based on natural abundance.

More and more people are waking up to the ever-increasing dangers of runaway climate change and nuclear war. If the Left does not unify and form a cohesive, coherent strategy that speaks to ordinary people, the proto-fascists in Washington as well as the alt-right will continue to scapegoat minorities for capitalisms’ failures in pursuit of their goal of a tyrannical white-supremacist state.

Possibly the most feasible solution to our interlocking crises is to address the elephant in the room: overpopulation. Instituting a global program promoting woman’s education, safe sex, and birth control, and redistribution of wealth to the Global South could help tremendously.

The fragmentation of the Western Left continues because ultimately it is rooted in Eurocentrism, in a Baconian/Cartesian/Newtonian view of science and the universe. The advent of capitalism as well as the cementing of the Westphalian ideology of the nation-state ultimately leads to oligarchy, fascism, and the destruction of the biosphere and its natural resources. Revolutionizing the system of global capital and abolishing the nation-state cannot be delayed for reforms that seem more realistic. Our time is running out.

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