We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Friday, July 7, 2017

When Will Co-opted Figures and Board Members Be Hauled into Court?

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from his blog East by Northwest. (See especially the comments section. Also notice in the sixth paragraph there is one typographical error. The first sentence should read "The integrity of public institutions is compr[om]ised due to the political influence and financial clout ....")
The public is being poisoned, disease rates are spiralling, waterways are contaminated, soil is being degraded, insects, birds, invertebrates and plant diversity are in dramatic decline. Humanity and the planet are being poisoned for profit.

We are experiencing an assault on life by the agrotoxins industry, which is in fact contributing to a sixth mass extinction. Armed with a harmful chemical cocktail of highly profitable agrotoxins, ranging from disease-causing glyphosate to bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides, biocide manufactures are waging biological and chemical warfare on us all under the guise that they are serving humanity by helping to feed the world.
The answer to the question in the headline is thus: they will not be hauled into court as long as the tiny capitalist class rules the world. There is no kind of good capitalism simply because like cancer wherever capitalists attain a critical level of power they will begin to devour the rest of society and the environment until all of humanity is threatened with extinction. And, like cancer, the best chances of a cure is in the early stages, but it is never too late to fight for survival.

19 comments:

  1. No they will not be hauled into court, just as there will be no socialist revolution any time soon (whether in the US, UK or in places like India) given the apathy, fragmentation of working people's movements and the ability of capital to co-opt or destroy potential threats, leaders and movements. So what is the answer aside from calling for people to unite, build class consciousness and resist and struggle to build a mass movement for revolutionary change? A call that largely continues to fall on deaf ears. My answer in places like India (where the left parties have by and large become toothless or have succumbed to the tide of neoliberalism ushered in over the last 25 years) is to build on its agrarian base, rather than dismantle it, and to move towards localisation and self-sufficient rural economies and agroecology. I see enough people working for this to give me some hope for the future.

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  2. Thank you for your reactions to my post. I respect your views about India and its prospects for revolutionary change. Thus, I don't think it will happen there or similar countries. Actually I don't think that a revolution to overthrow capitalism will happen before either a nuclear conflagration happens or the climate becomes so unstable that the Earth can no longer sustain humans. And I firmly believe that there is very little time left for humans to save themselves. (I use the third person to indicate that I won't be here much longer because of my advanced age--81). But I have decided that doing nothing to alert people to these perils is not what I choose to do in the final years of my life.

    If a revolution happens, I think it will happen in the more advanced capitalist countries like the US, Britain, or on the European continent. And I am doing what I can to bring this about. Historical events usually move at a snails' pace, but there are some periods which they can happen very rapidly. I think we are now in such a period.

    I certainly don't believe in a general call to the barricades. I am trying with my little blog to encourage people to think about the life destroying system and connect these issues with the likely end of humans, and I have even proposed a revolutionary model starting with this post: (https://survivingcapitalism.blogspot.com/2017/05/a-revolutionary-model-introduction-part.html)

    That is about all I can do.

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  3. Yes I read your posts. Although the CEO on Monsanto and other similar companies will not end up in jail, this is not imply that we can't make things hard for them. Iceland jailed 29 bankers even though this would never happen in the US or UK. No, such actions do not serve to dismantle capitalism and can be dismissed on one level. But I'll take that rather than no action at all.

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  4. I hope you didn't take this post as some kind of criticism of your work. I think your work is excellent, and I wish there were more people doing such work. I only wanted to push your efforts a little further into my grand thesis of the necessity of revolution. I may be "tilting at windmills", but I am convinced that we are headed over the cliffs of war, poverty, climate destabilization, and the destruction of habitat; thus it is the only realistic solution to the many crises given the time we have left.

    Please keep up the great work, and I will continue with my efforts.

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  5. I do not take it as a criticism as such because others have said similar. And I agree with you and them. But we should not give up trying to hold these individuals to account while at the same time acknowledging structure (capitalism) shapes agency (action). Yes, the revolution you speak of is necessary. But my issues is that, unlike you, I don't consider it to be a 'realistic' option because I see no possibility of it happening. Millions of decisions led us to this point. And at each point there were alternatives all along the way. And this is where we as humans after 100,000 years (or whatever the time scale is exactly) on the planet have ended up. Tribal societies show us how to live communally - where communal ownership prevails - in harmony with nature. But those societies are being destroyed as has been the trends now for many hundreds of years. Those societies offer guidelines for how we could live and solutions for averting climate catastrophe, nuclear war, environmental degradation, etc. But again, is what I have been advocating (I have a 'solutions' section on my website) any more realistic for bringing about some form of tangible change?

