“The Government and the police have a duty to protect the public and our national security”- from truth

In the latest  absurdity upon  absurdity in this  fictitious “war  on  terror”, the UK Police have defended their actions in holding and interrogating for 9 hours  Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda on the grounds that Miranda was suspected of terrorism  because  he may  have been relaying truthful  information about  a wide range of Western governments’  illegal   spying on   its citizens.

As the headline above notes; the UK Police’s rationale for the infringement of Miranda’s rights,  was that they  “had a duty to  protect the public and our national  security ” (from  such unwarranted journalism).  With  both  the UK and US police forces being increasingly accused of both corrupt  and violent behaviour, it is little wonder the public  in  those countries feel  a sense of betrayal by  the state.  Who are their police and armed forces in  fact  protecting?

Certainly the deliberately manufactured farce of  muslim  terrorism ( funded with enthusiasm  by  the CIA, and various other “intelligence” western  agencies around the globe- not to mention our “allies”-  the Saudis), is providing an ever more thinly stretched excuse for heavy handed enforcement behaviours,  surveillance and the  erosion of civil  rights.

Who and what  is  it all for?

DublinBaysmallIt would appear that much of this deterioration in  rights and freedoms is simply to  improve the profits of those international  corporates ,  whether media, arms manufacturers ,  energy  companies telecommunications or security companies that  are able to buy the required  influence in  western  “democracies”.

As it becomes increasingly clear  that  we  are nearing the end of the free capitalistic lunch-with  the remainder of  the world’s  natural  resources  being rapidly frittered away for a few quick  bucks  – the corporate billionaires are rushing for the exits, and trampling us “little people” in  the stampede.

 

Sustainable Agriculture: It is possible

Over the years, there have been many discussions about the  potential to  create large-scale organic  farming enterprises to  replace the disastrous  impacts of chemical farming.

A lovely article by  Tom Philpott of Mother Jones outlines  one  attempt by  some US farmers to break  the  dead-end cycle of spraying,  tilling and loss of environment caused by commercial  farming, using no-plough methods and winter “cover crops”. While this method does not completely eliminate  the toxic impacts of spraying ;  it does go  a long way  to  develop  large-scale sustainable  farming practice.

Another “new” farming concept is  is the use of charcoal  in  soil.  Native american indians used Terra preta in pre-Columbian times to  create long term sustainable gardens in  environments where high  rainfall  leaching should have made sustainable agriculture impossible.

The ShortcutGiven  that  at  least  a third of commercially produced food is wasted, it would seen perfectly feasible to  create food sources closer to  food  consumers, allowing less wastage in  transit,  and better targeting of food production to  need.

We dont need the environmental  destruction that is touted as necessary  by  agribusiness to  create sustainable  global food production. We don’t need to  keep  killing our essential  insects   with  insecticides, spraying weedicides to  control  the plants we dont want,   constantly digging up  the soil to  destroy  its structure and life, and  destroying more and more natural  environments  and the plants and animals that live there, for short-term gain. We can live a  wonderful  sustainable and more joyful life through  living instead of buying.

 

Peddling Over the Cliff

George Monbiot in  his blog “The Great  Unmentionable” once again  powerfully articulates the insanity of consumerism -the relentless drive by  governments, media and corporates to encourage us all  to not only maintain  our spending on  foolish things, but to increase it.

Monbiot points out that it is not  heating lighting and transport which  are the predominant carbon  emission culprits-it is the “stuff’  we buy – which  increasingly is produced for “us’  Westerners by  ‘those’ people over there.

In its quest  for economic   growth  and more wealth  for the wealthy, corporates attempt to  even commodify nature; where would we be for instance without our little sticky labels on  our fruit and veges, not knowing  which  international  conglomerate had marketed that piece of produce?

But by far the most insidious aspect  of consumption of  “stuff” is the central part it plays in the relentless destruction of  the natural world- the loss of natural habitat, the annihilation of species after species, for  more pieces of short-lived pieces of ‘stuff ‘ that no human will want in  a  year  or so.

The environment may be able to be resurrected  after the factories have been pulled down, as some artificial and dumbed-down version of true nature -but without the ever-growing list  of  extinct  species that  can never return to us.

SAM_2053
Maple Trees in Autumn

 

As our species becomes more and more urbanised, we lose our  awareness of our indelible link  with nature; our capacity to just  watch  and listen  and wonder at  the glorious  real world around us ;  our heads  down  watching  ‘smartphone” screens or  plugged in  to our latest preference for noise on our mp3 player. We become  immune to the beauty  and randomness and unexpectedness of nature of which  we are an integral  member-and  have blinded ourselves to that reality.

Instead of being open  and alive to  new and unexpected events and situations, we increasingly self-select our perception of the world from  an ever-narrowing mechanical IT menu driven by  our past experience.

We lose our connectedness to  the world around us-our inherent knowledge that we are transient fragile beings like all  other sentient things on this planet: that  we are different-but no better-  than all  the other species we live with.

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Postscript:

A great little article on  international  debt and how it fuels the crazy  cycle of “growth”  by Dinyar Godrej at the New Internationalist

Debt – a global scam

The standard response to the current financial crisis has been to punish the presumed debtors. Are the creditors blameless, then? asks Dinyar Godrej.

