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What Kind of a Society Is This, and What Do We Want? PDF Print E-mail
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by Jan Lundberg   
07 January 2012
[In under 750 words, we identify the problem and perhaps the solution. - Publisher]

I cross yet another polluted river, on an Amtrak bus running late again. I look around the river and contemplate what empties into it, as the nearly full moon illuminates the degraded agribusiness landscape. The 101 Freeway through King City, California has the usual number of typical, inefficient vehicles spewing their exhaust, generating brake dust, tire dust, and dripping toxic crankcase oil and other fluids poisoning wildlife and human alike.

It is getting less and less credible to claim that technology can or will solve our out-of-control pollution, degradation and depletion. Our state of affairs is very far from any hoped-for turnaround in enlightened policy that recognizes both big industry and the market economy as rapidly undermining our ecological life-support systems. This can affect the mind and turn our guts.

To react to this open, willing failure by saying "This is a shit society" would be unconscious, cruel and foolish. Apart from the fact that the vast majority of people have simply inherited a rigged set-up, and are brainwashed to continue to enrich corporations in the business of destruction, the epithet "shit" refers to a substance actually natural and good. For human and animal manure have always benefited plants that in turn benefited humans.

If a fair description of society -- "$ociety" -- is to be arrived at, for whom is any lashing out intended? The prevailing ignorance and laziness of consumers not bothering to save their own environment -- when recycling, composting, tree-planting, wise purchasing, etc. are understandable and widely known -- eliminates the likely acceptance of a "harsh" assessment among many. A tongue lashing, however, at minimum, might be in order.

A litany of "mistakes" and crimes against people and nature could take volumes to list and analyze. The most brief grouping includes unjustifiable wars, reckless and corrupt "development" of land, plasticizing the oceans, overpopulating, destabilizing the climate, and creating nuclear waste and nuke "accidents."

It is easy to attack or dismiss such a society as illegitimate and deserving of the soonest collapse. This approach or simple observation shocks the ignorant consumer and fascist industrialist alike, or even establishes the commentator as a worse problem than the crimes being commented on. Such is the denial of the modern, distorted mind and the power structure's paranoid rigidity.

Curing the present system of its ills would be the obvious course. But as the severity of the crisis grows, and our plight intensifies as our own grave is dug deeper, the rational conclusion is that it is too late to cure $ociety of its ills and thus save life on Earth.

In place of an actual program or viable movement to address fundamental issues, we see endless "information" and complaining about symptoms afflicting us all. The Occupy movement shares that defect, but not necessarily to a mortal extent. Unless the Occupy movement refocusses on ecological reality and addresses the need to reorient consumers toward occupying productive, healthy land in a community fashion, the movement's obsession with the greed of the "1%" and redistributing its (false) wealth will continue to miss the most crucial issue: sustainability.

Oil dependence at a time of peak global petroleum extraction, and hopeless vulnerability to complex systems that turn nature into products for short-term human "needs" are so controlling that the consequences will be huge and inescapable. (Some needs are more real than others, and this must be discussed to help shopping addicts become more self-reliant.)

The consequences are not mentioned, let alone explored, in our "Big Brother" propaganda that twists meanings in order to prop up the status quo. So we find that the corporate news media, the politicians, and academia tainted by funding, and even the "progressive" "alternative" press, avoid and suppress simple truths. Some activists accentuate only the positive, and perhaps this is having a bigger effect than we realize. Yet:

In such times as these, it is as if everyone needs to suddenly put down their cellphones, get out of their cars, turn off their televisions and power tools, and go gather in the middle of streets to sing and play instruments. Depave the streets to plant rows of fruit and nut trees to lessen the urban heat island effect. Get rid of money and barter instead.

If this sounds like a general strike that terminates the global economy, I endorse that. If it sounds like fantastical dreaming, that is correct too. If it would imply a quick descent into mass deprivation, there is truth to that, but people do have amazing power in collaborating that draws upon the basic goodness of human beings. One thing we know: predicting the future and anticipating stability and security are doubtful, so we must be open to the unexpected more than ever.

* * * * *

......_\ \>,

Comments (4)Add Comment
I don’t think that the only message of the Occupy Movement is to tax the rich to get more “trickle-down.” At least among those of us in our community there is an understanding of the terrible destruction being committed by the corporate world in its quest for wealth. Social justice and environmental justice are the same movement.
Ed Cooley
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The need for cohesion by ALL within the various movements to bring about the needed change has NEVER BEEN GREATER.

We do NOT need anyone to address anyone, especially such as Jan Lundberg, as 'Peasant'.

Of course, my assertion that our collective problem is due our infection by the madness of greed is proved true by such comment as 'name calling', or talking down to anyone, is but another manifestation of that illness.

I ask that all treat everyone as a 'Sentient Being' worthy of respect and that all consider their responses, prior to hitting the 'Post' button.

We need to stay calm, rational and determined to work this through 'Together'.

Thank you.

Daniel J. Lavigne

Now promoting the efforts of MedicAngel® to help the poor in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
Daniel J. Lavigne
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Jan didn't address me as Peasant. That is a quirk of the comment ID "title" section. I addressed myself as "peasant" as I always do when asked for a title or occupation. We are small farmers and fit into the definition of "small land holders or laborers tilling the soil." The IRS thinks I am a peasant, and I rather like being a peasant...

Ed Cooley
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Wonderful writing. However, it did not deliver what was promised. The solution is not dancing in the streets and playing instruments (which I already do on occasion ;-) No, the reality is "we" (whatever that is) must alter public opinion on a massive scale. To me, most "environmentalists" set out with the best of intentions but wind up actually accomplishing little. Clean a beach or stream here or there, mount a comparatively-lame campaign to do some worthwhile project -- while the world crumbles under the weight of too many people. I'm 70 and the population of the US has more than doubled in my lifetime from 138,397,345 to 312,838,000 making the US the third most populous country in the world -- which has already crashed through 6,987,256,153 (January 2012). And the entire world is becoming a consumer-based society based on us; the US. So start here folks. Quit having so many kids and buy less useless stuff. If you really want to make a difference, join an organization that has a record of suing large rapacious corporations into submission. Give 'em Hell! I know from whence I speak.
scott foster
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