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  6. At the risk of your thinking that I'm rather superficial, I want to watch the Wimbledon matches for not only my enjoyment, but to preserve my sanity. After I watch them, I will read your solutions and answer your question.

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  7. I was anticipating a summary thesis of what you advocated to change things from the scourge of transnational capitalists who are, in their insatiable quest for more power and profits, leading the world over the cliffs of a nuclear war holocaust and the destruction of human habitat.

    But I didn't find this. What I saw was a growing process from idealistic belief in small self-organizing community projects to a much more sophisticated analysis of transnational capitalism that suggests they are having devastating impacts on local farming, especially in places like India where you have extensively studied and lived. But I was a bit chagrined that you were taken in by Charles Devenish (see here and here), a global mining magnate and sociopath, who obviously knows how to manipulate people to advance his mining interests.

    I also wasn't impressed by naive references to Gandhi who has been more realistically portrayed as a racist (see here or here). No doubt your education in Britain is much like the education/indoctrination in the US imposed on innocent youth that Gandhi was the epitome of virtue because he preached non-violence. How convenient for the ruling capitalists who have no compunctions about using violence wherever it will advance their interests.

    But I love to see the growth in your political analysis from youthful naïveté to a more sophisticated realism. Keep up the good work and the growth.

    Now that I have reviewed your "solutions", I think it is only fair for you to critically review my proposal entitled "A Revolutionary Model" in which people like you would play a very important role.

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  8. To be blunt, I came on here was because I think you are naive in what you advocate. Yes, Gandhi was not perfect. I know was was racist and sexist. But he had positive things to say, especially about the environment - regardless of how people play on his non-violence strategy for their own ends. It is easy to rip everything apart without taking positives. As far as Devenish is concerned, he contacted me. I gave him the benefit of the doubt by giving him some publicity. I was never taken in by him but in part he also had something useful to say - or should I say, the agronomist who works with him - Stuart Newton - who has excellent knowledge of Indian soils. I always knew Devenish was trying to co-opt me. By the way, I'm in my 50s, so I think any youthful idealism went decades ago. Instead of putting forward some unrealistic blueprint or overall thesis, I advocate for things that can push us in the right direction - agroecology, localisation, food security/sovereignty, etc, while all the while challenging the power of global agribusiness. Agriculture is the key to change in India - and even in the West. I have no off the shelf solutions but I think I advocate for certain things that are achievable at this point. More tomorrow. It is 1.30 am here.

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  9. It's never too late to stop growing.

    I look forward to more comments from you, and I especially appreciate your bluntness.

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  10. PART ONE

    OK, that last response was rushed so I could get some sleep. Below, I’ll address your points.

    “I was anticipating a summary thesis of what you advocated to change things from the scourge of transnational capitalists who are, in their insatiable quest for more power and profits, leading the world over the cliffs of a nuclear war holocaust and the destruction of human habitat.”

    I totally agree that they are leading the world over the cliff. Presenting an analysis of what these people are doing is all well and fine, no matter how often you, I or others repeat it. Many of us know what is happening but few seem to be able to agree on a ‘solution’. We have a broad ‘anti-capitalist’ movement, ranging from that ‘hard left’ to those who want to turn back towards some ‘golden age’ of Keynesian capitalism where ordinary people have access to decent welfare, jobs and the rest of it. And in between, you have various groups. And not everyone agrees on a solution or a strategy – even among Marxists.

    For example, we have a leading Marxist economist in India who advocates moving towards the Keynesian model of capital controls, decent welfare and investing in small farms and businesses, especially in rural communities. That is because there is no revolutionary potential – no unity – to bring about some kind of socialist revolution. He is calling for new and innovative solutions that in part dovetail with environmentalists and proponents of ‘localisation not globalisation’. He is at odds with many communists who still believe in some form of one party democratic centralism. At the same time, we have a Marxist Chief state minister who is calling for the industrialisation of livestock farming in his state, which by its nature will destroy millions of livelihoods of farmers who rely on the dairy/cattle trade.