It’s almost a reflex. Think about debt and we think first about something owed. Then come secondary considerations of whether it ‘should’, ‘ought’ or ‘must’ be paid back, how this should happen, and whether possible.

Large outstanding personal debts – say a mortgage taken out during a housing bubble – can turn even the stoutest of us into ‘quivering insomniac jellies of hopeless indebtedness’ (as Margaret Atwood so accurately puts it). Debt is, we feel, whatever the rights or wrongs, ‘our own fault’.

We can’t help it, we are socialized to take such a moral view of debt.

 

“Not with a Bang” or “Peak Capitalism”

T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men alludes to the end of the world coming “not with a bang, but with a whimper..” However the end of capitalism  will not be the end of the world; far from it.  It will be a glorious new beginning for humans and the other species on this planet.

In  a  blink  of evolution’s eye, capitalism  has done more damage to  the planet we co-habitate, than any meteorite strike or cataclysmic galactic event. The destruction of species is occurring at  phenomenal  speed, the  changes to  our climate through  gaseous emissions, the poisoning  of much  of our planet for millenium… and for what?- a bank balance with lots of numbers?, some pretty things that  self-destruct in  your hands after a year or two?, the capacity to  tell  your friends about  all the places you have seen?; merely “Dust in the Wind”  as the band Kansas would say..

To change the direction of  this juggernaut of self-destruction requires more than political  will,  a mass movement or  a United Nations declaration; we are all of on board this juggernaut -whether we are up there in  the driving seat, or hanging on for dear  life on the roof desperately  trying  to  claw our way inside to the easy seats while it hurtles towards oblivion.  We all  have an investment in  ensuring  that this insane model  of “progress” continues;  we are “locked in”  for the ride. .. (the university degree that  you  spent all  those  years sweating over  so you could get the job of your dreams,  the expensive house you spent years slaving away  at a  horrible job to afford, or simply the years you spent at the factory so  your kids could get  an education…)

However some have a greater investment in it than others.

John Peterson from the Arlington Institute  argues it this way:

It’s almost as though there is a “coefficient of adaptation” associated with human societies that varies with the relative level of “development” (whatever that means) which describes the amount of change that a social system can effectively assimilate without becoming unstable. It’s not just quantitative, but also qualitative, having clear hot-button issues (often related to women and the role of government) that, if pushed too hard, accelerate the movement toward state change.

What also happens, of course, is that the powers that be, regardless of the particular discipline or sector, see the abrupt change as a threat and, like white corpuscles rushing to staunch a wound, leap forward in defense of the status quo – regardless of the relative merit of the new proposal. This is where I get hung up. It’s as though the “system” embraces the status quo, even though things are clearly not working very well and treats thoughtful new proposals as mortal threats, even as people die and suffer because of the present policies. And it’s not just that they defend the status quo, but that they leap to attack the new ideas in very non-rational and sometimes inhumane terms

Does all  this imply we should all be living as medieval peasants in  some country idyll?

Kelp
Kelp seaweed

 

No ,  but we can, if we have time,  start to turn the wheel, take the foot off the accelerator and truly experience the scenery-instead of watching it whipping past in  a blur. Imagine if the money  and hype that is now put into selling this or that useless product,  was instead put into showing you how to  work alongside your neighbour,  how to create living spaces around us instead of neat  and tidy  ones, how to co-exist with the other species we live alongside, how to avoid conflict  and promote peace, how to  stop and just  enjoy these brief moments we all have in  this life.

Yes, we surely need good sanitation,  clean water, cheap healthy  food and good shelter. There is plenty to  go  around  for all  the billions of humans on  this planet right now. Yes we  will need to  learn how to  consume less and enjoy more; there are plenty of tools out there to do that right now if one cares to look.

We cannot afford to have  people  control  this world and its resources whose only interest is the production of power and money  for themselves and to hell  with everything and everyone else. Those fools are dragging us  to oblivion , the point at  which literally this planet  becomes a hell-hole. Poisoning  the world and its living things, paving over the  living earth, killing our  fellow species, for a few cheap  baubles -that is truly insane. Sadly we are all  “locked-in”: -we cannot see the madness.

But, there is a saving grace to this. While Lovelock has reneged on   his  view of the Earth  as a living entity “Gaia”- this planet has not!  We are rapidly reaching the point as humans where we are opening our eyes to  the damage we have caused;  where the cost  of “improving’  or maintaining our standard of living becomes too great-we have reached “peak  capitalism”.

And just  as with “peak oil”,  the point of optimum utilization of a particular process  is invisible to the onlooker;  the  forces change and adapt. The price of oil rises inexorably year by year  but we only notice the ebbs and falls; the capacity to  pump  oil crude out of the ground wanes, but production stays with demand  as we develop  more costly and more environmentally damaging  processes  like shale oil… and  consequently economies begin  their progressive  wilt under  the ongoing pressure….

The fundamental flaws in  the capitalist  system become ever-widening abysses into the unknown; and we have the opportunity now to create something wonderful for ourselves as human beings and for  our fellow species on  this planet.

That opportunity is neither capitalism or communism  or any other “ism” created to  capture or -redistribute the “wealth” of this planet. It is an understanding that we are not the guardians of this planet, (we have made the most appalling job of trying to do that!);  we are simply co-habitators whose guidance will  come from listening and valuing everything around us.