Today, we feature Chris Hedges who serves as the canary in the coal mine, offering a clarifying call to a different kind of action that rejects the rules of the game entirely. Time to disrupt the machine. Plus details on current actions.
Actions & Opportunities
Click here for information on:
- Thursday, Oct 24, 11am. A Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Interim Hearing in Rm. 322 at the Roundhouse today at 11am with NM Voices presenting their priority tax bills to address the needs of working families and children for 2020;
- Sunday, Oct 27, 9:15am (from Counselor Chapter House) Fracking Tour of Greater Chaco Canyon, an up close view of a tragic sacrifice zone with Indigenous activists, Daniel Tso, Samuel Sage & Mario Atencio telling stories of how the powers that be listen but ignore indigenous please for climate justice. This is so worth your time and there are still a few slots left.
- Tuesday, Oct. 29, 6:30pm-8:30pm. A panel discussion with representatives from public banking, NM Voices, Think NM, ACLU and Health Security for New Mexicans previewing what bills to expect in the 2020 legislative session and how you can effectively advocate now and during the session.
- Wednesday, Oct 30, 4pm-8pm. A new action starting at 4pm at the Roundhouse Rotunda protesting the Governor’s failure to meet with YUCCA youth or respond to any of their demands. Youth United for Climate Crisis Action youth leaders will announce plans for escalating direct action to increase pressure on the Governor to take bold action in response to the climate crisis. At the close of the event, participants will march to the by the New Mexico Energy Department hearings on regulating produced water at 6pm a few blocks from the Roundhouse.
- The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC) is bringing Dr. Joseph J. Shonka to New Mexico in early November to present his recent lecture “The First Dirty Bomb, Trinity” ABQ, Socorro, Las Cruces, and Española.
Click here for details on these and other events and actions.
Chris Hedges: The Age of Radical Evil & How Saving the Planet Means Overthrowing the Ruling Elites
In the last week, Roxanne has forwarded me a series of articles from Truthdig, Intercept, Common Sense, and Truthout that have had a profound impact on both of us. We arrived at the shared realization that much of our activism has been conducted within a framework that has been tightly constructed and well-orchestrated by the powers that be. We are allowed to participate in political theater in different forms and contexts with the rules and parameters tightly circumscribed to keep us busy but ineffective.
Part of this has to do with Roxanne reading a CELDF publication about how the entire regulatory framework is rigged so as to allow us to think our public comment matters, that by attending hearings like the ones now being held about produced water, and by sending those emails and making those calls, we are playing meaningful roles in the Democratic process. In truth, it is an entirely orchestrated theater designed to give us roles that make us feel we’ve tried, we’ve done our best.
While our comments and testimony are dutifully recorded, they are also entirely ignored because these structures are established not to integrate our concerns into policy or regulations, but to dupe us into thinking we have made a contribution. The remarkable thing is that these regulatory bodies are not designed to protect us or the earth, but rather to determine the outer limits to the degree that corporations can commit crimes against nature:
- What level of pollutants can be allowed in our air?
- How many automobile deaths are permissible because of faulty airbags?
- How many chemicals can be permitted in “produced water” that can then be used in agriculture?
- What is the tolerable risk of contracting cancer from the use of this produced water?
- How many Wall St high-risk investment schemes can be tolerated?
- How many deaths from diabetes can be allowed before we insist that the price of insulin be reduced?
Somehow this is deemed normal. Roxanne noted the analogy given by CELDF: What if our city or state convened a panel to regulate how many robberies we should permit in our community? Murders? Homeless deaths on the street? You would never have a community organize a system around determining tolerable levels of violent crimes. But since the founding fathers wrote our constitution, a regulatory system has been constructed not to protect us from industry, but to protect industry from us, the people. They must be allowed to operate in an unfettered manner while we run in circles.
This was one of our reading realizations and we are in the process of researching strategies for becoming better informed about this regulatory theater, but not so much so we can learn to better influence it, because we are learning that digging in to their systems and playing by their rules is precisely what they want. Rather, we want to learn more about how we can disrupt this regulatory framework or deconstruct it with the idea of a building a new system that serves our needs.