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  11. PART TWO

    “But I didn't find this. What I saw was a growing process from idealistic belief in small self-organizing community projects to a much more sophisticated analysis of transnational capitalism that suggests they are having devastating impacts on local farming, especially in places like India where you have extensively studied and lived. But I was a bit chagrined that you were taken in by Charles Devenish (see here and here), a global mining magnate and sociopath, who obviously knows how to manipulate people to advance his mining interests.”

    What you see in my writing was not some shift from an ‘idealistic belief’. I visited that leprosy project and reported on what was happening there. I thought and still think what is happening at that place has some valid pointers for how we should live as communities. It is not all about ‘sophisticated’ analyses and grand theories. We have to live with one another and interact according to some basic values. That community gives us some credible take home points. What am I supposed to do when invited to write about a project? Not attend because it doesn’t conform to some notion of revolutionary struggle, or go there and report on what is happening and try to take away some positives?

    I think I’ve made my point about Devenish. Is he a sociopath? I don’t know. I read up about him before engaging but there was not a great deal I could find. Of course, he eventually filled me in about his long and varied life. And in one article I put it to him that his mining project could be a ploy to advance his self-interest. Maybe I should not have touched him with a bargepole. He contacted me and my initial reaction was no way am I going to even respond, given his ultimate faith in capitalism (but not the ‘neoliberal’ form it appears). But I felt that it would be wrong to be dismissive without at least giving him some a chance to speak. So, I let him talk, agreed to give him the publicity he wanted but I was careful not to endorse his project. I wrote about it but focused on some positives, not least the Gandhian principles and Stuart Newton’s brilliant analysis of Indian soils and their degradation (which I gave the public access to in a document I linked to). I felt that at least Newton’s work deserved to oxygen of publicity, although – for better or worse - Devenish had tied it into his plan.

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  12. PART THREE

    “I also wasn't impressed by naive references to Gandhi who has been more realistically portrayed as a racist (see here or here). No doubt your education in Britain is much like the education/indoctrination in the US imposed on innocent youth that Gandhi was the epitome of virtue because he preached non-violence. How convenient for the ruling capitalists who have no compunctions about using violence wherever it will advance their interests.”

    Again, I’m not really interested in the double standards of our ‘rulers’ when it comes to Gandhi. His racism aside, I’m interested in what Gandhi had to say about development, consumption and the environment. I reject the claim of naivety or the implication of me having been indoctrinated about him by the education system. Despite his various faults, what Gandhi said about development, resistance and the environment continues to inspire the work of prominent activists in India who are doing good things. Tempting to throw the baby out with the bathwater and thus lose out on the positives.

    “But I love to see the growth in your political analysis from youthful naïveté to a more sophisticated realism. Keep up the good work and the growth.”

    I do not where you get the ‘youthful naivete’ from. I’m not young or wide-eyed or easily taken in by anything. And if you mean my apparent transition from writing about Bindu Art School leprosy project to developing a wide-ranging critique of modernity and capitalism, well I’ve explained my view on why I wrote about that project and what I took from it when it came to writing about my visit there.

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  13. PART FOUR

    “Now that I have reviewed your "solutions", I think it is only fair for you to critically review my proposal entitled "A Revolutionary Model" in which people like you would play a very important role.”

    Give me time. I have read part three.

    But I think you are unfair in your analysis of what I’m saying. I know about Habermas, Althusser, the Frankfurt School, Marx and such like and identify with much of what you say. It was part of my academic studies decades ago. At the same time, today, I draw my inspiration from practical examples that encourage my belief that some positive change can happen. Not enough change to prevent us from being pushed over the cliff you mention. I’m pretty pessimistic on that score. We’ve come so far so quickly to end up at the edge.

    But I see various movements working with farmers to resist seed biopiracy and seed patenting, to secure seed sovereignty and food security, to achieve soil regeneration (after the corporate-driven ‘Green Revolution’), to provide nutrient-rich crop production, to scale up agroecology – all of which helps to combat disease, malnutrition, climate change, unemployment and hunger. All of which – when under the auspices of a political agroecology - can tackle the issues of job offshoring in the West, sweatshop labour in the South, joblessness and the dynamics of capitalist globalisation. I also see how these movements are resisting GMOs, lobbying against the devastating impacts of rigged global trade rules and advocating for farmers and their families in India who comprise the bulk of the population. The state in India is fused with capitalist interest and a handful of rich families, so you have to resist and lobby while at the same time do practical things on the ground that the state will not or never do.

