"It is not necessary to base a way of life on desecrating the environment. The fact that this is not obvious to masses of modern people attests to the power of institutional education and other forms of propaganda." - Depaver
In Sacramento June 22-25, the WTO ministerial meeting drew hundreds fewer delegates than hoped for by the organizers and cheerleaders, because protesters were anticipated. The expected heavy-handed police presence and instances of brutality were no doubt a factor as well. This WTO meeting, protests were fruitful and spirited, partly because people feel so passionately about protecting their food from GMOs that the WTO meeting was promoting.. Some delegates and members of the press learned how people value their local, natural foods and that people will fight for their rights.
One observer, Jack Nounnan of the Humboldt County contingent of protesters, was deeply satisfied over the message and demeanor of the protests. An experienced elder, and defender of the Earth, he is right that progress is being made when protests are counted on and brought off successfully.
When collapse comes, people may remember the issues involved at the WTO events so that mistakes are not repeated. Building anew will likely involve little if any petroleum industry assistance, let alone a monster motor vehicle fleet. Monsanto is known for its GMO seeds, but it's basically a petrochemical maker that wants to sell poison. The whole system depends on trucking along with oceanic shipping and some rail freight--all petroleum fueled. No major road system will endure long, as the luxury of pavement staying in repair depends on a growing economy that can afford to fix what the heavy trucks chew up at taxpayer expense.
Those who say the system that the WTO represents should be stopped dead appear to be limited to the notorious black bloc (anarchist protesters in the U.S.), Euro street demonstrators of a hard core bent, and the Earth Liberation Front which since the Clinton Administration has been labeled the nation's top terrorist group. Some independent activists and commentators adhere to the shut-it-down prescription for the unsustainable industrial economy, as philosophers likely to be found growing organic kale.
But most critics of the WTO simply want corporate power reigned in, so that an imagined democratic pollution society can return and seem less threatening. This approach is like looking for lost keys at night under the streetlight because it is easier, not because the keys were really dropped there. And there's certainly little funding from foundations over in the darkness!
As committed as some activists and protesters are to shutting down WTO meetings, as well as even advocating an end to the present dominant socioeconomic system, a bona fide movement to do this is but a flea on an elephant today. But there may be a way, in the form of boycotting the buying of new cars.. Even if you love war for oil, why waste $5,000 by just driving a machine off a new-car lot?
Some young environmentalists are too impatient to let people make the choice to boycott new global-warming speed coffins, so the choice is made for us: taking steps to forcibly shut down pollutioninvolving any property destructiondoes occur and it brings down the wrath of society as ruled by the kings of private property. An Earth First!er named Free got a 23-year prison sentence for setting a couple of unoccupied SUVs on fire in a dealership in the middle of the night.
Clearly, fighting fire with fire
raises issues of hypocrisy and becoming one's own enemy as a polluter. It would be
possible to shut down pollution with direct nonviolent action, but it appears to
be a most doubtful and unpopular prospect--no matter how urgent a mile-high stack of
Worldwatch Institute reports may appear on the ailing life-support system of our
planet. When it comes to the idea of using force, ask the Luddites: their smashing of
exploitative capitalists' factory machines, to defend the Luddites' village
crafts, resulted in capital punishment two centuries ago. The difference
is, Free had very little public support. Don'tcha want a nice new SUV?
When consumers keep buying the products of major polluters, there is no hope for ending the level of pollution that threatens life as we know it. By the same token, there is no hope for dismantling the nuclear threat when people keep paying for nuclear weapons and waste through paying the taxes. However, the end of abundant, cheap oil will change all that.
Polluting and destroying the beautiful, biologically diverse Earth are tied to the availability of money in the form of consumer buying power (two-thirds of the U.S. economy). The other main contributor to maintaining the pollution economy is plentiful, low-cost petroleum. However, not only is a distorted climate among the costs we really pay for the petroleum; oil and natural gas are rapidly depleting resources.
buying new cars
A boycott of new cars would have a strong restructuring effect on the economy in a matter of weeks, because at least 25% of all U.S. jobs are motor-vehicle-industry related (aside from depending on transport). Advocating this would be irresponsible if destruction and hardship were the object. However, this economy has to go anywayit will of its own weight. So, the sooner the better? And if its demise is anticipated or planned, people will be more prepared to institute sustainable practices for survival. Such as: exclusively buying locally made products that one needs. Even a used car when purchased puts money into the community instead of distant corporations. Here in Humboldt County, people are proud to have old cars and use them little.
Loving and trusting nature and ourselves is key to survival and enjoying life. The root word of "economics," ecos, is Greek for household, and this root word is also what "ecosystem" is based on. To separate the economy from the ecosystem is impossible, and to attempt it is damaging even though profitable in the short-term.
Long-term, collapse of the present dominant economy is advisable and leads to sustainability if collapse comes soon enough in the right way. Short-term, collapse is painful, but more painful the longer it is put off. It was painful in the 1930s, but not nearly so much as will the next, final, giant depression. In 1930, people in the U.S. were not yet virtually eating petroleum. Now that they are, population growth has been accommodated to reach a size more than double what is was in 1930 at the dawn of the petroleum-agriculture age (or, in perspective, an age-lette).
When the economy collapses, whether from a concerted campaign to buy only used cars (the weakened economy will also force people to do so) or from inevitable petroleum supply shortage around the corner, people will eat local food to the extent that they can and must. To the extent they cannot, they will starve. Cannibalism will reign; the question is how much. It will be worse in New York City than in Havana where they grow their own organic food and get around on bikes. The average piece of food consumed in the U.S. nowadays travels 1,400 miles before it is eaten, thanks to the wonders of transportation relying on oil.
Peak global oil extraction is occurring perhaps as we speak, and there is no alternative energy future for this overbuilt Petroleum Civilization. The solar, windmill and hydrogen buffs wish for a magical transformation of an entire infrastructure, and it won't happen without a lot of rebuildingby a much reduced population eking out subsistence in the trashed ecosystem. So, do we extend this unwinnable, lethal game of propping up the Waste Economy, or cut our losses now?
A WTO trade-show participant reports:
Back to Home Page
Jan Lundberg's columns are protected by copyright; however, non-commercial use of the material is permitted as long as full attribution is given with a link to this website, and he is informed of the re-publishing: email@example.com