But that is a topic for another day and merely sets the table for the main dish today. The above is the appetizer. The main dish is that we are being ushered to a hellish future by a capitalist system that really doesn’t give a rat’s ass how many of us sit in, call, email, vote, carry signs or even get arrested. The powers that be have been in charge forever and they are the “architects of radical evil,” as penned by Chris Hedges:
We know these architects of radical evil. They are the DNA of American capitalism. You can find them on the commodity desks at Goldman Sachs. The financial firm’s commodities index is the most heavily traded in the world. These traders buy up futures of rice, wheat, corn, sugar and livestock and jack up the commodity prices by as much as 200% on the global market so that the poor in Asia, Africa and Latin America can no longer afford basic staples, and starve. Hundreds of millions of people go hungry to feed this mania for profit, this radical evil that sees human beings, including children, as worth nothing.
These architects of radical evil extract the coal, oil and gas, poisoning our air, soil and water, while demanding huge taxpayer subsidies and blocking the urgent transition to renewable energy. They are the massive corporations that own the factory farms, egg hatcheries and dairy farms where tens of billions of animals endure horrendous abuse before being needlessly slaughtered, part of an animal agriculture industry that is one of the leading multifactorial causes of climate catastrophe. They are the generals and arms manufacturers. They are the bankers, hedge fund managers and global speculators who looted $7 trillion from the U.S. treasury after the pyramid schemes and fraud they carried out imploded the global economy in 2007-2008. They are the goons in state security who make us the most spied-upon, watched, monitored and photographed population in human history. When your government watches you 24 hours a day you cannot use the word “liberty.” This is the relationship between a master and a slave. “Chris Hedges, The Age of Radical Evil
Hedges closes this article with this poignant observation:
Arendt points out, the only morally reliable people are not those who say “this is wrong” or “this should not be done,” but those who say “I can’t do this.”Chris Hedges, The Age of Radical Evil
Roxanne and I have come to the conclusion, that we can no longer do this. Will you join us?
Saving the Planet Means Overthrowing the Elites
On the heels of reading The Age of Radical Evil I read another piece Roxanne had sent me, another one by Chris Hedges, Saving the Planet Means Overthrowing the Ruling Elites. Hedges did an excellent job of dissuading the reader of any comfort from a hope that the change we need could come from just one more progressive member of the House or Senate, or a more progressive person in the White House or a huge protest involving millions.
Protests can be the beginning of political consciousness. But they can also be empty political theater. They can be used to celebrate our moral probity—advertisements, especially in the age of social media, for ourselves. They can be a boutique activism in which protesters allow themselves to be funneled through police barricades and arrests are politely choreographed, resulting in a few hours in jail and the credentialing of the demonstrators as radicals. They can be used to distance ourselves from a repugnant political figure such as Donald Trump, while leaving us silent and complicit when the same policies are carried out by a supposed progressive such as Barack Obama. This is a game the state has learned to play to its advantage. As long as we do not disrupt the machine, as long as we protest according to their rules, the elites will let us march through the streets of Washington in pussy hats or walk out of school for a day.”Chris Hedges, Saving the Planet Means Overthrowing the Ruling Elites
After finishing this passage I reflected on just how long many of us have been engaged in this political theater and to what end. Just how much progress have we made when we have the greatest wealth gap in world history and are on the verge of extinction?
Just how much has anything we’ve done really mattered?
We might as well have voted GOP, played golf and accumulated personal wealth for all the progress our activism has achieved. And we are not going to generate the kind of sustained and radically different actions needed until we acknowledge and cease devoting time to the utterly frivolous game of political theater so artfully constructed to keep us from doing what is needed. And Hedges helps here, too.
We have to let go of our relentless positivism, our absurd mania for hope, our naive belief that with grit and determination we can solve all problems. We have to face the bleakness before us. We live in a world already heavily damaged by global warming, which will inevitably get worse. Refusal to participate in the further destruction of the planet means a rupture with traditional politics. It means noncooperation with authority. It means defying in every nonviolent way possible consumer capitalism, militarism and imperialism. It means adjusting our lifestyle, including becoming vegans, to thwart the forces bent upon our annihilation. And it means waves of sustained civil disobedience until the machine is broken.Chris Hedges, Saving the Planet Means Overthrowing the Ruling Elites
This is enough for today. I want this to settle in with all of you. Read both of the articles referenced above in full (links below) and share this with others, perhaps those you know who have also been part of the political theater that Hedges describes. And comment in this blog. But more than anything settle in and think about the implications of what you’ve digested. Roxanne and I will do the same and Saturday we’ll provide Part II on this theme along with some writing prompts to help you organize your thinking.
Paul & Roxanne.