    I take inspiration from agroecology movements in Africa, India and elsewhere and I take inspiration what Cuba achieved in agriculture when it shifted to organic production and placed emphasis on urban farms. By the way, agroecology isn’t just some farming method. It is political in scope and when scaled up can represent a serious challenge and alternative to prevailing power structures. You wanted a ‘summary thesis’ from me to change things: if I were to advocate one, it would be based on agroecology. And I hoped you would have taken that point away from some of the articles I pointed you to in my ‘solutions’ section on the site. The challenge is to scale up agroecology so it becomes the norm and also resist attempts by global agribusiness to denigrate, marginalise and destroy it.

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  14. Response to your thesis PART ONE

    I read your revolutionary model texts. I agree with your analysis whereby humans have been indoctrinated and subjugated for hundreds of years, prior to capitalism, and the effect this has had on the collective mindset. And I appreciate that power is a drug and fuels the ego, especially in capitalism. Information and education is indeed crucial for developing awareness of one's situation under capitalism and for developing class consciousness. I'm also aware that we cannot just withdraw and build our own communities because capitalism will not go away and will attempt to destroy such think where they are regarded as a challenge to the capitalist system. We have to build our communities and alternative systems while at the same time challenging capitalism. I have made this clear in my own writing.

    You are correct to identify the potential for building a grass root media entity and to support and bring together journalists and various websites that are already working along these lines. It is a laudable aim and one that should be considered. Would it work? Is it possible to get off the ground given all the challenges it would face (not least the subversion of such a project)?

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  15. Response to your thesis PART TWO

    I'll talk about the UK because I know it best. We lost our opportunity for radical transformation based on solidarity, collective action and the dissemination of effective information when the unions were destroyed or made toothless in the 80s and when the Labour Party was subverted. Decades to build up and destroyed. Some unions and prominent Labour MPs were strident socialists/Marxists. The Morning Star newspaper (workers' daily) now sells a few thousand copies (I doubt if it attracts too many online views) whereas its sales used to be 200,000 or so (can't recall). It has been promoting itself as the effective alternative voice of the masses for years. At a time millions should be flocking to it, few are. In the 80's, we lost a golden opportunity. Since then, the structure of society has been fundamentally changed, leading to massive fragmentation and the destruction of any potential for a mass movement advocating socialism. This is an incredibly class based society with the Establishment having a hatred for anything 'left'. It has a strong sense of class consciousness, unlike ordinary people. I see no chance of socialism taking hold here. Corbyn offers something. But at best he will deliver some throwback to a milder post-war capitalism that neoliberalism did away with.

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  16. I don't know if you received them, but I also sent part one and two of my response in addition to part one and two of my response to your thesis.

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  17. Yes, I think I've posted them all. God, you are such a prolific writer! I wish I had your gift.

    I'm currently watching the matches, but will get back to you later. Thank you so much for your feedback!

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  18. General comments - We should never lose sight of the fact that aspects of society are reflections of capitalist power. But in the absence of any genuine national or international movement that could overthrow this system, let alone agree on an alternative, what are we to do? We must not only try to educate people about capitalism but should also try to get behind those who offer realistic interim ‘solutions’ for improving people’s lives, although these policies may not necessarily challenge the existence of capitalism. We are to all intents and purposes fighting a rearguard action after decades of capitalism on steroids. It can often be more realistic to put focus on where you have a chance of bringing about some degree of positive change. I may not always allude to ‘capitalism’, but I am involved in various struggles, offering practical measures and resisting policies (fighting against GM mustard in India, proposing policies to help small farmers survive, lobbying to eradicate pesticides, etc). Regurgitating the need to challenge capitalism and our ‘rulers’ is fine, but what does that offer in a practical sense?

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  19. You have done your work so well by covering in your articles efforts at "realistic 'solutions' for improving people's lives....". I applaud your efforts. They are exemplary.

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